Albert Goodwill Spalding
Albert Spalding (September 2, 1849 - September 9, 1915) was an American baseball pitcher, manager and executive in the early years of professional baseball. He was the co-founder of A.G. Spalding sporting goods company.
Raised in Byron, Illinois, he played major league baseball between 1871 and 1878. Spalding set a trend when he started wearing a baseball glove, and eventually opened his sporting goods store.
As the span of a productive athlete is relatively short, it is always good that the individual have a plan on how to earn a living and be successful upon retiring from his athletic career.
A very bright and personable individual, Spalding remained active with the Chicago White Stockings as president and part-owner. (Note that the Chicago team changed their name to “Socks” rather than “Stockings” as time progressed.) Albert was responsible for writing the first set of official baseball rules.
As a player, Spalding was “the premier pitcher of the 1870s,” leading the league in victories for each of his six full seasons as a professional. During each of those years, he was his team’s only pitcher. Imagine today when a professional team has several pitchers in the bullpen to use for individual batters, depending on the abilities of the opposing player and whether the batter bats left or right or is perhaps a switch-hitter.
Spalding retired from playing baseball in 1878 at the age of 27, although he continued as president and part owner of the White Stockings and had a major influence on the National League.
Spalding was partially responsible for organizing the National League by enlisting the four major teams in the East and the three other top teams in what was then considered to be the West. Joining Chicago initially were the leading teams from Cincinnati, Louisville and St. Louis.
In 1874, while Spalding was playing and organizing the league, Spalding and his brother Walter opened a sporting goods store in Chicago. The store grew rapidly and by 1911 had 14 retail outlets.
The brothers also expanded into a manufacturer and distributor of all kinds of sporting equipment. The company became synonymous with sporting goods and is still very successful.
The success of Spalding can be noted as he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1939, as one of the first inductees from the 19th century.