Ernest Justin Jarrold wrote for The New York Sun in the 1880s and 90s and was best known as the author of the “Mickey Finn” stories which were serialized in The Sun—Jarrold also wrote for the paper under the pseudonym “Mickey Finn,” about his travels through Ireland.
In 1889 Jarrold was at New York’s Fifth Avenue Hotel for “the meeting of the Ball Players Brotherhood for the purpose of forming the Players’ League.” He provided readers with his “random notes on the leading members of the Brotherhood.”
“I met all the leaders. The man who attracted the most attention was John Montgomery Ward, the celebrated shortstop. This little man—for he is a pygmy compared with some of his associates—is generally admitted to have the largest business faculty of any baseball man in the country. He originated the scheme of the new league while on the trip around the world last year, and, with the help of Fred Pfeffer, of Chicago, and Edward Hanlon, of Pittsburgh, formulated the plans while on the steamer going from Australia to Europe. This conspiracy was carried out under the very nose of Al Spalding, and many secret conferences were interrupted by the entrance of Mr. Spalding. Ward has a winning personality. He dresses modestly but neatly. He is the husband of the celebrated actress Helen Dauvray, and has saved money from his earnings as a ballplayer. This he has invested mostly in western real estate. He is variously estimated to be worth from $50,000 to $75,000.
“Perhaps the next man in popular interest seen in the corridors was Michael Kelly. In addition to being one of the handsomest men in the new league, Kelly is probably the wittiest. He has created more original coaching expressions than any of his contemporaries. He dresses well and wears diamonds. Kelly is credited with executive ability on the ball field of a high order. Most of the tricks in ball playing are the tricks of his prolific Irish brain. “
Jarrold said “one of the most striking figures” present at the meeting was the six-foot-four 200 pound Jay Faatz:
“Faatz is the most expert poker player in the United States. He has a passionate love for diamonds and always carries in his shirt bosom and cuffs $1,500 worth of these gems…He also has a snug sum in the bank. Faatz always takes in the prize fights and the dog disputes which occur in his vicinity. He is a level-headed, clear thinker, and the orator o the Brotherhood.
“Fred Pfeffer, of Chicago, is one of the few players who has put money into the new league. He has invested $3,000. He is said to be the best fielder in the West. Pfeffer is remarkable for his neat appearance when playing ball. He is quiet and reserved. He wears a brown mustache, a silk hat and a pleasant smile. The New York reporters couldn’t elicit any information from him even when they used a corkscrew.
“William Ewing, the greatest ball player in the world, is a bachelor. He is a very ordinary looking citizen in street attire. He earned $6,500 last season (The New York Times said he earned $5,500, the “Spalding Guide” said $5,000). Ewing was the first man to sign the agreement which bound the players to the new scheme. He said he had no grievance, as the league had always used him well, but he wanted to cast his lot with ‘the boys.’ For a long time he was distrusted by the players on account o his intimacy with Mr. Day (Giants owner John B. Day). Ewing will be captain of the New York team.
“Lawrence G. Twitchell, five years ago, was a carpenter, working for $2 per day. Today he is a capable left fielder, and earns $2,500 for working about six months in the year. Tony, as he is familiarly known, is remarkable for his fine physique. No more perfect man physically ever set foot on a diamond. The trip east from his house in Ohio to attend the convention cost him $500. He married a wealthy young woman, who became enamored of him while playing ball at Zanesville, Ohio…Tony says he is not obliged to play ball for a livelihood. He does it for love of the game. He is young, beardless and handsome; also enthusiastic as to the ultimate success of the new league.
“Edward Hanlon, who will fill the onerous position of captain of the new Pittsburgh club, will also act as manager and centerfielder of the team. He has been frugal and has saved money during his long and illustrious baseball career. Hanlon is one of the progenitors of the new league.”
Hanlon had been responsible for making the initial contact with street car magnate Albert Loftin Johnson, who would become one of the league’s principal financial backers, and according to Jarrold “the missionary of the new baseball venture.” Jarrold said:
“(Johnson is) an ardent admirer of the game…All preliminary meetings in the formation of the Players’ League were held in his rooms in Cleveland. A policeman was stationed at the door to keep out reporters. It was mainly through his efforts that the seal of secrecy was kept over the organization for so long a time. He can talk longer and state less facts for reportorial use than any man connected with the baseball fraternity. It can be stated truthfully that no organization of such interest to the public as the Players’ League was ever handled so secretly as has this one. This was mainly due to Johnson’s perspicuity. He is a heavy backer of the new enterprise, and is known as the Moses of the new baseball dispensation. Johnson doesn’t pay much attention to clothes or diamonds.”
Among those present at the meeting, Jarrold seemed to think most highly of outfielder George Gore “One of the most dashing, devil-may-care men in the new league.” Jarrold said:
“Gore has the happy faculty of laying aside his profession when off the diamond, which faculty is shared by but few ball players. As a rule these men are very sensitive, and when a game is lost it is not uncommon for them to be so depressed in spirits that they cannot eat or sleep. Gore, however is not that kind. As John Ward says: ‘Gore lets care get behind the wood pile when his work is over.’ He used to run a paper machine in Saccarappa, Maine in 1878. Gore lives up to his income and has saved no money.”
Within a year, the Players League was finished and “Mickey Finn” had moved on to writing about his travels in Ireland.