Al Reach

12 Dec

Alfred James “Al” Reach opened his first sporting goods store in Philadelphia in 1874 while playing for the Athletics in the National Association.  Within a decade he had built a hugely successfully business, began publishing “Reach’s Official Baseball Guide,” and established a National league franchise in Philadelphia.

In May of 1886 Reach talked to The Philadelphia Times about “one of the great industries of Philadelphia in the sporting line.”

“Men, women and children are employed in making base balls.  The cheaper ones are made by a press with leather shavings on the inside.  The body is wrapped with cotton and covered with leather.  The covering is done by hand.  The best balls—the ones in use by the American Base Ball Association—are a solid piece of Para rubber on the inside, covered with worsted yarn and then with an outside covering of horse-hide.  Men do this covering.  They are mostly harness-makers, yet they have to broken into the work, for even a good harness-maker may be a poor hand at covering and sewing a ball properly.”

Al Reach

Al Reach

Reach said the company had orders for “five hundred dozen, or six million, balls already for this season,” and the company was “two hundred thousand dozen behind” filling the orders:

“We have had the factory running until ten o’clock at night all winter.  Base balls sell from 5 cents to $1.25 apiece…Three-fifths of all the balls used in the country are made in Philadelphia.”

—–

“Base ball bats are made of willow, spruce and first and second-growth ash.  The latter wood makes the best bet.  They are sold at fifty, sixty and seventy-five cents each.  There are about sixty thousand bats used every season.  Our orders already indicate that we will dispose of at least fifteen thousand of the best quality.”

Reach said the company employed “upwards of five hundred persons.”

Reach's main factory in 1886 at Frankford Avenue and Wildey Street in Philadelphia---The Martin Landenberger Hosiery Mill Complex/Morse Elevator Works Building

Reach’s main factory in 1886 at Frankford Avenue and Wildey Street in Philadelphia–The Martin Landenberger Hosiery Mill Complex/Morse Elevator Works Building

By the end of the decade Reach’s company was purchased by A.G. Spalding, with Reach staying on as an executive and the company continued to produce equipment with the Reach name, including the official American League baseball, which was used through the 1976 season.

Reach maintained controlling interest in the Phillies until 1899 and died in 1928.  He left an estate worth more than $1 million.

Reach Official American League ball 1920s

Reach Official American League ball 1920s

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5 Responses to “Al Reach”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Origin Stories | Baseball History Daily - April 9, 2014

    […] and Sullivan.  Commission members Abraham Mills, Morgan Bulkeley, Arthur Gorman, Nick Young, Al Reach, George Wright and John Edward Sullivan accepted the story of a mining engineer from Denver named […]

  2. Sam Crane on International Baseball | Baseball History Daily - July 30, 2014

    […] and remained one of the most respected sports writers in the country.  He edited the “Reach Guide” from 1902 until his death in […]

  3. “It is Feared that the Cares of his Office are making an old man out of Tim” | Baseball History Daily - August 18, 2014

    […] ever seen on a diamond,“ and printed for their readers rule number’s 44 and 45 from the 1906 “Reach Guide” Reach describing “A Fair Hit,” and “A Foul […]

  4. “We didn’t have any High-Faluting Baseball Paraphernalia” | Baseball History Daily - October 15, 2014

    […] of his crimes included Dugdale, and Al Reach, both of whose names appeared on forged checks in separate cases, and Jack Horner and Pat Pettee, […]

  5. “Boys of ’76” | Baseball History Daily - January 5, 2015

    […] surviving 1876 players, including George Wright and and Al Reach cited “advancing age” for their inability to […]

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