Tag Archives: William Clarke

Zimmer and The Players Protective Association

21 Dec

Charles “Chief” Zimmer made one more important contribution to the game as founding member and first president of the Baseball Players Protective Association.

When the organization was formed in June of 1900 Zimmer said:

“The players realize that the sport needs a stirring up, and will cooperate with the club owners in the good work.”

In retrospect it was an admirable, but naive statement.

Nearly 100 players attended the first meeting and elected Zimmer.  Hughie Jennings was elected secretary and William Clarke treasurer.  The attorney for the Association was former Major Leaguer Harry TaylorClark Griffith was later name vice president.

In December the association presented their five point plan to the owners:

  1. “Club owners (would) mot have the right to ‘reserve’ players at a salary less than that provided for the ensuing year, nor for more than three years.”

  2. “Not to buy, sell, assign, trade lend, accept, select or claim service of any player for any period in any way without his written consent.”

  3. “Club owners to pay physicians’ fees for injuries received in actual play.”

  4. “No player to be suspended without pay more than three times a season or two weeks at a time.”

  5. “The appointment of a committee of arbitration, one member to be chosen by the owners, one by the players, and a third (agreed upon to mediate disputes)”

The demands were met with silence.  The Baltimore Morning Herald said:

“Club owners will hardy accede to the requests—no communication yet established with the new organization.”

Part of the reason the association was largely unsuccessful was because early on it was made known they would do nothing to leverage their demands.  Harry Taylor told The New York Times:

“Well, this is a conservative organization.  There is nothing revolutionary about it, and we don’t propose to keep men from playing ball.”

While some short-term gains were made as a result of the creation of the American League as a Major League in 1901, allowing players to jump contracts for terms from AL clubs, the association was all but broken after the American and National League’s made peace in 1903.

Charles "Chief" Zimmer

Charles “Chief” Zimmer

It would be more than 50 years before players again seriously considered taking collective action, but Zimmer’s organization provided one of the early, small steps to challenging the reserve clause.

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