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Old 09-26-2015, 11:35 PM   #1
mrteverett
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Earliest start date for a team out west or down south?

I want to start a fictional league, possibly as early as 1871. My question is: realistically, what is the earliest you could place a team west or south of the Mississippi without travel being a tremendous hindrance? I suppose I could keep shorter schedules, but I was thinking of tinkering with around 100 games. What do you think?
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Old 09-26-2015, 11:56 PM   #2
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Well, the first major-league team located west of the Mississippi was St. Louis, which hosted a club in the NL's inaugural year (1876). But if you're not counting St. Louis as being west of the Mississippi, then the first was Kansas City in the Union Association in 1884. In fact, KC was the furthest west that major-league baseball would venture until 1958, when the Dodgers and Giants moved to the west coast.

Having a team in KC was only feasible if the league also fielded a team in St. Louis. Otherwise, travel to and from such a remote outpost would have been impractical. So it's no coincidence that, every year that KC had a ML team (1884, 1886, 1888-89, 1914-15), St. Louis did also.

The only other city west of the Mississippi that could have conceivably fielded a ML team in the 19th century was Minneapolis. There, again, the mileage would have been significant, and Minneapolis didn't have a nearby city like St. Louis that it could "share" (the closest was Milwaukee, which wasn't really big enough). Minneapolis was a long-time member of the minor-league American Association, but St. Paul also fielded a club, so road trips to Minnesota made more sense for AA teams.

New Orleans was, in the 19th century, bigger than either Minneapolis or KC, but it was so far away from the northern teams that no one seriously considered it as a possibility.
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Old 09-27-2015, 12:04 AM   #3
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Well, the Transcontinental railroad was only 2 years old in 1871. By 1876, you were looking at 83 hours to get from NYC to San Francisco:
Express train crosses the nation in 83 hours - Jun 04, 1876 - HISTORY.com

I'd say probably not earlier than 1890, and even that would be pushing it. I'd say the 1880s are fine for the South, because remember the American Association had teams in St. Louis and Richmond, VA at one point.
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Old 09-27-2015, 02:01 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Trebro View Post
I'd say probably not earlier than 1890, and even that would be pushing it. I'd say the 1880s are fine for the South, because remember the American Association had teams in St. Louis and Richmond, VA at one point.
The AA put teams in all sorts of goofy places in 1884. The AA tried to field a 12-team circuit to counter the Union Association, which also put teams in all sorts of goofy places (like Altoona, PA and Wilmington, DE). 1885 saw a return to a certain degree of sanity, and bush-league towns like Richmond were jettisoned.

The problem with southern cities wasn't necessarily the travel. Louisville, after all, was represented in the major leagues off and on until 1899. Rather, it was the size of the cities that prevented them from joining the bigs. Apart from New Orleans, Richmond was the biggest city in the old south in the 1870s and '80s, and it was a good deal smaller than Providence, the smallest city in the NL. Memphis surpassed Richmond by 1900, but it was still smaller than places like Toledo and Omaha. The first time a city in the south (aside from New Orleans) appeared in the top 20 cities was in the 1950 census, when Houston jumped to number 14.
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Old 09-27-2015, 08:34 AM   #5
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You historical guys are awesome. Maybe I'll do like The Game a run several concurrent leagues. Historical is prime for fast simming.
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Old 09-27-2015, 01:08 PM   #6
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Thanks. I've decided to start in 1866 as a post-Civil War remedy to help mend the Union. I am starting with 8 teams, but skipped New Orleans although it is among the top 8 largest cities in the 1860 census. My mindset is that they hadn't been readmitted to the Union yet (1868) and couple with the travel time it would be best to pass.

I plan to expand every 10 years, so in 1876 I want to go to 12 teams. I'll add New Orleans at this point and budget extra travel time. I'm thinking double headers will be frequent as I want to go with a more modern size schedule (154 probably). I'll skip San Francisco although it will be among the top 12, and start a competitive western league either in 1896 or 1906 to compete with the original league. Winners form both leagues compete in a championship.
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Old 09-27-2015, 01:16 PM   #7
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In the 1880s, it took 12 hours to go by train from St. Louis to Kansas City. That was about the limit for teams that didn't want to waste a day travelling. Still, the schedule was grueling for KC teams. In 1888, the KC Cowboys of the American Association ended their first homestand on May 1 and didn't return home again until June 13 - a 42-day, 32-game road trip that had the team play every other club in the circuit, including stops at St. Louis and Louisville on the way out and back.

Even by the standards of the day, that was a long road trip, but it was necessitated by the travel limitations of the day. Cities farther west or south would, for all practical purposes, be inaccessible. A train leaving KC at 10 a.m., for instance, wouldn't arrive in Denver until 6:30 p.m. the next day. Team owners didn't want their clubs spending their time on trains. A team that wasn't playing wasn't making the owner any money, so leagues increased the number of games and cut back on travel days as the 19th century progressed. The NL went from a 70-game schedule in 1876 to 154 games in 1899. By that point, there just wasn't any room in the schedule for two-day jumps between cities, even though travel times improved markedly over that time period (by 1896, for example, it took only 9 hours to go from St. Louis to KC). Little wonder, then, that the major leagues didn't expand west or south until teams started travelling by air beginning in the late 1940s and early '50s.
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Old 09-27-2015, 02:17 PM   #8
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Well there's "what would have really happened" and "just trying to make it plausible." If you wanted to get teams into the South sooner, sometime around 1886 would make sense, I think. Travel would be hard, but not impossible (though I'd recommend not trying to model travel time in OOTP--way too much fiddling) and while cities might be too small, if you were trying to do a different sort of "major" leagues, it could work.

For the West Coast, though--I dunno, I'd be hard pressed to feel realistic about going coast-to-coast until after WWI at the very earliest. It's why I'm thinking of starting a league in 1946--so I can be all over country without much issue.
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Old 09-27-2015, 03:55 PM   #9
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You could, but the schedule would have to adopt something like the PCL used—a week-long series in a city so as to minimize the number of trips to distant locations.
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Old 06-18-2017, 12:02 PM   #10
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A train leaving KC at 10 a.m., for instance, wouldn't arrive in Denver until 6:30 p.m. the next day.

Good lord, that's less than 20 miles and hour (639 miles in 32.5 hours)! Today, you can drive that distance in about 8 hours, or fly in less than two!
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