Albert Goodwill Spalding became the initial star pitcher of the first professional sports association, cofounded baseball’s National League, founded the world’s greatest sporting goods empire, owned the team that became the Chicago Cubs, organized an around-the-world tour to promote baseball, broke the first players union, and crushed three rivals of the National League before retiring to San Diego. A monopolist in true Gilded Age fashion, he sought to create a bicycle trust even as he battled advocates of a baseball trust.A moralist who railed against alcohol and gambling, he sired a child with a long-time mistress. He was a man of many firsts in the fields in which he competed: the highest winning percentage as pitcher, first player to receive a percentage of gate receipts, the first player to openly wear a glove while playing (and, by virtue of his status, to make it acceptable for other players to wear gloves), the captain of the first NL champion, the founder of the first vertically integrated sporting goods firm, the first to build a chain of specialty retail stores, the first leader of the U.S. Olympic movement. This is the firstcomprehensive biography of Albert Goodwill Spalding’s fascinating life, including his compulsion to put his name on every ball, racquet, discus, bicycle, football, bat, hat, and mask his company produced.
Mark Stein has worked for more than three decades as a reporter and editor at The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Bloomberg News, specializing in long-form feature and investigative articles. He shared a 1993 Pulitzer Prize for reporting about 1992 riots in Los Angeles, and then cowrote a book, Understanding the Riots: Los Angeles Before and After the Rodney King Case. He also worked with Anthony Bianco on his 1996 book The Bully of Bentonville: How the High Cost of Wal-Mart’s Everyday Low Prices Is Hurting America. Mark was raised in Santa Barbara, Calif., and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and London. He currently lives near New York City with his wife and sons.