It has been a while.
In the third episode of “Did You Know?”, we pay attention to professionalism entering baseball.
The Cincinnati Red Stockings are generally considered the first team that became a full professional baseball team. This occurred in 1869. But in that year alone, eleven other teams turned professional.
The foundation for professionalism in baseball was laid in 1868, when, in a meeting, the NABBP (National Association of Base Ball Players) permitted professional clubs for the first time. There had been no professional clubs outside the Association. No brand new professional clubs were established for 1869. In the first-year of the change, twelve existing members declared professional status. All of them had fielded at least regionally strong teams in 1868 and most if not all had paid some of their players some compensation.
In the early days, some very good players already received some compensation. James Creighton of the Excelsior Club of Brooklyn, for example. These compensations were paid secretly or in emoluments. In 1866, the Athletic Club of Philadelphia was under investigation by the NABBP for secretly paying three of their players but no further action was taken.
But since the game became more competitive, clubs looked for ways to attract the best players. Paying them was one way. In order to save the integrity of the game (something unfamiliar to MLB), the NABBP decided to establish a professional category and clubs who were willing to pay their players were free to join.