Rockford Forest Citys
Rockford Forest Citys (officially the Forest City Club), from Rockford, Illinois was one of the first professional baseball clubs. Rockford played for one season during the National Association inaugural year of 1871.
From 1868 to 1870, future Hall of Famer Albert Spalding and infielder Ross Barnes starred for Rockford while the club was still considered an 'amateur' team. In reality, the Forest Citys were one of the first ball clubs to pay players. Rockford played their home games at the Agricultural Society Fair Grounds.
Rockford finished with 4 wins and 21 losses, 15½ games behind the champion Philadelphia Athletics club and good for last place. Player-manager Scott Hastings was found to have violated the "60 day rule" implemented by the league—if a player switched teams during the season, the team had to bench him for 60 days before he could play. Hastings had jumped from a Louisiana team to the Forest Citys in the spring and immediately begun playing for Rockford. This complaint was brought before the league, and the Forest Citys were forced to forfeit 4 of their wins.
The star of the team was Cap Anson, who hit .325 for the Forest Citys and would go on to become the player-manager of the Chicago White Stockings for over 20 seasons. Anson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1939.
Rockford had faced significant financial hardship during the 1871 season, including travel cost, and did not make a profit. Additionally, star Anson decided to accept a $1,250 contract offer from Philadelphia for the 1872 season. So, the club folded after its first and only season.
- Rockford Forest Citys 1871 season at Baseball-Reference.com
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- Wright, Marshall (2000). The National Association of Base Ball Players, 1857-1870. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. ISBN 0-7864-0779-4
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