Wilmington Quicksteps

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The Wilmington Quicksteps were an 1884 late season replacement baseball team in the Union Association. They finished with a 2-16 record and were managed by Joe Simmons. The team played home games in Union Street Park in Wilmington, Delaware.

In 1883, the Inter-State Association of Professional Baseball Clubs was founded and local capital was invested for a franchise in Wilmington. In 1884, The Interstate Association re-organized under the name "Eastern League" (not to be confused with the double A Eastern League of today); this was one of the very first "minor leagues" and is considered a forerunner of today's AAA International League.

The Wilmington Quicksteps quickly began to dominate the league. So highly regarded was the club that major league clubs began to show up to play exhibition games; they defeated both the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Monumentals during the season. By August, the Quicksteps had already sewed up the league championship with a 50-12 record. Unfortunately, their dominance nearly destroyed fan interest in the Eastern League; even in Wilmington, attendance averaged only 400 per game.

Late into the season, Henry Lucas, the Union Association founder and owner of the St. Louis Maroons, convinced Simmons and the Quicksteps to cross over into his league when the Philadelphia Keystones folded due to lack of attendance. After winning their first game 4-3 over Washington, it was all downhill for the Quicksteps. Many Wilmington players no longer felt bound by their contracts and signed for more money with other teams in their new league; shortstop and team Captain Oyster Burns jumped to the Baltimore Monumentals for $900 a month, and outfielder Dennis Casey also jumped to Baltimore for $700 a month; each had been making about $150 a month in Wilmington. Catcher Andy Cusick went to the Philadelphia for $375 a month, and the only star player to remain in Wilmington was pitcher Ed "The Only" Nolan, who went on to beat Washington for Wilmington's second and last victory. But the Quicksteps could not survive the loss of Burns, Casey and Cusick; the team finished with a batting average of only .175 in the Union Association.

By this time, however, St. Louis had already won the pennant; as Wilmington was just being used to fill in the last month of the season, Simmons pulled his team from the field and disbanded them on September 21, 1884 after discovering that he would be unable to pay the $60 gate fee to the visiting Kansas City Cowboys as the attendance was zero. Wilmington was replaced in the Union Association by the Milwaukee Brewers.

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