Spalding, Albert Goodwill
- Michelle Brattain
Spalding, Albert Goodwill (02 September 1850–09 September 1915), baseball player and executive and sporting goods manufacturer, was born in Byron, Illinois, the son of James Lawrence Spalding and Harriet Irene Goodwill Wright. Although A. G., as he was most frequently known, was fond of the “rags-to-riches” description often applied to his life, his childhood was comfortably prosperous. His mother brought a large inheritance from a previous marriage, and his father managed a 320-acre estate, owned several rental homes, farmed, and trained horses. When his father died in 1858, Albert was sent to live with an aunt in Rockford, Illinois, where he attended public school and later the Rockford Commercial College. Before his mother and siblings joined him in Rockford, the twelve-year-old Albert spent much of his time at the town commons watching local boys play baseball. Too shy to ask the other boys to play, Albert earned an invitation to join the game by catching a fly ball hit beyond center field and hurling it to the catcher. Within a few years these informal games became a local schoolboy club, the Pioneers. In 1865, when Rockford businessmen formed a new baseball club, the Forest Citys, they asked Spalding to join as pitcher. In 1867 the Forest Citys defeated the Washington Nationals, reputed to be the best team in the United States; this established Spalding as a well-known pitcher. Many years later Spalding recalled that he was “never more proud of an accomplishment in baseball” (quoted in Levine, p. 8)....