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Reach, Alfred James (25 May 1840–14 January 1928), baseball player, sporting-goods manufacturer, and franchise owner, was born in London, England, the son of Benjamin Reach, a trading agent, and Elizabeth Dyball. His parents immigrated to Brooklyn, New York, when he was a year old. He had little formal education. Brought up with temperate values and a strong work ethic, Reach sold newspapers on Broadway and worked as a ship caulker. He became an ironmolder, “wielding heavy tools” twelve hours a day in a foundry ( ...

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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)....

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Wright, George (28 January 1847–21 August 1937), baseball player and sporting goods entrepreneur, was born in New York City, the son of Samuel Wright, a cricket professional, and Ann Tone. When Wright was about ten, his father moved the family across the Hudson River to Hoboken, New Jersey, where the senior Wright had been named groundskeeper, coach, and bowler for the St. George Cricket Club. Here, Wright learned to play cricket; he also learned baseball at nearby Elysian Fields. He excelled in both sports. At age fifteen he was promoted from the junior to the senior nine of the Gotham Base Ball Club of New York. About the same time he was hired as assistant cricket professional for the St. George club. In 1865 he performed professionally for the Philadelphia Cricket Club, and on Wednesdays he played baseball with the Olympics, one of Philadelphia’s leading teams. That same year he played for an American all-star cricket team that defeated the Canadian team in Toronto....