Albert Goodwill Spalding
1850 - 1915
On February 3, 1876, with $800 capital advanced by their mother, Albert G. Spalding (a Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher) and his brother J. Walker Spalding, formed a co-partnership A.G. Spalding & Bro., in Chicago, Illinois. This was the first ‘baseball and general sports emporium' in the U.S and the beginning of Spalding.
Albert Spalding's baseball career spanned many years and much success, in which he played for the Boston Red Stocking (1871-1875) and Chicago White Sox (1875-1876). Over his playing career, Spalding pitched 310 games, winning 241 to become baseball's first 200 game winner. By the late 1860's Spalding was the star pitcher for the Forest City Baseball Club in Rockford. He was then offered jobs as a pitcher by the Washington, Cleveland and New York clubs with significant salaries. It's no surprise that Spalding was revered as the greatest player of his time and a pioneer of the sport.
Spalding was the first player to wear a glove on the baseball field (and although it was skin tight and not padded), he was arguably the only player who could have worn one without being jeered off the field...
Up until this time, wearing a glove in elite baseball was a faux pas. This was not Spalding's only watershed moment. He was also the first person to outfit a baseball team in matching uniforms (complete with coloured caps and pure silk stockings) and the driver behind Major League Baseball adopting a standardized ball for competition. Spalding still holds three major league pitching records today.
In 1876, Spalding retired from playing baseball and entered the sporting goods business fulltime. While at the helm of his sporting goods business, Spalding also headed up the Chicago White Stockings from 1882 to 1891, leading the club to three pennants.
In 1885, A.G Spalding & Bros was incorporated in Illinois as a manufacturer, purchaser and seller of all kinds of athletic goods, Spalding also opened the first retail store at 241 Broadway, New York and within two years were producing over one million baseball bats a year. Continuing rapid expansion, five years later in 1986, Spalding opened an athletics goods store in Boston, Massachusetts.
In March 1915, Albert G. Spalding sadly passed away, leaving behind sports records and product inventions that would live on. In 1939, Spalding was elected posthumously into the Baseball Hall of Fame, which recognized him as an "organizational genius of baseball's pioneer days."