Baseball in Early California, 3
In 1886, both the California and California State leagues fielded teams, with the State League being the first to start the season on March 14. The California League began play on April 4. The California State League secured Central Park in San Francisco, while the California was relegated to Alameda Athletic Park in the East Bay, making the State League appear the stronger of the two leagues. But on after games on May 2, Col. Tom Robinson pulled his Oakland G & M club out of the league, joining the rival league two weeks later. The Oakland G & Ms replaced the Star Club of San Francisco which went belly up on after playing on Sunday, May 2.
The California State League stumbled on— after the G & M defection— as a three-team circuit until they picked up Stockton at the end of August. Stockton blew up in late October, and the league limped to the November 7 finish. The California League fished strong on November 28, and looked forward to 1887.
Also of note in 1886 was the formation of the Southern California League. I know very little about this league other than the two box scores I have come across. That will be for a later time. But a league that incorporated two clubs from San Luis Obispo and a club from Tulare seems interesting to say the least.
In 1887, the competition to the California League came from the second incarnation of the Pacific Coast League. The PCL disbanded after Decoration-Day games with the Stockton Ahrendt & Gumpertz (or more commonly, “A & Gs”) club running away with the league championship the league up to that point with an 8-1 record, and every other club below .500. The proposed league was set up as a direct threat to the established California League, in that they stated that they would be importing players from the East, and would present a better brand of ball than the older league. Things, however, worked out the other way, and the released PCL players of note were picked up by California League clubs. And never again was their a serious challenge to the superiority of the Cal League.
Baseball in other parts of the state thrived in 1887, along with the California economy. That led to the founding of leagues that would be around for years and years: The Central California and Northern California leagues, both of which functioned as feeder leagues for younger players, and for older players on the way down.
Note: With the Holidays upon us, this recounting of early California baseball will take me a few day longer than I expected. In the mean time I will post the other leagues I have come across in m y research. Please be aware of the fact that I have not as yet determined how many teams played in the 1889 California State League or the Northern California League. My time up at the State Library ran out on me, and will have to wait for my next trip up north.
Click on Image to Enlarge League Chart