It's ironic that Harry Wright, one of the fiercest opponents of gambling on base ball, provided one of the first known links between money and the game. In 1863, when Wright was preparing to leave the Knicks, the club hosted a three-game series of benefits for him, Sam Wright Sr. and others. Spectators were charged 25 cents to get in, but for 50 cents they could receive a souvenir stub with a portrait of a player on it.
The clubs consisted of nine Brooklyn Excelsiors versus a collection of four New York Gothams, a New York Eagle, one of the champion club of New Jersey and three St. George's Dragonslayers. Wright, the leadoff hitter, paced his team in batting, with three runs in the third game. Though the benefit was not held exclusively for him, it was Harry who received the $29.65 in profits.
The third game was billed as St. George's v. Base Ball match, but it was really a mix of 18 cricket and base ball players versus 9 base-ballists.
Though the former largely outnumbered the latter, their "advantage" turned out to be anything but.
Harry Wright: The Father of Professional Base Ball
Verso of William Crossley Benefit Match CDV