Circa 1880s "Boston Base Ball Association" season pass signed by team president Arthur Soden. The preprinted "Complimentary Pass," which bears the team's logo in the center, is issued to no one in particular and instructs the gate attendant to "Admit Bearer." It is signed "A. H. Soden Prest." in black fountain pen (grading "10") along the base. Although there is no indication in which year this pass was issued, it most likely dates to the late 1870s or early 1880s because it refers to the club as the Boston Base Ball Association, which was the legal corporation established by Ivers Adams in 1871 when he founded the Boston Red Stockings. That was the same year in which the Red Stockings became charter members of the National Association, baseball's first professional league. To lead his club, Adams recruited Harry and George Wright of Cincinnati Red Stockings fame, and the brothers were successful in convincing a number of their teammates to join the Red Stockings as well. Boasting a powerhouse lineup, Boston captured four pennants in five seasons before the National Association folded and gave way to the National League in 1876. Arthur Soden purchased the Boston Red Stockings prior to the 1877 season and later also briefly served as president of the National League in 1882, following the death of William Hulbert. Soden was known for his penurious ways and is best known today for establishing the reserve clause in 1880. This pass is one of the earliest major league season passes we have seen at auction, making it an exceptional relic relating to the birth of professional baseball in Boston. The pass (4.5 x 2.75 inches) displays light handling wear and is in Excellent condition overall. Auction LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $300. Estimate $1,000+.
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