1889 | PARIS, FRANCE – A dream came true for Albert Spalding on this date in 1889. A team of touring American baseball players he organized played an exhibition baseball game in Paris, France.
They finally settled on a park in the shadow of Eiffel’s rising tower,
There was some difficulty finding a suitable field. As Mark Lamster wrote in Spalding’s World Tour, “Paris was endowed with countless formal parks and squares, but a large, enclosed space that would allow Spalding to charge admission was proving harder to come by.” They finally settled on, and got permission to use, the Parc Aérostatique, a park in the shadow of Eiffel’s rising tower, which would be completed later that year.
Albert Spalding, the fledgling sporting goods magnate, was a good ballplayer in his own right, and quite the promoter. He decided to tour the world to promote baseball and, in turn, get more business for his sporting goods venture.
He set out west from Chicago after the 1888 season with a group of 20-odd ballplayers, including stars Adrian “Cap” Anson and John Montgomery Ward. They barnstormed across the western states playing in cities like Omaha, Denver and Salt Lake City, eventually reaching San Francisco and settling sail for Hawaii and Australia. Spalding’s tour played in Sydney, Cairo, Paris, London and numerous ports along the way.
The tour returned to the United States in April 1889, more than a year after leaving. And just in time for the 1889 National League baseball (the American League hadn’t been established yet.)
Spalding’s World Tour, by Mark Lamster, Public Affairs Publishing, 2006