Born in London, Reach first attracted attention on Brooklyn baseball diamonds in
the 1850s. In 1865, he was brought to Philadelphia for $25 a week "expenses," making
him one of the earliest professionals. A second baseman, although by most accounts
a lefthanded thrower, he was considered an excellent batter. In 1871, when Philadelphia
won the first National Association championship, he hit .348. After retiring as a
player, he was one of the founders of the Phillies and served as team president from
to 1902. He later was part owner of the Athletics. A sporting-goods company he founded
in the 1870s prospered and eventually made him millions. In 1889 he sold out to A.G.
Spalding, although he continued in an executive position. An annual baseball guide
that he began in the 1880s was instrumental in developing interest in baseball statistics.
»March 6, 1907: The first suit for damages resulting from the Phillies' 1903 ballpark disaster ends with the acquittal of club owners A.J. Reach and John Rogers.
»August 31, 1909: The A.J. Reach Company is granted a patent for its cork-centered baseball, which will replace the hard rubber-cored one. This change will be particularly apparent in the NL in 1910-11.
»January 14, 1922:
Ben Shibe, half-owner and president of the Athletics since their American League start in 1906, dies at 84. A partner in the A.J. Reach sporting goods company, Shibe invented the machinery that made possible the manufacture of standard baseballs.
»January 14, 1928: Alfred J. Reach, founder of the A.J. Reach sporting goods firm, dies at 87. Before 1860, he became the first ballplayer to receive a regular salary when he signed as a catcher with the Philadelphia Athletics for $25 a week.