tv Pedestrianism in 19th Century CSPAN August 16, 2014 3:38am-4:40am EDT
now about unionizing college athle athletes. i'll be very interested in both of yourti e opinions in terms ok this unionization effort. it's just starting. i think people are looking posit around for an opinion, a perspective on an it that they understand and wrap their minds about. jim? bill?his phr >> bill, you want to take this? >> for me, i have this phrase that i use. all great fortunes are amassed with either cheap or slave one labor.ever and soyb the ncaa is one group everybody is focusing on.
they have this money machine. to and to keep it this way, the labor force has to be free or ok very low wages. that's why you look at a lot of the great companies in this country, and they pay their labor -- they can't afford to go to the place where they work.oo, i know when i was a rookie 100 years ago, the average salary in the nba was $5,000. that's not even meal money now. in the middle 1960, we struck ck
the all-star game, the 20 top players in the league got together and struck an all-star game to form the union. the owners said, no way. we are not going to do that. so we said, okay. there will be no all-star game.a abc television said that if you want us to televise, you get d o your players on the floor.do they said, let's talk to them. l so tle sahey said, we don't wan lose face. t what we will do is if you will play the all-star game, at the end of the year, we will recognize the union.e so the vote 11-9 to play. lawy
and weer played the all-star ga. so at the end of the year we a went in to talk to the commissioner. he said, i recognize the playert association. but we do notk have anything to talk about.awyer i'm not going to talk to you about anything.okayf the so our lawyer said, i will see you in september. that's the beginning of the next season. week.cause y we're not going to play the not what we knew then was our contract was for the regular games only, not preseason, all-stars or playoffs. so, well, we will see you next septemb september. the icplayoffs is where everybo got well. game.
you almost doubled the price ofy tickets and you sold out every l game. the revenue going out y the window. you w so they said, okay, we will talk to you.ou list what do you want to talk about? so we had a list of things that we had to change. one of the things that we knew e was baseball was the only sportf that had antitrust exemption.s. the rest of us had -- the rest l of sports had to go through antitrust laws. so all the grievance with the nba now are based on collectivew bargainingit agreements. c >> will that work at college?yog is that a model for college? is that something that these young athletes should be looking at? >> t i'm going to simplify it. i'm totally against a union in
college. i don't like the ncaa. i think it's a greedy bri organization, an organization unfair to the players. players can't even get enough money to bring their parents to a game h. on the other hand, i think that we have all gotten away from the value of education.k [ applause ] so i'm an advocate of, let's go back to four years of college. [ applause ]etall, let's graduate and then let's hs choose to play basketball, football, whatever or not. as you know, there's a very low percentage of individuals that n make the professional teams. but everybody can get that scholarship can get a college
education. so we have to re-emphasize education and the value of it.ce because that's going to really n be the ingredient that's going o to make the change.s it's not going to be a strugglea between the sncaa and the union and all that. that's strictly money. >> yeah. >> as we know with these players today that we have, millionaires, over two-thirds of them go bankrupt within three years. to so we put the value back on education and making that s dedication to your college and let the ncaa support that with giving the players a right amount of money so they can live great education.ant [ applause ] >> we are running short here.hi. i do want to ask you about one other thing. how close are we in athletics in
this country to really measuring people, evaluating people basedd upon a content of their character and the caliber of s situation now where we have activae agthletes saying, m gay. the jason collins, most certainly mike sams, there's another -- ae young man who played a i'm championship game, the first active division i athlete to say i'm gay.evalua howt close are we to putting ths madness behind us about evaluating people based upon os these -- all of these secondarye inconsequence shall things as , opposed to the content of their character and the caliber of
their confidence? tha how close are we? >> you want that one? >> what i will say is, the firsw athlete you heard about coming out as gay, someone asked me, how would you feel about playing with a gay player. and i have one question. can he play? [ applause ] >> the caliber of his competence? >> right. >> >> i cannot add to that.ll >> jim was a professional ain te most macho of all american sports.e, iion, but
it seems to me -- it may not beh a good correlation. but a lot of questions they uesi asked about gayon athletes were essentially the same questions they used to ask about us, the w black athletes. >> absolutely. to isn't it a simple situation? we have laws in this country. we try to abide by laws. r we have different denominations. we have different races, etc., gender. and if you are a law abiding citizen and trying to do the i right thing, then how can anyone judge you? i think it's that simple. i can't get into the religious earlier, the character of a aspect of it. look for the -- as you said 've earlier, the g character of a
person. that's good enough for me. k i have my own things i got to s deal with.we >> i know what you mean.know, i we are getting pretty close to l the end here. typically, at this time, you ad know, is when the moderator will ask, how do you want to be who remembered and one thing and d another. but i have researched that. i looked at 31 people who said how they wanted to be wan remembered. then when i read the follow-up, not one of thoem was remembered. the way they said they wanted to be remembered. of we won't waste our time with that morbid wishful things. i have a couple of last pretty serious here. i think this wonderful audience
deserves is a chocolate shake with their broccoli. bill, the question i have been wanting to ask you the last 45 and -- 11 nba championships in 13 seasons. i mean, i looked at this thing where lebron james came out and said when he put miss mount rushmore of players up, he left you off. m i didn't have any problem with that because it's really not mount rushmore, it's mount wans russell. the faces he hangs on it, who cares. he can put anybody he wants to up there.3 i do have a question. 11 championships in 13 years --i 13 seasons. w it's mindit boggling. the question i have had for the last 45 years is what happened with them other two?- [ laughter ] rig
>> all right.h my teams were in the finals 12 times. in the finals 12 los times. and one year -- i had a severelh sprained ankle and i wasn't able to play. and we lost. but, i very rarely bring that t up. i tell you why. as a team game, and my team lost. and because it's a team game an> i want to go to the other side and say my team won. so i give them credit for beating us. >> so the other two you just lost. >> yeah. >> it's hard to talk about
yourself but i can talk about you. you know, 11 championships were precede by two college championships. two of them.team the common denominator in a team sport was you. team sport means that you are a team, everyone having responsibility and you win together.. not michael jordan being acrobatic or lebron james being a freak of nature. but, bill, your contribution --d made the difference. of team. it k is your contribution.>> ant we know you're the greatest contributor. >> yeah. >> and the objective of a team is to win. >> that should be a picture of m bill russell next to the word eb
"winner" in the dictionary. i >> absolutely. and that's my man. >> in the two minutes -- >> never been a greater contributor in any sport. >> in the two minutes i have left -- y >> that'sou a friend of mine. >> i know.im. i know. but what bill is selling you, un jim, you don't have to pay him a that money you owe him.er of you're in good shape. >> i have a question here.ou groups.uch m of course you understand the politics of the entertainment q ju you can get out of a forum such as football. i have a question because i to this. playe president barack obama leading up to his first campaign team. famously went to the university
of north carolina and played basketball with the championship basketball team. election, he famously channelled al green's "i'm so in love withe you." it became the number one phone ringer across the country after that. i have a question for you, do you think he would have projected the same cachet, charisma and cool if he had been into bowling and had channelled again campbell's "the wichita lineman" just as a guy who i understands the entertainment en >> i'm speechless. to >> i think everybody else would have been too if he would have ] sung "the wichita lineman."
>> i don't know how the answer that. and i almost don't know what you're talking about. that. >> okay. all right.re >> enough about that. >> we're down to the last 15 seconds. >> i want toeti say something te you, please. obviously between one of my lifetime best friends and a guy that i've known 50 years. i got no business being here okay? be but i thought it was such an honor for me to be invited o because all i've ever tried to do in my adult life is to make my father proud of me. a and wego were -- my father dieds few years ago.
but when he was 75, he says to " me you know, i love you.id and it was the first time he had ever said that. and he says, and i'm proud of you. that's the first time he ever that. he said i'm proud that you're my son and i'm proud just as proud that i'm your father. goi and that was my hero. you know, i'm going to tell you a quick story. >> we have zeros on the clock. d you have to be quick. >> wquick?i'm >> i got my first $100,000 contract and i called my father and i said you don't have to as, work any more. i make enough for both of us.
and his reaction was i don't want your damn money. in the foundry. and i says, that's a terrible job. why would you give it up?m he said listen, i've given these people 35 of the best years of my life. now i'm going to give them a few of the bad ones. >> it has been a tremendous honor for me to share this stage with two of the greatest men.g. i won't say basketball player or football player. things you just happenis to be the best in the world at doing. but two of the greatest men, two of the greatest citizens of this country that i've ever had the pleasure of being associated with. let me thank you.
thank you very much. here's a great read for your summer reading list, "sundays at eight" a collection of stories from some of the most influential people over the last 25 years. >> i knew there was a risk and i decided to take it because whether it's an illusion or not i don't think it is. it helped my concentration. it stopped me being bored. it stopped other people being boring to some extent. it would keep me awake and get me to prolong the conversation and enhance the moment. if i was asked would i do it again? probably yes. i would have question earlier hoping to get away with the whole thing. not nice for my children to hear. it sounds irresponsible if i say i would do that again to you. but it would be hypocritical to
say i wouldn't touch the stuff if i knew. >> the soviet union contained the seeds of its own destruction many of the problems at the end were there at the beginning. i spoke about the attempt to control all institutions and all parts of the economy and political life and social life. one of the problems is when you do that and try to control everything then you create opposition and potential dissidents everywhere. you have just made him into a political dissident. >> if you want to subsidize housing in this country and we want to talk about it and the populous agrees that it's something that we should subsidize put it on the balance sheet and make it clear and evident and make everybody aware
how much it is costing. when you deliver it through third-party enterprises and through a company with private shareholders and executives who can extrant the subsidy for themselves that is not a good way. >> these are a few of the 41 engaging stories in c-span's sundays at eight. now available at your favorite book seller. there was a time in u.s. history when competitive walking was a competitive sport. author matthew algeo talks about his book "pedestrianism," competitive walking was a major sport in new york and philadelphia in the 1870s and 1880s. the new york public library
hosted this hour-long event. >> it's a pleasure and an honor to be here at the new york public library and i thank them for the invitation. also nice to have c-span here, who will be recording the event. as christine mentioned i live in mongolia. is there anybody else here from mongolia tonight? yeah, a couple. so i wrote most of this book while i was living in mongolia. and just by way of background,xñ k4ek(
since i didn't like to read it, i wouldn't read it and i got a "d" in freshman english and decided maybe that's a sign i should try another field. and so, i switched my major>?yk folklore. any other folklore majors here today? folklore was a great training for writing books. it really involves research and interviewing and paying attention, basically. but when i graduated in 1988, it may surprise you but back then there weren't nearly as many folklore jobs as there are today. and so i ended up going out to seattle. just moved to seattle. and that's where i kind of drifted into public radio. back then it was more like a welfare program for people with
folklore degrees and it was very helpful as well in teaching me how to write and research and write clearly and concisely. so i bounced around a bunch of public radio stations. i worked in minnesota. i worked in st. louis. i met my wife there. we were married and worked in maine. and in three i moved to los angeles and worked for a program called "marketplace" and in 2003 it was the year that allison took the foreign service exam to attempt to become a foreign service officer and passed. and so she was put on a hiring list. you could be on the list for up to two years. it was almost two years we were in los angeles when allison got an e-mail one morning if you want to join the foreign service y06[ç,4 need to move to washing in two weeks. so we had a decision to make rather quickly.
at the time i had a good job at "marketplace," allison was still if we took the job she would have a job and i wouldn't. and this didn't bother me in the least. and so we took a vote and it was 1-1. about whether or not i should quit my job. eventually, though, she came around and it enabled me to start writing these books. i tend to write books about obscure events in american history. somebody recently told me you wrote the definitive book on pedestrianism. and i thought you know, that's my niche is i write the definitive books about things that probably don't need to have definitive books written about them. but it's been a lot of fun. it's been extremely nonlucrative. and it has given me something to
do as we travel about. usually i'm able to do the research in washington. we're based in washington between our foreign assignments. and so i can, you know, get all $÷$x8leñ6]d:4cfi÷éfo!+/i(gtbr( books. it's a very portable non-lucrative profession at least. and the first book i wrote which i mostly wrote in the capital of mali which is in west africa, the first book i wrote was a book called "last team standing" about the 1943 merger of the steelers and the eagles. during>?ykhl world war ii the nl football league was so short of players, that they had to merge the steelers and the eagles and
they became the steagles in 1945. they were a misfit bunch. the quarterback had a prefer rated eardrum. the receiver was blind in one eye. but they had a successful season. you can buy the book. it's in paper back. while i was researching the steagles book i went back and looked at the hisry of spectator sports in the united states. always interested in how we got to this point where sports are really kind of a cultural -- it's like a -- it's like the sports industrial complex today. multi-billion-dollar business. cities build 100, 200, 300 million dollar stadium funded by taxpayers just to keep these teams in town. i knew it hadn't always been
like that. i was curious how it got to be like that. and that's when i learned about this peculiar sport called pedestrianism. it was the most popular spectator sport in the united states for a very brief period of time in the 1870s and 1880s. and it really began in 18 -- 1860. there was a door to door book salesman in boston. and he made a bet with a friend in the autumn of 1860 on the outcome of that year's presidential election. westin bet that lincoln would lose. spoiler alert. lincoln wins. so westin, to fulfill the terms of the bet, it was an unusual bet, the loser had to walk from boston to washington in ten days and arrive in time to see the inauguration. now this was a really arduous
undertaking in 1861, the inauguration was in march of 1861. i'm sure it's no walk in the park today either. i wouldn't recommend taking the interstate. but he walked from. go. set out on february 21st. and of course the roads were terrible and it was the middle of winter. there were no paved roads at all and in some places you had barely more than a dirt path to tell you where to go. there were no reliable maps. when he got to a town he would have to ask how do i get to the next town. but this attempt to walk from boston to washington really captured the public's imagination. it fascinated people. and i think for a couple of 40l@7÷qh;7o&i!vvñkñ:nf0-k4ek(
and westin's walk was a feel-good human interest story. as he made his way south, huge crowds would turn out in new york and trenton and philadelphia just to watch him walk through town. people would wait for hours in the cold waiting to see westin on the horizon, slowly making his way to town and bands would (>?ykhl% and play and accompany he was a shrewd businessman too. he had made an agreement with a sewing machine company from new york to hand out advertising fliers along the way. he got them basically to sponsor his trip. he would hand out these fliers and make his -- go on his merry way. the unfortunate end to the story is he didn't make it in time. he was four hours late for the inauguration.
nonetheless, he had become very famous. he was also kind of a schemer. he if i neighed an invitation to a lincoln inaugural ball and met lincoln. lincoln offered to pay his train fare back home to boston. but the civil war intervened and it wasn't until 1867 that westin attempted another walk. and this time, it was a walk from portland, maine to chicago. and he made a $10,000 wager he could walk from portland to chicago in less than 30 days. and again, this was considered practically impossible. at the time. he -- he succeed. he won the bet and again along the way, huge crowds in buffalo and erie and cleveland. when he got to chicago an estimated 25% of the population of the city was waiting to meet
him. another huge sensation and this solidified westin's reputation as a celebrity, a celebrity athlete and he was just westin the walker. the name westin was synonymous with walking. he was a clever guy. with his fame at its peak he decided to take his act indoors. in the 1870s, roller skating became a popular sport. it was a fad, really. i think general sherman was a big fan. but anyway, towns and cities began building roller rinks, places where you can go roller skate and westin would stage walking exhibitions in these roller rinks, walk against time. he would attempt to walk 100 miles in 24 hours. and he'd pull into a town and hire a band and he would do these walks and thousands of
people would come and pay 10 cents a piece just to watch westin walk in circles on the floor of these roller rinks. i mean sometimes the laps were so small they were 50 to a mile. he had amazing endurance and also an ability to function with very little sleep. and this proved very lucrative these exhibitions and soon competitors sprang up. %8;xt0s5)qi#kço>y)xiru[
when he thought about westin he thought i can do that. he rented a rink in chicago and walked 100>?ykhl%vi# hours. and westin walked 100 miles in 22 hours. it became apparent these were the two leading pedestrians in the united states and it was time for a showdown. i call them, really, the ali and the frazier of their age. westin was the ali character. he walked in velvet shirts and carried a cane. he understood that the event was about more than athletics. it was about entertainment. he was there to entertain the crowd. o'leary would have none of. that he wore a traditional tight cotton pants and a cotton shirt and just looked straight down at
the track, wouldn't even acknowledge the crowd. he was always focused, i guess you would say. he was the joe frazier in the comparison. but in november of 1875 it was finally decided we need to have a competition to determine the world's champion pedestrian. never mind that it was between two americans. but we call it the world series, so, that's never stopped us from deciding that we had the world champion. and it took place in chicago. interesting venue, the chicago exposition building. it was the largest public venue in the united states at the time. the ground covered five football fields. you could fit five football fields in the expo in chicago. it was so big that this was the logical place to hold this great
walking match. and the rules were pretty simple. six days was as long as any athletic contest could take because at the time, there were blue laws that prohibits public amusements on the sabbath. you couldn't walk competitively on sunday. that's the way it was. so the races would begin right after midnight sunday night, monday morning and continue pretty much nonstop until midnight the following saturday night. 144 hours. generally it was six full days. and in this match in 1875 between o'leary and westin, o'leary won and he was declared world's champion pedestrian. westin, who had been the most famous pedestrian up to that point was not gracious in defeat and complained that o'leary had
a home field advantage because the race took place in chicago. he said he had been threatened and somebody had threatened to shoot him, these sort of things. none of these reports panned out but westin was quite chagrinned and decided to take his act to london where he started staging these walks against time again and the british just like the americans were fascinated by westin the walker and would come out to walk him walk for hours or even days at a time. eventually this format of the six-day race kind of was formalized and there would be large competitions that would be staged between all comers. the entry fee would be $10. @h/]vw)m was raised to $100 to discourage speculators, people who thought they could walk 500 miles in six days but really
couldn't. you would have 15, 20 competitors taking part in a six-day race. and dirt track would be late on the floor of the arena about 1/7 or 1/8 mile. a team of judges would keep track of the laps. one part of the foot had to be on the ground at all times. this was walking. some of the most famous matches took place close to here at the first madison square garden at 23rd and 4th or 5th maybe. this was built by p.t. barnum in 1874. he named it in his typical low key way, the grand roman hippodrome. it was neither grand or roman. a hippodrome was a name for a
stadium at the time. it was open air and 10,000 seats total and it wasn't covered. sometimes barnum would cover it with his tents. by 1876 it was covered. in 1877, i believe one of the vanderbilts who owned the property took it over and decided to name it after the nearby park, madison square. hence we have madison square garden. this is the first i'm talking about of course. the current madison square garden which opened in '68 is the fourth. but they keep calling it madison square garden. even though it is moving away from madison square which must confuse some tourists anyway. the race atç+-j))z madison squa garden were the most popular six-day races. now we're in the golden age of
pedestrianism. 1879, 1880, 1881. madison square garden seated 10,000 people and it would sell out every night and people would come and go throughout the day. so we don't know how many people in total would watch one of these six-day races but it's possible they might have had 20 or 30,000 people come through the turnstiles every day. people were constantly coming and going. and that was one of the appeals of the sport, actually. it was continuous. and at the time you had millions of people moving into the city. industrialization, new factories, migration of people from the countryside, immigrants especially irish and german $÷$x8leñ6]d:4cfi÷éfo!+/i(gnbr.
i would say we have an entertainment surplus now but back then there was an entertainment deficit. most entertainment was a live entertainment that might cost a dollar or two and the average working person was lucky to make a dollar a day or 50 cents was more likely. there wasn't a lot for working people to do. a ticket to one of t>?ykhl%vhee walking matches might cost 10 cents or a quarter. and because it was continuous if you worked a shift and got off at 11:00 p.m. or 7:00 a.m. you could stop by the great walking match and have a couple beers and watch for a couple hours. there was no restriction. in fact if you wanted to you could buy a ticket on monday and stay all six days and a sandwich cost about 10 cents. and basically for a dollar, you would have a warm place to stay for a week and at least one meal
a day. and they also sold a lot of beer. a walking match, too, i need to emphasize everybody says it must have been so boring. it must have been so boring just walking people walk in circles for days at a time. the only thing i could think be more boring would be listening to somebody talk about people walking in circles for days at a time. but, i will not talk for six days, i do assure you that. but these events -- look, we have had some really boring super bowls. i think we can all agree on. that we have had some really boring super bowls, everybody watches. and you don't always watch for the football. you watch for the commercials. you watch for the halftime show. and when something unusual will happen, that sort of thing.
and pedestrianism really pioneered this. there were brass bands that would be playing songs. there were vendors selling everything from roasted chestnuts to pickled eggs, raw oysters. wouldn't recommend buying those. but you know, there were all kinds of things to do apart from watching the guys walk. it was a spectacle. and for working people especially it was a rare opportunity to take part in something this spectacular and this famous and on the front page of the newspaper the next day. there were other things to do at the walking match. i went to the new stadium in philadelphia and it occurred to me that these new baseball stadiums are designed to give you something to do besides watching a baseball game. you know? they have arcades for the kids and restaurants and bars and it's basically they've admitted it's a boring sport.
but you're paying $28. we'll give you something to do. and that was a little bit the case with pedestrianism. pedestrianism also had a lot of fans from the upper class. and you might see celebrities at a great walking match. james blaine attended walking matches. chester arthur was a huge fan. stop me if you recognize any oxñ $÷$x8leñ6]d:4cfi÷éfo!+/i(gnit lot. and i guess was fairly easy to spot in the crowd. i don't know how. but word would get around that tom thumb was in the arena. at one point, there were riots. people rioted to get into pedestrianism matches. there was a riot in new york where they oversold tickets to the match and people were still
gathered outside trying to get ç(>? sunday night and they heard the roar of the crowd inside and began storming madison square garden and there was a very famous, infamous police captain, alexander williams. his nickname was clubber. you can deduce from that what you want. but clubber decided that he had to beat back these people who were trying to invade the garden and it turned into a riot and a lot of people say it was the worst riot in new york since the civil war draft riots ten years before. it inflamed passions deeply. the pedestrians themselves became the first celebrity athletes in the united states. their pictures appeared on the early trading cards. daniel o'leary the irish immigrant from chicago he was the spokesman for a brand of salt.
don't know what the connection was. but apparently he liked that salt. there were corporate sponsorships. i mentioned westin would sell adds as he walked. there were many pedestrians were sponsored by newspapers and would compete with the logo of the newspaper emblazened across the front of their shirt. an early example of advertising on an athletic uniform, a tradition i have to say that major league baseball to its credit has resisted, though for how long i don't know. it also had a -- struck a chord with people not just because there wasn't anything else to do. that was a big part of the appeal. there was so little entertainment but it's the idea of walking to the average american in the 1870s and 1880s is very different than it is today. everybody walked. a good horse might cost 100 or
$150. this is one of the things that surprised me. i imagined that everybody had horses. nobody had horses. 1% had horses. the 99% walked. and they walked everywhere. there was some public transportation especially in new york and philadelphia. but by and large people walked. and they had always -- people had had to walk long distances in the middle of the night to fetch a doctor or maybe on a snowy sunday morning to get to church. so people related to the competitors, to the pedestrians. there was an empathy. they were doing this ordinary activity in a very extraordinary way. and also, they were admired for their endurance. in a typical race, a pedestrian might be on the track walking for 21 out of 24 hours. they would sleep about three hours. usually in 15 to 30 minute i
take a nap. whenever you hear someone say, i only slept four hours a day but you took a two-hour nap every afternoon so it all evened out. some of you who are sleeping right now are bi-phasic sleepers. but the pedestrians i think were mostly poly-phasic sleepers. this is a real thing. you can train yourself to sleep in 45 minute increments several times throughout day. if you are able to fall into r.e.m. sleep quickly you're as rested as if you slept eight hours a night. it was a physiological quirk that these guys had. if you were sleeping, others were making laps. you didn't want to sleep very
much when you were in a six-day race. there were all kinds of strategies. it was interesting. by the fifth or sixth day that's when the attendants got excited. the guys are sleep deprived, dirty, smelly. they did not have the advantage of modern sports medicine, the diet, you know, generally considered of mutton, which i've had a lot of in mongolia now that i think about it and raw beefsteak. one guy's favorite was greasy eel broth. i asked allison if she would try to make this and she said no. and also they thought champagne was a stimulant. that would help them. so they were drunk and dehydrated. suffering from sleep deprivation. you get tunnel vision, actually,
when you don't have enough sleep. so later in the race they would take chalk dust and mark a line in the middle of the track so they could stay on that line. and often competitors would collapse. they would just -- their bodies just could not endure what they were asking their bodies to do. and at the end of a race, often and dan o'leary was one. he would be so utterly exhausted he was unable to walk they would carry him back to the hotel. westin he was usually in good shape. in fact races would end saturday night and he went to church the next morning. it affected different racers in different ways. the sport also opened doors for women and african-americans in
ways that had never been done before. african-americans could compete with the white competitors on the same field. the rules were simple and if you were able to do it you were given a chance to do it. frank hart won a major race in 1881 and for a time was the most famous black athlete in the united states. women race today. there were six-day women's races. the women, though, they had a -- they had a special problem because the victorian age demanded that they wear full-length skirts or dresses usually of a heavy velvet. god forbid we see their shapely calves seems to be the reason for that. and so, while they did race and
the races -- the women's races were quite popular as well, they were at a disadvantage. let's just put it that way. in 1880, it looked like the history of pedestrian -- that pedestrianism would last forever. it really was de facto america's national past time. but several things happen that led to its demise. one there were gambling scandals as it game more popular with the public, it became more popular with gamblers. there were all kinds of ways to wager. you could wager on who would be the first to drop out, who would finish last. so many different ways. some of the lesser pedestrians would collude with gamblers and fix races. agree to be the first to drop out the bookie takes the bets on
it and splits the winnings with the pedestrian and this began to erode public confidence. there were drug scandals. performance-enhancing drugs it's so good that we have eradicated that from modern sports. westin was caught chewing cocoa leaves while he was walking to keep him away. orders. which is a pretty standard excuse these days. i didn't know what i was taking basically was his excuse. but, the biggest down fall, two things, really, contributed to the downfall of pedestrianism, and one was in 1885, there was an frrríb)ársp' named john star. and he invented a machine he called the rover. which is the modern safety
bicycle. you know before that, bicycles were the penny farthing with the big front wheel and little back wheel. they were not fast. but the safety bicycle with the two same-size wheels and the chain drive shaft were fast and nimble and more fun to watch race for six days than people walking. and it was almost instantaneous that bicycle racing replaced competitive walk as the most popular spectator sport. it also had the advantage of crashes. the bicycles especially at the end of the six days when they were all out of it they would be crashing into each other. this was spectacular and a lot of fun. no one goes to races to see crashes any more either. so a lot of this -- a lot of these innovations were really
kind of pioneered what we have now in modern sports, the corporate sponsorship, the spokespeople, the monization, it is amazing. it was monetized almost instantly. the owners of the venues jumped in. at its height in 1879, 1880, a pedestrian could win and they got a percentage of the gate receipts. one guy won $20,000 for winning a race at madison square garden which would be about $400,000 today. not bad for six days' work. it was very lucrative for a very brief period of time. unfortunately many of the pedestrians died penniless. they -- again, you don't see that any more with professional
athletes squandering their wealth. so pedestrianism set a lot of standards good and bad. and really, by 1890, pedestrianism was all but dead. it was also killed by baseball. the national league was founded in 1876 and it was really a rag-tag operation. teams would just quit the season half way through if they knew they wouldn't win. why take the road trip to st. louis, let's just go home. in the 1880s, the baseball owners decided we really need to organize this thing. and so the first thing they did in their infinite wisdom was impose a salary cap of $2500 a season and they also imposed the reserve clause. this was a clause in every players contract that bound him to his team in perpetuity. you could never be a free agent.
you could only be traded or released. this persisted until 1975. 1890, the national league had eight teams. and only one of those eight teams is not still with us. the cleveland spiders, unfortunately would be nice to have the spiders. but the other teams and i have to write them down, braves, cubs, dodgers, philly, pirates and reds. many of them have moved around a lot. but they were all in the national league in 1890 and still all in the national league now. so baseball really replaced pedestrianism as a popular spectator sport along with bicycle racing. baseball stadiums were built and baseball became a fad and became engrained in the american
consciousness as a national past time as they like to call it. i talked about the empathy that people had with walkers. i did a little research. i mean, it was on the internet so it has to be true. but recently there was a study that the average american takes 51 -- 5,117 steps a day. that is about half of what is recommended. we really don't know how many steps the average american took in the 1870s or 1880s but i found one study that said in north carolina a housewife would walk half a mile a day just fetching water. it gives you an idea why people walked. walking was essential.
it was the only way to get around and the only way to fulfill your basic needs, food and water and employment. we're not a walking nation any more. i doubt that competitive walking will make a grand comeback although it still exists in the olympics. we have race walk matches, 30,000 -- is it 30 kilometers 10 kilometer, i think. but it's funny, the modern race walking the rule is that one foot must be in contact with the ground at all times as observed by the human eye. so just like the old walking matches of the 1870s, 1880s they have a team of judges who is looking at everybody's feet and making sure that one of them is in contact with the ground. if you do it in slow motion all of the best competitors have two feet off the ground for an
instant but it's the idea is to not be caught and not have it be visible to one of the judges. and so in that way it's very much like old pedestrianism was. i think competitive race walking was -- was in the first modern olympics in 1896, was it? 1896 and one of the few sports and maybe the only sport that has been in every single olympics since then there has been race walking. and so you can really see a direct line from the old time pedestrianism to modern race walk but in a larger sense you can see the direct line from the idea of sport as entertainment the idea that people attend a sporting event not just to watch the event but to see the