Born: November 2, 1847
Died: March 30, 1908
Charles James Swasey was born November 2, 1847 in Newark. The city was a hotbed of baseball during his boyhood, and he was part of a group of boys who became extremely skilled at the finer points of the game. Charlie was always a strong hitter for his age, but his greatest talent was snaring short flies behind his position of choice, second base. In the days before fielders wore mitts, this was a highly prized skill.
Charlie and one of his childhood pals, Andy Leonard, were good enough to be paid under the table as professionals by their late teens. In 1868, at age 18, Charlie joined the Irvington Club; Leonard accompanied him there after the season started. They helped the Irvingtons defeat the powerhouse Brooklyn Atlantics, creating quite a stir. In 1868, Charlie and Andy joined the Cincinnati Buckeyes. By this time, Charlie's last name had been appearing in box scores as "Sweasy"for a couple of years.
In the late 1860s, western baseball clubs were making a push to prove their mettle against the more established eastern clubs. This culminated in the formation of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first openly all-professional team. Charlie and Andy were recruited by manager Harry Wright for the club. They joined first baseman Charlie Gould, who had been the star of the Buckeyes prior to their arrival in Cincinnati.
The Red Stockings went on an eastern tour in 1869 and defeated all comers, finishing the season with a perfect 65–0 record. Charlie earned $100/month salary as Wright’s second baseman. He was second on the club in home runs that year, and over the winter he demanded a raise. He became baseball’s first holdout until Wright relented.