To baseball scouts dazzled by his talent, the young pitcher seemed like a screwball. He rejected their offers of a major league contract and took up bookeeping instead -- at his widowed mother's request. He went through several different employers until he finally traded in his ledger books to join the Boston Red Stockings. Before retiring at 28, he became baseball's first 200-game winner. His teammates had not seen the last of him, though. He visited them often, seeking endorsements for some new sports equipment he and his brother were selling. By linking his brand name with sports superstars, Albert Spalding built one of the world's biggest sporting goods companies.