The coalition entered into by the western clubs has created considerable dissatisfaction among the eastern clubs, and it is suggested that they, one and all, refuse to play the Red Sox and Keokuk nines.
-St. Louis Republican, April 11, 1875
Was there a conspiracy to freeze out the Reds and the Westerns? I don't think so. I don't think it was anything so overt as everyone getting together and saying "Let's not schedule these crappy little Western clubs." Boston, the Mutuals of New York, the Whites of Philadelphia, the Dark Blues of Hartford and the Nationals of Washington all came to St. Louis and played the Reds in the first half of the season. Of course, they were coming to St. Louis anyway to play the Brown Stockings but if there was a conspiracy among the Eastern clubs, dating back to April of 1875, then they shouldn't have scheduled games against the Reds.
Was there, and would there continue to be, tension between the Eastern and Western clubs? Absolutely. In the late 1880s, there was talk of the clubs going there separate ways and forming two leagues - one Eastern and one Western. But what happened to the Reds and the Westerns really had nothing to do with that natural tension and it was more a matter of practical economics and competitive balance. Those clubs really had no business competing - on the field or economically - with the big clubs like Boston or Chicago. They were minor clubs playing with the big boys and it didn't work.
And if you want to blame the failures of the Reds and Westerns on a conspiracy among the Eastern clubs to freeze them out, how do you explain the Centennials of Philadelphia?