The Federal League of Base Ball Clubs, known simply as the Federal League, was an American professional baseball league that played its first season in 1913 and operated as a "third major league", in competition with the established National and American Leagues, from 1914 to 1915.
The Federal League came together in early 1913 through the work of John T. Powers, and immediately challenged the operations of organized baseball. Playing in what detractors called the "outlaw" league allowed players to avoid the restrictions of the organized leagues' reserve clause. The competition of another, better paying league caused players' salaries to skyrocket, demonstrating the bargaining potential of free agency for the first time.
Interference by the National and American Leagues in their operations caused the Federal League to fold after the 1915 season. This resulted in a landmark federal lawsuit, Federal Baseball Club v. National League, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the Sherman Antitrust Act did not apply to Major League Baseball. The Federal League left its mark on baseball history in the field now known as Wrigley Field, which was originally built for the Chicago Whales Federal League team. The league itself and many sports writers considered it a major league during its existence; organized baseball recognized its major league status in 1968. It would be the last independent major league outside the established structure of professional baseball to make it to the playing field, and would be the last serious attempt to create a third major league until the abortive Continental League of 1960.
|Founder||John T. Powers|
|No. of teams||8|
In 1912, baseball promoter John T. Powers formed an independent professional league known as the Columbian League. However, the withdrawal of one of the organization's primary investors caused the league to fail before ever playing a game. Undaunted, Powers tried again the following year, creating a new league with teams in Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Covington, Kentucky. He named the organization the Federal League, and served as its first president.
Because it did not abide by the National Agreement on player payment in place in organized baseball, the Federal League was called an "outlaw league" by its competitors. The Federal League's outlaw status allowed it to recruit players from established clubs, and it attracted many current and former players from the major as well as minor leagues. In its first season Powers initially served as president, but he was soon replaced by James A. Gilmore, under whose leadership the league declared itself a major league for the 1914 season. Other financers of the League included oil baron Harry F. Sinclair, ice magnate Phil Ball, and George S. Ward of the Ward Baking Company.
As a major circuit, the Federal League consisted of eight teams each season. Four of the teams were placed in established Big League cities (Chicago, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Brooklyn). The other four teams were placed in more marginal areas (Baltimore, Buffalo, Indianapolis and Kansas City). In the first year, 1914, some of the teams had official nicknames and some did not, but either way, sportswriters were inclined to invent their own nicknames: "ChiFeds", "BrookFeds", etc. By the second season, most of the teams had "official" nicknames, although many writers still called many of the teams "-Feds".
In order for the Federal League to succeed, it needed Big League players. Walter Johnson signed a three-year contract with the Chicago team, but the Senators' Clark Griffith went personally to Johnson's home in Kansas and made a successful counter-offer. Major League players that jumped to the Federal League included Bill McKechnie, Claude Hendrix, Jack Quinn, Russell Ford, Tom Seaton, Doc Crandall, Al Bridwell, Hy Myers, and Hal Chase. The Federal League also recruited Big League names to manage the new teams. Joe Tinker managed the Chicago team, Mordecai Brown managed the St. Louis team and Bill Bradley managed the Brooklyn team.
The league had close pennant races both years. In 1914, Indianapolis beat out Chicago by 1½ games. 1915 witnessed the tightest pennant race in Major League history, as three teams (Chicago, St. Louis and Pittsburgh) fought into the last weekend of the season. On the season's final day, Sunday, October 3, Chicago split a doubleheader with Pittsburgh, winning the darkness-shortened seven-inning nightcap, 3-0; this combined with St. Louis' 6-2 win over Kansas City, knocked Pittsburgh back to third (albeit just a half-game behind), with Chicago and St. Louis in a virtual tie for first. But since the Whales (86-66) played two fewer games than the St. Louis Terriers (87-67), they were awarded the pennant based on their slightly better winning percentage (.566 to .565). Pittsburgh, with one game unplayed, ended up at 86-67 (.562).
During the 1914-15 offseason, Federal League owners brought an antitrust lawsuit against the American and National Leagues. The lawsuit ended up in the court of Federal Judge (and future Commissioner of Baseball) Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who allowed the case to languish while he urged both sides to negotiate. Swift action might have made a difference, but without the lawsuit going forward, the Federals found themselves in deepening financial straits.
After the 1915 season the owners of the American and National Leagues bought out half of the owners (Pittsburgh, Newark, Buffalo, and Brooklyn) of the Federal League teams. Two Federal League owners were allowed to buy struggling franchises in the established leagues: Phil Ball, owner of the St. Louis Terriers, was allowed to buy the St. Louis Browns of the AL, and Charles Weeghman, owner of the Chicago Whales, bought the Chicago Cubs. Both owners merged their teams into the established ones. The Kansas City franchise had been declared bankrupt and taken over by the league office after the close of the regular season, and the Baltimore owners rejected the offer made to them. They had sought to buy and move an existing franchise to their city, but were rebuffed, and sued unsuccessfully.
One of baseball's most famous ballparks was originally built for a Federal League team: Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs, began its long life as Weeghman Park, the home of the Chicago Whales. Marc Okkonen, in his book on the Federal League, referred to Wrigley as a "silent monument" to the failed Federal League experiment. Otherwise, few visible remnants were left by the short-lived Federal League. The Baltimore entry sold their facility to the Baltimore Orioles of the International League, who renamed it Oriole Park and played there for nearly 30 years before it was destroyed by fire. The Newark ballpark was also used for minor league ball for a short time.
Washington Park III in Brooklyn, completed after the 1915 season was underway, looked a lot like Chicago's Weeghman Park. It was used for various sports venues until the end of 1917 and then for storage until Brooklyn Edison Electric bought the property in 1925 and shortly thereafter tore it down. The right field wall still stands.
The other Federal League ballparks were demolished quickly, including the home of the Pittsburgh Rebels, Exposition Park, which had been the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League until they moved into Forbes Field in 1909.
The other "silent monument" to the Federal League is a famous legal decision. In 1922, the Supreme Court ruled in Federal Baseball Club v. National League (brought by the Terrapins, one of the teams which had not been bought out), that Major League Baseball and its constituent leagues were primarily entertainment, not conventional interstate commerce, and thus were exempt from the Sherman Antitrust Act. Though significantly weakened in the 1970s, this exemption remains intact over 80 years later; however it has been eroded by subsequent court rulings and legislation regarding issues specific to Major League Baseball.
Of the locations of teams in the Federal League, five currently have major league teams. Those are Baltimore, Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. Brooklyn has a New York–Penn League team, known as the Brooklyn Cyclones. (The major league Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958, although the New York Mets have been located in the adjacent borough of Queens since 1964.) Buffalo and Indianapolis have International League teams, the Buffalo Bisons and Indianapolis Indians, respectively. Newark had a team, the Bears, in the independent Can-Am League, which folded after the 2012 season.
There is at least one achievement of note that happened in Federal League play. Eddie Plank, pitching for the St. Louis Terriers, won his milestone 300th game on September 14, 1915 at St. Louis' Handlan's Park, becoming the first 300-game winning left-hander in the history of major league baseball and one of only six as of 2018. However, that milestone was not acknowledged by Major League Baseball until 1968.
The Federal League was the last serious attempt at creating a "Third Major League" outside the established structure of professional baseball in the U.S. There was one further attempt at creating a third league – the Continental League in 1959 – but its founders had hoped to find their place within the purview of organized baseball. The Continental League disbanded in 1960 without ever playing a game, making the Federal League the last such league to ever take to the field.
The Federal League features prominently in Ring Lardner's sports humor book You Know Me Al (1916), in which the protagonist pitches for the Chicago White Sox and repeatedly threatens to jump to the Federal League whenever he feels underappreciated or underpaid.
Players in the Baseball Hall of Fame who played in the Federal League:
|1914||Indianapolis Hoosiers||88–65||Bill Phillips|
|1915||Chicago Whales||88–64||Joe Tinker|
The 1914 Major League Baseball season.1915 Major League Baseball season
The 1915 Major League Baseball season.Baltimore Terrapins
The Baltimore Terrapins were one of the most successful teams in the short-lived Federal League of professional baseball from 1914 to 1915, but their brief existence led to litigation that led to an important legal precedent in baseball. The team played its home games at Terrapin Park.Brooklyn Tip-Tops
The Brooklyn Tip-Tops were a team in the short-lived Federal League of professional baseball from 1914 to 1915. The team was named by owner Robert Ward, who owned the Ward Baking Company. They were sometimes informally called the Brooklyn Feds or BrookFeds due to being the Brooklyn team of the Federal League. The Tip Tops played in old Washington Park, which the Brooklyn Dodgers had abandoned after the 1912 season to move to Ebbets Field.Buffalo Blues
The Buffalo Blues were a professional baseball club that played in the short-lived Federal League, which was a minor league in 1913 and a full-fledged outlaw major league the next two years. It was the last major league baseball team to be based in the city of Buffalo. In 1913 and 1914, as was the standard for Federal League teams, the franchise did not have an official name, instead going by the generic BufFeds.
The Buffalo team played at International Fair Association Grounds. Due to delays in construction of their new ballpark, the team did not play their first home game until a month after the Federal League season had started. Buffalo sold shares of stock of the team to the public through a series of newspaper ads. Preferred shares were sold for $10 each.
In the 1914 season, the team posted an 80-71 record (.530) and finished in fourth place, seven games behind the league champion Indianapolis Hoosiers. In the league's second and final season, the team, then known as the Buffalo Blues, ended in sixth place with a 74-78 mark (.487), 12 games behind the Chicago Whales.
An unusual player who played for the Blues in 1914 was Ed Porray; the only major leaguer whose birthplace is not a place, but rather noted as "on a ship somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean," on December 5, 1888.
Between the Buffalo players who had experience in the American and/or National leagues were Hugh Bedient, Walter Blair, Hal Chase, Tom Downey, Howard Ehmke, Ed Lafitte, Harry Lord and Russ Ford.Chicago Whales
The Chicago Whales were a professional baseball team based in Chicago. They played in the Federal League, a short-lived "third Major League", in 1914 and 1915. They originally lacked a formal nickname, and were known simply as the "Chicago Federals" (or "Chi-Feds") to distinguish them from the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.
The team was founded by Charles Weeghman. They came in second in the Federal League rankings in 1914 and won the league championship in 1915. They came to an end when the Federal League came to a deal with the National and American Leagues that disbanded all its teams. The Whales are notable as the original occupants of the stadium now known as Wrigley Field, the current home of the Chicago Cubs and the only Federal League stadium still in use.Exposition Park (Pittsburgh)
Exposition Park was the name given to three historic stadiums, located in what is today Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The fields were used mainly for professional baseball and American football from c. 1879 to c. 1915. The ballparks were initially located on the north side of the Allegheny River in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. The city was annexed into Pittsburgh (then often spelled "Pittsburg") in 1907, which became the city's North Side, located across from Pittsburgh's downtown area. Due to flooding from the nearby river, the three stadiums' exact locations varied somewhat. The final version of the ballpark was between the eventual sites of Three Rivers Stadium and PNC Park.
In 1903, the third incarnation of Exposition Park was the first National League ballpark to host a World Series game. The Western University of Pennsylvania (WUP)—known today as the University of Pittsburgh—played home football games at Exposition Park, and also used the park as a home field for the university's baseball team.Fort Lauderdale Stadium
Fort Lauderdale Stadium was a baseball stadium located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida next to Lockhart Stadium. Fort Lauderdale Stadium was most recently leased to Traffic Sports USA (owners of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers) in June 2011. The stadium was demolished in June 2019.The New York Yankees trained at the stadium between 1962 and 1995. The Fort Lauderdale Yankees of the minor league Florida State League played home games in the stadium from 1962 through 1992. The Fort Lauderdale Red Sox played home games there in 1993, after an unsuccessful attempt to move from Winter Haven to Fort Myers (they ended up the following year in Sarasota). The Baltimore Orioles held Spring Training at the stadium from 1996 to 2009. Memorabilia from the short-lived Fort Lauderdale Red Sox are rare and considered collectors' items. The stadium formerly hosted Federal League Semi-Pro Baseball games throughout the year.Frauen-Bundesliga
The Frauen-Bundesliga (English: Women's Federal League), currently known as the Allianz Frauen-Bundesliga due to sponsorship by Allianz, is the top level of league competition for women's association football in Germany. In 1990 the German Football Association (DFB) created the German Women's Bundesliga, based on the model of the men's Bundesliga. It was first played with north and south divisions, but in 1997 the groups were merged to form a uniform league. The league currently consists of twelve teams and the seasons usually last from late summer to the end of spring with a break in the winter.
In the UEFA Women's Champions League, the Frauen-Bundesliga is the most successful league with a total of nine titles from four clubs, with 1. FFC Frankfurt winning the most titles of any club.Joe Tinker
Joseph Bert Tinker (July 27, 1880 – July 27, 1948) was an American professional baseball player and manager. He played from 1902 through 1916 for the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Chicago Whales of the Federal League.
Born in Muscotah, Kansas, Tinker began playing semi-professional baseball in Kansas in the late 19th century. He began his professional career in 1900 in minor league baseball and made his MLB debut with the Cubs in 1902. Tinker was a member of the Chicago Cubs dynasty that won four pennants and two World Series championships between 1906 and 1910. After playing one season with Cincinnati in 1913, he became one of the first stars to jump to the upstart Federal League in 1914. After leading the Whales to the pennant in 1915, he returned to the Cubs as their player-manager in 1916, his final season in MLB.
Tinker returned to minor league baseball as a part-owner and manager for the Columbus Senators before moving to Orlando, Florida, to manage the Orlando Tigers. While in Orlando, Tinker developed a real estate firm, which thrived during the Florida land boom of the 1920s. However, the 1926 Miami hurricane and Great Depression cost Tinker most of his fortune, and he returned to professional baseball in the late 1930s.
With the Cubs, Tinker was a part of a great double-play combination with teammates Johnny Evers and Frank Chance that was immortalized as "Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance" in the poem "Baseball's Sad Lexicon". However, Evers and Tinker feuded off the field. Tinker was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946, the same year as Evers and Chance. He has also been honored by the Florida State League and the city of Orlando.List of defunct and relocated Major League Baseball teams
Throughout the history of Major League Baseball, numerous franchises have relocated or become defunct. Since the early 20th century, Major League Baseball has consisted of the National League (NL) and the American League (AL), both of which have experienced numerous franchise relocations. Prior to establishment of the American League as a major league in 1901, the National League saw several teams go defunct. In the early 20th century, the Federal League (FL) challenged the primacy of the American League and the National League, but the Federal League and all of its franchises went defunct after the 1915 season. From 1952 to 1971, several major league franchises moved, often relocating from a city with multiple major league franchises. After a period of over thirty years without relocation, the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals in 2005.Newark Peppers
The Newark Peppers, originally known as the Indianapolis Hoosiers, were a Federal League baseball team from 1913-1915. The Federal League (FL), founded in 1913, was a third major league in 1914 and 1915.Pittsburgh Filipinos
The Pittsburgh Filipinos were a minor league baseball club based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team began play in 1912 in the United States Baseball League. The team played all of its home games at Exposition Park, located on Pittsburgh's Northside. The Filipinos were named in honor of their manager, Deacon Phillippe, a former pitcher with the Pittsburgh Pirates and a member of their 1901, 1902, 1903 and 1909 National League pennant winning teams as well as their 1909 World Series championship team.The Filipinos finished in first place during the league's inaugural season, which lasted only one month, with a 19-7 record.In 1913, the team became a charter member of the Federal League, which was still a minor league at the time. The club was renamed that season as the Pittsburgh Stogies after an earlier Pittsburgh team that played in the Union Association in 1884. The following season, the Federal League declared itself major league. Therefore the Pittsburgh club then became a direct predecessor to what would become the Pittsburgh Rebels.Pittsburgh Rebels
The Pittsburgh Rebels were a Major League Baseball club based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1914 and 1915. The team was a member of the short-lived Federal League.They finished the 1914 season as the Pittsburgh Rebels. The team was originally called Pittsburgh Stogies after an earlier Pittsburgh team that played in the Union Association in 1884. They finished the year as the Pittsburgh Rebels. The team played all of its home games at Exposition Park, located on Pittsburgh's Northside. The Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League left the stadium for Forbes Field in 1909. After the Rebels left Exposition Park in 1915, the field was demolished and its property became part of the rail yards.Slap Shot
Slap Shot is a 1977 American sports comedy film directed by George Roy Hill, written by Nancy Dowd and starring Paul Newman and Michael Ontkean. It depicts a minor league hockey team that resorts to violent play to gain popularity in a declining factory town.
Dowd based much of her script, as well as several of the characters, on her brother Ned Dowd's playing experiences on 1970s minor league hockey teams.
The film received mostly positive reviews upon release and was only moderately successful at the box-office but has since become a cult film.St. Louis Terriers
The St. Louis Terriers were a baseball club that played in the short-lived Federal League in 1914 and 1915. They played their home games at Handlan's Park. The St. Louis Chapter of SABR placed a marker at the site of Handlan's Park, now on the campus of Saint Louis University, on October 17, 2007. The team was owned by ice magnate Phil Ball, who later was owner of the St. Louis Browns.
In their inaugural season, the Terriers posted a 62-89 record (.411) and finished in last place, 25 games behind the league champion Indianapolis Hoosiers. The team improved significantly the next year as they were pennant contenders until the last game of the season. The Terriers had an 87-67 mark (.565), ending up in second place 1/10 of a percentage point behind the champion Chicago Whales, who finished 86-66 (.566).Tom Seaton
Thomas Gordon Seaton (August 30, 1887 – April 10, 1940), he was signed in 1909 as a pitcher by the Portland, Oregon baseball team in the Pacific Coast League. In 1910 he was part of a pitching staff that included Gene Krapp, Jack Graney, Bill Steen and Vean Gregg. The Philadelphia Phillies drafted Seaton in 1912.
After struggling through a mediocre season in 1912, Seaton became a dominating pitcher in 1913 appearing in 52 games and compiling a 27–12 record in 322 innings. After a dispute involving his wife and the Phillies, Seaton signed with the Brooklyn Tip-Tops of the Federal League. Seaton went 25–14 that year. Seaton struggled in 1915.
After the Federal League folded after the 1915 season, Seaton pitched for the Chicago Cubs. He eventually was released and returned to the Pacific Coast League.
After the Black Sox Scandal of 1919, Seaton and Luther "Casey" Smith were released in May 1920 due to rumors "...regarding the practices of the players (Seaton and Smith) and their associates."
He died April 10, 1940.Washington Park (baseball)
Washington Park was the name given to three Major League Baseball parks (or four, by some reckonings) on two different sites in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, located at Third Street and Fourth Avenue. The two sites were diagonally opposite each other at that intersection.Yugoslav First League
The Yugoslav First Federal Football League (Serbian: Прва савезна лига у фудбалу, Croatian: Prva savezna liga u nogometu, Slovene: Prva zvezna liga v nogometu, Macedonian: Првата федерална лига, Albanian: Liga e parë federale), was the premier football league in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918–1941) and Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1945–1992).
The First League Championship was one of two national competitions held annually in Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav Cup being the other.
The league became fully professional in 1967.The UEFA recognised successor league of the Yugoslav First League, the First League of FR Yugoslavia, despite the succession and same name "Prva savezna liga", it is covered in a separate article.