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  • The Federal League

    Originally posted by bkmckenna View Post
    Things are not so cut and dried. The FL did not fail because of Landis. It failed because of typical business reasons - a group of men came together - at first they pumped a good deal of money into the venture - they're eyes got really big and they 1) overextended themselves, 2) believed in their product beyond it's actual potential 3) misjudged the strength of their competition.

    The fact that their competition was a de facto monopoly only shows the levels of foresight and planning FL administrators omitted in their zest to declare themselves among the industry's elite.

    It is true that a federal judge, by his delayed ruling, tried to coax the parties to settle the case w/o a ruling that he believed would be injurious to both parties and an entire American business industry. Is this unprecedented? I don't know. Was it a dirty trick as implied? Doubt it.

    The Federal League folded, in essence, because because Phil Ball and Charles Weegham sought to buy into the established major leagues ...and did. Other factors also came into play:
    -financial strains
    -the FL could only fool the public for so long that it was a major before the revenue structure collapsed due to an essentially poor on-the-field product
    -they were trying to usurp an established business structure and only had limited success - mostly in the initial stages. The FL certainly had the right to present their product to consumers; however, there is no God-given right to success.

    In short the FL failed due to:
    -a poor initial plan
    -two wealthy owners jumping ship
    -lack of lucrative postseason
    -weak position in the industry
    Not a bad analysis, Brian, but I think you left out a few important points.

    Yes, I agree with you that it takes more than money to challenge something like a sports monopoly, like MLB.

    The FL failed to draw hardly any major stars to their rosters. The MLs were uncanny in their ability to hold on to their aggrieved, abused stars. Cobb, Joe Jackson, Speaker, Collins, Crawford, Lajoie, Baker, Wheat, all chose to remain loyal.

    The only major stars who acquiesced to the Feds' 'seductions' were Hal Chase & Walter Johnson. Johnson signed a 3-year contract, at $17,500/season, and also accepted a $6K signing bonus. Clark Griffith had to dance really fast to turn that around, but he was finally able to convince Johnson that his loyalties belonged with the Washington team.

    Griffith got Charles Comiskey to return the Feds' $6,000. bonus because he convinced him that if Johnson was pitching for his Chicago Fed competitor, it'd have been ruinous for his White Sox business. Johnson couldn't return the bonus because he had given it to his brother, Leslie, to buy a garage in Coffeyville, Kansas.

    Griffith was able to persuade Johnson to accept the best offer of Washington President, Benjamin S. Minor, of only $12,500. for 1915, with the promise of a long-term contract at better money after that. And true to his word, in 1916, Johnson signed a 5-year contract at $16,000./season. (An amusing tid-bit was that Senators' President, Minor, who had paid Walter $12,000. for 1914, argued that Walter had slipped from 36 wins in 1913 to only 28 wins in 1914, and hence was not worth the $12,000. he was already receiving! Hardly a compelling negotiating position!)

    But the Feds failed to see a hard business fact. In their 2 seasons, they had hurt the ML attendance very badly. The ML owners had felt compelled to up their stars' salaries. Cobb, Speaker, Collins all got hefty raises.

    Here is one example how how devastating the reserve clause was on a certain category of player.

    In 1915, Comiskey gave Eddie Collins a 5 year contract at $15,000./season. That season, he also acquired Joe Jackson, but only offered him $6,000./season.

    Now, if one knows anything at all about that era, Collins was not worth 2.5 times the value of Jackson, yet got an extended contract like that.

    Why? Because Comiskey knew that Collins was college educated and could get a good job outside baseball. Comiskey knew Jackson was not schooled, not even in HS, and couldn't read/write, and hence his job prospects outside Baseball were very limited. And so he only offered Jackson a contract of $6,000.

    If the reserve clause hadn't been in effect, and if Jackson had the right/freedom to shop his BB services around to the other 15 team owners, he surely wouldn't have been in such a position of utter helplessness/weakness, when dealing with a vile abuser of the reserve clause.

    Joe Jackson is a prime example of how the reserve clause hamstrung even a star player like Joe Jackson. And Jackson didn't have the backbone, nor the know-how, to mount a truly tough, hard-nosed salary campaign like Cobb/Speaker did.

    Here is a brief look at how much the FL hurt ML attendance. I will show 3 seasons before and 2 after the FL's existence,
    year - total ML att.-games---fans per game in MLs.
    1911 -- 6,571,282 - 1,237---5,312 fans/game, before the FL challenge
    1912 -- 5,999,390 - 1,232---4,869
    1913 -- 6,358,336 - 1,234---5,152

    1914 -- 4,454,988 - 1,256---3,546 fans/game, during FL challenge
    1915 -- 4,864,826 - 1,245---3,907

    1916 -- 6,503,519 - 1,247---5,215 fans/game, after FL challenge
    1917 -- 5,219,994 - 1,247---4,186

    So, one can see that ML attendance dipped from the 5,000 fans per game level before the FL, to under 4,000 fans per game, for 1914-15.

    So, if the Feds had had access to that sensitive information, they would have realized just how hard they were hitting their rivals where it hurt, in the pocketbook.

    If the Feds had known that, and had the fortitude to hold on for even one more season, or two, they would have gained much better terms of surrender.

    The way it played out, it indeed seemed like a tactical maneuver by Phil Ball and Charles Weegham to gain favorable entrance terms to the ML structure.

    Phil Ball ended up becoming a ML owner of the St. Louis Browns, January, 1917 - 1932.

    When Ball was allowed into the AL, at one of the early meetings, he told this:

    "Ball told his new associates that during the first year of the Federal League in St. Louis, he and his partner, Otto Steifel, lost $955,000 and last season they dropped about $14,000. "We danced." said Mr. Ball, "and let me tell you, we also paid title, and, what's more, we paid him well. Never mind, we are going to have a real ball club in St. Louis. This $ and the lost money may all come back. We took the chance slid. There is no kick coming."

    Charles Weegham was allowed to to invest as the majority stockholder in the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs were able to abandon wooden West Side Park, for the modern, steel/concrete ballpark that Charles built for his Federal Chicago Whales, - Weegham Park. In 1921, Charles Weegham sold the team to chewing-gum magnate, William Wrigley, who promptly changed the name of the ballpark to one he liked much better - Wrigley Field.
    I'm on a roll here, and in a looking-up, researching mode. So, just for fun, here are the 8 Federal League teams, and their owners.
    Wikipedia: Baseball's Federal League: 1913-15

    1. Chicago Chi-Feds/Whales - Charles A. Weeghman (Chicago Restaurateur/fast lunch counters), William M. Walker

    2. St. Louis Terriers - Philip De Catesby Ball /more Phil Ball (St. Louis ice king, sold ice manufacturing plants), James A. 'Jim' Gilmore (coal/paper stationer magnate), Otto Steifel (St. Louis brewer/banks/trusts director), Gates, Edward A. Steininger (contractor/construction Co.).

    3. Brooklyn Tip Tops - Robert/John Ward brothers (bakeries, Tip Top Bread) (Robert Ward dies October 19, 1915)

    4. Buffalo Buffeds/Blues - Walter Mullen (local real estate-developer), Laurens Enos, Oliver Cabana, William E. Robertson

    5. Pittsburgh Rebels - Edward Gwynner, William M. Kerr, John Balbour
    6. Indianapolis Hoosiers - J. Edward Krause, replaced by Newark Peppers for 1915. In Newark, NJ, their owner was Harry Sinclair (oil baron)
    7. Kansas City Packers - Conrad H. Mann, SS Goden, CC Madison, JA George, Edward E. Gates (FL legal counsel)
    8. Baltimore Terrapins - Ned Hanlon
    MLB sued the FL for raiding their rosters, in defiance of their so-called 'reserve clause' rights. They sought injunctions against their players, 81 in all, who had played in the MLs, but signed with the FL anyway. In January, 1915, the FL retaliated by suing the MLs, in northern Illinois, under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, which prohibited monopolies from operating in interstate commerce. The sitting judge was none other than Judge Kenasaw Mountain Landis, who happened to be a ML partisan. Testimony ended January 22, 1915, but Judge Landis refused to issue a ruling settlement. He believed that by delaying a decision, the parties would be pressured to come together in a privately-settled agreement.

    During their 2 year stint, the FL lost about $2.5m. Their lack of experience hurt them badly.
    On December 22, 1915, in Cincinnati, OH, the Federal League/Organized Baseball signed the peace treaty, ending the Federal League challenge to the MLs.

    The terms of the Peace Treaty were as follows.

    1. The owners of the FL teams agree to go out of business.
    2. Organized Baseball agrees to pay the 8 FL owners $600,000.
    3. MLB agrees to take in 2 teams from the FL, one in the AL (St. Louis Browns, with Phil Ball as its owner), and one in the NL, the Chicago Cubs, (with Charles Weegman as its owner.) Thus, 2 FL owners are allowed to buy their way into the ML structure.
    4. MLB agrees that the former FL players will all be eligible to play in the MLs, and the FL will be allowed to control the auction of its players to the MLs.
    Thanks to Brian (bkmckenna), who has graciously contributed some of the terms of the Peace Treaty for us. How the $600,000. was divvied up.

    Newark - Harry Sinclair of the Teapot Dome Scandal and Pat Powers, $100K and rights to players from Newark, KC and Buffalo and Benny Knauff, Lee Magee and George Anderson

    Pittsburgh - Edward Gwynner - $50K plus sale of players

    Baltimore - Ned Hanlon and others - offered but rejected $50K

    Brooklyn - Ward - supposedly to receive $400K over 20 years

    Buffalo - Stock sold to public

    Kansas City - C.H. Mann

    Buffalo and KC franchises were forfeited to the FL
    The ML team hurt the most by the FL war was the Philadelphia Athletics. Connie Mack was pushed beyond his limit of patience. His team had just finished winning the pennant in 1914, only to lose the WS in 4 straight games to the Boston Braves, under George Stallings.

    Despite finishing 1st in the pennant race, Connie's team had only finished 5th in attendance. 346,641, compared to 481,359 by attendance leader Boston Red Sox. Connie was hurt by Pennsylvania's blue laws, which until 1933, prohibited the playing of professional baseball on Sundays.

    So, when Mack heard the chronic complaining of his players, their requests for a raise, and knowing they were all receiving secret, illicit communications from the FL owners to jump the A's, and come play for the Feds, Mack panicked. Or acted decisively, depending on if you happen to like Mack, and characterize his actions kindly.
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 12-06-2011, 05:27 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by bkmckenna View Post
    Good points.

    There is no doubt that MLB was financially injured in the battle. That's why they negotiated with FL owners -- as they did previously with AA, PL and UA owners.
    I agree. The FL war was not a sprint but a marathon. In protracted conflicts, it will be the side that is better financed that will be better able to endure in the long haul. This was more like the Peloponnese War (30 year war between Athens/Sparta) than the Gulf War. War of attrition.

    Originally posted by bkmckenna View Post
    The lawsuit was also weighing over MLB's head too. Landis was unpredictable and MLB was right to avoid a ruling and negotiate a settlement.
    Again, agreed. The MLs were quite right in settling this serious threat to their business, and as soon as possible too. They didn't know it at the time, but WWI was right around the corner for them, and to go through those war-shortened 1917-18 seasons, while still carrying the higher salaries, and lower attendance, might have been seriously ruinous to their profit margin. They might have been operating at a razor-thin profit with the FL war all by itself.

    Originally posted by bkmckenna View Post
    FL administrators surely knew they were hurting MLB through attendance and salary factors. Fortitude is not enough when it comes to crunch time when everyone is hurt financially and backers begin to pull out. Ban Johnson only made it because of Somer's seemingly endless supply of cash at the critical initial phases of development.
    Agree once more.


    Originally posted by bkmckenna View Post
    Comiskey had more respect for Collins for sure. And the facts proved him to be right. He didn't sell Comiskey out and lead to the destruction of his franchise like Jackson and the seven others did.
    Alas, we must disagree here, Brian, as I'm sure you will understand. I agree with 6 of the 8 men out, but believe Buck Weaver got a raw deal. With respect to Joe Jackson, in my heart, I feel that there is sufficient reasonable doubt, that good people can disagree without compromising either their integrity/intelligence.

    Originally posted by bkmckenna View Post
    Collins was an icon in Philly, highly intelligent, respected throughout the game (especially by Mack) and a more valuable man to have around. Collins attained a 5-year contract through his status within the game. It wasn't by happenstance that he later came to run an organization.

    Jackson was good but he was just another dumb ballplayer. And Comiskey negotiated with him as such and probably should have. Truthfully, Jackson didn't command the level of respect that Collins did. Collins may not have been worth 2.5 times Jackson but he was much more established and respected a player than Jackson.

    I don't think Comiskey believed so much that Collins would get up and leave baseball (he stayed in it for decades) and that's why he gave him a multi-year contract. Having the respect of ML executives and Collins' intelligence and deportment opened more doors for him than being an illiterate bumpkin would for Jackson.
    While I agree with what you say here, since when, in free agency, do owners pay their players according to their off-field intelligence? Were Canseco/Bo Jackson models of either deportment or on-field smarts? I don't think so.

    I know that neither of us wish to hi-jack this good thread into a Jackson innocence side-track. Let's just say that without that one issue to color the discussion, Jackson wasn't really any worse than many others of his day in his ability to command respect. His illiteracy hurt him badly in the minds of stupid people, but it wasn't his fault that he and all his brothers had to work in the Greenville mills of North Carolina, and miss their education. They paid a high price for family survival.

    The big winners of the FL war?

    1. Phil Ball - Was allowed to buy his way into the MLs' owners' picture.
    2. Charles Weegman - Same thing as above for Ball.
    3. Eddie Collins - Got a 5-yr. contract at $15K. Great money for that time.
    4. Cobb - Got 5-yr. contract for $20K.
    5. W.Johnson - Got 5-yr. contract for $16K.
    6. Fans of St. Louis/Chicago - Got new ballparks for the Browns/Cubs.

    Biggest Losers:

    1. Connie Mack - Couldn't hold on. Owners Shibe and his partner couldn't/wouldn't increase the players salaries, to meet the FL challenge.
    2. Former owners of Browns/Cubs. Were apparently thrown under the bus.
    3. All the owners of the MLs/FL, except Ball/Weegman. The ML owners had to pay $600,000.
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 09-11-2008, 01:35 PM.


    • #3
      Imapotato contributed this nice list of who jumped to the FL, and who came back.

      Some players who jumped, as you can see, alot of in their prime offensive guys and never has been or past their prime P's

      Esty Chaney jumped from the Boston Red Sox to the Brooklyn Tip-Tops. 
      Fred Anderson jumped from the Boston Red Sox to the Buffalo Buffeds. 
      Clyde Engle jumped from the Boston Red Sox to the Buffalo Buffeds. 
      Earl Moseley jumped from the Boston Red Sox to the Indianapolis Hoosiers. 
      Steve Yerkes jumped from the Boston Red Sox to the Pittsburgh Rebels. 
      Enos Kirkpatrick jumped from the Brooklyn Robins to the Baltimore Terrapins. 
      Benny Meyer jumped from the Brooklyn Robins to the Baltimore Terrapins. 
      Bill Collins jumped from the Brooklyn Robins to the Buffalo Buffeds. 
      Al Scheer jumped from the Brooklyn Robins to the Indianapolis Hoosiers. 
      Frank Allen jumped from the Brooklyn Robins to the Pittsburgh Rebels. 
      Mysterious Walker jumped from the Brooklyn Robins to the Pittsburgh Rebels. 
      Jack Quinn jumped from the Boston Braves to the Baltimore Terrapins. 
      Guy Zinn jumped from the Boston Braves to the Baltimore Terrapins. 
      Hap Myers jumped from the Boston Braves to the Brooklyn Tip-Tops. 
      Fred Smith jumped from the Boston Braves to the Buffalo Buffeds. 
      Bill Rariden jumped from the Boston Braves to the Indianapolis Hoosiers. 
      Drummond Brown jumped from the Boston Braves to the Kansas City Packers. 
      Walt Dickson jumped from the Boston Braves to the Pittsburgh Rebels. 
      Tex McDonald jumped from the Boston Braves to the Pittsburgh Rebels. 
      Earl Moore jumped from the Chicago Cubs to the Buffalo Buffeds. 
      Doc Watson jumped from the Chicago Cubs to the Chicago Chi-Feds. 
      Al Bridwell jumped from the Chicago Cubs to the St. Louis Terriers. 
      Ward Miller jumped from the Chicago Cubs to the St. Louis Terriers. 
      Hal Chase jumped from the Chicago White Sox to the Buffalo Buffeds. 
      Bob Smith jumped from the Chicago White Sox to the Buffalo Buffeds. 
      Edd Roush jumped from the Chicago White Sox to the Indianapolis Hoosiers. 
      Ted Easterly jumped from the Chicago White Sox to the Kansas City Packers. 
      Davy Jones jumped from the Chicago White Sox to the Pittsburgh Rebels. 
      George Suggs jumped from the Cincinnati Reds to the Baltimore Terrapins. 
      Joe Tinker jumped from the Cincinnati Reds to the Chicago Chi-Feds. 
      Al Wickland jumped from the Cincinnati Reds to the Chicago Chi-Feds. 
      Frank Harter jumped from the Cincinnati Reds to the Indianapolis Hoosiers. 
      Chief Johnson jumped from the Cincinnati Reds to the Kansas City Packers. 
      Gene Packard jumped from the Cincinnati Reds to the Kansas City Packers. 
      Johnny Rawlings jumped from the Cincinnati Reds to the Kansas City Packers. 
      Mordecai Brown jumped from the Cincinnati Reds to the St. Louis Terriers. 
      Harry Chapman jumped from the Cincinnati Reds to the St. Louis Terriers. 
      Dave Davenport jumped from the Cincinnati Reds to the St. Louis Terriers. 
      Grover Hartley jumped from the Cincinnati Reds to the St. Louis Terriers. 
      Ernie Herbert jumped from the Cincinnati Reds to the St. Louis Terriers. 
      Armando Marsans jumped from the Cincinnati Reds to the St. Louis Terriers. 
      Grover Land jumped from the Cleveland Naps to the Brooklyn Tip-Tops. 
      Rankin Johnson jumped from the Cleveland Naps to the Chicago Chi-Feds. 
      Cy Falkenberg jumped from the Cleveland Naps to the Indianapolis Hoosiers. 
      Nick Cullop jumped from the Cleveland Naps to the Kansas City Packers. 
      Baldy Louden jumped from the Detroit Tigers to the Buffalo Buffeds. 
      Ed Willett jumped from the Detroit Tigers to the St. Louis Terriers. 
      Claude Cooper jumped from the New York Giants to the Brooklyn Tip-Tops. 
      Art Wilson jumped from the New York Giants to the Chicago Chi-Feds. 
      Doc Crandall jumped from the New York Giants to the St. Louis Terriers. 
      Russ Ford jumped from the New York Yankees to the Buffalo Buffeds. 
      Al Schulz jumped from the New York Yankees to the Buffalo Buffeds. 
      Rollie Zeider jumped from the New York Yankees to the Chicago Chi-Feds. 
      Bill McKechnie jumped from the New York Yankees to the Indianapolis Hoosiers. 
      Byron Houck jumped from the Philadelphia Athletics to the Brooklyn Tip-Tops. 
      Danny Murphy jumped from the Philadelphia Athletics to the Brooklyn Tip-Tops. 
      Harry Fritz jumped from the Philadelphia Athletics to the Chicago Chi-Feds. 
      Mickey Doolan jumped from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Baltimore Terrapins. 
      Vern Duncan jumped from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Baltimore Terrapins. 
      Otto Knabe jumped from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Baltimore Terrapins. 
      Jimmy Walsh jumped from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Baltimore Terrapins. 
      Happy Finneran jumped from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Brooklyn Tip-Tops. 
      Tom Seaton jumped from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Brooklyn Tip-Tops. 
      Ad Brennan jumped from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Chicago Chi-Feds. 
      Howie Camnitz jumped from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Pittsburgh Rebels. 
      Solly Hofman jumped from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Brooklyn Tip-Tops. 
      Claude Hendrix jumped from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Chicago Chi-Feds. 
      Everett Booe jumped from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Indianapolis Hoosiers. 
      Fred Kommers jumped from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the St. Louis Terriers. 
      Mike Simon jumped from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the St. Louis Terriers. 
      Luther Bonin jumped from the St. Louis Browns to the Buffalo Buffeds. 
      Jack Enzenroth jumped from the St. Louis Browns to the Kansas City Packers. 
      Dwight Stone jumped from the St. Louis Browns to the Kansas City Packers. 
      George Stovall jumped from the St. Louis Browns to the Kansas City Packers. 
      Willie Adams jumped from the St. Louis Browns to the Pittsburgh Rebels. 
      Steve Evans jumped from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Brooklyn Tip-Tops. 
      Lee Magee jumped from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Brooklyn Tip-Tops. 
      Rebel Oakes jumped from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Pittsburgh Rebels. 
      Skipper Roberts jumped from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Pittsburgh Rebels. 
      Frank LaPorte jumped from the Washington Senators to the Indianapolis Hoosiers. 
      George Mullin jumped from the Washington Senators to the Indianapolis Hoosiers. 
      Bob Groom jumped from the Washington Senators to the St. Louis Terriers. 
      [B] Guys who came back[/b]
      As you can see, alot of these P's stuck around for a bit, while the position players for the most part, did nothing
      The Brooklyn Robins purchased Jim Hickman from the Baltimore Terrapins. 
      The Philadelphia Phillies purchased Chief Bender from the Baltimore Terrapins. 
      The Pittsburgh Pirates purchased Otto Knabe from the Baltimore Terrapins. 
      The Cincinnati Reds purchased Jim Bluejacket from the Brooklyn Tip-Tops. 
      The Philadelphia Phillies purchased Claude Cooper from the Brooklyn Tip-Tops. 
      The Chicago Cubs purchased Nick Allen from the Buffalo Blues. 
      The Cincinnati Reds purchased Al Schulz from the Buffalo Blues. 
      The Cleveland Indians purchased Clyde Engle from the Buffalo Blues. 
      The Detroit Tigers purchased Jack Dalton from the Buffalo Blues. 
      The New York Giants purchased Fred Anderson from the Buffalo Blues. 
      The Chicago Cubs purchased Mordecai Brown from the Chicago Whales. 
      The Pittsburgh Pirates purchased Art Wilson from the Chicago Whales. 
      The Chicago Cubs purchased Gene Packard from the Kansas City Packers. 
      The Chicago Cubs purchased Tom Seaton from the Newark Pepper. 
      The Cincinnati Reds purchased Emil Huhn from the Newark Pepper. 
      The Brooklyn Robins purchased Mike Mowrey from the Pittsburgh Rebels. 
      The Boston Braves purchased Frank Allen from the Pittsburgh Rebels. 
      The Boston Braves purchased Ed Konetchy from the Pittsburgh Rebels. 
      The Chicago Cubs purchased Steve Yerkes from the Pittsburgh Rebels. 
      The Washington Senators purchased Mike Menosky from the Pittsburgh Rebels. 
      The St. Louis Browns purchased Babe Borton from the St. Louis Terriers.


      • #4
        Wikipedia: The Encyclopedia of the INTERNET

        The Federal League was the last major attempt to establish an independent professional baseball league in baseball in the United States in direct competition with and opposition to the established National and American Leagues in 1914 and 1915. There were a few attempts after this (notably the Mexican League in 1946–1947 and the proposed Continental League), but nothing as direct and serious as the Federal League.

        In 1968, a special baseball records committee retroactively gave major league status to the Federal League.

        The league started as an independent minor league in 1912 as the Columbia League, but changed its name to the Federal League at the start of the 1913 season, playing as what would now be known as an "independent" minor league, but was at that time thought of as an "outlaw" minor league. John T. Powers was president of the six-team league, but was replaced early in the season by James A. Gilmore, under whose leadership the league declared itself a major league for the 1914 season.

        As a major circuit, the Federal League consisted of 8 teams each season. 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".

        The league had close pennant races both years. In 1914, Indianapolis beat out Chicago by 1 1/2 games. 1915 witnessed the tightest pennant race in Major League history, as five teams fought into the final week of the season. The eventual winner (Chicago) finished 0 (zero) games and .001 percentage point ahead of second place, and a half-game and .004 in front of the third place finisher.

        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 Charlie 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.

        The short-lived nature of the Federal League left few visible remnants. 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 in 1944, a seemingly disastrous event that would actually begin the path toward Baltimore's return to the major leagues 10 years afterward. The Newark ballpark was also used for minor league ball for a short time. The other Federal League ballparks were demolished quickly, with the exception of Chicago's Weeghman Park, which became the home of the Chicago Cubs and was eventually renamed Wrigley Field. Marc Okkonen, in his book on the Federal League, referred to Wrigley as a "silent monument" to the failed Federal League experiment.

        The other "silent monument" to the Federal League is a famous legal decision. In 1922, the Supreme Court ruled in a suit brought by the Baltimore Federal League Club (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. This exemption remains intact over 80 years later, although it has been eroded somewhat by subsequent court rulings and legislation regarding specific issues.

        Of the locations of teams in the Federal League, five currently have MLB teams. Those are Baltimore, Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, & St. Louis. Brooklyn has a New York-Penn League team, known as the Brooklyn Cyclones (the major league Brooklyn Dodgers had moved to Los Angeles in 1958). Buffalo has an International League team, known as the Buffalo Bisons. Indianapolis also has an International League team, known as the Indianapolis Indians. Newark has a team, the Bears, in the independent Atlantic League.
        Last edited by Bill Burgess; 10-19-2007, 02:09 PM.


        • #5

          January 5, 1915 - In Chicago on the Federal League filed suit in U.S. court asking Judge Landis to declare illegal and void baseball’s National Commission and the National Agreement. Landis is chosen because of the national attention he received in the Sherman Antitrust case against Standard Oil.

          The main claim was that MLB was operating as an illegal monopoly and wielding that power. The case was filed by the law firm of Myers & Gates, with Keene Addington as chief counsel, on behalf of the Federal League against the NL, AL, A.G. Herrmann, B.B. Johnson and J.K. Tenor, et al. The FL claims that MLB has under its purview all but 300 of the approximate 10,000 professional ballplayers in the country. Landis set a January 20 hearing date.

          The FL was asking 11 points:
          1-That the National Agreement be declared illegal
          2-That the defendants be declared a monopoly
          3-That the defendants have conspired against them
          4-That all player contracts be declared null and void
          5-That the defendants various actions now pending against players de dismissed
          6-That the defendants be restrained from seeking injunctions, threats or promises to prevent other players from performing their contracts
          7-Asks for preliminary injunctions against defendants
          8&9-Ask for damages and relief for injuries done the FL by MLB
          10&11-Ask that writs of injunction and subpoenas be issued.

          January 6 – Landis issues summonses to the owners of all 16 ML clubs

          January 11 – Among the FL filings are affidavits showing the callous actions within the National Agreement, that is, two players were traded for dogs. Miner Brown submitted one of the affidavits claiming that Joe Cantillon, manager of Minneapolis of the AA, traded a player for a bulldog. Brown also claims that Roger Bresnahan, while manager of the Cardinals, traded a pitcher named Hooper to Richard Kinsella, manager of the Springfield, Ill. Club of the Three-I League, for a bird dog. Joe Tinker also filed grievances.

          January 12 – Red Dooin, sore at being fired as manager of the Phillies after 13 years of service to the club and being peddled to the Reds, sets out for Chicago to aid the FL with their case. Dooin feels that he should have his outright release from the club; the Phillies ultimately trade him on February 11 to Cincinnati.

          January 20 – Hearing held. FL strenuously claims that the minor leagues and the players are oppressed by the monopolistic actions of MLB. Addington argued all day, giving particular attention to the waiver and draft rules and practices. Miner Brown claims that when Chicago president Murphy sold Brown to Louisville it was with the understanding that Brown never be allowed to pitch in the majors again. Even though Brown later pitched in the majors, Addington point was what could occur under the common practices of organized baseball. Landis was particularly interested in the Brown case and asked that it be retold.

          January 23 – The FL closes it case and the AL and NL rebut. Landis makes a telling comment – as the New York Times puts it – “He characterized baseball as a national institution and warned both sides that it would not be well for anyone to strike a blow against it.” Additionally, Landis is quoted as saying (to a FL attorney), “Do you realize that a decision in this case may tear down the very foundations of the game, so loved by thousands, and do you realize that the decision might also seriously affect both parties?”

          January 24 – Landis begins a long process of mulling the case over.

          The New York Times later speculates that many within organized baseball hoped that Landis would find that the Sherman Anti-trust laws didn’t pertain to this case. Furthermore, Landis himself secretly hoped this but found the FL arguments compelling along these lines, causing him to repeatedly ask both parties to what end they felt the suit might lead to.

          As this realization hit Landis here tired to chambers and sat on the case. Later, he actively pushed the sides to settle the case so that he wouldn’t be forced to rule on the matter. In the end, when the settlement occurred, Landis made statements along the lines that he considered the case a draw, finding weight in both arguments.

          April 26 – The New York Times reports that Judge Landis held a conversation with his personal friend, Judge George Williams of St. Louis, asking him to intercede in securing a peace settlement between the parties. Williams then consulted with Phil Ball, owner of the St. Louis Federals and Browns owner Robert Hedges. Williams was currently and had been for a long time personal counsel to Hedges. Ball and Hedges both travel to Chicago. Perhaps this is the onset to the ultimate conclusion of Ball purchasing the Browns.

          December – Peace agreement reached – Baltimore franchise left disgusted – Player dispensation will be a lengthy process. Ball is in negotiations to purchase on of the St. Louis franchises – either the Browns or Cardinals. Weeghman wants in as well. One driving impetus in December is that the FL announced plans to build a ballpark in New York.

          January 20, 1916 – Weeghman purchases the Cubs from Charles Taft for $500,000.

          February 7 – Landis formally dismisses the case against organized baseball.


          • #6
            Federal league impact on Jack Dunn:
            Attached Files


            • #7
              I will post some of the articles that I originally posted under the Armando Marsans thread. Since he played such a major role in the war between the leagues, I recommend that anyone interested in further details to look here:

              September 1914 Baseball Magazine - The Famous Marsans Case, The Great Cuban Outfielder and the Federal League vs. Organized Baseball.
              Garry Herrmann, Chairman of National Commission, Defends the Written Contract as a Binding Instrument
              By HUGH C. WEIR

              The Marsans case was one of the most important of the test cases in baseball law. The accomplished Cuban athlete, the idol of his countrymen, and one of the most finished outfielders in the National League, took advantage of what he claimed an inherent right, served ten days’ notice on the Cincinnati club and bolted to the Federal League. The lower court decided against Marsans.. The decision of the higher court, as we go to press. has not yet been rendered. In the following sketch Garry Herrmann, president of the Cincinnati club and chairman of the National Commission, discusses the situation freely and frankly from the standpoint of fairness and business equity.

              The right hand of Garry Herrmann, palm downward, descended with a resounding smack on his right knee. The twinkling smile in his eyes vanished. Into the proverbially good humored face of the chairman of the National Baseball Commission came suddenly the light of battle.

              “They accuse us of buying and selling men at the auction block!” he snapped. “They say that we have made Organized Baseball into a condition of slavery and regard a man only by what he can he sold for—that we have ceased to view baseball as a sport and look on it as a hopper, grinding ball players into mere articles of merchandise. They have painted the men behind Organized Baseball in deep black colors, and the time has come when for the sake of the game, and in the interest of fair play and true sport, the real facts should be made known."

              We were discussing the sensational Marsans case, one of the series of recent legal battles which have thrown the baseball world into an upheaval, and which threaten to wreck the entire game unless a sane, amicable, and above all, thoroughly businesslike solution is found, and found soon. In other words, is the system of Organized Baseball wrong? Have we seen a great sport built up into a great business proposition, only to discover that it is a monster monopoly, in which, like other monopolies of the business world, the man working for his pay envelope has ceased to have any rights as a man? Is baseball of to-day just a great, cold, calculating machine to make as much money as possible for ten or a dozen magnates, and which has reduced the player to a condition of servitude? Or, on the other hand is it true that the system of Organized Baseball as it stands now is the only system that could have made the business success of the game possible, and that the criticisms and charges against it are made unjustly by disgruntled men, fighting for self and not for the good of the game? Is it true that the business magnates of baseball, the men who have risked fortunes on the diamond, are being placed in an unfair position, and are being unjustly bombarded after striving for a generation to raise baseball from the atmosphere of rowdyism and gambling to a high-class, gentleman’s amusement? Or, still again, is it true that there are arguments on both sides of the case, that both the warring players and club owners are at fault, and that both, in the interest of the game and the public, must readjust their positions if the sport Itself shall not be dashed on the rocks of financial disaster?

              These questions were in my mind when I went to Garry Herrmann. I tried to view the situation with an open mind, to approach Mr. Herrmann from an entirely unbiased viewpoint. I knew, in common with every other student of the recent history of baseball, that something very serious threatens, that the storm clouds on the horizon are not merely the gatherings of a summer shower. And I knew that Garry Herrmann, not only from his position as president of the National Commission, but because of his intimate association with the now famous Marsans case, was in a position to speak from inside knowledge, provided he would open his heart, and speak frankly. He did. This article is to be largely a quotation of what Mr. Herrmann said. It is his own suggestion that I present the facts from his viewpoint and leave the reader to weigh them for himself, and draw his own conclusions as to their truth and logic. So far as I know, the expressions from Mr. Herrmann which follow make the first at all lengthy statement on the so-called "Baseball War” which any of the prominent magnates of the game have set forth.

              Because the Marsans case is a typical Illustration not only of the inside business workings of baseball, but of the tense situation which the coming of the Federal League has left the game and public to face. Mr. Herrmann’s statements have largely to do with his version of that pertinent affair.

              “It was in 1911”, began Mr. Herrmann, “that my relations with Marsans began. I want to say at the outset that he is a good ball player, a very good ball player. In fact, indeed, my statement of the steady Increases In salary we have given him is alone sufficient to show the high value we attach to him. The situation which has now developed, does not reflect in an way on Mr. Marsans’ ability. And now to continue our story.

              “We bought Marsans from the New Britain Club and paid 86.000 for his release, which included also the services of player Almeida, another Cuban. Marsans was receiving $150 a month from New Britain. We started him in June of 1911 at $350 a month and increased this the next year to $400 and last season to $3.400 for the season of six months or nearly six hundred dollars a month. Last winter we sent to him in Cuba an offer of $3.800. He wrote back and asked $4.400 per season for a period of two seasons. I have the letter now with his own signature, setting forth his terms, and agreeing to play two years for this figure. In other words, we met his proposition without any argument, feeling that we were giving him a fair deal and one which entitled us to fair treatment in return. You must bear in mind that a baseball contract is a business proposition, representing one of the principal assets of a club. It is absolutely essential to have such a contract clear and definite, and when as in the case of Marsans, it was drawn according to his own suggestion, we felt justified in regarding it as final.

              "This was the situation when a bombshell was exploded in the announcement that Marsans was negotiating with the Federal League. We at once took up the matter with him and I asked him point-blank what he considered his services worth. He answered $7,000 a year and I rejoined that it was utterly impossible for us to get together. That is the figure he was offered by the Federal League with a $7.000 advance. Marsans jumped to St. Louis and we took the course which any other business man with his property jeopardized would have taken under the same circumstances. We brought the matter into the courts on the contention that Mr. Marsans was clearly violating his contract, assured that our contention was entirely legal. As a matter of fact, the courts upheld our claims, and decided absolutely in our favor. The matter was appealed to a higher tribunal. In whose hands the issue rests at this date. I am convinced that we will he again upheld, and that the case will be decided a second time against Marsans.

              "The case is very definitely expressed in Clauses 7 and 8 of the accepted contract of every player of the National League. Let me give you Clause 8. verbatim as further illustrating my point:
              'The player agrees to perform for the club, and for no other club during the period of this contract (unless with the written consent of the club) such duties pertaining to the exhibition of the game of baseball as may be required of him by said club, at such reasonable times and places as said club may designate.'

              "It has been contended that Marsans, or any other player, can terminate his contract with the usual ten days’ notice, which the club can give the player. As a matter of fact, the clause which I have just quoted answers the question squarely. I am aware that I cannot make Mr. Marsans or any other player perform his duties if he doesn’t want to do so. Indeed, it is doubtful if I, or any other man, would endeavor to try. Had Marsans left our club to engage in any other kind of business, or had he left the club because of illness or any other cause, there would have been no argument. We are fighting because he has left us to engage with a competitor in the same field, in direct violation not only of the letter but of the spirit of his contract with us. Indeed, the discussion of the so-called ten days’ notice does not really enter into the situation at all.

              "For the sake of argument, let us assume that if the club has the privilege of giving an unsatisfactory player ten days’ notice, a player has the same privilege on his part. Granted that this is true, what of the stipulation protecting the club owner against the player, whom he has developed at great expense from engaging with a rival team? If there were no such protection to the club owner, the money which he expends each season in the search for new players would be the height of buy from a business viewpoint. The issue then between Marsans and the Cincinnati club, or between any other player and any other club under the same conditions, resolves itself Into a question of fair play. The courts have held that from a legal standpoint Mr. Marsans is wrong. What about the moral standpoint? Granted that he was given the opportunity of making vastly more money for himself, what of the agreement with us made at his own suggestion and accepted by us without a single change in the terms proposed by him?

              ‘You’ll see now that we are getting into the heart of the whole system of Organized Baseball, and there are certain facts in this connection that are not generally understood, which, in Justice both to the player and to the club, should be appreciated. Baseball of to-day is a great business proposition. Nine thousand men are drawing a salary under the system of Organized Baseball. We are charged now with promoting this system in violation of the rights of the player, and solely in the interests of the magnate. Let us see if this is true.

              ”During the season of 1913 more than $500,000 was spent by the National and American Leagues in the purchase and drafting of players. This money was distributed through forty minor leagues. In the case of teams of the two higher classes of the minors, only one player can be drafted by the larger organizations each season. This insures that the half million dollars expended last season was very evenly distributed over the country. It is said that, even If this is so, the money goes not to the player, who has been developed, but to the club owner, who sells him as he would a chattel slave. How many of the players stop to consider that if this system were not in practice there would be no opportunity for development, no system of advancement, in short, no Organized Baseball at all? It is a proven fact that practically none of the smaller ball clubs are able to make expenses from the gate receipts. They are supported in the main by donations from the business men of their communities who are interested either in the game, or who feel it is a business aid to promote civic loyalty in the town. The only chance of a profit for the small club Is In the development and sale of an untried player. The club, it must be understood, agrees to pay the player his salary and expenses regardless of whether it wins or loses during the season. If there is a loss it does not come out of the pockets of the player - not a dollar of it. And in nine cases out of ten, the apprenticeship of the minor league player amounts to a virtual schooling, given to him not only free of charge. but for which he is paid a good salary.

              ‘I am presenting these facts, not with the desire of making the cause of the club owner look brighter, but for the purpose of giving the baseball fan the truth of the case. We paid the New Britain team, of the New England League $43,000 for Marsans. He had been receiving $150 a month from that club. We at once advanced his salary to $350 a month and the next year to $400. From every argument of business sense, should the money we paid for his purchase be given to Marsans, or to the club that had made his advancement possible? If Marsans had paid the club for his development, the amount, of course, should have gone to him. But it must be emphasized that during the entire period of his apprenticeship with the club, Marsans was drawing down a fairly good salary and. what is more, a salary that was being paid to him by the club at a loss. I maintain that the club was entitled to every dollar that we paid and. furthermore, that if this system were not in force Professional Basebal as we know it would cease to be.

              ‘The coming of the Federal League has brought all these matters to the front. I am not going to criticize the Federal League. I wish merely to set forth certain self-evident business facts. The Federal League not only is a poor business proposition but an impossible business proposition. It is absurd for any club owner to expect to pay the standard of salaries, which it is advocating. And the Federal League will be the first to discover this fact after costly experience. The greater per cent of the major league teams of this country today are being operated at a loss. It is impossible to operate them in any other way. The very maximum of salaries are now being paid, which good business Judgment will permit.

              "It is a fact that when the recent baseball cases were brought into our courts the Judges on the bench stared in surprise. In most Instances they discovered that a ball player was making a larger income than they themselves received. A star player makes more money than nine out of ten of the governors of our states. He makes more money than a Congressman receives, and a state senator is not in the same class at all. Not one doctor or lawyer or minister in three makes as large an income as a good ball player—and the ball player does not have to be a ‘star’ either.

              “These are all facts which anyone can establish for himself. I am content to leave their interpretation to the public. Baseball is unique both as a business and as an amusement enterprise. In the first place, the establishment of a big league club involves an investment of anywhere from a quarter of a million to half a million dollars and an operating expense of from $200,000 to $300,000 per season. It must be borne in mind too, that its season at best is limited and entirely dependent on a variety of conditions which cannot be foreseen in advance. While the club owner may strike a spell of luck, and realize a small fortune in profits, the chances are about 10 to 1 that he will see a small fortune dissipated in his losses. On the other hand, the player is assured of a generous income whether the club finishes with the pennant or in the cellar. If Organized Baseball were nothing more than a system of slavery, would it be possible to keep the game on its present professional standard? Would it be possible to keep ft on its present standard of clean business? Would it offer the opportunities that are drawing young men from all over the country to a profession admittedly that of a gentleman in every sense of the word?

              “I am well satisfied to leave the whole matter to the American public’s sense of fair play. I have presented the situation as frankly as I know how. and I am content to leave the answer to any jury deciding the situation on Its merits. “

              This, then, is the statement of Garry Herrmann, chairman of the National Baseball Commission, on a problem of the national game which has become an issue fraught with far-reaching consequences. After reading it what is your interpretation of the system of Organized Baseball, and of the rights of player and club owner?

              Mr. Marsans is one of the best liked players of the major leagues. He has maintained. a clean, untarnished record both as a player and as a gentleman. Mr. Herrmann is one of those club owners who have done most to make the game of baseball the profession of a gentleman. Personally he is one of the most justly popular men on the diamond. Both Mr. Marsans and Mr. Herrmann are fighting for an issue. Who is right?
              "Batting slumps? I never had one. When a guy hits .358, he doesn't have slumps."

              Rogers Hornsby, 1961


              • #8
                August 1914 Baseball Magazine - The War of the Leagues
                The Federal Fiasco—In Re Marsans—Contract Breaking—
                General Uncertainty—Its Disastrous Effects on Baseball

                By WILLIAM A. PHELON
                "The war of the leagues is still progressing merrily, though most of its attacks and counter attacks are secret, furtive, of the law court rather than the diamond. Just as affairs seem drifting toward some welcome stage of mediation comes news of another star’s defection and a fabulous salary offer. It is to be hoped that the problems that have so upset the baseball season of 1914 will reach a speedy and satisfactory adjustment. The general air of uncertainty unduly prolonged cannot but prove a serious detriment.

                During May and early June, the struggle between the forces of organized ball and the attacking Federals grew absolutely vitriolic in hatred and venomous rancor. Court proceedings, rumors of raids and counter-raids, novel schemes of attack and defense by either side, and newspaper bombs by the million, kept the air full of smoke and flame. The climax came when Marsans, the great Cuban outfielder, and Chase, the far-famed first baseman of the White Sox, went over to the Federals under a new system of desertions—a system which may cause infinite trouble and unlimited annoyance, besides fattening the pockets of the happy lawyers.

                When the courts turned down the prayer of George Johnson the Indian pitcher who had flopped from the Cincinnati Reds, organized ball shrieked in glee and announced that the Federals were finally corked and the bottle sealed. Yes? Sure. Show me anything that a lawyer cannot spill, either one way or the other! On the very day that the Johnson decision was announced. Marsans handed his employers an exact rerersal of the ten-day clause contained in the contracts, and stood grimly by his guns. The lawyers who had been coaching the Cuban held that all contracts must be even and equitable; that the ten-day clause must therefore work both ways and that any player wishing to get a new contract or to become a free agent needed only to give a ten-day notice to his club. Marsans’ jump was one of the mysteries of the summer. But not to anyone who knows the Latin temper. Earlier, when the Feds were offering Don Armando huge wads of coin, he scornfully repulsed them, saying that his word was good, and he was not to be tempted. On May 31, during a tight game with Pittsburgh, the Cuban stole second. Seeing that the umpire was turning away, crafty old Wagner suddenly jiu-jitsud Marsans off the base, slammed the ball on him, claimed the putout and got it. Marsans went wild, and trailed the umpire across the infield, addressing him in fuming Spanish, till the official ejected him. After the game, Manager Herzog gave him a call-down for so forgetting himself as to deprive the club of his services when imperatively needed. The altercation became red hot, and Marsans, deeming himself unjustly scolded, proceeded to re-open communication with the very Feds he had rebuffed not long before.

                Marsans played his first game with the St. Louis Federals on June 14th, and Dave Davenport, a Cincinnati pitcher, joined the same team on June 15. On June 16 it was announced that Hal Chase, Comiskey’s first bagger – a chronic rebel, if most stories are credible – pulled the ten day reverse notice on the White Sox, and then all balldom surely buzzed.

                To judge from the remarks of the players everywhere, and of the fans and scribes, the Federal League gave itself a back-handed slap that may result in a ten-count K.0. when it invaded the territory of Comiskey. For Commv stands alone. He occupies a position as unique as it is honorable. He is the Great God Taboo of baseball—the one magnate whom everybody loves, and whom everybody is supposed to respect from star to bat-boy. His club was tacitly counted as immune to raids—the one sacred ground on which no outlaws must cavort. When it was known that the Feds had assailed Comiskey a roar of rage went up all round the big circuits, and thousands of fans who had been shouting for the Feds threw down their horns and picked up their hammers. In Chicago, where Weeghman’s team had been pretty nearly supporting the new league, the fans were stunned and then infuriated and it was considered a safe bet on June 17 that the attendance, day by day, at Federal Park would be squarely cut in two as the result of the unwise idiotic attack upon the good Ol’Roman’s club.

                As to the rights and wrongs: there are two sides to every case, and both sides may think themselves the only rightful battlers. Let it go at that—but, also, let me delve back into the long ago. There are few scribes alive to-day who saw the Brotherhood come and go, but I was there, and I know whereof I tell this story. That was a golden summer. back there in 1890 and the boys all thought the charm would last—but the snows of winter and the ashes of despair lay thick upon the wide arena ere the second spring! Note you well: the Brotherhood in 1890 had EVERYTHING that the Federal League needs and has tried so hard to win. The Brotherhood was THE players union of the time. It had nearly all the stars, it had the backers, it had the new ball parks, and it drew the money. Whatever came through the gates that summer was Players’ League money – the older leagues of organized ball had empty benches, before which their wretched teams of scrubs capered comically.

                And what happened in the winter? Only this: the rich men, the backers, sold out, turned turtle, gave up their parks and interests to the older leagues, and left the players stranded! They hadn’t lost 10 per cent of the money lost already by the Federals. They had the players and the fans. They had everything their own way—but because a few of them had lost a little money, they squirmed, and flopped, and quit. They grabbed the chance to get back their losses at one stroke, and little enough cared they as to the fate of the players or the few magnates who stood firm.

                Such was the death of a finer, better league than the Federal outfit of to-day. History repeats itself. How do we know that history will not be repeated with the backers of the Federals? Think it over.

                There are very few baseball writers left who welcomed me upon my first and highly timorous scribbling day. It seems to me as if I ought to have fairly good memories of twenty-five years, and as if I should have some small ideas. And all I can see to the present situation is this: The greed and foolishness have gone too far. The public has grown impatient, sore, and sullen. Suspicion and distrust have ousted confidence and admiration. Never in my twenty-five years of baseball life have I heard such mutterings, such growlings, such language of steadily growing hostility among the fans. The foolishness and throat-cutting must stop, and stop extremely sudden. Competition is the "life of trade”— but too much competition is quite likely to choke the life out of the trader.

                At last reports, the Federal League was still a big winner in Baltimore, where the bugs imagine that Otto Knabe has a major league team. Chicago, with a north side clientele that is amply large enough for a club of its own, has taken in a lot of money, but is likely to lose from now on, since public indignation was aroused by the raid on Comiskey’s territory.

                All six of the remaining Federal League cities are reported as heavy and continuous losers, without enough money coming in to pay half the salaries. Something large—a bomb or series of bombs—will explode in the immediate future—but under which throne will the militants fire their nitro-glycerin?

                This has surely been the Year of Discontent, Uneasiness, and Unrest; what Jack London would call a yeasty ferment —a stirring and a bubbling—and in the caldron the good old seasonings of honesty and honor seem to have been boiled away till hardly the trace of a flavor is remaining. Greed for gold— the hunger for green fodder made of crisp, large-lettered currency—it has spread throughout the baseball world, and has obsessed and possessed all factions to the last degree. The magnates of the older league talk of sportsmanship and the honesty of the game—but the sting that rankles in their souls is the sting that pierced the pocketbook. The monstrous salaries wrenched from them by their players, the added costs, the rushing torrent of outgoing coin with only a slender inward trickle to offset the flood. The Federal leaders squawk about "live and let live,” and the right of competition in an open field: they roar about the mean tricks with which the older leagues are fighting—and the roar that comes from their hearts is the noise produced by men whose gold-mine is a clayhole, whose dreams end only in a headache. And the players—the dear little players. who, after all is said and done, are It and Everything—some of them strut proudly and bray about their loyalty, their steadfast Gibraltar faith in the same mania, shall decide to take its shekels to the movies, and to pass tip the whole yeasty, fuming, bubbling kettle?

                In many places, too, the public has been staving away from the caldron. I’d risk some coin of the realm that the whole attendance of 1914 hasn’t, even plus the Federal crowds equalled that of a year ago—and it will grow smaller yet if the uproar doesn’t cease. For the public, which pays the kale, has blunt and crude Ideas. To the unenlightened populace, a contract does not cease to be a binding obligation when a lawyer finds that a "t” wasn’t crossed, or a colon printed where a comma ought to be. And—if you can coax a man to break his written contract by a hash of coin a large lot of people will believe it very possible to slip that same man money for a fumble or a crazy throw in the ninth inning!

                Twenty-five years I have made my living out of baseball. Twenty-five years I have seen them come and go. There is no player now in active gambols on the green whom I saw when I came in.

                If the present wave of folly and the current court proceedings continue, it will be necessary, next season for the noble athletes to have individual legal certificates. These certificates must be inspected and approved each morning by a judge of the tipper courts, and at the ballyard, must be examined and 0.K.’d by the umpire, who will have to be an attorney of record. The paper will show, In separate columns, the states or cities where the player is enjoined from playing: the places where injunctions are pending: the spots where he is under indictment for neglecting to return advance money. and in what few burgs he is eligible to play. The game will surely be in wondrous condition when these certificates are the universal rule.

                Then, too, it will be needful for the players to have a loose-leaf ledger, carrying a meticulous statement of financial affairs. This ledger will have columns to show: Major League salary. Major League bonus. Major league advance money. Federal league offer. Federal advance money. Second major league salary. Second major league bonus. Federal money returned. Federal moneys sequestered. Legal fees and court costs. Income from signed articles. Vaudeville salary.

                Yes. indeed—baseball is getting to be a great game.

                One thing that puzzles me: how it is that the athletes fail to see that they must ultimately be the goats. If organized ball wins out, it can be taken for granted that the Inevitable retrenchment process will first hit the players who are reinstated. The loyal fellows will hold their contracts and fat moneys—most of them made the loyalty work two ways from the jack by getting long-time papers—and the returned prodigals must pay the price of their dancing. If the Federals win out, and become monarchs of all they survey, can anybody imagine them keeping tip the mammoth salaries? Nay, nay, Pauline. When they have the athletes all yarded and corralled, down will go the salaries, and the startled players will think that the new tyranny is just as grasping as the old. No matter who wins, the players will sometime have to pay. For the breaking point has been reached and passed: the financial camel has a flat hump. and whoever wins the battle can recoup the emptied wallet only in one solitary fashion.

                One of the most annoying features of Armando Marsans’s hop is the fact that it deals a deathblow to the delightful Cuban jaunts which have become an established annual custom with the big league clubs. Of course, as the laws of baseball are construed, no club in the organized limits can play any Cuban team that emplos or plays against Marsans. As Armando is a great idol of the Habaneros, is a big stockholder of the famous Almendares club.and its manager, he cannot very well be ousted from the game at home. And so it’s farewell to these glorious winter trips: farewell to the extra money that the athletes always drew— and farewell to the wealth that the good Senior Jiminez reaped at the gate. I feel especially stung as do the Cincinnati Reds, who had a trip all set for November. We had banked on the climate, the games, the fun. By night and day, and the royal hospitality of the Jolly Cubans —the best fellows that one could hope to see. All crabbed now—and all because Hans Wagner jimmied the proud Castilian hoof of A. Marsans off second base on May 31.

                James A. Hart has left the baseball world, and is engaged in other occupations. He left a highly respected name and the impress of a strong, shrewd character behind him—and he left, also, sundry ideas that might have saved much trouble had they been remembered and adopted.

                It is my fixed and firm opinion that the contract form which Jim Hart figured out, and which he often urged the big leagues to adopt, would have solved nine-tenths of the problems that have arisen in the game. It would have met all requirements of the most particular judge, and it would have stood the hammering of the most industrious lawyer. In short, the baseball contract devised by James A. Hart, had it been in use the last few years, would have automatically choked the rebels, the outlaws, and the lawyers—and would have done away with the greater part of the complaints.

                To summarize the Hart idea: Mr. Hart always maintained that since the magnates claimed what, in the Middle Ages.would have been called “the rights of suzerainty and overlordship,” they must hold that claim by equitable grip, legal tinder any circumstances. To all intents and purposes, said Mr. Hart, “we hold them under our orders for twelve months in every year. Therefore, by all rights, we should pay them for twelve months, not for six. Some day there will be an aweful fight based on just this question, and then you fellows will wish you’d listened to me.”

                The Hart contract called for a twelve month system of salary, instead of for the baseball season only. It ran from April 1 to March 31, inclusive. Under that contract, the man was held tighter than a drum-head. No reserve clause was needed. There was no holding in bondage, as the orators squawk when they attack the reserve law. The athlete was simply a salaried man, just as before. But he was getting it all the year round, and was therefore legally In the active employment of the club the entire year. There could be no question as to the propriety or legality of such a contract. which did away with all the points on which the lawyers now hang their screeches—the man was held as a bull pup holds a root and if he jumped that sort of a contract you could get him and get him good.

                As to the chance of an outlaw league cutting In on such a contract: the athlete would be firmly held during the season when the invaders do their proselyting. If his contract ran out at midnight March 31, the outlaws could not sign him to any contract previous to that hour and make it hold as he would be under the control of the original club. And on April 1, the season would be practically under way; the teams would be full; ever had would have his plans mapped out. and there would be a fine chance, NOT, for an invader to shake a league into shape and recruit his teams. Even if he were busily planning through February and March, he could legally sign none of them, and what security could he have that any men who gave him verbal promises would make good? Nearly all of them would be coaxed back by their old employers, and the outlaw who went ahead leased grounds and prepared a schedule would be in Dutch seven ways from the jack. He could not announce his teams in advance. because that would tip off the older leagues to persuade and bribe their men an(l sign them to fresh papers: he could not get a league together after April 1—in short. the Hart contracts would have prevented any Federal League propositions as effectively as a hundred courts and ten thousand injunctions.

                The wiser, shrewder players too, were strong for the Hart form of contract, as a wonderful insurance against want or sickness. In the summer months, the player gets his pay checks at the very time he needs them least: half the time he is on the road, with fares and lodging paid by the team. From November to April, when he needs the cash most, he either gets nothing or is forced to draw ahead and thus put himself under serious obligations. It is safe to say that seven players out of ten, if the thing were fully detailed to them, would be strongly for the Hart idea and its insurance features for the winter time, while magnate and fan, with little study can soon see where that system would have gone away with bondage, reserve rules. rebellions, and the present miserable wrangling.

                I want to be fair. In fact, I think I class as “a fair guy’. Many a time I have received a letter in one mail panning me for rank partiality to the National League, and in the next mail an equally indignant screed accusing me of being heart and soul in American League service. I try to be even and give all hands a fifty-fifty split. I must frankly admit, and as frankly stand by my beliefs, I am for organized ball, which has given me a decent living these twenty five years, and in whose precincts I have been honored by the friendship of such men as A. G. Spalding, Adrian Anson, Charles Comiskey, Harry Pulliam, John K. Tener, James A. Hart, and fifty more—men whose noble natures are the finest evidence that baseball is builded on the solid rocks, the everlasting foundations of American manhood. I am for organized ball, and I’d be a yellow hound if I did not stick by it to the last. But I try to be fair—and this I know: if I were any one of certain players, now listed in the Federal League, I’d not only have jumped to the outlaw clans, but I’d fight the men who once employed me while I had a nickel or a list or feeble voice. There are noble men in organized baseball—and, alas, there are a few to whom the game speaks only of commercialism.

                One jumping player jumped because his club calmly dodged its obligations. He was pledged added moneys for certain added work, and because he didn’t have it inserted in his contract they threw him down. When he threatened to sue and raise a scandal, they offered half by way of compromise—and he told them to shove it down their esophagi. Wasn’t that man right in quitting such a crowd?

                Another player’s wife was ill; when a wire came telling him of her dangerous condition, it was held out on him till a game was over, so that he might not rush to a handy train and deprive the club of his services in that one afternoon. Was not that man justified in the step he took? HE WAS, so was the other fellow—and when the reckoning comes, when, as I expect the outlaw league shall fail, I hereby promise that if men like these are blacklisted or thrown down. I. whom they doubtless regard as a knocker and an enemy am going to yank the skeletons, from their dusty closets and raise hell. Oh. I don’t know. Am I a fair guy or hopelessly narrow-minded?

                BUT—when it comes to stealing players, to telling men that their signed word is no word at all If a lawyer finds a misplaced period—when it comes to measures that ruin the golden trust the people hold in the honesty and honor of the game—well, down with that sort of work out with the men who do it and to perdition with the organization they have erected!

                Honest, now good fans and gentle readers, can you imagine Harry Pulliam, Al Spalding, Adrian C. Anson, Charles Comiskey asking men to jump a contract even if a thousand lawyers found tunnels in the wording? "
                "Batting slumps? I never had one. When a guy hits .358, he doesn't have slumps."

                Rogers Hornsby, 1961


                • #9
                  The Famous Federal Suit
                  Where the Bill to Dissolve Organized Baseball Originated
                  —How President Gilmore Announced the Move—
                  Opinions by Ward and Weeghman
                  March 1918 Baseball Magazine

                  The famous suit of the Federal League against organized baseball has already been exploited. The results of this legislation have been predicted with much ominous headshaking and biased arguments usually against the new organization. As we were privileged to be on deck in the head office of the Federal League on the morning when the legislation was fairly launched and in a position to determine the real motives of the men behind the move. perhaps a few brief remarks on those motives would not be amiss.

                  “We're going to break up organized baseball. I have just come from my lawyers. We filed this bill with Judge Landis. See.” and here he ran his finger down the margin of the printed pages. “Here are all the complaints and here are the prayers. We'll sue them for conspiracy and for restraint of trade. We'll break up the baseball trust and the National Commission. We’ll free every ball player in the United States. We’ll have the courts declare them free agents and we’ll put a stop once and for all to this calling us outlaws and making libelous remarks about our financial standing and all that kind of business. We are in this game as business men who have an interest in baseball. We’ve put in our money and invested a fortune, and we’ve fought for our rights fair and well continue to fight for them fair. But the other side had better believe that well fight. And well win, too. Our cause is just, our arguments are sound. We base them on the facts and the facts will tell. “

                  This remarkable statement, a torrent of words tumbling over themselves for utterance, was poured into my ears by James Gilmore, President of the Federal League as I sat in his office. He had just come in in his usual brisk, breezy manner but he was so full of his subject with the launching of the biggest assault the Federal League has yet planned on the ramparts of organized baseball that he fairly winded himself with his exertion.

                  In justice to Mr. Glimore, he wasn’t talking for effect. But the real thoughts of a man are best expressed when he is most natural and unreserved, and as it was my privilege to be in the psychological position when the biggest thing that has happened in baseball circles for a decade was being launched, we feel that the public, which is the great baseball consumer, should be considered first and foremost and its natural curiosity as to what the big men are going to do to their favorite sport should be satisfied.

                  Briefly, then, the big men of both factions aren’t going to injure baseball one particle, many croaking rumors to the contrary notwithstanding. Baseball as a business is the people’s property. They made the game. They were interested in it before the first magnate appeared on the scene and they will be interested when the present squabble Is ancient history. The sport is too big, too broad, too popular to ever suffer material damage from transient hostilities. And it will be all the better for a thorough sifting of its methods and policies in the courts.

                  At the famous banquet tendered to the returned worlds tourists at the Biltmore Hotel last spring Ban Johnson made a speech in which he touched upon the so-called baseball trust agitation. In this speech Mr. Johnson said that baseball would welcome any investigation along this line as a public vindication. Evidently organized baseball has its wish gratified, provided nothing happens to divert the Federal League plea from its acknowledged purpose.

                  The bill of complaint ncludes eleven prayers for relief, the leading sections being:
                  1. That the national agreement and the rules of the national commission be declared illegal and the defendants enjoined from operating under them.
                  2. That the defendants be declared to constitute a combination, conspiracy and monopoly in contravention of the antitrust statutes, and that they be enjoined from further doing business as a part of said monopoly.
                  3. That the defendants be declared to have conspired to injure or destroy the plaintiffs business and enjoined from continuing their conspiracy, particularly from saying that the plaintiffs are financially irresponsible and from threatening with ‘blacklist’ any players under Federal contract.
                  4. That all contracts with players hereafter made by the defendants under the national agreement be declared, as to the plaintiffs, “null, void and of no effect.” and that the defendants be enjoined from seeking to enforce such contracts against players later signed by the Federals.
                  5. That the defendants be ordered to dismiss various actions now pending against players.
                  6. That they be restrained from seeking by Injunction, threats, or promises to prevent other players from performing their several contracts. Section 7 asks a preliminary Injunction covering the various matters, while sections 8 and 9 ask for damages and relief for injuries done the Federal League by its rivals. Sections 10 and 11 ask that writs of injunctions and subpoenas be issued. The text of the national agreement is appended to the bill of complaint.

                  Three pages of the printed complaint are devoted to a description of the business of baseball as conducted by the leagues detailing the charging of admission fees and a list of the various players required In a baseball game. The court is informed that there “are now in the United States about 10,000 professional baseball players, all of whom, with the exception of about 300 under contract to the Federal League, are under the domination and control of the national agreement, the rules and regulations of the national commission and the national commission.“

                  The national agreement for the government of professional baseball which was entered into between the National and American Leagues and the National Association in 1903, the complainant declares, was not for the perpetuation of baseball as the national pastime the protection of property rights without sacrificing the spirit of competition, and the promotion of the welfare of ball players as declared In the agreement but was for the perpetuation of professional baseball in the hands of the contracting parties, that those within the combination might be safeguarded against any professional competition.

                  The petition further asserts that the purpose of the national agreement was that it ‘”might so dominate and control players that the engagement of their services by any person or club outside the combination would be difficult if not impossible.”

                  The court is asked to restrain the defendants from seeking by injunction, by threats, bonuses, or otherwise to prevent the players, Fischer. Konetchy, Caldwell, Perritt, Wingo, 0 ‘Connor, Bedlent, Austin, Allen, Berghammer, Bender, Plank and Marquard from performing their several contracts with the constituent members of the plaintiff.

                  The dismissal of the various court actions pending against George V. Johnson, Harold H. Chase, Armando Marsans and Lee Magee is asked.
                  A significant clause in the prayer reads:
                  ”That the said defendants shall be decreed as forming part of a combination, conspiracy and monopoly in violation of the common law. In contravention of the anti-trust and monopoly statutes, and in restraint of trade and commerce, and in derogation of the constitutional right of contract, and that said defendant be enjoined from further continuing or doing business as a part of or in connection with said combination, conspiracy and monopoly. “

                  The case recalls the classic utterances of Horace Fogel at the time that stout champion was breathing out threatenings and slaughter agalnst the baseball bosses. Fogel had a real grievance. His baseball ventures had proved singularly unfortunate and he could not be blamed for feeling sore at his summary dismissal from the game with whose interests he had been so long identified. But Fogel’s picturesque charges, however sensational, had nothing behind them save the animosity of one man. They served as a grand pyrotechnic display for a season, then faded into thin air.

                  In the present case, however, the whole organization of the Federal League is behind the charges. Shrewd lawyers are enlisted in their cause. Money in liberal quantities backs their campaign. The very Interests of self-preservation urge them on. The leaders, who are behind this movement, have proved their energy, their zeal of initiative, and their courage. They possess the means which Fogel lacked to push their charges to a culmination.

                  Just what will be accomplished by this arraignment of baseball it would be unwise to predict at this distance. Some of the abuses which the Federal League urges are undoubtedly founded in fact. It would be at least unusual if an organization with the resources and power of organized baseball were entirely free from criticism. In so far as organized baseball has been guilty of petty policies here and there. It would be well for all concerned if such methods should cease. Abuses on a small scale will no doubt yield to proper legal remedy.

                  Fundamentally, however, we believe the charges will not be substantiated. We doubt if organized baseball will be commanded to disband and even if it were we do not see an thing to prevent the various units from reuniting on some line permitted by the courts. In short, we doubt if the charges will result in any such sweeping changes as the Federal League bill would suggest. Doubtless, like most legal charges, they purposely call for greater changes than the plaintiffs anticipate receiving.

                  Mr. Weeghman, president of the most prosperous of the Federal League clubs, the Chicago representative of the circuit, viewed the sweeping agitation with scant favor:
                  “I really know but little about it.” he said. "On general principles I am opposed to such measures as I am opposed to all fights. I would much prefer to conduct my business without any of this legal wrangling, though I suppose a certain amount of such discussion is inevitable. I always wanted to be in baseball. I always liked the game and wished to be identified with it. I have gone into baseball with clean hands, as the equity courts say, and I shall conduct my business on no other lines. The money that I have made has been honestly made. I have a nice restaurant business in this city and there is a good income from the business. I wish to apply the same principles to my baseball business. If I couldn’t do that I wouldn’t want to be in the business at all.”

                  This much I may say from my experience with the Federal League: The owners in that circuit as I have met them are earnest, fair-minded, clean-cut men, who would be a distinct credit to the game they are trying to expand. They are, as I have met them, a credit to baseball. And that is more than can be said of all the magnates In the two major leagues by a wide margin.

                  Mr. Ward,owner of the Brooklyn club,and vice-president of the Federal League, as well as one of its chief financial backers had a clear-cut idea of the benefits to be derived by the Federal League from the suit in question.

                  He said: “Our object in bringing this suit is to find out where we are at. in plain terms. We have tried to break into the baseball business just as we might try to break into any other business, and have found the field already occupied. This much was expected, but in an ordinary business there would he no such obstacles as exist In the way of baseball expansion. We expect, even welcome, business competition, but we do not expect in this free country any such restraint as exists in the baseball field.

                  “Our contracts with players have been made in good faith. We have earnestly avoided signing men who were under contract to clubs in organized baseball. Therefore we do not see any reason on the part of organized baseball to refer to our players as ‘contract jumpers,’ men unloyal to a trust, or any other of the disparaging references repeatedly made of our players. Such efforts, as well as the efforts made to discredit our financial standing, are methods which would not be countenanced in ordinary business among men of responsible business standing. They have no place in baseball.

                  “We believe there is room for a third league of major rank. We believe we shall be able to prove that need and gratify the public demand for more and better baseball. If our contentions are wrong the public can decide, just as the public eventually decides all matters involving large business interests. But we do not propose to be diverted from our purpose by the biased interference of organized baseball as an interested party if the laws will secure us adequate support, and we believe they will.

                  “For that matter it Is to the interest of organized baseball, no less than to our own, to have the basis of baseball contracts, injunction suits, etc., thoroughly established once and for all. Such a course will save many minor suits and do much to clear up a greatly befogged situation, clearly establishing the rights of the Federal League as a representative baseball body as well as the rights of so-called organized baseball.”
                  "Batting slumps? I never had one. When a guy hits .358, he doesn't have slumps."

                  Rogers Hornsby, 1961


                  • #10
                    Interesting stuff; thanks for the in depth analysis.

                    I have one question - how long could Judge Landis have held the case? If the FL had been profitable enough to try for a third season, could thta have caused him to hold it another year longer? Or, would that have just meant a better settlement for baseball once they did settle.

                    I hadn't realized who the Terrapins' owner was; it sounds strange in today's era for a player to be leader of such a group, but Comiskey, Griffith, and probably a few others were the same.
                    If Baseball Integrated Early - baseball integrated from the beginning - and "Brotherhood and baseball," the U.S. history companion, at - IBIE updated for 2011.

                    "Full House Chronology" at yahoo group fullhousefreaks & fullhouse4life with help of many fans, thanks for the input


                    • #11
                      Another interesting thought - could the Cardinals have been sold to the group from baltimore as a way to stve off problems. I remember reading that their owner considered moving the club to Baltimore (Robison was already out,a nd his daughter had sold it to Sam Breadon by World War One.)
                      If Baseball Integrated Early - baseball integrated from the beginning - and "Brotherhood and baseball," the U.S. history companion, at - IBIE updated for 2011.

                      "Full House Chronology" at yahoo group fullhousefreaks & fullhouse4life with help of many fans, thanks for the input


                      • #12
                        American League, National League, Federal League, International League and American Association officials meet to end ML war and dissolve the FL. The deal:

                        -In total organized baseball forked over about $600K to FL interests
                        -Weeghman permitted to buy into Cubs
                        -Ball permitted to buy into Browns
                        -All lawsuit concerning player rights are dropped
                        -There will be no blacklist of FL players
                        -FL contracts will be honored
                        --Weeghman and Ball retain their players
                        --All other FL player rights assumed by Harry Sinclair

                        Sinclair sold as many players as he could -- 17 for a total of $129,500


                        • #13
                          With the ending of the FL war professional baseball players lost their brief negotiating strength. Many had signed multi-year contracts and even more had gained sizable raises. This was despite the fact that AL and NL franchises' income was down due to the attendance war with the FL.

                          -all ML and many minor league franchises were injured in the war, particularly those in FL cities
                          -Jack Dunn in Baltimore had to relocate during war and was forced to prematurely sell off some players, such as, a young, recently-acquired George Ruth
                          -even though there was no FL franchise in Philadelphia, Connie Mack moved to dismantle his club. The A's had recently won four pennants in 5 years and his players were seeing other ML stars cash in. Rather than pay out huge salaries, Mack either released, sold or traded away his stars. The A's would rise out of last place until 1922.
                          -The Red Sox were one to pay huge salaries - with many 2-year deals to boot. This eventually led to Lannin selling out to Frazee

                          -The players enjoyed a strong, yet brief, advantage in contract negotiations. When the FL disbanded, the boot fell hard on the players. Salaries were cut back (some dramatically), as were the multi-year deals.

                          A war was also raging in Europe which would eventually lead to the shortening of the 1917 and 1918 seasons - shortening of paychecks and tempers as well.


                          • #14
                            Article about Robert Ward's financial losses resulting from the FL:
                            Attached Files


                            • #15
                              What would have happened if the Federal League had a different lineup of cities? For example:

                              New York
                              Los Angeles
                              San Francisco

                              Would coast to coast baseball have made it in 1914-15?
                              "I do not care if half the league strikes. Those who do it will encounter quick retribution. All will be suspended and I don't care if it wrecks the National League for five years. This is the United States of America and one citizen has as much right to play as another. The National League will go down the line with Robinson whatever the consequences. You will find if you go through with your intention that you have been guilty of complete madness."

                              NL President Ford Frick, 1947


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