The Federal League of Base Ball Clubs

The History of an Outlaw Major League, 1914–1915


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About the Book

The last independent major league ended its brief run in 1915, after only two seasons at the national pastime’s top level. But no competitor to establishment baseball ever exerted so much influence on its rival, with some of the most recognizable elements of the game today—including the commissioner system, competition for free agents, baseball’s antitrust exemption, and even the beloved Wrigley Field—traceable to the so-called outlaw organization known as the Federal League of Base Ball Clubs.
This comprehensive history covers the league from its formation in 1913 through its buyout, dissolution, and legal battles with the National and American leagues. The day-to-day operation of the franchises, the pennant races and outstanding players, the two-year competitive battle for fans and players, and the short- and long-term impact on the game are covered in detail.

About the Author(s)

Robert Peyton Wiggins, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, works in the University of Virginia Health System. The author of several books, he won the 2010 SABR Larry Ritter Award for the Society for American Baseball Research for his book, The Federal League of Base Ball Clubs (McFarland, 2009). He lives in Virginia.

Bibliographic Details

Robert Peyton Wiggins
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 368
Bibliographic Info: 31 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012 [2009]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6939-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1
Introduction      3

1. Federal League Beginnings      9
2. A Challenge to Organized Baseball      21
3. Lucky Charley      28
4. “A Fifty Per Cent Raise Looked Too Good to Turn Down”      35
5. The Baseball Players’ Fraternity      45
6. The Federal League Survives a Crisis      51
7. Ad Brennan and Tom Seaton      58
8. The World Tourists      62
9. Opening Day      66
10. “The Nerviest Proposition I Ever Saw”      72
11. Three Finger Brown      78
12. Weeghman’s “Edifice of Beauty”      84
13. The Emery Ball Specialist      93
14. The Terrapins Set the Pace      99
15. Rowdyism and Umpire Woes      105
16. Washington Park      110
17. Pittsburgh’s Rebels      117
18. “I Will Pitch for the One That Gives Me the Most Money!”      123
19. Prince Hal      128
20. Ty Cobb of the Feds      135
21. Tinker’s Invalids      142
22. Fielder Jones      147
23. The Stretch Run      152
24. A Gloomy State of Affairs      160
25. The Big Train Almost Becomes the Federal Express      168
26. The Federal League vs. Organized Baseball      173
27. Jumpers and Flip-Floppers      178
28. “An Embarrassing Situation”      186
29. Opening Day 2      193
30. Benny Kauff Goes Astray      201
31. Rebels Resurgent      207
32. The Top Whale Goes Down      214
33. Buffalo’s Got the Blues      218
34. “This Season You Are Playing for Me”      222
35. The Colonial League      228
36. Lee Magee Style      232
37. “My Resignation Was Wired to Mr. Ball This Afternoon”      240
38. “The Belgium of Baseball”      245
39. The Deacon Takes the Pulpit      249
40. The Tribune’s Amateurs      256
41. Davenport and Plank      264
42. The Pivotal Series      269
43. The Big Bluff      276
44. Peace!      284
45. The Big Auction      291
46. The Aftershock      298
47. The Browns/Terriers      305
48. The Cubs/Whales      311
49. The Outcasts      318
50. The Benny Kauff Story      322
51. Back into Good Society      329

Epilogue      336
Chapter Notes      341
Bibliography      353
Index      355

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Winner, Larry Ritter Book Award—SABR
  • “At last. We now have a definitive history of that infamous and somewhat esoteric subject that haunts baseball trivia contests—the Federal League…well researched”—SABR Deadball Era Committee Newsletter
  • “An extensively researched and thorough examination of the origins of the Federal League.”—Society for American Baseball Research
  • “Valuable…stands alone as the ‘major’ history of the Federal League”—Journal of Sport History
  • “Comprehensive history”—Sports Collectors Digest
  • “A stunning scholarly undertaking…[Robert Wiggins] has gotten his arms around a complex subject. He captures the story and its key participants from beginning to end…so the reader has an understanding of the players and issues of the different teams, as well as the league as a whole.”—Steve Steinberg, author (with Lyle Spatz) of 1921: The Yankees, the Giants and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York (Nebraska)
  • “Robert Peyton Wiggins’ The Federal League of Base Ball Clubs…is just as meaty and satisfying as the food served up at one of Charley Weeghman’s 24-hour lunchrooms.[It] should satiate any Deadballer’s hunger for knowledge about the great rival league that failed.”—Tom Simon, founder, SABR’s Deadball Era Committee.