Book Review: The Federal League


The Federal League of Base Ball Clubs
The History of an Outlaw Major League, 1914-1915
by Robert Peyton Wiggins
A Baseball Book Review
Monte Cely
(512) 310-9777
            The Federal League (FL) operated as a minor league in 1913 and as a now-recognized major league in 1914 and 1915. Author Wiggins tells the story of the magnates, managers and players that made up the “newest” of now-defunct “major leagues”.
            The FL directly challenged major league franchises in St. Louis, Chicago, Brooklyn, and Pittsburgh. Their franchise lineup was filled out with cities that formerly had major league franchises, or thought they deserved them. These included Indianapolis, Buffalo, Baltimore, and Kansas City. The Indianapolis franchise moved to Newark for the 1915 season.
            FL magnates included oilman Harry Sinclair, New York bakery king Robert Ward, old Oriole Ned Hanlon, and former player then lawyer John Montgomery Ward, among many others.
            Although the Federal League played its last game over ninety-five years ago, two very visible legacies of the FL remain: 1) Baseball’s privileged exemption from anti-trust law is a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore, Inc.  vs. National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, a lawsuit filed by the ownership of the Baltimore FL Terrapins, and 2) The Federal League’s most famous ball park, Weeghman Field, home of the Chicago Whales, is viewable whenever a Cubs home game is broadcast. It’s now known as Wrigley Field. 
            A SABR member interested in early 20th Century baseball should enjoy this well-researched book.
Here are the key statistics:
Book: The Federal League of Base Ball Clubs;
                        The History of an Outlaw Major League, 1914-1915
Author:  Robert Peyton Wiggins
Author’s Credentials: Wiggins is a member of SABR and lives in Charlottesville, VA. He has also written Chief Bender, A Baseball Biography
Published: 2009, McFarland; ISBN: 978-0-7864-3835-8
Length: 362 pages.
Price: Retail list – $35.00;    Online – from $45.00 (new) + shipping.

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