Federal League Newsbeat
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Pittsburgh Gazette Times, April 30, 1915:
Benny Kauff, the Ty Cobb of the Federal League was the indirect cause [yesterday] afternoon of more genuine excitement at the Polo Grounds than that field had known since September 23, 1908, when Fred Merkle lost a pennant through failure to tag second base. Kauff, who at noon time deserted the Brooklyn Federal League club and signed a three years ironclad contract with the New York Nationals, attempted to play centerfield for the Giants. President James E. Gaffney of the World Champion Braves, with the backing of the league president, John K. Tener, refused to allow his club to take the field against the outlaw deserter.
The game was originally ruled a forfeit to the Giants, but when the crowd began to become visibly agitated, the two teams agreed to play the game without Kauff. The Braves won 13-8 in seven innings, the NL President voided Kauff’s contract, and the outfielder went back to the Federal League. He led the outlaw loop in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, and stolen bases that season.
Friday, April 10, 2015
Pittsburgh Press, April 10, 1915:
War, politics and spring fashions were relegated to the background today while some 72 athletes in four cities started a 154 days’ battle of their own. The umpires took the indicators away from the judges and summonses gave way to batting lists, the Federal league formally opening its 1915 baseball season.
I had no idea Federal League teams had 18-man rosters. That seems ridiculously small.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Washington Times, February 12, 1915:
President Joseph A. Lannin, of the Boston Red Sox, predicted two-dollar baseball in the near future unless the controversy between [organized baseball] and the Federals comes to an early termination, at the “Home Night” annual dinner of Boston College last night.
“I know personally that the Federal League has already lost more than $1,000,000, one backer alone dropping $650,000.” This cannot continue if the sport of baseball is to live, he said.
According to the federal government’s Consumer Price Index, $2 in 1915 had the same buying power as $46.88 in 2014. Other conversions: $1M in 1915 is about $23.4M in 2014, and $650K in 1915 is around $15.2M in 2014 dollars.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Washington Times, January 22, 1915:
The Indianapolis Federals, world’s champions by default, probably will do their spring training at home. There is plenty of money in sight to sent them on a training trip such as a world’s championship team would be supposed to take, but the Hoosier Fed promoters think better results can be obtained in the latitude of Indianapolis in March and April.
Team owner Harry Ford Sinclair really did have plenty of money - shady oil deals can be extremely lucrative - but he didn’t want to spend it on baseball in Indianapolis. By the time the 1915 Federal League season rolled around, the Hoo-Feds had relocated to Newark, New Jersey. It’s probably safe to assume they didn’t go back to Indiana for Spring Training.
Monday, January 12, 2015
Toledo News-Bee, January 12, 1915:
That in two instances baseball managers traded players in exchange for dogs was one of the many allegations contained in affidavits filed in federal court [in Chicago] on Monday in support of the Federal league suit to have organized baseball, the national commission and the American and National leagues declared a trust.
It was in an affidavit by Mordecai Brown that the above charges were made.
Brown’s affidavit in brief says: “Your affiant is informed and believed to be true, that one Joe Cantillon, manager of the Minneapolis club of the American association, a member of so-called organized baseball, at one time traded a professional ball player for a bulldog.
“Your affiant also believes that Roger Bresnahan, while manager of the St. Louis club in the National league, traded a professional baseball player, a pitcher named Hopper, to Dick Kinsella, then manager of the Springfield, Ill., club in the Three-Eye league, for a bird dog.”
You can read Brown’s affidavit in its entirety here, if you’re so inclined. IANAL, but to me, the dog-swapping allegations are weirdly and a bit incongruously thrown into the middle of an affidavit that’s otherwise mostly about teams being able to release players and nullify contracts with ten days’ notice.
Other Federal League v. American League et al affidavits I’ve seen: Charles Comiskey and Joe Tinker.
Thursday, January 08, 2015
Pittsburgh Press, January 8, 1915:
Ball Player With Conscience Found
After all, there are some players with a conscience. Baker Borton is now trying to buy his release from the St. Louis Federals. Naturally the query arises why a player should purchase his release, when he could jump his contract and make the Federals sue for his services.
Borton appears to be a young man who is of a different mold.
He didn’t get his release. Borton led the 1915 Federal League in games played, runs scored, and walks, while putting up a 126 OPS+.
All of which means they were probably sold out of Borton license plates in the gift shop.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Milwaukee Sentinel, December 30, 1914:
A Federal league official stated on Tuesday that the reason the new organization did not persist in its efforts to sign Eddie Collins, formerly of the Athletics and now of the White Sox, was because his demands were so great that the officials were dumfounded.
To their great astonishment Collins demanded $80,000 for a three year contract. Not only that, but he wanted $20,000 in cash and demanded that the other $60,000 be deposited in the bank for him.
This demand, the Federal league officials state, breaks all records for nerve.
It was worth a shot, particularly if he didn’t really want to jump. All they could do was say no.
Anyway, if you adjust for inflation, Collins was asking for the equivalent of a three year contract worth a total of around $1.85M in 2014 dollars.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Milwaukee Journal, December 24, 1914:
With the money obtained from the sale of a herd of steers, Walter Johnson, star pitcher of the Washington American league club, yesterday mailed a draft reimbursing Charles Weeghman, president of the Chicago Federals, for the bonus given Johnson when he signed a Federal contract. The draft was for $6,000.
“As far as I’m concerned the incident, which has proven an unpleasant one to me , at least, is now closed,” Johnson said. “There is nothing more I can do. I shall report to the Washington club when the spring training season opens.
Charles Weeghman, president of the Chicago Federals, will refuse to accept the $6,000 returned by Walter Johnson, according to James A. Gilmore, president of the Federal league. Gilmore said he had not hear a word from Johnson in answer to his invitation to come here and submit his contracts to a trio of Chicago lawyers.
Don’t hold your breath, Jim. I don’t think he’s coming.
Monday, December 22, 2014
Omaha Daily Bee, December 22, 1914:
Charles Weeghman, president of the Chicago Federals, [yesterday] announced that he had submitted to his counsel the case of Walter Johnson, star pitcher, who Saturday signed up with his old team, the Washington Americans, after having recently accepted a contract with the Chicago Federals.
“Walter Johnson will play with the Chicago Federals next year or not at all,” said Weeghman. “I have laid the case before counsel, and we will fight it to the United States supreme court before we will give up.
“The highest legal talent in the country has declared that our contract with Johnson is binding, and we will certainly enforce it to the limit of our ability.”
Weeghman was wrong. The Big Train went back to D.C. in 1915 and did what he did all the time: Led the American League in wins, games started, complete games, shutouts, innings pitched, strikeouts, batters faced, ERA+, FIP, WHIP, K/BB ratio, and fewest walks per nine innings.
He was pretty good.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Topeka State Journal, December 11, 1914:
The Federal league is ready to give Rube Marquard back to the New York Giants. President R.B. Ward of the Brookfeds, who signed Marquard for his team has written a letter to that effect to President H.N. Hempstead of the Giants.
In his letter to President Hempstead Mr. Ward takes occasion to demonstrate that the Federals are making much greater efforts to play the game fairly than is the Giants management. He instances the case of William Ritter and says that player was actually under contract to the Brookfeds when the Giants signed him away from the Ward team by using influence with his father.
Mr. Ward also discloses that Marquard sought the Federals instead of having been kidnapped by them. He says that the Rube literally came to the Brookfed camp with his hat in his hand begging to be signed up and assured the Wards that he was under absolutely no obligation to the Giants.
Ward wasn’t quite as worried about fairness when Phillies pitcher Tom Seaton, who led the National League in wins, innings pitched, and strikeouts in 1913, jumped to the Brookfeds for the 1914 season.
Thursday, December 04, 2014
Chicago Tribune, December 4, 1914:
CHICAGO FEDS SIGN WALTER JOHNSON FOR TWO YEARS
JOHNSON SIGNS WITH “FEDS”; TO PLAY WITH TINX
Manager Joe Tinker of the Chifeds landed the biggest fish yet drawn out of organized baseball in a Federal league net when he signed Walter Johnson, former leading pitcher of the American league, to a two year contract yesterday at the home of the tall blonde pitcher in Coffeyville, Kan.
Announcement of the successful completion of the deal was made by President Weeghman of the Tinx after a couple of long distance telephone talks with the manager. Coupled with the news which set north side fandom buzzing with excitement was the announcement that Johnson was signed to pitch for the Tinx and not for any other team in the league. The terms of the contract were withheld.
Washington owner Clark Griffith personally traveled to Coffeyville and made a successful counteroffer in order to keep the Big Train in DC.
Also, the “Tinx”! I really like that.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Toledo News-Bee, November 18, 1914:
Charles W. Murphy, former president of the Cubs, and credited with still holding a large interest in the club, announced on Wednesday that the deal by which Charles Weeghman, owner of the Chicago Federals, was to purchase the Cubs, is off.
...meaning another year of the Federal League-Organized Baseball war. But you all know that already.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Toledo News-Bee, November 13, 1914:
Owner Charles Weeghman of the Chicago Federals on Friday denied that the Chicago Cubs actually had been transferred to him and peace terms for the elimination of the Federal league agreed upon, though well-informed baseball men insisted that these two steps were taken at Thursday’s conference between Weeghman and Garry Herrmann.
Weeghman declared that a few details in the deal by which he is to become owner of the Cubs, are yet to be arranged and that the transfer will not take place until after the Federal league meeting on Nov. 28.
It was the general belief, however, that the Cubs have changed hands, but that announcement will be withheld until the Federal league meets and sanctions arrangements for peace.
That announcement was indeed made after the Federal League met on November 28, but it was made a year later. Weeghman bought the Cubs, Phil Ball bought the Browns, five other teams took cash settlements, and the Baltimore Terrapins filed a famous but ultimately unsuccessful anti-trust suit.
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