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Thursday, April 04, 2013

Neyer: Was The Federal League Really A Major League

Missed this. The launching of The National Pastime Museum.

The Federal League is different. By 1914, the inaugural season, modern playing rules were in place. The league’s teams played, for the most part, in cities that today host Major League franchises. They played 154-game schedules, just like the American and National leagues with which the Federal League was expressly designed to compete. Just last year, a fantastic book, The Battle That Forged Baseball: The Federal League Challenge and Its Legacy, was published.

We’ll probably have to wait awhile for a similar treatise on the Union Association.

So did the Special Baseball Records Committee get it right? Was the Federal League really a Major League?

...So how and why did the Records Committee come to this conclusion?

Well, there was a precedent for it. During the league’s existence, Francis Richter’s Official American League Base Ball Guide—which covered all of organized baseball, along with the Federal League—seemed to take the league at its word. In the 1916 guide, Richter (or one of his underlings) even wrote, “No better ball was furnished by any league anywhere, or at any time.”

In 1940, The Sporting News began publishing the annual Baseball Register. For some years, the Register included the records of a few old-time stars. And when someone had played in the Federal League, those stats were included in his Major League totals.

So one might excuse the Records Committee for simply bowing to convention. I don’t. Its job was to collect evidence, weigh that evidence, and make some difficult decisions. In this case, either the members didn’t collect and weigh the evidence or they did but ignored it. Either way, I cannot excuse them.

Today there is no panel charged with these matters. The Baseball Encyclopedia no longer exists, nor are there any other records that come with Major League Baseball’s exclusive imprimatur. Nothing is official. But someone somewhere should strike a blow for common sense and strike everything that happened in the Federal League from the Major League records. This was a major league only on paper. On the field, it was but a pale imitation.

Repoz Posted: April 04, 2013 at 04:39 PM | 92 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:12 PM (#4404685)
Just last year, a fantastic book, The Battle That Forged Baseball: The Federal League Challenge and Its Legacy, was published.


How on earth did I manage not to know about this?

I should have my library taken away from me.
   2. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:18 PM (#4404693)
Same here!
   3. Rennie's Tenet Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:20 PM (#4404695)
There was a very nice SABR publication about the Fed League some years ago.

Is there any live issue that is impacted by inclusion of the FL stats? Was anyone's Hall of Fame case markedly harmed or improved by their Federal League numbers? It looks like Edd Roush had only about 2150 hits in the NL.
   4. Bob Tufts Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:25 PM (#4404703)
If the replacement players that would have been used in 1995 would have been deemed major league, is there any doubt the federal league players deserve to be deemed major league?
   5. Walt Davis Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:26 PM (#4404705)
Was anyone's Hall of Fame case markedly harmed or improved by their Federal League numbers?

Ichiro? :-)

I do think one or two posters here have made the connection along the lines of "NPB is not lower quality than the FL was..." to justify consideration of his NPB stats. (Not a hijack, Ichiro has enough ML time now that his NPB time really shouldn't matter to anybody, it was more relevant 4-5 years ago.)
   6. Steve Treder Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:52 PM (#4404731)
How on earth did I manage not to know about this?

Dan Levitt wrote it. It's, predictably, exceptionally good.
   7. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:53 PM (#4404734)
I disagree pretty vehemently with Rob's assertion that
the best of the Federal League players, with the exception of Kauff, were barely good enough to play in the real Major Leagues at all.
There were any number of legitimately good MLB players who jumped to the Fed in mid-career. Hal Chase, Ed Konetchy, Art Wilson, Lee Magee. Frank LaPorte finished his career in the FL, but when he came over, he was a second baseman who had just finished putting up a 111 OPS+ in his age 30-33 seasons. He was clearly good enough to continue to get work in MLB.

Vin Campbell put up a 108 OPS+ as a 22-24 year old from 1910-1912, then for some reason there's no record of him playing professionally in 1913, and he reappeared and played well in the Fed in 1914-1915. Otto Knabe had gotten MVP votes every year from 1911-1913, then he jumped to the Fed at age 30 in 1914.

There are literally dozens of these guys.

Clearly, obviously, the Federal League was inferior to the AL and NL. I'm not saying Rob's premise is wrong, but I think Rob does a disservice to his argument to imply that the star players of the FL weren't good enough to play in the majors. The second-line guys were probably not good enough to play MLB. The depth was pretty poor.
   8. robneyer Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:00 PM (#4404744)
Dozens? I'm not saying you're wrong, but what happened to all these guys in 1916 and '17?
   9. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:19 PM (#4404771)
Was anyone's Hall of Fame case markedly harmed or improved by their Federal League numbers? It looks like Edd Roush had only about 2150 hits in the NL.


In the NL Roush went 325/371/451 in 7300 PAs (he also had 12 PAs in the AL). There are 55 hitters with a .315+ average in 6500+ PAs. The only ones who aren't in the Hall are George Van Haltren, Babe Herman, and some recent guys (Pujols, Vlad, Helton, Cabrera, Ichiro). Switch to a 125 OPS+ among guys not in the Hall and you draw in Cy Williams, Fred Lynn, Jimmy Wynn, Eric Davis, Rick Monday, Larry Doyle, Hardy Richardson, Paul Hines, George Gore, Joe Torre, Bobby Grich, Ellis Burks, and a lot of recent guys (Bernie, Edmonds, Piazza) and guys who played a corner position (the Norm Cashes of the world). But the 1960s VC wasn't looking at his OPS+, they were looking at a guy who hit almost as well as Babe Herman without the terrible reputation. So he's probably still in without the FL.

There are 5 FL players in the Hall: Roush, Joe Tinker, Chief Bender, Eddie Plank, and Mordecai Brown.

The pitchers are all in without the FL. Plank won 305 NL games. Brown was 208-111, 1.93 in the NL, and gets in with the ERA even if the win total is a bit low. Bender went 4-16 in the FL and was basically done by the time he got there. He got in despite, not because of, the FL time.

Tinker had 1560 hits in the NL, 130 more in the FL (at about his career rates). This was at the end of his career. If he plays in the NL maybe he falls apart a year or so earlier, and who knows if the poem still gets him in. Also, he played and managed in Chicago in the FL after a year off in Cincinnati in the NL, so maybe the return home by the old hero stirred a few hearts or something.

So there are 4 guys who didn't need it, and one guy who is an underwhelming candidate even with the FL time, but who defies this sort of guessing game due to external things (i.e., the poem).
   10. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:21 PM (#4404773)
what happened to all these guys in 1916 and '17?
Konetchy went back to the National League and continued to be good, Chase went to Cincinnati and won a batting title, Claude Hendrix signed with the Cubs and pitched more effectively than he had in 1915, Chief Bender went to the Phillies and was better in the 1916-17 NL than he had in the 1915 FL, Frank Allen's workload decreased when he went back to the NL in 1916 but his performance remained excellent. After leading the FL in losses in 1915, Jack Quinn went to the PCL and dominated for three years before returning to the majors in 1918 and putting up an ERA+ better than 100 for fifteen consecutive years. Bill Rariden was the starting catcher for the Giants and played well.

There are also a ton of guys who cratered when the FL ended. You could list them just as easily as I listed the players who played well.

I tend to agree with your general point, Rob, that the FL was obviously not equal to the AL and NL. I just think you're overstating the gap between the leagues.

My mental image - and this is based on absolutely no objective evidence - is that in terms of quality, the FL was to baseball about like the USFL was to football. There were guys who absolutely shredded the Fed and the USFL who didn't play well in their "major" league, but that doesn't mean the talent level was bad.
   11. robneyer Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:31 PM (#4404785)
There were some truly great players in the USFL, while it's difficult to find great players in the Federal League.

No, wait: it's almost impossible, with the arguable exception of Edd Roush. I suspect the USFL was something like 4-A, baseball-wise, while the Federal League was a good AAA league.

Very roughly speaking, of course. I don't think I ever said the talent in the F.L. was bad. Just far short of what we think of as major-league quality. And thus shouldn't be considered a major league.

Thanks for engaging.
   12. Steve Treder Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:34 PM (#4404790)
the Federal League was a good AAA league.

Very roughly speaking, of course. I don't think I ever said the talent in the F.L. was bad. Just far short of what we think of as major-league quality. And thus shouldn't be considered a major league.


That's my assessment as well.
   13. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:34 PM (#4404791)
Thanks for hearing me out. There are a bunch of writers who'd have taken my quibble personally and not seen it as the respectful disagreement that it was.
   14. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:37 PM (#4404793)
The Baseball Encyclopedia no longer exists, nor are there any other records that come with Major League Baseball’s exclusive imprimatur. Nothing is official.


Does this mean what seems to say? That MLB doesn't actually keep official stats?
   15. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:41 PM (#4404795)
Once the decision was made to count the FL as a Major League, I can't see revisiting it, even if it is a bit shaky. Too close to air-brushing history, and no-harm, no-foul. It's only 2 years - not enough to dilute the "real" MLB stats.
   16. Dan Evensen Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:41 PM (#4404796)
If you buy the 1914 or 1915 season from APBA or Skeetersoft, the Federal League teams will be included. The same is true for the homebrewed 1914 and 1915 DMB seasons. Frankly, I doubt you'll ever see anybody take a step backwards on including the Federal League as a third major league for both seasons.

The better question is what we should do with the Pacific Coast League, particularly from 1946 to 1957.
   17. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:41 PM (#4404799)
Good article. Good discussion.
   18. Steve Treder Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:45 PM (#4404803)
The better question is what we should do with the Pacific Coast League, particularly from 1946 to 1957.

The PCL was never close to major league quality, despite what its sepia-toned remembrances would have us believe, especially not by the late 40s/50s. It was a good AAA league, in its prime in the 1920s/30s (before MLB had fully built out the farm system), better than AAA leagues would later be, but not meaningfully better than the International League or the American Association, and never at any point close to as good as the AL or NL.
   19. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:58 PM (#4404810)
Fwiw, mlb.com includes Federal League and American Association stats in its database. It does not include Players League, Union Association or National Association stats. I really wish bbref would not count those last three leagues in players MLB career numbers.
   20. vortex of dissipation Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:02 PM (#4404815)
Just for reference, or if you try to put a hold on it at the library, like I did, the correct title of Levitt's book is The Battle That Forged Modern Baseball: The Federal League Challenge and Its Legacy.
   21. jdennis Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:04 PM (#4404816)
as neyer states, why don't we settle the aa (clearly inferior at the beginning, better at the end), pl (top heavy), and ua (wouldn't you have joined, given the circumstances?) also, along with the western league of the turn of the century?

and then there's the matter of the al being obviously inferior in 1901, and slightly inferior in 02. should we be discounting that too?

also, neyer's article looks at war and stuff, but it should look at other more direct stuff like fielding percentages, which obviously indicates an overall talent level when examining the entire league, i think, which is how i draw my conclusions about the above leagues.
   22. vortex of dissipation Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:05 PM (#4404817)
If you buy the 1914 or 1915 season from APBA or Skeetersoft, the Federal League teams will be included. The same is true for the homebrewed 1914 and 1915 DMB seasons.


The same is true with Strat-O-Matic.
   23. jdennis Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:05 PM (#4404819)
by better i mean in comparison to itself, not the nl, btw
   24. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:16 PM (#4404824)
The PCL was never close to major league quality, despite what its sepia-toned remembrances would have us believe, especially not by the late 40s/50s. It was a good AAA league, in its prime in the 1920s/30s (before MLB had fully built out the farm system), better than AAA leagues would later be, but not meaningfully better than the International League or the American Association, and never at any point close to as good as the AL or NL.


I'm surprised by this, given all the anecdotes about players who lived on the west coast and were reluctant to go to MLB despite being of MLB quality. And players who were sold from cheapskate MLB teams to PCL teams against their will (e.g. Johnny Moore of the Phillies).

But I have little knowledge about it. How many of those guys were there really?
   25. Steve Treder Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:25 PM (#4404834)
given all the anecdotes about players who lived on the west coast and were reluctant to go to MLB despite being of MLB quality.

The anecdotes are mostly BS. There was a reserve clause, remember? Players couldn't choose where they played; they played for whoever owned their contract, or they didn't play at all.

Neither PCL attendance nor PCL payrolls ever began to approach MLB levels, not close. The PCL was never nearly as well-capitalized as the majors. Sure, there were contract and draft restrictions that delayed the process by a few years, but only by a few. Every serious prospect wanted by the majors, was acquired by the majors.

EDIT: To elaborate: it's important to bear in mind that the PCL (nor the International League nor the American Association) was "independent." Yes, the franchises may have been (and they weren't always) independent of farm club affiliation with any MLB franchise, but the league wasn't at all independent: just like the majors and all the rest of the "organized baseball" minor leagues, they were bound together in the National Association, which clearly stipulated the specifications of each minor league classification and the ways in which higher classifications had structural advantages over lower ones. And the PCL was always, explicitly and by design, a lower classification than major.

The PCL's attempt to make itself the third major league, beginning in the late 1940s and culminating in their gaining special "Open" classification from 1951-57, was never because the league was actually approaching major league quality. It was a desperate defensive strategy on the part of PCL owners to prevent MLB franchises from coming in and taking over the must lucrative markets, namely LA and SF. And with the rapid decline in attendance that hit every professional league following 1949, the PCL didn't even meet its own qualifications to be classified as "Open" after 1951.
   26. AndrewJ Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:27 PM (#4404835)
Was anyone's Hall of Fame case markedly harmed or improved by their Federal League numbers?

Save it for the Julio Franco HOM thread. Also Jamie Moyer's. :)
   27. Rennie's Tenet Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:35 PM (#4404839)
There was a very nice SABR publication about the Fed League some years ago.


The Federal League of 1914-1915, Baseball's Third Major League, Mark Okkonen, 1989.
   28. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:37 PM (#4404840)
Apparently Johnny Moore was 35 when the Phillies sold him to the Angels. My Phillies reference book treated it as one of the saddest instances of Gerald Nugent's undercapitalized ownership saga*. Thanks for the staright talk.

*You see, Fogel was an idiot. Baker didn't care about winning. Nugent cared about winning but had no funds. And Cox was an idiot. And then after 40 years in the wilderness, the Carpenters started doing things that made sense.
   29. BDC Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:41 PM (#4404843)
One question that might affect the evaluation of a greater number of interesting players than the FL itself would be: "how much did the presence of the FL dilute the talent level in the NL and AL during those two seasons?" Some decent players went to the FL and had some decent seasons there: Jack Quinn, George Mullin, Doc Crandall among pitchers, for instance. It doesn't matter very much to our thinking about them whether they were in the FL or elsewhere in 1914-15. But what about a player like Del Pratt, a HOVG player who stayed in the AL and had his best season in 1914? Does it matter much to how one assesses Pratt to know that the quality of pitching in the AL was somewhat lesser that year? Should those years for the AL and NL be treated like expansion years, or war years, or anomalies of other kinds, and how much so?
   30. Steve Treder Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:47 PM (#4404848)
re #25 ... BTF isn't letting me edit again, but the sentence should read:

it's important to bear in mind that the PCL (nor the International League nor the American Association) was NOT "independent."
   31. HowardMegdal Posted: April 04, 2013 at 08:33 PM (#4404874)
But why were the Chcago Whales the Chicago Whales?!?

What a fantastic thread, with a book rec out of it for good measure. Thanks, everybody.
   32. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 04, 2013 at 09:05 PM (#4404895)
Vin Campbell put up a 108 OPS+ as a 22-24 year old from 1910-1912, then for some reason there's no record of him playing professionally in 1913


From what I know, that's because he didn't - although I can't find out for absolute certain.

Campbell had a history of disputes with ownership. He refused to report to the Pirates until mid-summer in 1911, he fought with Barney Dreyfuss over money in that offseason which led to his being traded to Boston for Mike Donlin, and then got into it again with the Braves' management in the 1912 offseason and never showed up. He resurfaced in the Federal League in 1914.

-- MWE
   33. Howie Menckel Posted: April 04, 2013 at 09:39 PM (#4404916)

The UA of 1884 was way worse than the Federal League, which as noted had more of a USFL feel to it.

A Hall of Merit inductee Pebbly Jack Glasscock partial season does not a major league make.

   34. Rob_Wood Posted: April 04, 2013 at 10:24 PM (#4404941)

Wasn't there a player who had to keep showing up at a Federal League ballpark in 1916 (after the league disbanded) in order to keep getting paid? Amusing story if true.
   35. Mike Webber Posted: April 04, 2013 at 10:24 PM (#4404942)
Fred Dunlap gets votes every year in HOM voting because of that UA classification. If only the PCL of 1924-1925 were major leagues, Tony Lazzeri would have flown in!
   36. vortex of dissipation Posted: April 04, 2013 at 11:31 PM (#4404963)
Wasn't there a player who had to keep showing up at a Federal League ballpark in 1916 (after the league disbanded) in order to keep getting paid? Amusing story if true.


Rupert Mills.
   37. BochysFingers Posted: April 05, 2013 at 12:30 AM (#4404986)
I'm curious about Kauff... I know his career ended with a banishment from Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis after being acquitted of auto theft. Were there character flaws evident prior to his FL breakout?
   38. Flynn Posted: April 05, 2013 at 05:25 AM (#4405005)
The PCL had two operations of near major league quality in Los Angeles and San Francisco, true AAAA organizations who played in MLB quality parks (if not quite MLB size), were reasonably well financed and paid on time. It got more interesting from there, ranging from AAA standard to maybe AA standard. Sitting at a locally televised night game with nearly 20,000 fellow fans in Wrigley Field or Seals Stadium could give the impression the PCL was major league, but I doubt people would have the same feeling in Portland, San Diego or Oakland.
   39. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: April 05, 2013 at 07:56 AM (#4405025)
Kauff was pretty famous as a guy who was into flashy stuff - which, I guess, in 1915 would have mostly been clothing. His SABR biography describes him as the "Deion Sanders of the Deadball Era".

So it was pretty apparent he was a different sort of cat. AFAIK, there was no evidence he was a criminal, though.

From what I've read, there is some question whether he was actually involved in the auto theft, or whether he was just caught in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. He was acquitted of the theft charges, but Landis being Landis, the lifetime banishment stood.
   40. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: April 05, 2013 at 08:27 AM (#4405038)
It's interesting to think what would've happened had the FL existed beyond 1915. It probably wouldn't have survived the WW1 years, tho; hell, the real major leagues barely did.

What if the FL was founded a decade later, in the 1920s? I once had an OOTP league setup where Babe Ruth, outraged that Landis suspended him for barnstorming after the 1921 World Series, tells the establishment to stick it and forms his own league, the Continental League, in 1922. He attracts a number of stars, including Bob Meusel (who had also been suspended by Landis) and Ty Cobb.

Ruth is also smart enough to know that he can't run a baseball league and play in it, too, so he lures Branch Rickey from the Cardinals to serve as CL president (and run the new league's St. Louis franchise). Rickey also announces that there will be no colour bar in the CL, and the league signs several Negro stars such as Oscar Charleston and Bullet Rogan.

And that's when I woke up.
   41. BochysFingers Posted: April 05, 2013 at 08:39 AM (#4405043)
His SABR biography describes him as the "Deion Sanders of the Deadball Era".

Thanks for the link. From it:

To his teammates he was renowned for his ability to chew tobacco, smoke a cigar, and drink a glass of beer all at the same time, "without interruption to any of the three pursuits."

Maybe Deion mixed with a little bit of John Kruk? :P
   42. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: April 05, 2013 at 08:39 AM (#4405045)
This may have been mentioned, but what about players who went from the AL or NL to the FL. I know there weren't many, especially not big stars, but comparing their pre-FL WARs to their FL WARs would be an indication of whether the issue was that the FL players were generally older and thus much more likely to decline. Still, the massive dropoff between MLB player WAR and FL->MLB player WAR is definitely a strong point.
   43. OsunaSakata Posted: April 05, 2013 at 08:53 AM (#4405053)
I agree with #3 and #29. Whether the Federal League is a major league is an academic question. It only affects questions of Hall of Fame players. You can't call the Negro Leagues major leagues with regard to total quality, organization and financial viability, but the best Negro League players eventually went to the Hall of Fame.
   44. DanG Posted: April 05, 2013 at 09:24 AM (#4405073)
Fred Dunlap gets votes every year in HOM voting because of that UA classification. If only the PCL of 1924-1925 were major leagues, Tony Lazzeri would have flown in!
The HOM considers professional play at all levels and all leagues, attempting to translate performance to its Major League Equivalent. Earl Averill may owe his election to the boost from his minor league numbers. Supporters of Wally Berger, Bob Johnson and others point to their minor league numbers. Buzz Arlett has a couple supporters. So Dunlap's UA performance would be considered regardless, although in any case it's sharply discounted.
   45. DL from MN Posted: April 05, 2013 at 09:47 AM (#4405083)
I doubt people would have the same feeling in Portland, San Diego or Oakland.


So it's not any different now.

Am I the only person who thinks Federal League throwback jerseys would be fun? Yankees get Newark, Mets get Brooklyn, Toronto takes Buffalo.
   46. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 05, 2013 at 10:03 AM (#4405090)
One question that might affect the evaluation of a greater number of interesting players than the FL itself would be: "how much did the presence of the FL dilute the talent level in the NL and AL during those two seasons?"

Not nearly as much as the color bar diluted the talent level in the AL and the NL up through 1946 and even beyond. You sure as hell never had HoFers in their primes playing in the Federal League who were comparable to the best players in the Negro Leagues.

EDIT: Partial coke to Osuna
   47. Rennie's Tenet Posted: April 05, 2013 at 10:05 AM (#4405092)
Are Wrigley and Minute Maid the only current parks that were home fields in two different leagues? I think the Braves used Fenway briefly, and Miller hosted some Astros games due to hurricane.

Edit: I forgot that the Brewers were in the NL.
   48. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: April 05, 2013 at 10:18 AM (#4405105)
The Indians played some "home" games in Milwaukee a few years ago because of a snowstorm and the inability to reschedule an entire series with the Angels. So Miller Park was kinda, sorta a home field in two different leagues.
   49. SOLockwood Posted: April 05, 2013 at 10:24 AM (#4405112)
It's interesting to think what would've happened had the FL existed beyond 1915. It probably wouldn't have survived the WW1 years, tho; hell, the real major leagues barely did.


Actually World War I was what helped kill the FL. The uncertainty caused by the Lusitania and the first session of unrestricted submarine warfare effected the baseball economy and weakened the FL's prospects.
   50. OsunaSakata Posted: April 05, 2013 at 10:25 AM (#4405116)
Am I the only person who thinks Federal League throwback jerseys would be fun? Yankees get Newark, Mets get Brooklyn, Toronto takes Buffalo.


Any Federal League story will eventually lead to the anti-trust exemption discussion which MLB doesn't want to remind people of, unless necessary. But I can imagine Pittsburgh wearing FL throwbacks in 2014 for the 100th anniversary. The Cubs might wear Whales uniforms in connection with the centennial of Wrigley Field. Baltimore might wear Terrapins uniforms for the affinity with the University of Maryland.
   51. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 05, 2013 at 10:38 AM (#4405124)
Historic trivia: What is the only park that was used by four distinct and BB/FB-reference acknowledged major pro leagues for at least one entire season each? I can think of many that hosted three leagues, but only one that got in a fourth.

And what was the only venue to host championship games in three of the four major U.S. pro sports?
   52. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: April 05, 2013 at 10:50 AM (#4405141)
Part two is Chicago Stadium. Part 1: Shea Stadium?
   53. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 05, 2013 at 11:06 AM (#4405160)
Polo Grounds?
   54. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 05, 2013 at 11:12 AM (#4405168)
Part two is Chicago Stadium. Part 1: Shea Stadium?

Bingo and bingo. Now how many three-league stadiums can you come up with?
   55. Ron J2 Posted: April 05, 2013 at 11:17 AM (#4405179)
#9 Roush also has an important off field credit. He broke up an attempt to organize a competing fix in the 1919 series. (Guy he knew told him that one of his teammates had been approached. He went to his manager)

I'm not saying it's decisive, but but like Schalk it's kind of tough to explain why he's in the hall and maybe that helped.

   56. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: April 05, 2013 at 11:18 AM (#4405180)
LA Coliseum?
Astrodome?
Cleveland Stadium
Oakland Coliseum
Jack Murphy Stadium
Wrigley Field
Orange Bowl

How many am I missing?
   57. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: April 05, 2013 at 11:22 AM (#4405188)
Sportsman's Park
   58. DL from MN Posted: April 05, 2013 at 11:55 AM (#4405210)
Roush also had a pair of flip-up sunglasses sewn into his hat. Pretty cool artifact I saw once.
   59. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 05, 2013 at 12:07 PM (#4405220)
Bingo and bingo. Now how many three-league stadiums can you come up with?

LA Coliseum?
AAFC, NFL, NL

Astrodome? NL, AFL, NFL

Cleveland Stadium AL, NFL, AAFC

Oakland Coliseum AL, AFL, NFL

Jack Murphy Stadium NL, AFL, NFL

Wrigley Field very good - NL, NFL, NHL**

Orange Bowl - AFL, NFL, NL

How many am I missing?

Comiskey Park (AL, AAFC, NFL)

Shibe Park (AL, NL, NFL)

Yankee Stadium (AL, AAFC, NFL)

Ebbets Field (NL, NFL, AAFC)

Sportsman's Park (AL, NL, NFL) (Neutral Milk Dotel got this one)

And then two that I'd thought of as 3's, but are really 4's

Polo Grounds (AL, AL, NFL, AFL) (I'd forgotten about the Yankees)

**Fenway Park (AL, NFL, AFL, NHL)

I've probably forgotten some myself, but that's all I can think of off the top of my head.

   60. OsunaSakata Posted: April 05, 2013 at 12:19 PM (#4405233)
RFK Stadium AL, NL, NFL (USFL and a bunch of soccer leagues)
   61. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 05, 2013 at 12:28 PM (#4405239)
How many stadiums hosted two major sports and also a papal mass?
   62. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 05, 2013 at 12:31 PM (#4405244)
RFK Stadium AL, NL, NFL (USFL and a bunch of soccer leagues)

Considering I went to see the AL Senators play their first game at that stadium, plus several dozen Redskins games and several games of the NL Nats, that rates me a pretty big Duh.

Oh, and I forgot Baltimore's Memorial Stadium (AAFC, NFL, AL) (I'm not counting anything but the xxx-Reference certified leagues, which with the Federal League should then make me move Wrigley from a 3 to a 4)
   63. vortex of dissipation Posted: April 05, 2013 at 01:02 PM (#4405270)
Kingdome (AL, NFL, NBA, plus the NASL).
   64. McCoy Posted: April 05, 2013 at 01:31 PM (#4405295)
Actually World War I was what helped kill the FL. The uncertainty caused by the Lusitania and the first session of unrestricted submarine warfare effected the baseball economy and weakened the FL's prospects.

Come again?
   65. AROM Posted: April 05, 2013 at 01:42 PM (#4405308)
I'm not saying it's decisive, but but like Schalk it's kind of tough to explain why he's in the hall and maybe that helped.


From what I remember reading Roush was considered a good to great defensive player. My defensive numbers have him about average, but are such an approximation given the data available. He's 45 WAR as it is, put him a bit over 50 if you like his defense. The Federal League has little to do with this, his 2 seasons there are nowhere near as good as his later MLB seasons, he only got 3.0 WAR there.

At the time he retired, His WAR total among center fielders ranked 5th, behind Cobb and Speaker, and also Hamilton and Carey. He's way behind the first 2. Hamilton was clearly better, putting up more value in less time. He's pretty close to Carey, who is also in the hall. Not an obvious, can't miss Hall of Famer, but he's not one of the many obvious mistakes from that era.
   66. zack Posted: April 05, 2013 at 01:44 PM (#4405310)
Tropicana Field has the unusual distinction of being the full-season home of an NHL team and an MLB team. They didn't have a third full-time tennant, though they do host NCAA bowl games.
   67. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: April 05, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4405317)
Mile High, Yankee Stadium? (two major sports and Papal visit)
   68. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: April 05, 2013 at 01:49 PM (#4405321)
Bingo and bingo. Now how many three-league stadiums can you come up with?


County Stadium (Milwaukee) NL, AL, (NL again) and NFL.
   69. zack Posted: April 05, 2013 at 01:52 PM (#4405324)
And given the NBA, ABA, NHL and WHA are all "-ref sanctioned" and share facilities, I wouldn't surprised if there's a 5-league arena somewhere from the 70's, though I didn't spot one at a glance.
   70. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: April 05, 2013 at 02:11 PM (#4405351)
Wisconsin State Fair Park has hosted the 1939 NFL Championship Game, several NFL regular season games between the '30s and '53, AFL games in '40-'41, and still hosts the oldest Indy Car race at the Milwaukee Mile, which is the one mile oval surrounding the old football playing field.
   71. DL from MN Posted: April 05, 2013 at 02:30 PM (#4405386)
Metrodome has done AL, NFL, NBA along with the Super Bowl, World Series, Final Four and MLB All-Star Game.

edit: plus NCAA football, NCAA baseball and the Rolling Stones. No papal visit but it did host U2.
   72. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: April 05, 2013 at 02:47 PM (#4405404)
Staples Center has done NBA, NHL, WNBA, and AFL (arena football) among professional leagues, in addition to college sports.
   73. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: April 05, 2013 at 03:04 PM (#4405432)
(two major sports and Papal visit)


Olympic Stadium had MLB and (Canadian) football, and also had a papal visit, MLS, Bruce Jenner, and the Metallica/Guns N Roses pyrotechnics accident/riot.
   74. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: April 05, 2013 at 03:27 PM (#4405475)
Tropicana Field: AL, NHL, United Football League. Plus NCAA Final Four, Arena Football League, and college bowl games.
   75. Greg Franklin Posted: April 05, 2013 at 03:30 PM (#4405480)
A relatively recent book about the Pacific Coast League's Seattle Rainiers of the 1940s-60s, Pitchers of Beer, backs up Treder's point about the quality of the PCL.

- The biggest star in franchise history, Fred Hutchinson, was a Seattle high school kid, went to University of Washington, pitched for the Rainiers as an 18-year-old, and dominated. But when MLB teams came calling around a year later, owner Emil Sicks couldn't wait to sell his hinder to the highest bidder.

- The fan favorite in club history, Edo Vanni, was another local who ended up being a lifer on and off the field. As a player he was a mediocre outfielder with no real ability to play in the AL or NL.

- The rank and file players were from other PCL teams, fringe major leaguers, or on-the-way-out major leaguers. (The most interesting of the latter-day bunch were Joe Taylor and Jungle Jim Rivera, if your interests lie in alcoholism or antisocial behavior.) Rosters were unstable year in and year out.

- Sicks supported the "push" of turning the PCL into a third major league simply as a way to fend off AL and NL access to the West Coast long enough to ensure a fair payoff to him and the other PCL owners (he wasn't a baseball romantic).
   76. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: April 05, 2013 at 03:32 PM (#4405483)
And given the NBA, ABA, NHL and WHA are all "-ref sanctioned" and share facilities, I wouldn't surprised if there's a 5-league arena somewhere from the 70's, though I didn't spot one at a glance.

The Los Angeles Sports Arena has hosted all four (Lakers and Clippers, Stars, Kings and Sharks), plus UCLA and USC basketball, arena football and lingerie football, too!
   77. Charlie O Posted: April 05, 2013 at 03:41 PM (#4405496)
Bingo and bingo. Now how many three-league stadiums can you come up with?


Candlestick Park: NL, NFL, AFL (the Raiders played there before Frank Youell Field in Oakland opened in 1962).
   78. Walt Davis Posted: April 05, 2013 at 05:27 PM (#4405646)
Wrigley Field very good - NL, NFL, NHL**

And home of the Chicago Sting, champions of the NASL!

   79. Tiboreau Posted: April 05, 2013 at 05:45 PM (#4405671)
When I was poking around old PCL stats of the '40s & '50s my impression of the league was pretty much what Steve & Greg intimate. While there were a few stars who might've made decent regulars on second division clubs--especially if the AL had instituted the DH 30 years earlier--the majority of these stars were veterans dominating lesser competition. Steve Bilko, a TTO slugger, wreaked havoc on Pacific Coast pitching, w\ the assistance of Wrigley's cozy dimensions, in the old PCL's last 3 years, but only had a couple decent years as a part-timer. Max West, an all-star prior to WWII, was prob'ly the league's best hitter in the late '40s & early '50s, but was a below average corner OF in partial seasons w\ CIN & PIT after WWII.

It seems that a lot of the young talent was quickly under ML control and often moved to AA & IL teams closer to parent clubs. After the aforementioned Fred Hutchinson's rookie season w\ the Rainiers--in which he led the PCL in wins & ERA--he was sold to DET where he sat on the bench for a month in '39 before getting shellacked by the Yankees. He then spent most of the next few years in Toledo & Buffalo, where he dominated the '41 International League much like he did the Pacific Coast League 3 years earlier. The average age of the PCL's ballplayers was regularly older than any other league, including the two major leagues, another sign that the PCL thrived as a league that provided marginal veterans & career minor leaguers regular employment.

I think the Pacific Coast League is still a fascinating league w\o the major league pretensions. In addition to providing a home for the intriguing tales the unsung life of a career minor leaguer, much like the AA, IL, TL, SL, etc., geographical distance & the inclusion of a couple major league markets in SF & LA add a couple extra wrinkles to its story.
   80. Publius Publicola Posted: April 05, 2013 at 05:47 PM (#4405674)
There were some truly great players in the USFL, while it's difficult to find great players in the Federal League.


Gary Hogeboom?
   81. Tiboreau Posted: April 05, 2013 at 06:14 PM (#4405696)
Fwiw, mlb.com includes Federal League and American Association stats in its database. It does not include Players League, Union Association or National Association stats. I really wish bbref would not count those last three leagues in players MLB career numbers.

The MLB's exclusion of the Players League doesn't surprise me for political reasons, but I thought that from a competitive perspective it was equal to, if not better than, not only the AA but even the NL? It certainly seemed to have enough stars that it deserves the same consideration as the American Association, let alone the Federal League or Union Assocation. . . .

I'm not really sure how I feel about the NAPBBP. On the one hand it's definitely a transitional league b\w the amateur NA & the more organized NL, but it provided the best competition of its time, and its not like the 1870s NL didn't have its growing pains. . . .

I'm also not really sure how I feel about MLB determining what is & isn't major league. . . . I think I prefer an outside source, such as bb-ref, respecting the claims of the UA, PL, FL, providing historical perspective. After all, statistics aren't pristine; as DanG mentioned, adjustments for run environments, competition level are made all the time. I don't think it lessens any MLB stats any more than segregation, World Wars, and the numbers of nascent & dying leagues (like the early '80s & early '90s AA, & AL of the early '00s) already do. . . .
   82. Steve Treder Posted: April 05, 2013 at 06:45 PM (#4405727)
I think the Pacific Coast League is still a fascinating league w\o the major league pretensions. In addition to providing a home for the intriguing tales the unsung life of a career minor leaguer, much like the AA, IL, TL, SL, etc., geographical distance & the inclusion of a couple major league markets in SF & LA add a couple extra wrinkles to its story.

Exactly right. While the old PCL operated no differently than the International League or the American Association, and presented no better quality of play, it was still the most interesting of the old highest-minor leagues because of its geographic isolation, and the intrinsic attractiveness of many of its venues. I mean, no disrespect to Newark, Buffalo, and Milwaukee, but they just didn't offer the beauty and glamour of San Francisco, Seattle, and freaking Hollywood.
   83. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 05, 2013 at 08:36 PM (#4405822)
I mean, no disrespect to Newark, Buffalo, and Milwaukee, but they just didn't offer the beauty and glamour of San Francisco, Seattle, and freaking Hollywood.

Although then there was Vernon.
   84. Morty Causa Posted: April 05, 2013 at 09:08 PM (#4405845)
One of the truly great trial lawyers in the history of American jurisprudence was this man:

Earl Rogers

His heyday was at the turn of the century to the end of WWI. He was Clarence Darrow's lawyer when Darrow got his tail in Los Angelos (Rogers's hometown). He was so well known that he was a celebrity. He attended Angels (also known as the Tourists) games in the PCL and the crowd would shout, "Kill the umpire! We'll get Earl Rogers to defend you." He loved it.

Erle Stanley Gardner based Perry Mason on Rogers, and the renown Hollywood lawyer of the '30s and '40s and '50s, one Jerry Giesler (he defended Errol Flynn and Lana Turner's daughter Cheryl, as well as Marilyn Monroe in her divorce action against Joe DiMaggio, Busby Berkely in his murder trial, and Robert Mitchum in his marijuana trial) served an apprenticeship under Rogers.

Rogers's daughter, best-selling novelist Adela Rogers St. Johns, wrote a very readable, if (shall we say) highly colored, memoir of her father called Final Verdict. I loved the book when I was a teenager. Read it until it fell apart.

Adela Rogers St. Johns
   85. AndrewJ Posted: April 05, 2013 at 09:49 PM (#4405916)
Are Wrigley and Minute Maid the only current parks that were home fields in two different leagues?

Also: Dodger Stadium was home to the LA Angels for four seasons (when everybody referred to it as Chavez Ravine).
   86. Kurt Posted: April 05, 2013 at 11:25 PM (#4405993)
Now how many three-league stadiums can you come up with?


There must be 15-20 NBA/WNBA/NHL arenas, or more.

As far as three *sport* stadiums, there are probably plenty of those too. RFK is one example - NFL, MLB, MLS.
   87. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 06, 2013 at 12:01 AM (#4406010)
I was originally asking only about NL, AL, AAFC, AFL, NFL, NBA, ABA and NHL, but it's interesting to see the responses to an expanded set of leagues and sports.
   88. bjhanke Posted: April 06, 2013 at 11:44 AM (#4406106)
The old Busch Stadium - between Sportsman's Park (which was called Busch Stadium after Gussie Busch bought the Cardinals) and the brand new one that I wish they'd chosen some other name for, so this would be easier - housed a MLB team, a NFL team, and, for one game, a professional futbol (soccer) match. STL had an entry in American major league soccer (probably less in quality than the Federal League, but still professional) and invited Brazil, with Pele, to play. On a whim, as I'm not a big futbol fan, I went. The STL team did have one world-class player, a defenseman, and they essentially told him to guard Pele to the exclusion of all other duties. This kept the game score close - I think it ended up 2-1 Brazil or something - but Pele didn't score half a dozen goals, which is what we fans were all expecting. - Brock Hanke
   89. bjhanke Posted: April 06, 2013 at 11:57 AM (#4406112)
Also, on the original topic, I count the National Association (because it has the same PLAYERS as the early National League, and that's what counts to me), the NL, the AA, the Players' League, and the Federal League. I draw the line at the Union Association; actually, I draw the line way above the UA and just ignore Fred Dunlap and Charlie Sweeney's seasons there (except for just accumulating playing time) when evaluating them. As far as I can tell, the average AA team in that league's worst year would still have been good enough to rout the STL entry in the UA, which was by far the best team in that weird enterprise. I don't count the Negro Leagues as major leagues, although I readily admit, and vote for in the Hall of Merit, their best players as obviously of MLB star quality. The Negro Leagues were hamstrung, to some extent, by the necessities of endless travel to supplement tiny league schedules; it's sort of like watching the National Association, except that we're talking about 30 years here, instead of five. My opinion is that amount of travel would make it hard on anyone who was, say, married, to stay in the league unless they were being paid lots of money or didn't have any way to make more money than even the lower-echelon Negro Leaguers got. Only the superstars got the serious money, so I think that the NgL had its fair share of superstars, but was probably short on the Hall of Very Good. - Brock again
   90. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: April 06, 2013 at 12:19 PM (#4406125)
Wrigley Field very good - NL, NFL, NHL**

And home of the Chicago Sting, champions of the NASL!

And it began life as a Federal League stadium
   91. ursus arctos Posted: April 06, 2013 at 12:31 PM (#4406129)
If we are allowing the NHL for stadia that have hosted the Winter Classic, then Fenway should get credit for five leagues:

AL: Red Sox
NL: Braves (1914-15)
NFL: Redskins (1933-36); Yanks (1944-48)
AFL: Patriots (1963-68)
NHL: 2010 Winter Classic between Bruins and Flyers
   92. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 06, 2013 at 07:11 PM (#4406301)
I'm also not really sure how I feel about MLB determining what is & isn't major league


So Major League Baseball isn't qualified to determine what is major league baseball?

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