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.
Posted: April 04, 2013 at 03:39 PM | 92 comment(s)
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