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ON THIS DATE ... Last Updated: Jan 20, 2008 - 11:32 AM


JAN. 5 (1915) - FL*
By Bill Grimes
Jan 5, 2008 - 11:51 AM

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Gearing up for spring training -   March 1, 2008. Watch this site!

 

Now look what you started

 

JANUARY 5, 1915 CHICAGO, ILLINOIS A short-lived 3rd major league filed a lawsuit in United States District Court in Chicago on this date in 1915, the effects of which are still being felt. The Federal League claimed the National and American Leagues created an illegal monopoly, making it difficult for the upstart league to survive. The lawsuit was presided over by Federal Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis who was known for his hard line against monopolies.
landis2.jpg
Kennesaw Mountain Landis
The result was not exactly what Federal League owners hoped for. The case never went to trial. Landis helped bring about a settlement whereby the American and National Leagues bought-out some of the Federal League owners who were heavy in debt (see December 22 story on this site). A couple Federal League owners became owners of American and National League teams. The bottom line is the Federal League lawsuit went away. The American and National League owners got their way.

 

A few years later major league baseball hired its first commissioner, a guy named Kennesaw Mountain Landis. Wonder if it was the same guy?

 

The Federal League was the last major attempt at a 3rd major league. It was put together by a group of businessmen in 1913 hoping to cash in on the popularity of baseball. The league competed against the National and American Leagues in 1914 and 1915. It signed some established stars and had decent attendance, but the established major leagues felt threatened and began to match salaries and tie up the Federal League in court. The Federal League won the lawsuits, but the costs became a burden. Owners went heavy into debt, so FL owners turned tables on the American and National Leagues by filing the lawsuit mentioned above.

 

There is an interesting and lasting postscript to this story. One of the Federal League teams neither bought out nor absorbed by the National and American Leagues was the Baltimore Terrapins , so they filed their own lawsuit against the major leagues. The result was a 1922 Supreme Court decision saying Major League Baseball was primarily entertainment and not interstate commerce and therefore except from the Sherman Antitrust Act. The exception remains basically intact 80 years later, though its been eroded somewhat by free-agency.

 

Federal League Teams

Baltimore Terrapins

Brooklyn Tip-Tops

Buffalo Blues

Chicago Whales

Indianapolis Hoosiers (1914 only)

Newark Peppers (1915 only)

Kansas City Packers

Pittsburgh Rebels

St. Louis Terriers

 

Contributing sources:

http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/F/Federal_League.stm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenesaw_Landis#Judicial_career

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherman_Antitrust_Act

 

Comments: feedback@todayinbaseballonline.com

Bill Grimes is a member of SABR (The Society for American Baseball Research)



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