Dec 22, 1915: Federal League Squeezed

Third Major League Fails

TODAY in BASEBALL - DECEMBER 22 - CINCINNATI, OHIO - An attempt to make the Federal League a third major league came to an end on this date in 1915. The official word was National League, American League and Federal League bosses settled their differences at a meeting in Cincinnati. What in fact happened was the NL and AL flexed their muscles, and the Federal League ceased to exist. The rise and fall of the renegade league also put the wheels in motion for MLB to become a legal monopoly.

The Federal League came about as a minor league in 1912. It declared itself a "major league" in 1914 and had a couple successful seasons with close pennant races, stars lured from the National and American Leagues and good attendance. It was an eight-team league competing in the major league cities of Chicago, St. Louis, Brooklyn and Pittsburgh (it also had teams in Baltimore, Indianapolis, Kansas City and Buffalo).

What brought about the events of this day in 1915 was the Federal League had filed an antitrust lawsuit against the National and American Leagues claiming they were illegal monopolies. The case stalled in the court of federal judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis while the future baseball commissioner urged negotiation. The Federal League's position weakened as the delay drained it of funds.

Several FL owners were bought out and some teams absorbed into the NL and AL, but the Baltimore franchise of the Federal League was not happy with the agreement and sued. The lawsuit went all the way to the United States Supreme Court which ruled in 1922 that major league baseball was exempt from the Sherman Antitrust Act, a decision in effect to this day.

Ironically, the episode gave a glimpse of what was to come 60 years later - free agency. Not only would the 1915 agreement bring amnesty for National and American League players who had jumped to the Federal League, but they would be able to sell their services to the highest bidder.

Another legacy of the defunct Federal League was Chicago's Weeghman Park, built for the now defunct Chicago Whales. It was taken over by the National League franchise Chicago Cubs and renamed Wrigley Field, the same park they play in today.

Contributing sources:
"Signed, Sealed and Recorded," by Jack Ryder, Cincinnati Enquirer, December 23, 1915

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Aug 29, 2005: White Sox roller coaster

Don't count your chickens...

Angels RoyalsSEATTLE, WASHINGTON • The Chicago White Sox won the World Series in 2005, dominating the Boston Red Sox, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Houston Astros enroute to an 11-1 post season record. Unless you're a die-hard Sox fan (guilty) however, most people forget the White Sox were almost humiliated by the worst collapse in baseball history.

On August 1, 2005 the White Sox had a commanding 15 game lead. The Cleveland Indians began to eat away at the lead. On this date in baseball history in 2005 the Sox lost to the Seattle Mariners, but still had a 7 game advantage. By September 22 that lead had shrunk to a frightening 1.5 games with 10 remaining - Cleveland had gone 36-12 since August 1st. A White Sox collapse seemed imminent.

All of the sudden momentum shifted. The White Sox won 8 of their last 10 games and won the American League Central by 6 games. Cleveland went 3-6 down the stretch.

As Yogi Berra said, "It ain't over til it's over."

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
Pennant races
2005 White Sox

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June 29, 1905: Moonlight Graham's day

The real story of "Moonlight" Graham

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - It's the stuff of legend, except it's true. In the late innings of a game played today in baseball history (June 29, 1905), Archibald "Moonlight" Graham made his major league debut in right field for the New York Giants. They were playing the Brooklyn Superbas (today's Los Angeles Dodgers). The game ended a couple innings later with the Giants winning 11-1. Graham did not come to bat. He never got another chance.

"Moonlight" Graham was sent down to the minors after the game. He decided that at the age of 28 he had spent enough time in the minors. Rather than report to the Giants farm team, again, he called it a career. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham came oh so close to batting in a major league game, but it was not to be, until Hollywood came calling long after his death.

"Moonlight" Graham was a key character in the movie, Field of Dreams. The film was fiction, but the "Moonlight" Graham part, played by Burt Lancaster, was real. Well, most of it was real. Graham really did become a doctor in Chisholm, Minnesota, but the part about a young Archie Graham, played by Frank Whaley, living out his dream by coming to bat against the re-incarnated Black Sox remains a dream.

"Moonlight" Graham had a distinctly short, and let's be honest, insignificant, stint in the major leagues, until author W. P. Kinsella came across his statistics: 

Archibald Moonlight Graham: Batting record
Year team G AB R H RBI BB AVE OBP
1905  NY n 1  0  0  0   0    0    .000 .000

Kinsella was intrigued about a man who came so close to living out his dream that he put the character in his book of fiction, Shoeless Joe, which the movie, "Field of Dreams" is based on. Unfortunately, Archibald "Moonlight" Graham never found out how well known he became. The Fayetteville, North Carolina native died in Chisholm in 1965.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
Archibald Moonlight Graham statistics
USA Today, June 25, 2005

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June 27, 1973: From High School to the majors

A Fleeting Star

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - The Texas Rangers had their biggest crowd of the season on this date in 1973 to watch an 18-year old pitcher make his major league debut. David Clyde graduated from Houston's Westchester High School just a few weeks earlier. The last time he pitched, he was facing high school talent. On this night David Clyde was facing the Minnesota Twins.

He must have felt some butterflies pitching in front of 35,698 fans because he walked the first two batters he saw, but he struck out the next three swinging. Clyde pitched five innings, walking seven, but only giving up one hit, a home run to Mike Adams. He struck out eight and got the win. It appeared to be the start of a promising career after high school numbers almost beyond belief. In his senior year, Clyde went 18-0 striking out 328 batters in 148 1/3 innings, walking just 18.

Despite an auspicious major league start, David Clyde's success was fleeting. He spent parts of just five years in the majors, finishing with a record of 18 wins and 33 losses. He played his last major league game in 1979 at the age of 24. Clyde bounced around the minors for a few years, giving it all up in 1982.

David Clyde wasn't the first presumed star whose glow faded too soon, but it was sad because many believe Clyde was hyped and rushed to the majors amid tremendous publicity to get fannies in the seats. He has since said the issue for him wasn't so much talent, as confidence. He had talent, but was never given the opportunity to build up major league confidence.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCE:
"Sports of the Times; The mismanaged carerr of David Clyde" by David Anderson, The New York Times, June 23, 2003

June 27, 1973 box score/play-by-play

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June 26th in baseball history: Gehrig's sneak preview

A Preview

Lou GehrigCHICAGO, ILLINOIS | JUNE 26, 1920 - A 17-year old high school kid wowed fans and major league scouts on this date in 1920 by hitting a towering grand slam out of Cubs Park (now known as Wrigley Field). The blast sealed a victory for New York's Commerce High School against Chicago's Lane Tech 12 to 6. The kid's name was Henry Louis Gehrig.

In the not too distant future, Gehrig would be terrorizing opposing American League teams while playing for the New York Yankees. And he would hit a bunch of grand slam home runs, 23 to be exact (he and Alex Rodriguez are tied for the career lead as of this writing). He also finished with a lifetime .340 average, 1,995 RBI and 493 home runs hitting after Babe Ruth. Gehrig would hold the record for the most consecutive games played (2,130) until broken by Cal Ripken in 1995.

Sadly, while still in his 30's the player known as the Iron Horse would succumb to the debilitating and deadly disease that carries his name.

  • Chicago would have a special attraction for Gehrig. That's where he met Eleanor Grace Twitchell, whom he married in 1933.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCE:
"Luckiest Man: The life and death of Lou Gehrig,"
by Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post, April 3, 2005
Career grand slams

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