Jan 05, 1915: 3rd major league gambles
Submitted by BTGrimes on Sat, 01/05/2013 - 6:00am
Look what you started
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 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. This time the big boys, the American and National Leagues prevailed, but the Federal League made things interesting and put a lasting print on major league baseball.
The Federal League 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 tried to turn the 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 that Major League Baseball was primarily entertainment and therefore except from the Sherman Antitrust Act. The exception remains basically intact 80 years later.
Federal League Teams
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