The Deadball Era (Baseball in the 20th Century Book 1)

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While the Federal League was a well conceived effort, it ultimately failed to establish itself as a third major league. Despite efforts to sign away major league players, the FL never raised its overall level of play to match the established leagues and never attracted an established star player in his prime.

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At least in part because of its lower level of play, the FL didn't match the established leagues' financial success, either. Finally, the league's antitrust lawsuit was stalled in court by baseball friendly judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis , who was later rewarded by baseball by being named the sport's first commissioner.

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After the season, most of the FL owners had seen enough. Two of those owners were allowed to buy existing major league teams; Charles Weeghman of Chicago bought the Cubs and Phillip Ball of St.

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Louis bought the Browns. The only holdout was the ownership group of the Baltimore Terrapins , who wanted to return major league baseball to Baltimore. His lawsuit was eventually rejected by the U. Supreme Court in the Federal Baseball ruling. Although the existing major leagues were successful against the Federal League, winning had come at considerable cost.

Teams had been forced to give lucrative contracts to star players to keep them from jumping to the Federals, while competition at the gate had driven down revenues. The game's financial situation was worsened by U. Unlike the Second World War , when entertainment such as baseball would be viewed as a boon to morale, Americans in the First World War viewed baseball as a frivolous, non-essential activity. The season was played under something of a cloud, and the season was stopped at games of scheduled and the World Series brought forward by a month.

The schedule was shortened to games because the owners lacked confidence in baseball's continued success. In addition to the attendance problems caused by the war, baseball faced a growing problem with gambling. As far back as , first baseman Hal Chase had been accused of throwing games at the behest of gamblers.


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Although repeatedly accused of throwing games, Chase was allowed to continue playing. The accusations against Chase were a sign of increased interest in baseball by gamblers. That interest was greatly magnified when horseracing was curtailed during the war. Horses were militarily important, so horses and horse handlers were needed for the war effort.

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The combination of increased gambling interest in baseball, financial retrenchment because of the war, and lack of official response to allegations of corruption led almost inevitably to the Black Sox Scandal. The Chicago White Sox had been one of the most successful teams in the game, both on and off the field. Despite their long-term success, owner Charlie Comiskey responded to a poor season by trimming costs wherever possible.

Many of the Sox players felt that they were underpaid, especially when compared to Eddie Collins , who had negotiated a rich five-year contract during the Federal League war. When first baseman Chick Gandil contacted gamblers about throwing the World Series , he was able to recruit seven other players to participate in the fix.

Although many observers at the time suspected that the games had been fixed, those remained suspicions until late in the season, when conspirator Eddie Cicotte confessed to his role in the fix. All eight of the "Black Sox" were immediately suspended. Although they were ultimately acquitted of any crime in court - there was no law against conspiring to throw baseball games - the conspirators were all made permanently ineligible by new Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

Question, Comment, Feedback, or Correction? Are you a Stathead, too? Subscribe to our Newsletter. We present them here for purely educational purposes. Our reasoning for presenting offensive logos. All rights reserved. The Deadball Era by Don Lankiewicz.


Author Don Lankiewicz. Title The Deadball Era. Format Paperback. Publisher Createspace. See details. Buy It Now. Add to cart. Be the first to write a review About this product. About this product Product Information Honus Wagner, the star player for the Pittsburgh Pirates during the Deadball Era, said hitting a baseball in those days was like hitting "a chunk of mud.

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  6. On the field, the pitchers ruled. They had the advantage of using a ball that could be used, misused, scuffed, discolored and spat upon.

    The hitters had the disadvantage of not being able to call for a new ball. Only one hitter seemed constantly immune to the dominance of the deadball. The modern age was on.