“I DIDN’T KNOW THAT”

JANUARY 9, 1903 | NEW YORK, NEW YORK • Here’s an “I didn’t know that” story. On this day in baseball history the owners of the Baltimore Orioles sold the team to New Yorkers Frank Farrell and Bill Devery who moved the franchise to New York City.

The team was called the Highlanders because they played in one of the highest spots in upper Manhattan on, what is now, the Columbia University campus. The team didn’t become known as the Yankees until 1913. So, No, the New York Yankees, the most storied franchise in professional sports, was not an original member of the American League.

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Here’s how it evolved, according to several sources including Leonard Koppett, author of, Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball, a good read by the way. The National League (NL) had been in business for a quarter century when Ban Johnson began shaking things up in 1900. He ran a minor league called the Western League. He wanted it to be “major” and compete with the National League. Should the leagues be adversaries or work something out?

The National League was torn. It had a monopoly on professional baseball as the only “major” league. It also knew expanding the major leagues would spread the gospel of baseball. And A. G. Spaulding, a major player in the National League, would sell more sports equipment – his real passion.

Ban Johnson forced the action in 1900 by changing the Western League’s name to the American League (AL). He declared it a “major” league in 1901. The NL and AL worked things out by agreeing to a uniform set of rules, not stealing each other’s players, etc., and began the 1901 season as dual major leagues.

The National League’s New York Giants didn’t want competition from the upstart American League. For two years, it got its way. Instead of putting a team in New York City the American League put a team in Baltimore for its inaugural season and called it the Orioles. Upon the sale of the Orioles to Farrell and Devery (referenced above) the National League could keep the American League out of New York City no longer. A franchise that would become the most prominent in sports, the Yankees, was put in place.

Today’s Baltimore Orioles are a different franchise all together, though, also one of the league’s originals [I know, this is like trying to keep score in an extra-inning game]. It started out as the Milwaukee Brewers (no connection to the current Brewers), but moved to Missouri after one season (1902) and became the St. Louis Browns. The Browns left St. Louis for Maryland in 1954 and changed its name to the Orioles – the Orioles that call The Ballpark at Camden Yards home today.

More information:
The New York Times
, January 10, 1903
Baseball-Almanac

Jan 8, 1991 BABY-BOOM BEAUTIES

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – Three stars baby-boomers grew up watching were elected to the Hall of Fame on this day in baseball history. Hitting maestro Rod Carew made it in his first year of eligibility. Pitchers Gaylord Perry and Ferguson Jenkins each made it in their third.

Carew was born in Panama, and raised in New York City. He played most of his career with the Minnesota Twins. He hit .300 or better 15 years in a row. In the history of the game only Ty Cobb, Stan Musial and Honus Wagner did better. Carew finished his career with 3,053 hits and a .328 batting average. Just about every year was a great year, but 1977 stands out. He hit .388 with 100 RBI and 128 runs scored, 239 hits and was named American League MVP.

Gaylord Perry was 314-265 in a 22-year career with seven different teams, mostly the San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers. He won the Cy Young award in both leagues, the first player to do that, and was a five-time all star. A cloud also obscured Gaylord Perry’s accomplishments. He was suspected throughout his career of using a spitball.

Ferguson Jenkins won at least 20-games six seasons in a row for the Chicago Cubs in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. He was traded to the Texas Rangers after winning only 14 games in 1973 but rebounded with a vengeance by winning 25 games for the Rangers in ’74. He had seven more double digit win seasons. The Canadian born right-hander won the Cy Young award in 1971 and was a 3-time all-star.

As accomplished as Rod Carew, Gaylord Perry and Fergie Jenkins were, none of them ever played in a World Series.

Contributing source:
Runs scored leaders

Jan 7, 2005 – HIDDEN BALL TRICK

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS  The Boston Red Sox had an easier time winning the 2004 World Series than figuring out who would take possession of the ball from the final out.

When Red Sox closer Keith Foulke fielded a grounder by Edgar Renteria and tossed it to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz to end the game it completed a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, and gave the Red Sox their first World Series championship since 1918. Well aware of the significance of the ball, Mientkiewicz held on to it.

According to the Associated Press he gave the ball to his wife and eventually put it in a safe deposit box. The Red Sox management also saw the significance of the ball and wanted it in its possession rather than that of a part-time first baseman that had only been with the Red Sox for half a year.

The Associated Press also reported that team owner John Henry and Mientkiewicz talked by phone on this day in baseball history in 2005. Mientkiewicz only said it was a “nice conversation.”

It would be another fifteen months of haggling, which included the filing of a lawsuit, before Mientkiewicz, who had since been traded, and the Red Sox would settle the dispute. In the spring of 2006 both sides agreed to send the ball to the Hall of Fame.

Contributing sources:
Boston Globe, April 23, 2006
Howard Ulman, The Associated Press, January 8, 2005

Jan 6, 1964 – Louisville A’s?

FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY  Kansas City A’s owner Charlie Finley signed a contract with the State of Kentucky on this day in baseball history to move the franchise to Louisville starting with the 1965 season. All that was left to consummate the move was the approval of six of the other 19 owners.

The A’s never called Louisville home, so you know how that turned out.

Most of the owners kept their thoughts to themselves, but the General Manager of the Cincinnati Reds, the franchise closest to Louisville, didn’t have a problem with the planned move.

Charlie Finley was the type of renegade owner who didn’t play well with others. He was not well liked by many of his colleagues. Chicago White Sox owner Arthur Allyn didn’t mince words, “Finley is a fool and his action is inexcusable. He has no right whatsoever to attempt such a move. He has an obligation to the people of Kansas City and he had better make it good. I don’t have to tell you how the White Sox will vote on the matter.”

Most of the owners kept their thoughts to themselves, but the General Manager of the Cincinnati Reds, the franchise closest to Louisville, didn’t have a problem with the planned move. Bill DeWitt thought another major-league franchise 110 miles away from Cincinnati would increase the fan base for everyone.

As it turned out, the move to Louisville was not approved, so it never happened. The A’s, who originated in Philadelphia, moved to Oakland in 1967 and have been there since.

Contributing Sources:
“Vagabond A’s led colorful past lives in Philadelphia, Kansas City,“ Aug 16, 2016 by Thomas Neumann, ESPN.com
Associated Press, January 7, 1964
A’s history

Jan 5, 1915-PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – A short-lived 3rd major league filed a lawsuit in United States District Court in Chicago on this day in 1915, the effects of which are still being felt more than 100 years later. 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 Kenesaw Mountain Landis who was known for his hard line against monopolies. 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. 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 – Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

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 the Federal League up 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 saying Major League Baseball was primarily entertainment and therefore except from the Sherman Antitrust Act. The exception remains basically intact today, though it’s been eroded somewhat by free-agency.

And one of the most famous venues in sports owes its birth to the long-deceased league. The ballpark now known as Wrigley Field was initially built for the Chicago Whales of the Federal League. It was called Weeghman Field after its owner Charles Weeghman. The park was originally one level. The upper deck was added later.

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:
Kenesaw Mountain Landis
Sherman Antitrust Act
The Chicago Whales & Weeghman Park

a STORY from today in baseball history