The Federal League put teams in eight cities, including four where the National or American leagues already had teams. It lured a handful of players from the established leagues, including marquee names Joe Tinker and Three Finger Brown, by waving wads of cash at them. Shoeless Joe Jackson was reportedly offered four times his salary to jump to the new League. The National and American Leagues reacted by throwing more money at the likes of Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Walter Johnson to keep them where they were.
The Federal League didn’t appear to be a fly-by-night operation. All eight teams had new stadiums. Attendance was comparable to the NL and AL. The FL was also trying to beat the established major leagues in court.
It sued the American and National for being unfair monopolies. The parties eventually settled. As part of the agreement, the owner of the Chicago Whales, Charles Weeghman, was allowed to buy the National League Chicago Cubs. The ballpark he built for the Whales became the Cubs home and would later be known as Wrigley Field.
Other FL players and teams were absorbed into the National or American League, but not all. The owners of the Baltimore franchise weren’t happy with the settlement and sued. The case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Major League Baseball saying it was exempt from antitrust laws, a ruling which for the most part remains in effect today.
- The Federal League’s inaugural season had teams in Brooklyn, Chicago, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Kansas City, Buffalo and Indianapolis
- The judge who presided over the Federal League’s lawsuit against Major League Baseball was Kenesaw Landis, who later became the first commissioner of baseball.