The Battle that Forged Modern Baseball: The Federal League Challenge and Its Legacyby Daniel R. Levitt
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In late 1913 the newly formed Federal League declared itself a major league in competition with the established National and American Leagues. Backed by some of America’s wealthiest merchants and industrialists, the new organization posed a real challenge to baseball’s prevailing structure. For the next two years the well-established leagues fought back furiously in the press, in the courts, and on the field. The story of this fascinating and complex historical battle centers on the machinations of both the owners and the players, as the Federals struggled for profits and status, and players organized baseball’s first real union. Award winning author, Daniel R. Levitt gives us the most authoritative account yet published of the short-lived Federal League, the last professional baseball league to challenge the National League and American League monopoly.
Daniel R. Levitt’s The Battle That Forged Modern Baseball is one of the most important historical baseball works so far this century and is a fitting tribute to the 3-year-old league that came so close to beating the barons of baseball at their own game.
Despite the defection of big league stars such as Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown and Joe Tinker of “Tinkers to Evers to Chance” fame, the combination of unexpectedly high expenses and relentless legal battles finally wore down the Federals. The real winner of the battle between the AL, NL and the FL was Judge Kennesaw Landis, whose decision in the upstart league’s antitrust suit was instrumental in the older circuits’ victory. In the wake of the Black Sox scandal and other controversies, Levitt writes, in the late 1920s the owners made him baseball’s first commissioner.
Ultimately fans were the losers: The two surviving major leagues chose not to expand until 1961.
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Meet the Author
Award-winning writer and researcher, Daniel R. Levitt is the author of several critically acclaimed books on baseball, including Ed Barrow: the Bulldog who Built the Yankees' First Dynasty and Paths to Glory: How Great Baseball Teams Got That Way, with Mark Armour which won the Sporting News-SABR Baseball Research Award. Levitt is a longtime member of the SABR, the baseball research organization, and a past president of the Minnesota chapter. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two children.
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