Baltimore Terrapins

History


The Baltimore Terrapins were the first professional baseball team in Baltimore, Maryland. They were in the short-lived Federal League of professional baseball from 1914 to 1915, and their brief existence led to litigation that led to an important legal precedent still intact as of 2006.

While the 1914 team posted a respectable 84-70 record and finished only 4.5 games out of first place under player-manager Otto Knabe, the team was far less than successful than expected at the box office, even though four of the eight teams in the league (Chicago, Brooklyn, Pittsburgh and St. Louis) were competing with one and even two (Chicago and St. Louis) other major league teams in the same cities.

In an attempt to turn this situation around and attract a marquee player to help them at the box office, the 1915 team recruited Chief Bender of the American League champion Philadelphia Athletics, effectively ending one of the most successful dynasties in major league baseball history.

Bender had come off an impressive 17-3 season, 7 shutouts and a 2.26 E.R.A. in 1914. But his 1915 season at Baltimore was perhaps the lowest point of his Hall of Fame career when he slumped to a 4-16 record, no shutouts and a 3.99 E.R.A. Baltimore's collapse to a 47-107 record, 40 games out of first, was overshadowed only by the collapse of Bender's former team who went from a 99-53 league championship season to a dismal 43-109 record, 58.5 games out of first in 1915.

Bender, Philadelphia and the Baltimore Terrapins never made a full recovery from 1915.

The incident did show the Federal League could compete seriously with the National League and American League on a professional baseball level and led to the buy-out truce which ended the Federal League for good. However, the Baltimore team's owners were not offered a part in this buyout.

Bender went on to play three more seasons, but never pitched more than 125 innings in a year, nor garnered more than 8 wins.

The Philadelphia Athletics followed with last place finishes every year through 1921, and finally managed to move ahead of the last place Boston Red Sox in 1922, before finishing above .500 for the first time in 1925 as the next Connie Mack dynasty began to form in the shadow of the New York Yankees.

As irony would have it, Baltimore, the town where the great Babe Ruth got his start just before the Federal League started and where the Babe begin his career with the Boston Red Sox in 1914 with the rival American League would not see major league baseball again until 1954, when the former St. Louis Browns moved into town and became the current-day Baltimore Orioles.

As the Terrapins' owners were not offered any part of the buyout offer made to most Federal League teams by the American and National Leagues, they decided to sue alleging that the buyout was in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The resulting case led to the decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that the scheduling and playing of "base ball games", as the decision called it, did not constitute "interstate commerce" in any sense envisioned by the Framers of the United States Constitution and therefore the Sherman Act and other federal laws and regulations did not apply to baseball. The case, Federal Baseball Club v. National League, was not ultimately decided until 1922. This precedent set in this case has not been deemed to extend to other U.S. professional sports, making it seemingly both anomalous and anachronistic, as major league baseball is now a multi-billion dollar industry, but later Supreme Court decisions have failed to overturn the precedent, nor has Congress acted to change the situation.

History from Wikipedia and OldCompanyResearch.com.

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