1914: Baltimore’s entry in the Federal League marked the return to the top level of baseball to the charm city. All of Baltimore previous professional baseball teams had used the name Orioles, after the state bird of Maryland. However, the name Baltimore Orioles was being used by a Minor League team in the Eastern League. The Terrapins were owned by Ned Hanlon, who managed the Orioles team that won three National League Pennants in the 1890’s. Hanlon also once owned the Minor League Orioles, after the Baltimore Orioles of the American League became the New York Highlanders. The Baltimore Terrapins managed by Otto Knabe opened the season with a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Buffeds. With pitchers Jack Quinn and George Suggs leading the way the Terrapins played strong early. Leading the FL through most of May. The Terrapins would struggle in June, and lost their grip on first place, but remained in the pennant race all season, posting a record of 84-70 and placing third, just four and half games behind the pennant winning Indianapolis Hoosiers. The presence of the Terrapins would negatively affect the Minor League Orioles, as they were forced to sell a local product named George Herman Ruth to the Boston Red Sox of the American League.
1915: Hoping to improve attendance and add star power, the Terrapins signed Philadelphia Athletics hurler Chief Bender, taking advantage of Connie Mack’s post World Series fire sale. Bender who posted a record of 17-3, with an ERA of 2.26 with the A’s in 1914, would be a great disappointment in the Federal League, with a terrible 4-16 record and an ERA 3.99. Bender’s abysmal performance was just part of the Terrapins terrible season, as they finished dead last with a record of 47-107. Despite the future Hall of Famer’s struggles in the Baltimore, the signing of Chief Bender showed that the Federal League posed a threat to the Major League structure created by the American League and National League. To avoid escalating contracts the two leagues proposed a truce to Federal League owners, buying them out and shutting down, the third Major League after two season. However, Ned Hanlon and Baltimore were not included in the deal and a lawsuit was filed, alleging that the buyout was in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The resulting litigation led to a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, preserving an antitrust exemption for Major League Baseball. SCOTUS ruled in Federal Baseball Club v. National League that the playing of “baseball games” 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 the sport. Baltimore would not again get a Major League team until 1954, when the lowly St. Louis Browns moved into Memorial Stadium and took the familiar name Orioles.
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Page created on August 11, 2015. Last updated on August 11, 2015 at 11:45 pm ET.