The Battle that Forged Modern Baseball: The Federal League Challenge and Its Legacy

Review: New York Journal of books – “Anyone who wants to advance beyond the stage of fandom to understand what it takes to establish and run professional baseball would do well to read Mr. Levitt’s fascinating book.”

News: May 24, 2014 – The Kansas City Star – Long-forgotten KC Packers will take center stage at Wrigley Field for centennial

News: May 19, 2014 – The Seattle Times – Baseball’s 3rd major league gave us Wrigley, much more before it died

News:  April 13, 2014 – Daniel Levitt quoted in the Pittsburgh Tribune “Federal League baseball pitcher Knetzer made history on the mound”

News: May 30, 2013- Daniel R. Levitt’s The Battle That Forged Modern Baseball: The Federal League Challenge and Its Legacy, published by Ivan R. Dee, has been named as the 2013 winner of the Larry Ritter Book Award, given by SABR’s Deadball Era Research Committee for the best book related to the Deadball Era published in the previous year.


Q&A with Daniel R. Levitt, winner of 2013 Larry Ritter Book Award

The Battle that Forged Modern Baseball: The Federal League Challenge and Its Legacy

The Battle that Forged Modern Baseball: The Federal League Challenge and Its Legacy

In late 1913 the newly formed Federal League declared itself a major league in com- petition 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 machina- tions 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.


SABR member Daniel R. Levitt recently appeared on the Beyond the Game television program with John Vorperian at White Plains Community Media, speaking about his book, The Battle that Forged Modern Baseball: The Federal League Challenge and Its Legacy.”

You can watch the interview here:!mm-19134


“In this compelling narrative, Levitt uncovers the economic and legal battles between Organized Baseball and its last rival, the Federal League of 1913-15. Anyone seeking to understand how Major League Baseball (or the other U.S. sports leagues) came to be structured as the closed monopolies that they are today will benefit from reading Levitt’s excellent book.”

— Andrew Zimbalist, Smith College, Robert A. Woods Professor of Economics

“Daniel L. Levitt’s book on the Federal League is the best work on the subject up to now. Thoroughly researched and well-written, it is particularly impressive in its detailed narrative and analysis of the corporate, financial, and legal aspects of the Federal League’s potent challenge to the two established major leagues—a challenge that, while ultimately unsuccessful, eventuated in the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark exemption of Organized Baseball from the federal antitrust laws.”

— Charles C. Alexander, Ohio University

“If we recall the Federal League today it is for its last gasp: the Supreme Court decision of 1922 that provided Major League Base- ball with an antitrust exemption that has endured to the present day. But the story of how it began, briefly flourished, frayed, and collapsed, is a fascinating and instructive tale on many fronts. No one has ever told it more compellingly than Dan Levitt; I cannot recommend his book highly enough.” — John Thorn, Official Historian of Major League Baseball, author of Baseball in the Garden of Eden


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