Baseball History: Remembering the St. Louis Terriers

The National League and the American League were the two most prominent baseball leagues at the turn of the 20th century, eventually becoming the two rival leagues which define Major League Baseball to this day. However, during the early 20th century, there were several other professional baseball teams playing in competing leagues. One such team was the St. Louis Terriers, who played in the Federal League from 1914-1915.

Founded in 1912, the Federal League was the last serious organization to compete with the National and American Leagues for baseball dominance. The future of the Federal League looked bright in 1914, as several Major League baseball stars jumped to this rival organization, including Hall of Famer Walter Johnson, and established stars like Doc Crandall, Tom Seaton, and Claude Hendrix.

The St. Louis Terriers, like many Federal League teams, were stocked with top talent from the NL and AL, and played two seasons at Handland’s park (now the site of St. Louis University). Major League status was given to the Federal League retroactively in 1968. This is significant, because this allowed the Federal League players to apply their 1914 and 1915 statistics towards their overall Major League statistics, enabling many great ballplayers to make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

These are three great players who were part of the 1914-1915 St. Louis Terriers:

– Eddie Plank. While most baseball fans remember Plank as the best pitcher in the history of the Philadelphia Athletics (where he played from 1901-1914), “Gettysburg Eddie” played for the Terriers in 1915. He pitched the last of his eight 20-win seasons as a Terrier, enabling him to eventually become 13th in all-time pitching wins (326), and 21st all-time in career ERA (2.35). Plank was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1946.

– Mordecai Brown. Like Eddie Plank, Mordecai Brown was another Hall of Fame pitcher who was part of the Terriers franchise. He spent 1914 in St. Louis, acting as both player and manager. As a Terrier, he was 12-6 with an ERA of 3.29. Brown spent two more seasons in the Federal league with the Brooklyn Tip-Tops and the Chicago Whales before finishing his career with the Chicago Cubs in 1916. His overall career record is 239-130, with 1375 strikeouts, and an ERA of 2.06 (first all-time among players with 200 or more games).

– Doc Crandall. Crandall, like Brown and Plank, was another Major League star who jumped to the Federal League, where he played for St. Louis in both seasons of their existence. As a Terrier, he was 34-24 with an ERA of 2.95. Overall, his career record consisted of 102 wins and only 62 losses, and an ERA of 2.92.

While many baseball historians thumb their noses at the Federal League, believing it inferior to the National and American Leagues, these three star players demonstrated the high level of play found in the Federal League. Their career numbers were noticeably better in the “tougher” National and American Leagues than in the upstart Federal League, proving that awarding “major league” status to the Federal League was ultimately the right decision.

(Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, MLB.com)