On January 5, 1915, the Federal League brought suit in United States District Court for Northern Illinois against Organized Baseball for violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. In part the suit was retaliation for rebuffs in the Walter Johnson, Armando Marsans and Rube Marquard matters.
Seeking relief on 11 points, the Feds accused Organized Baseball of being a conspiracy and a monopoly. The defendants submitted a 47-page affidavit in their defense.
The Feds were coming before Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, a jurist most widely known for his record-setting $29,000,000 judgment against Standard Oil, but also an avid baseball (particularly Cubs) fan. The plantiffs clearly believed â€œtrustbusterâ€� Landis would serve their cause.
The Federals were represented by Edward E. Gates, the American League by George W. Miller and the National by George Wharton Pepper.
â€œI have gone just about far enough in this case,â€� Landis snapped at Gates. â€œThe time has come when I should ask you gentlemen just what you want me to do. . .. Do you want me to stop the teams from going on spring training trips? Do you want me to break up the clubs or what do you want me to do?â€�
â€œBoth sides,â€� warned Landis, â€œmust understand that any blows at the thing called baseball would be regarded by this court as a blow to a national institution.â€�
â€œAs far as I can see,â€� said Gilmore, â€œthere is nothing which might drag matters over any extended period. We are ready now, and there is no reason why the other side should want any delay. The sooner this fight is over the better it will be for the game.
Gilmoreâ€™s assessment was incorrect. Landis, a true ball fan, knew that if he rendered a decision based on the law it would go against Organized Baseball. This he was not prepared to do, and so he sat on the case for months.