Major Leagues:
The Formation, Sometimes Absorption and Mostly Inevitable Demise of 18
Professional Baseball Organizations, 1871 to Present
by Lee MacPhail

As a former American League president, I
can tell you how a major league is run. I
can inform you about scheduling,
assigning umpires, discipline and fines
and about the 101 mundane details that
go into operating a big league.

What I cannot so effortlessly tell you is how
a major league is formed. I came to the
American League presidency
three-quarters of a century after Ban
Johnson and Connie Mack and John
McGraw turned a fairly successful minor
league into one of the two great majors.
The struggle of these historic figures is
well documented here, as are those of
William Hulbert, Albert Spalding and
Morgan Bulkeley in establishing the senior
circuit, the National League.

These are success stories, but most often
the attempt has ended fruitlessly. So here,
too, are such erstwhile circuits as the
National Association, the American
Association, the Mexican League and the
Federal League. Those leagues lasted for
a few seasons, but their longevity topped
such flops as the Union Association, the
Players' League, and the United States
and Global leagues.

What David Pietrusza has done is to
recount the story--for the first time--of how
such enterprises are formed, how they
succeed, why they failed, the men who
made them, and the playing talent they
showcased. But there's more; it's how the
game developed from a loose consortium
of teams in the National Association of the
1870s to the billion dollar business of

It's all here: the initiation of the reserve
clause, the weeding out of gambling by the
National League, the building of Wrigley
Field for the Federal League, the plight of
the Mexican League jumpers, the
expansion efforts of the 1960s, and the
story of Branch Rickey's and Bill Shea's
Continental League.

Right now, there is even talk of forming a
third major league; it is probably idle
chatter, but someday there could be a
genuine challenge to the organized
structure of the game. If its organizers wish
to learn the triumphs and tragedies, the
victories and blunders, of those who have
gone before, I recommend this volume to
them. And the same goes for any serious
scholar of the game. The various major
leagues have formed the structure by
which our great game has thrived. Their
history is an integral part of our national

Acknowledgments iv
Foreword by Lee MacPhail vi
Prologue xiii
1. The National Association 1
2. The National League 23
3. The International Association 47
4. The American Association 61
5. The Union Association 80
6. The Players' League 99
7. Failed Beginning--Part I 127
8. The American League 145
9. Failed Beginnings--Part II 183
10. The Federal League 209
The Continental League of 1921
12. The Mexican League  257
13. The Continental League 278
14. The Global League 301
Epilogue 319
Appendices 323
Bibliography 343
Index 349
Charles Weeghman
Federal League
Weeghman, Owner
of the Chicago
Whales, Builder of
Wrigley Field
A limited number of copies of
Major Leagues remain available for
purchase. They make great gifts
and will be personally autographed
by the author.
Email for details.
"This is a first class work in the
comprehensive baseball history
category and belongs on the shelf
along with those impressive
volumes of Harold Seymour and
David Voigt. . ."

Society for American Baseball
Research (SABR) Bibliography
Committee Newsletter
Ban Takes Manhattan
An Excerpt from Major Leagues: The Formation,
Sometimes Absorption and Mostly Inevitable Demise of 18
Professional Baseball Organizations, 1871 to Present
Listed in Ron Kaplan's 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read Before They Die