As Wrigley Field turns 100-years-old today, the Chicago Cubs and the Arizona Diamondbacks will join the festivities and don throwback jerseys. For the Cubs, finding a Chicago throwback uniform to help celebrate Wrigley turn 100 will not be too hard to find. However, for the Arizona Diamondbacks, their “long” history only stretches back to 1996. As the Cubs wear throwback Chicago Whales uniforms, honoring the first Chicago team to play at what is now known as Wrigley Field, the Diamondbacks will go way back, wearing the throwback uniforms of the team that played against the Whales that April 23, 1914- the Kansas City Packers. But who were the Kansas City Packers of the Federal League?
The Federal League began as league set to challenge the American and National Baseball Leagues for top players. Unfortunately for Federal Leaguers, the six-team minor-league baseball organization that eventually became a major league in 1914 lasted just three seasons long (1913-1915). Among the Federal League’s original six teams, the Kansas City Packers became official after they had moved from Covington, Kentucky.
The Kansas City Packers were led by player/manager George Stovall. Stovall turned out to be the perfect person for the job as he was a Leeds, MO native (now of Kansas City) and embodied everything the Federal League stood for. Stovall was rough around the edges, eventually mutually departing as manager of the St. Louis Browns after spitting tobacco juice on an umpire. But Stovall was thrilled at the idea of Federal teams attempting to steal the talent of the American and National Leagues. In fact, during one spring training camp in Florida, Stovall brought rolls of cash, flashing it while calling at his ex-St. Louis teammates. Sadly for Stovall and the Federal League, the young startup league could never compete with the cash flow of the established leagues. Whenever the Federal League would nab a player from the American or National Leagues, the two leagues would easily be able to match and exceed the offers made.
Baseball in Kansas City would not last. Marred by rainout after rainout, especially during the 1915 season that saw 47.2 inches of precipitation (sixteenth most ever), the team had nine home games that were eventually cancelled and reported losses totaling up to $35,332.13. The Kansas City Packers eventually moved to New York, where they could seriously contend with the big wigs of the other two leagues. However, even after the fold of the Federal League and the move of the Kansas City Packers, baseball in Kansas City would be rained out until 1955. Kansas City for years after the close of the Federal League would be a city joined at the hip of the brazen-led Packers, constantly criticized and looked down upon as a city that tried to go head-to-head, following foul methods, with the National and American Leagues.
The Federal League did not last long, but its presence was certainly felt as they forced “cheap” owners of the American and National Leagues to start opening up their wallets and start paying their players a livable wage.
Today, as the Diamondbacks hope to play spoiler on this monumental day of celebration at Wrigley Field, the Cubs hope to relive a bit of Chicago’s past. The Chicago Whales dominated the Kansas City Packers on this day 100-years-ago at Wrigley Field, 9-1.
Wade Miley (2-2, 4.35 ERA) vs. Jeff Samardzija (0-2, 1.29 ERA)
Commentary by Ryne Vyles; The Snake Pit
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Arizona Diamondbacks