After rumblings persisted throughout the previous campaign, baseball launched a third major league in 1914. Misinterpreting a slump period in attendance for an opportunity to create a league that rivaled the success of the two existing circuits, a group of wealthy industrialists that included bakery magnate Robert Ward and oilman Harry Sinclair formed the short-lived Federal League. Although the upstart circuit lasted only two seasons, it temporarily lured away from the majors stars such as Mordecai Brown, Eddie Plank, Joe Tinker, Jack Quinn, and the ever-mercenary Hal Chase, causing in the process an increase in salaries in the two more established leagues.
Benny Kauff proved to be the Ty Cobb of the new league, topping all hitters with a .370 batting average, 120 runs scored, 75 stolen bases, and 44 doubles for pennant-winning Indianapolis. One of the Federal League’s legacies is Wrigley Field, which was originally named for restauranteur Charles Weeghman, who built the ballpark for his Chicago Whales.
Meanwhile, in the American League, the Philadelphia Athletics won their fourth pennant in five years, finishing the regular season with a record of 99-53, 8 ½ games ahead of second-place Boston. A’s second baseman Eddie Collins earned Chalmers Award honors by leading the league with 122 runs scored, a .344 batting average, and a .452 on-base percentage, while finishing second in the circuit with 58 stolen bases. He also placed among the leaders in runs batted in, hits, doubles, total bases, and slugging percentage.
The “Miracle Braves” subsequently swept Philadelphia in the World Series, prompting A’s owner and manager Connie Mack to begin disassembling his team shortly thereafter. Unwilling to compete with the rival Federal League for the services of his best players, Mack auctioned off his stars, one by one, to the highest bidder. As a result, the Athletics finished last in the American League in each of the next seven seasons.
Although the A’s captured the pennant in 1914 and Eddie Collins won the Chalmers Award, some of the league’s top performers played for other teams. Tris Speaker had an exceptional year for second-place Boston, finishing second in the batting race with a mark of .338 and topping the circuit with 193 hits, 46 doubles, 287 total bases, and a .503 slugging percentage. Ty Cobb won his fourth straight batting title with a mark of .368. Teammate Sam Crawford led the league with 104 runs batted in and 26 triples, tying in the process the American League’s single-season record for three-baggers. Walter Johnson compiled an exceptional 1.72 ERA and led all A.L. pitchers with 28 victories, 225 strikeouts, 371 innings pitched, 33 complete games, and nine shutouts. Boston’s Dutch Leonard went 19-5 and posted the lowest single-season ERA ever – an extraordinary mark of 0.96 that helped the Red Sox compile a league-best 2.35 team ERA.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• Jacob Ruppert and Captain Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston purchased the New York Yankees from original owners Frank Farrell and Bill Devery for the sum of $460,000.
• Nap Lajoie collected his 3,000th hit.
• Babe Ruth made his major league debut as a pitcher with the Boston Red Sox. He pitched seven innings in his first appearance on July 1, earning a win over Cleveland in the process.
• Jim Scott of Chicago threw a no-hitter against Washington on May 14 but lost the contest by a score of 1-0 in 10 innings.
• Joe Benz of Chicago tossed a no-hitter against Cleveland on May 31.
• New York’s American League franchise became universally known as the "Yankees."
• Named interim Yankee manager late in the year, 23-year-old shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh became the youngest skipper ever.
• New York's Fritz Maisel established an all-time record for A.L. third basemen by topping the circuit with 74 steals.
• Former Philadelphia Athletics ace left-hander Rube Waddell died at age 37.
- 1914 World Series, American League, Babe Ruth, Benny Kauff, Bill Devery, Boston Braves, Connie Mack, Dutch Leonard, Eddie Collins, Eddie Plank, Federal League, Frank Baker, Fritz Maisel, Hal Chase, Jack Quinn, Jacob Ruppert, Jim Scott, Joe Benz, Joe Tinker, Mordecai Brown, Nap Lajoie, Philadelphia Athletics, Roger Peckinpaugh, Rube Waddell, Sam Crawford, Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson