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Max Flack

  • Series: Jim Dandie Feds
  • City: Chicago
  • Team: Whales
  • League: Federal League

Max John Flack (1890-1975) was a left-handed outfielder who played a dozen seasons in the majors in Chicago and St. Louis. He compiled a career average of .278 with little power but considerable speed, stealing 200 bases over his tenure. In recent years a shadow has been cast over this journeyman's reputation as his status as the “goat” of the 1918 World Series has been looked at in more sinister terms with the uncovering in 2007 of documents pertaining to the Black Sox scandal. An affidavit by Ed Cicotte indicates he and his wayward teammates felt “inspired” by the Cubs' loss to Boston the year before. Flack's dubious performance in the Series made him an object of suspicion. He remains the only player to be picked-off twice in a World Series game. His throwing error in game six provided the margin of victory to Babe Ruth's Sox. However, a review of the box scores for the '18 Series shows the Cubs were charged with six errors and Flack committed only the one that led to Boston's only scores in the finale (in the third inning). There were a number of noteworthy aspects to that Series beyond speculation of misconduct. Due to the war, it became the only Fall Classic to be played entirely in September. The Cubs eschewed their home park (later to be named Wrigley Field) in favor of vaunted Comiskey Park (“The Baseball Palace of the World”). Although it would not be named the national anthem until 1931, game one was graced with the first performance of the Star Spangled Banner at a major league game. And, of course, it would be mourned by Boston fans for another 86 years as the last championship as the Curse of the Bambino took hold. So, if Max did engage in mischief, he did so on a grand stage, but there is nothing but unfortunate circumstance to implicate him.

  • Flack had debuted with the Federal League's Chicago “Chi-Feds” (later the Whales) in 1914
  • He remained in town with the Cubs following the demise of the upstart league the next year, playing regularly for six seasons before moving to the Cardinals as a reserve for four more

Auction History

Howard Ehmke

  • Series: Jim Dandie Feds
  • City: Buffalo
  • Team: Blues (FL)
  • League: Federal League

Howard Jonathan Ehmke (1894-1959) was a durable pitcher who played fifteen of his sixteen years in pro ball in the majors. The right-hander compiled a 166-166 record, debuting with the Buffalo Blues of the Federal League in 1915 before moving on to a fine career with three of the sport's great teams: the Tigers, Red Sox and Athletics. Ehmke had an unlikely highlight to his long career in 1929's World Series when Connie Mack took him up on his offer to pitch the opening game. Howard had shown flashes of greatness including hurling a no-hitter followed by a one-hitter and had pitched very respectably in '29, going 7-2. Nevertheless, he was a surprise choice to start the series as the veteran's activity had been limited that season. But the savvy Mack knew the opposing Cubs might be vulnerable to a side-arming righty. Ehmke went on to set the record for strikeouts in the post-season with 13, a record that would stand for decades until surpassed by Carl Erskine in 1953, a feat Howard listened to on his car radio until the battery died. He also set a record that held until 2006 for having the fewest regular-season wins by a Series starter.

  • Bill James has called Connie Mack's decision to start Ehmke in '29 “the most brilliant managerial stratagem in the history of baseball”
  • Playing for Boston in 1923, Ehmke won 20 and threw his no-hitter against Mack's Athletics, followed four days later by a one-hitter versus the Yankees, an effort marred only by a grounder off the third baseman's chest ruled a hit. Things evened out for Howard, however, as his no-no had featured a hit off the wall that became an out when the batter missed first base
  • Thanks to his no-no followed by the one-hitter, Ehmke still holds the American League record for fewest hits allowed in back-to-back starts with 1
  • Ehmke had a distinguished career as a player but also made his mark with his inventive bent. He sold the Pirates on his idea for a tarpaulin to cover Forbes Field's infield in the event of rain.  Howard parlayed that sale into a life-long business marketing all manner of tarps and fabrics, including canvas for the war effort in the forties. The Ehmke Manufacturing Co, based in Philadelphia, continues to this day

Auction History

Charlie Deal

Third Base
  • Series: Jim Dandie Feds
  • City: St. Louis
  • Team: Terriers
  • League: Federal League

Charles Albert Deal (1891-1979) like many of his peers in the early decades of baseball wanted to be fairly compensated for his talents, a concept alien to most of the owners of his day. Not even a spot on the Miracle Braves of 1914 could hold Deal's loyalty when the Federal League offered a chance at better pay. Charlie had played for Detroit in 1912-13 before joining Boston's club during the 1913 season. He was a decent third baseman who must have impressed his new team when he hit .306 late in '12. Unfortunately, although the 1914 Braves had a year for the ages, Charlie hit a mere .210 and saw greener pastures with the St. Louis Terriers in the Federal League's second and final season in '15. The move proved extremely lucrative for Deal. His salary ballooned from $2400 to $4500 plus a $3500 bonus. This may have been emblematic of the financial turmoil the Federals introduced and which led to the demise of such a profligate operation - in the minds of the establishment of the day. After the Terriers folded, Charlie played briefly for the Browns but found a home with the Cubs in 1916. In his tenure in the Windy City, interrupted by wartime obligations, Deal established himself as one of the best third basemen of the day. He never was able to hit much above his .250 norm but stayed with the Cubs through the 1921 season on the strength of his fielding prowess.

  • Deal still had a taste for the game after ending his time in the big leagues. He went west and played for the Los Angeles Angels for two years and even played for the Vernon Tigers in 1924 in the industrial heart of South LA.
  • Charlie moved up to Portland, still in the PCL, in '25 and wrapped up his professional career with the Southern Association's New Orleans Pelicans in 1926

Auction History

Joe Agler

  • Series: Jim Dandie Feds
  • City: Buffalo
  • Team: Blues (FL)
  • League: Federal League

Joseph Abram Agler (1887-1971) was a first baseman/outfielder from Coshocton, Ohio who debuted with the Washington Senators at the end of the 1912 season after several years in the minors. He had started out in professional ball with Lansing of the Southern Michigan League in 1907. He then played for Canton, Newark, Atlanta and Jersey City before finally getting a late-season try-out in D.C. His long-awaited opportunity failed to gain Joe a spot on the Senators' 1913 team and he returned to the Atlanta Crackers. He got his big chance at “major league” glory when the Federal League opened for business in 1914.

The Federal League of Base Ball Clubs had incorporated in '13 under the auspices of John T. Powers who dangled the prospect of avoiding the hated reserve clause as an inducement to recruit disgruntled big-leaguers. Dubbed an “outlaw” enterprise by the AL and NL, the experiment was doomed to fail. Nevertheless, players such as Agler benefited by the expanded rosters and short-lived salary surges. He got his opportunity with the Buffalo Buffeds in 1914, playing 135 games and hitting a respectable .272. Dealt to the Baltimore Terrapins in the middle of the 1915 season, Joe improved a bit on the poor average that prompted Buffalo to give up on him. He hit only .178 for the Buffeds but batted .215 for Baltimore. His overall average in his three partial years in the majors was .246, not much below his minor league average of .258 showing modest but steady ability.

  • The Federal League may have been a brief actor on the major league stage but it left some indelible marks on the game. The Terrapins caused such a financial crisis for the across-the-street Orioles that the team had a fire sale which included sending a young kid named Ruth to Boston.
  • Wrigley Field was built for the Federal's Chicago Whales and still stands as a monument to the brash entrepreneurial spirit that built the national pastime
  • Litigation in the wake of the Federal League also sealed the monopoly still enjoyed by MLB as the Supreme Court ultimately ruled it was exempt from the Sherman Antitrust Act

Auction History

Armando Marsans

  • Series: Diamond Heads '15
  • City: St. Louis
  • Team: Terriers
  • League: American League, Federal League
  • Hall: Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame

Armando Marsans (1887-1960) was the first Cuban to make a real impact in the major leagues. Frank Bancroft had spotted Marsans and Rafael Almeida in exhibition games in 1905 and finally brought them to Cincinnati in 1911. In his sophomore season with the Reds, Marsans hit .318 with 35 stolen bases and only 17 strikeouts in 448 plate appearances, placing a respectable 18th in Chalmer’s Award voting for 1912. A row with fiery manager Buck Herzog resulted in Marsans seeking a job with the new Federal League’s St. Louis Terriers in ‘14. When the league folded, Marsans signed on with the Browns but inactivity took a toll. Two years with the Yankees ended his MLB career in 1918 but Armando had many more years of baseball left. He continued to play winter ball back home through the 1928 season and became the first to play in the majors and the Negro Leagues in 1923 with the Cuban Stars. Marsans thrived as a manager in both Cuba and the States (another first for his countrymen), finally retiring in 1947 after 43 years in baseball.

  • The blue-blood Marsans was well-educated and an entrepreneur as well as a savvy baseball mind. Nevertheless, the Reds fended off race-baiting accusations in 1911
  • Artist’s Note: Images of Marsans are fairly rare and it is not uncommon for me to take liberties with dates and uniforms. This photo was taken in 1916 when Marsans was with the St. Louis Browns. In anticipation of the feedback I will receive, I’d like to invite you to join me in pretending this is a St. Louis Terriers’ uniform. Cheers!
  • Elected to Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in its inaugural class: 1939

Auction History