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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

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