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United States Baseball League

United States Baseball League
Sport Baseball
Founded 1912
CEO William Abbott Witmann
Inaugural season 1912
No. of teams 8
Country 23x15px United States
Ceased 1913
Last champion(s) Pittsburgh Filipinos (1912) Baltimore (1913) - but only partial seasons both years

The United States Baseball League was a short-lived hopeful third major-league that was established in New York City in 1912.

In March 1912, organizers of the proposed league–described by members of the sports establishment as an "outlaw league"–met in New York's Hotel Imperial.[1] The U.S. Baseball League subsequently organized teams in Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New York, Reading, Pennsylvania; Richmond, Virginia; and Washington, D.C.[2] The league president was William Witmann.[3]


Sports historian Rudolf K. Haerle observed that the U.S. Baseball League "stressed the inherent 'good' of baseball for all individuals and communities, and indicated that it wished to conduct its business in the accepted capitalist style–free competition in the marketplace".[2] Despite these lofty ambitions, the league quickly incurred the scorn and hostility of the baseball establishment.[2] Additionally burdened with weak leadership, limited financing, poor attendance, and a lack of skillful players, the U.S. Baseball League "folded after about one month of action".[2]


Reading mayor William Abbott Witman owned the USL entry from that city, as well as serving as league president. The Reading team had no official nickname, and were occasionally referred to as the Pretzels or the Dutchmen (after the Tri-State League franchise that folded after the 1911 season); they wore blue-gray uniforms with red-and-blue sleeve shields bearing a white R (similar to the Interstate highway shields seen today). They played at the Fairgrounds in Reading.

The New York (or Gotham) Knickerbockers played at the Bronx Oval, and wore cream-colored uniforms, or white with gray sweater coats, bearing a black NY on the left sleeve. The Richmond Rebels wore a steel-gray ensemble, with matching white sweater coats bearing a black R. The only-known information about the Forest City team in Cleveland is that they issued schedule cards in a light-green color; the following year, Cleveland's entry in the fledgling Federal League was called the Green Sox.


The league's regular season began May 1, 1912 and ended June 5.[2] The Richmond Times Dispatch released the schedule the league originally intended to have on April 8.[4]

Team Win Loss Pct
Pittsburgh Filipinos 19 7 .731
Richmond Rebels 15 11 .577
Reading (no name) 12 9 .571
Cincinnati Pippins 12 10 .545
Washington Senators 6 7 .462
Chicago Green Sox 10 12 .455
Cleveland Forest City 8 13 .381
New York Knickerbockers 2 15 .118


  • Bronx Oval - New York
  • Exposition Park - Pittsburgh
  • The Fairgrounds - Lynchburg
  • Georgetown Park - Washington D.C.
  • Hippodrome Park - Cincinnati, OH. The park was also referred to as United States Park.
  • Gunther Park (Clark St and Leland Ave) - Chicago; now Chase Park [5]
  • National Association Grounds - Cleveland
  • Lee Park (Moore Street and North Boulevard) - Richmond; became Boulevard Field of the Richmond Climbers in 1917, and now The Diamond[6]

The League tried again in May 1913, with a slightly different medley of teams. Among the newcomers were the Lynchburg Shoemakers, who had been ejected from the Virginia League the season before. They played their home games at the Fairgrounds in Lynchburg, and sported an old-style L on their uniforms. Another entry from the Nation's capitol played at Georgetown Park in Georgetown. Although ostensibly called the Senators, the Washington Post dubbed this team the Bandits (because of their Outlaw status). The Bandits lost their season opener at Georgetown Park in an exciting extra-inning game to the visiting team from Brooklyn, 9-8. Meanwhile, the Shoemakers also dropped their home opener against Baltimore at the Fairgrounds 7-4. The Baltimore team finished with the best record in the drastically foreshortened 2nd season, and was informally known as the Monumentals, the usual nickname for outlaw teams who played in opposition to the established Orioles. Things became unravelled very quickly again in 1913 for the U.S. League, due in particular to the flop of the New York and Newark teams, who quarreled about the pitiful proceeds from the Gate at the opener played in Newark.

Information on the Reading, New York, Richmond, Cleveland, Lynchburg (1913) and Georgetown (1913) teams was compiled by Russell R. Yoder, from Microfilm records of The Reading Eagle, The Washington Post, and The Baseball Hall of Fame Archives in Cooperstown, New York.


Many sports historians view the U.S. Baseball League as "a major precursor to the Federal League of 1914–1915".[2] The Federal League, which reflected the last major effort to establish an independent major league, was financed by magnates including oil "baron" Harry F. Sinclair.[7]


  1. ^ "New York Not Yet Named In Outlaw League". The New York Times. March 16, 1912. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Haerle, Rudolf K. "The United States Baseball League of 1912: A Case Study of Organizational Failure" (PDF). LA84 Foundation. Retrieved 2009-01-22. 
  3. ^ "The United States Baseball League"
  4. ^ "Schedule of the United States League, Season 1912". The Richmond Times Dispatch Press. April 8, 1912. 
  5. ^ Wrigley Field: the unauthorized biography By Stuart Shea, George Castle, p. 8-9
  6. ^ Daniel, W. Harrison (2011). Baseball and Richmond: a history of the professional game, 1884-2000. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 61. 
  7. ^ Suehsdorf (1978), p. 54.


  • Suehsdorf, A. D. (1978). The Great American Baseball Scrapbook. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-50253-1