The Chicago Whales scored a pair of runs in the sixth and the ninth to defeat the host St. Louis Terriers 4-1 at Handlan's Park to move into a tie for first place with the Terriers. The third place Kansas City Packers were just .002 behind.
Groom held Chicago hitless for the first three innings before left fielder Max Flack singled. Shortstop Jimmy Smith singled in the fifth, but that was all the offense for Chicago through the first five innings.
In the sixth, catcher William Fischer hit a two out double. Jones opted to intentionally walk center fielder Dutch Zwilling, who is the last man in alphabetical order in the history of major league baseball. Third baseman Harry Fritz lined a triple into the gap to score Fischer and Zwilling to give the Whales a 2-0 lead.
St. Louis got a run back in the bottom of the sixth. Second baseman Bobby Vaughn reached on an error and went to second on a wild pitch. Center fielder LaRue Kirby singled to score Vaughn and it was 2-1 Chicago.
In the eighth, St. Louis had a chance to tie the game, but was foiled by two fine defensive plays by the Whales. Kirby hit a liner to center that Zwilling ran down in deep center to lead off the inning. First baseman Babe Borton followed with a sharp grounder that looked like it would go through, but Smith grabbed it and threw Borton out at first. Ward Miller and Grover Hartley followed with singled and then pulled off a double steal. Shortstop Ernie Johnson hit a deep fly to center, which Zwilling made another running catch on to end the inning.
In the ninth, Zwilling led off with a single, but was erased at second on a force play off the bat of Fritz. First baseman Fred Beck singled and Fritz went to third. Right fielder Les Mann singled home Fritz and Smith doubled home Beck to make it 4-1, which held up as the final score.
The 1915 Federal League would have the closest pennant race in history. Chicago would win the pennant over St. Louis by .0008. The Whales finished 86-66 (.5657) and St. Louis was 87-67 (.5649). Chicago had two rainouts that were not made up. Third place Pittsburgh was 86-67. Fourth place Kansas City was 81-72 and 5 1/2 games out and Newark was 80-72 and 6 games out. The last place Baltimore Terrapins helped things out by going 47-107.
When the season ended, the Federal League owners decided to close up shop and sued the AL and NL in Federal Court for antitrust violations. The case would eventually make it to the Supreme Court. And in 1922, the Court ruled that baseball was entertainment and not commerce and not governed by antitrust laws. And, more or less, that antitrust exemption remains in place.
Another legacy of the Federal League is the home park of the Chicago Whales. The Whales opened play in 1914 at Weeghman Park. When the Federal League shut down, the Cubs moved into the park and renamed it Cubs Park and in 1927 the stadium was rechristened as Wrigley Field.
Sources: Chicago Tribune, Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com