The Newark Peppers, originally known as the Indianapolis Hoosiers, were a Federal League baseball team from 1914-1915. The Federal League (FL) was a third major league during its brief existence.
When the FL opened for business in 1914 as a challenger to the two major leagues, one franchise was placed in Indianapolis, Indiana. Primarily owned by oil magnate Harry F. Sinclair, this team won the Federal League championship in 1914 with an 88–65 record. The team played at Federal League Park. The team's roster included future Baseball Hall of Fame members Edd Roush and Bill McKechnie.
Although the FL had placed a team (the Tip-Tops) in Brooklyn, from the outset FL officials felt they could more effectively compete commercially against the American and National leagues by placing a team in Manhattan. All attempts were effectively blocked by principals of the two existing Manhattan teams (the New York Giants and the New York Yankees). FL executives decided to relocate the Indianapolis franchise to a major city in the New York metropolitan area, and Newark was chosen. Although the team was christened the Newark Peppers (and called "The Peps" for short), the team actually played at Harrison Park, in the town of Harrison, New Jersey, across the Passaic River from downtown Newark. (As part of the franchise transfer, Indianapolis outfielder Benny Kauff, who was the FL batting champ in 1914, was placed with the Tip-Tops.)
The team finished in 5th place with a won–loss record of 80–72. The Peppers were disbanded when the Federal League went out of business after two seasons.
Team infielder Rupert Mills "played" the non-existent 1916 "season." A clause in his 1915 contract guaranteed him a salary for the following year as long as he continued to show up at the park, suited and ready to play for the team. Mills fulfilled his contractual obligation, coming to the empty park each day and performing a physical workout to remain in playing condition. Mills, who was born in Newark, was also the only native Jerseyan on the team.
The Peppers were the only major league baseball franchise in New Jersey besides the Elizabeth Resolutes, who played half of the 1873 season in the National Association (the precursor to the National League). The Brooklyn Dodgers played seven "home" games (one against each N.L. rival) in Jersey City in 1956 and 1957.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2014)|
- The Federal League of Base Ball Clubs, by Robert Peyton Wiggins, published by McFarland, 2009
- The Federal League of 1914–1915: Baseball's Third Major League, by Marc Okkonen, published by SABR, 1989
- Hoosiers article at Everything2
- Chicago Tribune May 11, 1915, page 11 "The Whales fairly knocked the cover off the ball, easily defeating the Newark Peppers by the score of 10 to 5"]