Pittsburgh Federation Baseball League Grows to 8 Teams
Following a few years of declining participation in the storied Greater Pittsburgh Semi-Pro Federation (Baseball) League, the number of teams playing the 2009 season in the “Fed League” has increased dramatically — from 5 teams in 2008 to 8 teams. Great news for the league, the teams’ players, and the teams’ fans!
Since its inception way back in 1929, the number of teams playing in the Fed League has fluctuated up and down on a regular basis. Over this 80-year span (“Happy Anniversary GPSFL”), the league has also seen its share of other significant changes: the switch back to wooden bats, shortening the season from 40 to 28 games, and a generally younger average player age.
The truly noteworthy issue, however, remains the 60% increase in the number of teams playing the 2009 Fed League season. With Allegheny Valley Baseball, St. John’s, Elliott, and CIT returning for yet another season (Bethel Park decided not to return), they are joined by former Fed League teams Bellevue and the Riverbandits, as well as by Montour and Ohio Valley.
And so continues the legacy established by such Fed League dynasties as North Pittsburgh, whose former General Manager, the late Sylvester “Bus” Garlich, was awarded the Pittsburgh area “Sandlot Sportsman of the Year” in 1983 for his more than 50 years of dedication to the franchise. The memories of other very successful franchises — Monroeville and Dormont — also come to mind.
Surely, it’s tradition that’s kept the Fed League alive. For young men still in college, “… it’s a chance to hone their skills,” said Kevin Giza, coach of Allegheny Valley, who runs open tryouts prior to every new season. “For the guys who’ve graduated,” he continued, “they play simply because they love baseball.”
Many Major League Baseball (MLB) players to-be and other sports heroes have played on the hallowed fields of Pittsburgh’s Fed League: Art Rooney, Sr., and Dan Marino, both enshrined in the football Hall of Fame, played in the league, as did Art Howe (Shaler), who played for the hometown Pirates, the Houston Astros, and the St. Louis Cardinals, and is the former manager of the Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics, and New York Mets. Ken Macha, current manager of the Milwaukee Brewers and former manager of the Athletics, and player for the Pirates, Montréal Expos, and Toronto Blue Jays, is an alumnus of the League.