I’ve written before on the prominence of semipro (or independent professional) baseball in the 1910s and 1920s, especially in the big cities. A number of leagues or umbrella organizations were formed around this time, including the Chicago City League (which actually dated back to the 1890s) and the Philadelphia Baseball Association. Recently I ran across an article (in the June 8, 1920, Brooklyn Eagle) about a league in Brooklyn organized by Nat Strong (longtime owner of the Bushwicks and Brooklyn Royal Giants).
What’s striking is that the league is framed as a response to the emerging problem of players jumping contracts. The market for baseball beyond what was offered by the major leagues—specifically in big cities, beyond the reach of the minors--was booming, and these teams, which often featured former or future major leaguers (such as Jeff Tesreau, Nixey Callahan, and Manuel Cueto) were of a much higher caliber than we usually associate with the term “semipro.”