An excellent way to describe the Covington Blue Sox would be a footnote in the footnotes of Major League Baseball history. They have the dubious distinction of being the shortest-lived franchise in the Federal League, itself a rather short-lived invention.

As John T. Powers began seeking out wealthy businessmen to own and operate teams for his new league in 1913, the city of Covington, Kentucky decided to throw its hat in the ring. There were quite a few obstacles standing in the town's way to a professional team: they had no suitable ballpark, little fan interest, and they would propose a direct competing interest with its sister city of Cincinnati, Ohio and the Reds.

Still, the city convinced local brewing magnate William Riedlin and steel icon R.C. Stewart to put up $12,500 for the city to build a park that would meet the requirements of the new league. Amazingly, the town was awarded a franchise after a few choicer cities backed out.

Ground was broken on construction of the new park (to be named Federal Park, after the graciously accepting league) only a month before the inaugural 1913 season of the Federal League began. The other owners decided to send Covington on an extended road trip to begin the season.

On May 3, 1913, the Covington Blue Sox played in the first official Federal League game, playing against the Cleveland Feds. They lost the game, 6-1. They continued to play poorly, spending two weeks on the road and managing only a 4-9 record.

However, when they returned home, they received a heroes' welcome. The crowds that showed up exceeded the stadium capacity by the thousands. Pitcher Walter Justus earned the crowd's admiration by throwing a 4-hit shutout and leading the Blue Sox to victory. Those victories would prove to be few and far between for the rest of the season however.

By late June the team was 21-31, fourth out of six teams and unlikely to improve. Attendance was so bad that owner Riedlin is said to have claimed he could barely afford to reimburse the printer for printing the tickets. In order to get a bigger market for the league, the team was relocated to Kansas City and renamed the Packers. In mid-season!

52 games and they had vanished without a trace. No team has ever suffered the same fate (although the Seattle Pilots came dangerously close.) Since then, no professional team of any sorts has resided in Covington, Kentucky, and most of its citizenry are content to travel across the Ohio to see the Reds and not the Bengals.



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