As the 20th century began, the decline of the frontier helped spread a new, more urban expansion westward from the heavily populated Eastern Seaboard. Soon, factories, mills, and businesses of all breeds began to appear in cities such as Indianapolis, Kansas City, and Louisville. This rise of the middle class also led to a demand for entertainment, a demand not readily met by Major League Baseball. The Federal League's birth in America in 1914 was a direct response to this hesitance, forming teams in Chicago, Indianapolis, and Columbus. The league itself had already existed in a trial form in the summer of 1913 - and although the league had run smoothly as a whole, one unit had done dreadfully - the Covington Blue Sox, who were shipped to Kansas City before the season had even begun. The team continued to exist for the duration of the Federal League.
The Kansas City Packers (like the later Green Bay football team, named for the cities' booming meat-packing industry) began play with dimmer prospects than most teams in the 8-team league. Despite the addition of Major League defector Ted Easterly and young pitching phenom Gene Packard (along with manager George Stovall, formerly of the Cleveland Indians), they had very little known product on the team, and to prove the prognosticators right, the team finished in 6th place with a 67-84 record. Virtual unknown Bill "Iron Duke" Kenworthy stepped in to become the offensive leader of the team, batting .317 with 15 homers and stealing 37 bases. Packard was respectable, going 20-14 with 154 strikeouts (and a hurt shoulder for much of the early part of the year). The rest of the team failed to make any real positive impact, and Stovall stubbornly refused to pull himself out of late games when he was on bad knees, costing the team several victories. To add insult to injury, on September 7 of that year, the team's clubhouse at Gordon and Koppel Field was dashed to bits by heavy flooding in the area. The team spent the rest of the season playing on the road, which didn't help their record much, to be sure.
1915 proved to be only marginally better for the hapless Packers. The lineup remained virtually unchanged, but the team acquired two new star pitchers in Chief Johnson and Alex Main. Johnson was permanently banned from playing for the Packers by a judge, but the team and league cavalierly ignored the ruling. The team as a whole batted .244 and no one hit more than 9 home runs, but the pitching came around strong, with Packard, Main, Johnson, and Nick Cullop all combining for a respectable 2.62 ERA. At one point the team was 17 games over .500 and in a close race for second with eventual champions the Chicago Whales; but the team collapsed throughout August, and finished 81-72, good enough for 4th place.
After 1915, the Federal League signed a deal with Major League Baseball to cease operations in exchange for ownerships of several key clubs. The Packers folded, and baseball wouldn't return to Kansas City until 1957, with the relocation of the Philadelphia Athletics. The Athletics themselves made only a short stay, moving again to Oakland, California to make room for the new Kansas City franchise, the Royals. The Packers remains just a small footnote in the city's history, but they are a constant reminder of a time when baseball really was the national pastime.