#Shortstops: Dutch Strikes Silver

Part of the SHORT STOPS series
Written by: Matthew Carter

When it comes to the Federal League, a former rival to the American and National Leagues, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s collection contains only a few precious artifacts. This is not surprising, because the league only lasted two seasons from 1914-1915.

Among the FL artifacts in the collection is a sterling silver trophy bat that weighs 31.5 ounces. It was given to Edward “Dutch” Zwilling – the center fielder for the Chicago Federal League club – to commemorate his being the team’s leading hitter in 1914. On the barrel of the bat is a decorative engraved lettering that is surrounded by an etched floral and leaf pattern. The engraving reads: “Edward H. Zwilling Center Fielder Chgo (Chicago) Federal League Base Ball Club Batting Average 308-1914 Season.”

Along with the bat, Dutch was also presented with a sterling silver baseball, which is also in the Hall’s collection.

Before joining the Chi-Feds in 1914, Dutch’s major league career amounted to a cup of coffee with the Chicago White Sox in 1910, during which he batted only .184 in 27 games. He quickly became a star in the new league, leading the FL with 16 home runs and leading the team with a .313 average. His hitting helped lead the Chi-Feds to a second place finish in 1914, one and a half games behind the pennant winning Indianapolis Hoosiers.

Dutch’s batting numbers took a dip in 1915, but he was still a force at the plate, batting .286 with 13 home runs and a league leading 94 RBI. A possible reason that his home run total dropped was because team owner Charles Weeghman moved the outfield fences at Weeghman Park farther back. When Dutch saw the new changes, he reportedly said: “That may rob me of a few home runs.”

He also played great defense in center field, turning six double plays and leading all centerfielders with 356 put outs. His spectacular play helped lead the team, now known as the Chicago Whales, to the 1915 FL pennant, edging out the second place St. Louis Terriers by .001 percentage points.

When the Federal League disbanded after the season, Weeghman bought the Chicago Cubs and added 12 former Whales players to the roster for the 1916 season. This included Dutch, who, along with teammate Rollie Zeider, became one of two men to have played for Chicago’s franchises in the NL, AL and FL.

But Zwilling’s success in the FL did not translate to the Cubs. He batted .113 with one homer and eight RBI in 35 games before being traded to the minor league Indianapolis Indians halfway through the season, thus ending his major league career.

Zwilling continued to play in the minor leagues for many years. He would later go on to become a successful minor league manager and a major league scout.

Matthew Carter was a curatorial intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development

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Part of the SHORT STOPS series