Zebulon Banks was baseball's first superstar; although that term would not be used for quite some time, Banks checked off all the boxes we today would use to measure superstardom. He was the elite player of his era, which covered the entire 19th century portion of professional baseball history, was well-known throughout the country and set a slew of records that the greats of the future, playing a different style of baseball (and with longer seasons) would eventually surpass. He was born in Des Moines, Iowa on February 19th, 1856, made his debut as a member of the Philadelphia Centennials (today's Keystones) at the age of 20 in 1876 and played until 1898. He earned the nickname "Hawkeye" both for his Iowan-roots and for his discerning eye at the plate, where in his 23 seasons as a player he failed to hit over .300 just three times and finished with a career .328 average.

Link Trease was one of the first great stars of the old Century League. A versatile player who starred at five different positions, Trease was one of a pair of brothers who left an indelible stamp on the game, albeit in different ways. 

Born Lynwood Killeen Trease to Irish-born immigrant parents in Torrington, Connecticut on November 11, 1850, Trease began playing base ball at an early age. By the time he was 20 he had earned a strong reputation as one of the best players in New England. Playing for a variety of clubs throughout Connecticut and neighboring New York and Massachusetts, Trease was one of the first players signed by Century League founder and Chicago Chiefs owner William Whitney in the early spring of 1876. Signed to play centerfield for the Chiefs, the 25-year-old Trease quickly established himself as the best player on the team. In 1876 he led the Chiefs in batting (.294), home runs (4), stolen bases (12) and walks (14) while driving home the second-most runs on the team. 

The father of the Century League, William Washington Whitney, was born April 14, 1840 in Boone County, Illinois. The son of a farmer, Whitney was highly intelligent and driven and this led him to successfully obtaining a nomination and ultimately, admission to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Whitney was pragmatic and went to West Point with a goal of becoming an engineer - the Army was merely a means to an end for him.