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 next year club manager Edward Wakeham moved Trease to left field to make room for Douglas Glover. Trease was again one of the clubs best players and the Chiefs won their first pennant with a 40-20 mark. Back in center in 1878, Trease played excellent defense while again being one of the team's best hitters with a .281 average. Feeling underappreciated by Whitney and Wakeham, Trease was one of the players who took advantage of the fledgling Century League's lack of a reserve clause and elected to play for the Boston Pilgrims in 1879. The Pilgrims moved Trease to first base (they had a budding star in CF in Jeffrey Nicks) and Trease played well defensively (in an infield with Edward Wakeham's brother Jack as shortstop-manager) while leading his team in hitting (.304) and doubles (15). His sojourn to Boston was short, however, as the Chiefs lured him back to Chicago for 1880.

Staying at first base, and clashing with Wakeham, Trease had one of his few poor seasons as a hitter, turning in the lowest average of his career at .245 - it also turned out to be his last season with the Chiefs. Wakeham headed to Providence after the season and Whitney sold Trease to Miles Bigsby's Brooklyn Union club where he would spend the next four seasons. Trease was moved behind the plate to catcher by Unions manager Harold Courtney and had another weak hitting season (.246). Courtney was fired by Bigsby after a disappointing 1881 season and new skipper Sam Diamond put Trease back in the outfield where he played both left and center and also got his hitting mojo back, rebounding for a .292 average. 

Off the field things were looking up as well as he married Nora Kelly of Brooklyn in November of 1881 - a year later he was the father of a son (Lynwood "Woody" Trease) who would go on to become a pretty good player himself.

In both 1883 and 1884 he topped the .300 mark while playing left in '83 and catcher in '84. He was sold again - this time it was a short trip across the East River to join the New York Gothams. He arrived just in time for one of most dominating seasons in baseball history as the Gothams went 89-19 with a lineup dubbed the "Triplets" not because there were three of them, but because they collected triples at an astounding rate. Trease, back in left, was one of four Gothams to top 20 triples - a feat never equaled. Trease had 23, second on the team to Denny Fuller's 25. Also in the club were Jason Young with 21 and Marsh Perry with 20. Trease hit .297 that year and .306 the next, though his triple total dipped to 8. In 1887, at age 36, he rapped out a .294 average and had 26 doubles, 16 triples and 4 home runs, all but one of which was inside-the-park. His time with the Gothams earned him the nickname of "King of New York" in the papers though his team mates called him "Link." 

In 1887 he added a new position to his resume as he moved to third base - the results afield were not good as he racked up 91 errors. In '88 it was even worse - he had 99 errors - but he still hit, leading the league with 93 RBIs while he hit .281 with 20 doubles, 12 triples and 5 homers. In '89 management had seen the light and moved him off 3B and back into the outfield. He hit .317 with a league-best 38 doubles while adding 10 triples. Trease was always fast - he had back-to-back 50+ steal seasons in 1887 & 88 (at ages 36 & 37 no less) so his triple production wasn't unexpected.

In 1890 he was among the many Gotham stars to jump to the Peerless League's New York Imperials. He hit .345 and .307 in his two seasons in the PL, still playing in the outfield. When the Peerless League was merged into the brand-new FABL after the 1891 season, Trease was dealt by the Gothams (who got him back in their merger with the Imperials) to the Keystones where he joined long-time hitting rival Zebulon Banks. Going behind the plate at age 41, Trease had his last great season with a .339 average, 28 doubles and still showed some wheels with four triples and 14 steals. 

Alas, his time in Philly was short - Banks didn't like sharing the spotlight and convinced management to trade Trease. He was shipped to the Baltimore Clippers for Gustav Gray. The Clippers tried him at catcher for a while, then released him on May 31, 1893. At age 42, he looked like he might be done, but the Toronto Provincials, mired in last-place, took a flyer on him. Trease hit .273 in 88 games for the Provincials, but couldn't get them out of the cellar. That winter, he decided to hang it up - retiring on New Year's Day 1894. This gave him more time to spend with his wife and children. 

Trease wasn't completely finished with baseball though - he was one of the first investors in the East Coast Association when it started up in 1897, eventually becoming a manager in that league where he was able to manage his son Woody when the latter made his professional debut with the Rochester Rooks in 1900.

Trease had an older brother, Franklin (Frank) Trease who played briefly, but had a solid career as a manager, including as the skipper of the Philadelphia Sailors in the first-ever World Series in 1893.

 

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.