If there was a theme for the 1934 FABL season it could be summed up in two simple words: All In.

With both circuits featuring multiple contenders, the 1934 season saw a significant uptick in trade activity, much of it driven by contenders attempting to "one up" each other in a back and forth arms race the likes of which had never before been seen.

In the Federal Association, the defending champion Philadelphia Keystones saw no fewer than three serious contenders for replacing them atop the standings table: the Boston Minutemen, New York Gothams and St. Louis Pioneers all mounted a challenge and several of those clubs swung deals with an eye to gaining an edge in the chase for the pennant.

The Continental Association's pennant fever was arguably even more serious. With perennial powerhouse Chicago coming out of the gate slowly (and suffering a significant injury as well), there was no shortage of clubs attempting to climb into the Cougars' catbird seat.Though it ultimately boiled down to a two-way streetfight between the Brooklyn Kings and Cleveland Foresters, several other clubs were in the fight early and many trades were made along the way, right up to the trade deadline.

What made the races so interesting was the fact that the Keystones and Cougars each fell off their perches atop their respective leagues at the same time, with the result being a more wide open feel to the pennant races than had been true in the last several campaigns.

Some of the credit (or blame depending on whose viewpoint you take) can be laid at the feet of the Baltimore Cannons. The former contenders featured a pair of star players who were dealt on the same day, just prior to the opening of the season, which changed the dynamics of both circuits and set off a chain reaction of deals that would last right up to the final day of the trading season.

Those two deals were blockbusters. On March 26, the Cannons dealt Rabbit Day, arguably the best pitcher in FABL,. to the New York Gothams for a slew of minor leaguers and draft picks. The move, adding Day to a staff that already featured multiple Allen Award winner Jim Lonardo, made the Gothams the early favorite in the Fed race. But the Cannons weren't done, sending star right fielder Lou Kelly to the Chicago Cougars, picking up three more young players in return. The move set off groans around the Continental Association as it appeared to be a case of the rich getting richer.

Not willing to stand pat while the circuit's best club got even better, the Cleveland Foresters were the first to respond, swinging a pair of deals on April 16th that brought in two solid starting pitchers. Walter Murphy came over from the pitching-rich Gothams and Eddie Quinn was acquired from the not-so-pitching-rich Toronto Wolves. The moves gave the Foresters a solid rotation that was designed to compete with the star-studded staff in Chicago.

A month later the Brooklyn Kings got into the act, sending a pair of prospects to the Cannons for 36-year-old veteran lefty Ken Carpenter. The move, seen as a bit of a risk at the time, was to be the spark that would later vault the Kings into true contention. Other deals in May included one that saw the Cougars, who were struggling with their middle infield play at the time, adding shortstop Clyde Hinzman from Toronto.

June saw the Boston Minutemen, surprising contenders at the time, jump into the fray with a deal to acquire 32-year-old star pitcher Charlie Stedman from the New York Stars and a second trade to add another pitcher, 36-year-old Max Wilder from the Cougars. While Stedman posted solid numbers in Beantown (10-7, 2.48 ERA in 19 games), Wilder was a disappointment and would be moved to the Kings in a later trade.

The Cougars added Woody Armstrong from the Saints as they continued to seek an answer in the infield, and the Gothams added another arm to their stable of Allen Award winners, adding Milt Fritz from the Saints as Montreal shed some of its more valuable pieces in an effort to add some youth (and in Armstrong's case, a needed outfielder in Bobby Sprague).

The Cougars continued to make noise in July, acquiring veteran slugger Joe Masters from their cross-town rival Chiefs. The 35-year-old third baseman moved to the North Side after enjoying a very strong first half that saw him hit .349 with 11 homers in 69 games for the Chiefs. Alas, he was not as productive for the Cougars, hitting .287 with 7 homers in 79 games on the North Side. The big trade also brought in pitcher Dave Rankin while sending an amazing eight mostly very young players to the Chiefs.

Meanwhile, the Minutemen had fallen off the pace in the Fed, causing them to be willing to move longtime franchise cornerstone 3B Charlie Barry, who was dealt to the Cleveland Foresters on July 16th for a 1st round pick and 18 year old pitcher Bob Ginger. Barry solidified arguably the lone weak spot in the Cleveland lineup and proved key to their ultimately successful pennant push.

Not to be left out, the Kings added another pitcher, this time picking up 30-year-old Joe Shaffner from the Pioneers (who were themselves in the thick of the race in the Federal, trailing the front-running Gothams by just a handful of games). Two weeks later, the Kings made their final deal of the season, adding the aforementioned Max Wilder from Boston. Wilder would be a disappointment in Brooklyn, but the Kings management can not be faulted for going "all in" in their effort to catch the Foresters.

The final deal of the 1934 season, which came on deadline day July 31st, was between the Montreal Saints and St. Louis Pioneers. Montreal dealt a pair of youngsters to the Pioneers for highly regaded backstop Tom Bird and a couple of minor leaguers. Bird, at 26, was considered a highly talented catcher who had frustrated managers with his inability to put it all together. With the Saints looking for a long-term solution at catcher, the acquisition's ultimate payoff remains to be seen.

With the dealing done, it now came down to the games. Both races seemed to be somewhat in hand on July 31. The Gothams enjoyed a seven-game edge on the Pioneers in the Fed, while the Foresters held a six-game edge on the Kings in the Continental. A month later, the margin remained the same in the Federal race, but the Continental had seen a wild month change the landscape of the race.

The Brooklyn Kings went 20-7 in August while Cleveland struggled to a 13-15 mark. Brooklyn's surge was powered by their potent offense led by eventual batting champ OF Doug Lightbody (.371-7-85) and a pair of emerging stars: 3B John Langille (.359-10-100) and SS Harry Barrell (.344-3-81) who were part of arguably baseball's best infield (2B Jake Shadoan, .340-14-81 and 1B Dan Barrell .329-11-97 were no slouches either). But arguably more important than the bats was the outstanding pitching of SP Mike Murphy, who was 7-0 with a 1.77 ERA in August, outpacing team mate and eventual lock for the Allen Award, Tom Barrell (who was 4-1, 3.72 in August).

Meanwhile, the Foresters were struggling, their seemingly safe lead gone as they entered the final month of the season 1.5 games behind the streaking Kings and two of their three best pitchers (Walter Murphy and Roger Perry) sporting ERAs north of 6.00. But the Foresters showed a never say die attitude in September, going 19-8 for the month and 15-1 over their last sixteen games of the season to finish one game ahead of the Kings.

The Foresters finished first in runs allowed (660) while scoring 874 (2nd in the Continental) with a roster laden with veteran talent that included 1B Max Morris (.320-26-123), C T.R. Goins (.349-12-87), 3B Charlie Barry (.325-15-96) and younger stars like RF Moxie Pidgeon (.325-25-92), CF Dan Fowler (.264-22-91) and LF Leon Drake (.295-21-118), becoming the first team in history with four 20-HR players. The pitching was led by 25-year-old Dean Astle (.17-7, 3.07) and veterans Walter Murphy (15-8., 3.96), Roger Perry (19-8, 3.38) and Eddie Quinn (17-10, 3.15).

Brooklyn's outstanding season including a pitching performance for the ages from Tom Barrell, whose 29-3 was the best for a pitcher in about 20 years. With Murphy finishing 21-7, 2.84 and Carpenter 19-8, 3.64, alongside an offense that scored 900 runs (most in baseball) and a roster chock full of young talent, the Kings' runner-up finish might just be the set up for even bigger things down the road.

With 98 and 97 win clubs topping the chart, there weren't a lot of victories to go around for the other six Continental clubs in '34. New York, Philadelphia and Chicago all finished with 78-76 records while sixth-place Montreal went 70-84. Perennial cellar-dweller Toronto finished seventh (63-91) thanks to a torn-down Cannons club that managed a dismal 54-100 record to finish last.

Lightbody led the league in batting, while Chicago's Tom Taylor's 31 homers was best in the CA. Morris' 123 RBIs topped the Continental. Tom Barrell led in wins (29) and strikeouts (189) while the Sailors' William Jones posted a 2.53 mark to take the ERA title.

The Federal race was relatively close but did not feature the dramatic back-and-forth streakiness of the Foresters-Kings battle in the Continental. The rebuild Gothams won the pennant, with a 91-63 mark that was five games better than the Pioneers.

New York featured a rotation that included three Allen Award winners. The list was headed by Jim Lonardo, the club's resident ace and winner of three Allen Awards. Lonardo posted a solid 3.02 ERA but a lack of run support saw him post the worst record of the quartet at 14-12.New pickup Rabbit Day led the team with 20 wins, going 20-8 with a 3.02 ERA. Surprise star Hardin Bates was 19-5 with a league-best 2.35 ERA when he was hurt on September 20th, missing the Championship Series although he is likely to give the Gothams a fourth Allen Award winner for his performance. Fourth starter Milt Fritz, who won the Allen in '31 while in Brooklyn was on his fourth club despite being just 25 years old. He had a middling season going 6-5, 4.74 in Montreal before joining the Gothams where he went 7-8, 4.17.

The Gothams offense scored 881 runs, 2nd best to the Keystones' potent lineup. Solid up and down, New York was led by RF Mahlon Strong and his .313-29-110 stat line. Oft-injured 1B Bud Jameson posted a .320-9-60 line while catcher John Wicklund (.319-12-76) headed up the remainder of a lineup that boasted seven .300 hitters with only 2B John Turner (.254-4-58) failing to top the .300 mark.

The runners-up in St. Louis (86-68) served notice that their long rebuild might be nearing completion. In the race all season long, the Pioneers featured a potent 3-4 combo in LF Alex Ingraham (.304-31-117) and 1B Frank McCormick (.349-22-138) as well as the league's batting champ in young keystone star Freddie Jones, who flirted with .400 most of the year before fading a bit to finish with a FABL-best .384 average. Jones also showed the best batting eye in the league as he drew 107 walks and finished with a flat .500 on-base percentage. He missed over 30 games due to injury, making his walk total even more amazing.

Third-place Boston (82-72) likewise seem to be emerging from an extended period of non-contention with a club centered around a superstar in the making in CF Chick Donnelly (.364-6-107) a top-notch defender who proved he could hit too. With LF Pete Day (.344-12-94) and 1B Carl Carr (.340-16-84) as well, the future is bright in Boston, even with the departure of long-time star Charlie Barry. If the pitching comes around, the Minutemen will be a very dangerous club indeed.

The defending champion Keystones (81-73) got off to a slow start and never really recovered, finishing fourth (their worst showing since a 5th-place finish in 1928). The offense remains the class of the Fed, racking up 888 runs with the dynamic duo of RF Bobby Barrell (.367-34-144) and 1B Rankin Kellogg (.340-35-138) again dominating opposing pitchers. The pitching left a lot to be desired. Ed Baker (18-6, 4.09) remains a dependable ace, but the club finished fifth in starters ERA and the offense is not so much better than that of its competition to be able to survive a middling effort from the mound.

The Chicago Chiefs and Pittsburgh Miners finished with identical 74-80 marks, tying for fifth-place. The Chiefs were active on the trade front in '34, particularly with their fellow Windy City citizens on the North Side, adding some needed youth to an aging club that last competed for a pennant in 1929. By dealing star 3B Joe Masters, management has shown it is ready to move on from the 1928 pennant winning club with LF Jim Hampton (.319-12-101) the last remaining star from that team. "Mr. Automatic" 1B Bob Martin (.369-11-84), who was a callow rookie on that '28 team, is now the team's star, racking up his sixth-straight season of 200+ hits with a league-best 247 safeties. Like the Keystones, the Chiefs real need is pitching. Top prospect Al Martin, just 19 years old, can't mature fast enough for fans of the Chiefs.

The Miners struggled offensively in '34, finishing dead last in the Fed with 739 runs scored. 20-year-old catcher George Cleaves was handed the keys to the club in '34 and turned in a solid rookie effort with a .311 average. The grandson of former Miner catcher George Theobald (and brother of Sailors star 2B Jack Cleaves), young George carries the weight of the franchise's hopes on his back until top prospects like pitchers Lefty Allen and Nate Spear are ready.to join him, LF Joe Owens (.329-1-44),. RF Frank Lightbody (.327-6-81) and 3B Ed Stewart (.289-25-109).

The Detroit Dynamos, who finished second to the Keystones in both 1932 and '33, dropped all the way to seventh-place in 1934 with a disappointing 73-81 mark. Detroit's "Big Three" of 3B Frank Vance (.344-24-109), LF Henry Jones (.308-24-124) and RF Al Wheeler (.309-22-90) were productive, but especially in Wheeler's case, not to the extent that Dynamos fans had been accustomed to seeing. And the pitching was flat out bad, finishing sixth in runs allowed (872).

Last-place Washington was deep in the throes of a rebuild. With long-time cornerstone T.R. Goins now in Cleveland, the Eagles belonged to 28-year-old 2B Andy Carter (.298-4-79) and the team's hoped-for-star of the future in 23-year-old LF Sam Brown (.312-10-67 in his rookie season). The club finished 55-99 and will draft first in the upcoming draft, hoping to add another top-notch talent to a system that already boasts the #3 prospect in 3B Mel Carrol, a 22-year-old who hit .411 in AAA in 1934 and is expected to be in Washington for Opening Day 1935.

Freddie Jones (.384) as mentioned earlier won the Fed batting crown. Philly team mates Rankin Kellogg and Bobby Barrell won the home run (35) and RBI crowns (144) respectively. Hardin Bates' 2.35 ERA topped the league (ahead of his two teammates Lonardo and Day's identical 3.02 marks). Day's 20 wins was best and he also led the league with 159 strikeouts (his seventh straight time leading his league in punchouts).

In the World Championship Series, the never-say-die attitude of the Cleveland Foresters was again made evident. The Foresters opened the Series at home, but dropped game one by a score of 8-4 to the New York Gothams. They bounced back nicely in game two as Max Morris went 3-for-4 with a homer to lead Cleveland to a series-tying 7-3 victory. The scene shifted to the Bigsby Oval in Manhattan for games 3-4-5 and things took a turn for the worse from a Foresters standpoint as Cleveland was clobbered in game three, 11-5 and dropped game four 5-2 to find themselves on the verge of defeat. Things looked grim - not only had the Gothams carved out a 3-1 Series lead, but they'd beaten Forester ace Dean Astle twice, leaving him 0-2 with a 6.43 ERA in the Series. Facing elimination, as they had done down the stretch in the regular season, Cleveland clawed back with a gritty performance from Roger Perry who allowed just one hit in seven scoreless innings in a 4-0 Cleveland victory. The clubs headed back to the shores of Lake Erie for the final two contests of the championship series. Game six saw Cleveland surprisingly send Ben Hunter out to the mound, then stake him to a 6-0 lead in the first inning, which proved to be more than enough as the 26-year-old righty went the distance in an 8-3 win that knotted things up at three games apiece and set the stage for Game Seven.

There's nothing like a game seven, as the saying goes, and this one shaped up as a good one. New York would send two-time Allen Award winner Rabbit Day to the hill. Facing him, on short rest, would be game five hero Roger Perry. The Gothams drew first blood early with a first inning tally to lead 1-0. But they wouldn't dent Perry again until late in the game and by then, the Forester bats had amassed an insurmountable lead. Cleveland chased Day in the fourth and the shell-shocked ace left the mound having allowed nine runs (five of them earned) on seven hits, including a homer by second baseman Brooks Meeks. The party would continue, and in the end, the Foresters prevailed 18-3 to claim the club's first championship. Series MVP honors went to Max Morris, who hit .419 with 3 homers and 7 RBIs, but the honor could easily have gone to several other stellar performers that included pitcher Roger Perry (2-0, 1.80), catcher T.R. Goins (.412-1-10) and 3B Charlie Barry (.367-3-13) all of whom had been brought in via trade over the past several seasons.

Morris summed it up quite well when he said after the Foresters' win, "It feels totally incredible. I could live to 1,000 years old and I'd remember this moment."


Team W L PCT GB Pyt.Rec Diff Home Away XInn 1Run
New York Gothams 91 63 .591 - 95-59 -4 49-28 42-35 12-9 20-24
St. Louis Pioneers 86 68 .558 5 79-75 7 45-32 41-36 10-7 32-16
Boston Minutemen 82 72 .532 9 85-69 -3 38-39 44-33 6-8 22-25
Philadelphia Keystones 81 73 .526 10 84-70 -3 40-37 41-36 8-10 18-19
Chicago Chiefs 74 80 .481 17 70-84 4 37-40 37-40 8-8 20-17
Pittsburgh Miners 74 80 .481 17 72-82 2 40-37 34-43 7-3 20-19
Detroit Dynamos 73 81 .474 18 74-80 -1 35-42 38-39 3-7 23-25
Washington Eagles 55 99 .357 36 59-95 -4 24-53 31-46 7-9 16-26
Team W L PCT GB Pyt.Rec Diff Home Away XInn 1Run
Cleveland Foresters 98 56 .636 - 96-58 2 54-23 44-33 8-5 29-23
Brooklyn Kings 97 57 .630 1 98-56 -1 48-29 49-28 2-6 20-21
New York Stars 78 76 .506 20 79-75 -1 43-34 35-42 7-10 23-30
Philadelphia Sailors 78 76 .506 20 77-77 1 43-34 35-42 5-5 25-22
Chicago Cougars 78 76 .506 20 80-74 -2 43-34 35-42 10-5 25-25
Montreal Saints 70 84 .455 28 67-87 3 32-45 38-39 5-9 23-20
Toronto Wolves 63 91 .409 35 61-93 2 32-45 31-46 5-6 24-22
Baltimore Cannons 54 100 .351 44 56-98 -2 23-54 31-46 11-7 29-35


Whitney Awards:

Federal: Bobby Barrell, Philadelphia
Continental: T.R. Goins, Cleveland

Allen Awards:

Federal: Hardin Bates, New York
Continental: Tom Barrell, Brooklyn