The 1898 season was special. The Federal Association had a race for the ages between an up-and-comer and an established power that came down to the last day of the season with the two clubs facing off for the pennant. The Continental Association's race wasn't as close, but it did feature a club completing a rebound in a way that ended up changing the team's name. Add in a tremendous season from some established stars, a great debut or two, some old faces in new places and the you can honestly say that the 1898 season was a special one.

The Fed's race was another great one - four teams in it til the last week or so and the last two standing go toe-to-toe in a season-ending three-game set that decided the pennant. The four teams vying for the flag were three familiar foes who had been doing battle at the top of the Fed charts since FABL was formed back in '92: the New York Gotham, Philadelphia Keystones and Chicago Chiefs. The new kids on the block were the Pittsburgh Miners whose time in the Fed and before that the Century League had seem them finish as high as fourth just once with two last-place finishes and three seventh-place endings in there as well. 

The Chiefs came into that final weekend a game back of the first-place Miners The Chiefs knotted it up with a 5-3 win in the series opener. Then the Miners claimed a 5-2 win on Saturday to set up a do-or-die situation for the Chiefs on the final Sunday of the season. And Chicago couldn't quite get it done. The Chiefs did jump out to a quick lead, plating a pair in the first but the Miners came back to knot it at two apiece in the third. Chicago scored two more in the fifth, but in the bottom half, Pittsburgh again answered. The Miners then scored a pair in both the home sixth and home seventh to go up 8-4 and it looked bleak for Chicago. The Chiefs did claw home a pair in the top of the ninth, but couldn't score the tying runs against Al Holden, who notched win number 31 and clinched the pennant for Pittsburgh - the team's second pennant and first since their last season in the old Border Association back in 1886.

The Continental race was won by the Toronto Provincials, completing a franchise turnaround they had begun a season ago. With Allan Allen going 35-12 with a 2.36 ERA, rookie Frank Cobb going 29-14 with a 2.63 ERA and Samuel Goode eking one more good season out of his tired arm (25-16, 3.16) Toronto's pitching was tough. They also went out and traded for veteran LF Thomas Watkins from Baltimore and he hit .367 while driving in 114 runs from the leadoff spot. With Ossie Julious (.332-0-91) and another rookie, Rich Rowley (.367-8-87) providing the punch, the Provincials were, according to a Toronto sportswriter, "like Wolves ravaging their prey." And they did ravage the CA in '98 with a 96-44 record that put them eight games ahead of the tough Philadelphia Sailors and fourteen up on the Chicago Cougars.

One old face that changed places was that of Zebulon Banks. The old Hawkeye who had been a mainstay of the Philadelphia Keystones going back to their first season in 1876 got into a spat with Keystones owner Jefferson Edgerton near the end of the 1897 season. Old Jeff wasn't used to employees giving him guff so despite the fact that Banks had a small ownership stake in the club and was also the manager, Edgerton sold him to Pittsburgh. Banks at first refused to report to the Miners but eventually showed up to manage the team but refused to play. Naturally this ticked off the Miners owners who bought Banks to put fannies in the seats. So during the 1897-98 offseason, Banks was sold off again, this time ending up in Brooklyn. Kings owner Malcolm Presley was a fan of Banks, and stressed this to the proud old warhorse. Banks agreed to play and manage the Kings and even moved to catcher since Brooklyn already had a pretty good first sacker in Ira Williams. At 42, Banks was close to being washed up, but pride and bitterness saw him play 104 games, banging out 113 more hits and finishing the season with a .293 average - the first time he'd failed to hit .300 since 1880. At the end of the season, he retired as a player, but pledged to stay on as manager. He finished his career with an amazing set of statistics: 2501 games, 3423 hits, 485 doubles, 1584 RBIs and 1877 runs scored. He was, of course, the career leader in virtually everything when he retired and many of his records would stand for a long time.

Individual hitting honors went to a trio of Boston Brahmins: John Jones (.376) as batting champ, Jimmie Dunn (13 HRs) and Martin Thomas (107 RBIs) in the Federal; Cleveland's Jimmy Massey hit .388 to lead the Continental with Brooklyn SS Earnest Harris (18 HRs) and Sailors catcher Bill Brady (115 RBIs) also leading the league. Fed pitching honors went to Chicago's Johnny Cross (2.25, ERA champ) and Philadelphia's Henry Burton (33 wins and 192 strikeouts) while the Continental was led in ERA by Charlie Wilson of the Sailors (2.13), in wins by another Sailor: Price Adams (37) and in strikeouts by Cougars pitcher Hank Leitzke (202) who got his first chance as part of a regular rotation and made the most of it.

The postseason showdown saw Allan Allen pitch well in a game one 13-5 win for the Provincials (or Wolves as they were starting to be called). Rookie Frank Cobb did even better in game two for Toronto - a 3-1 win to give the visitors the win in both games in Pittsburgh. Allen came back to pitch game three in Toronto and the Provincials won 6-1 to reach the verge of a World Championship. But Pittsburgh had enough pride to claim game four by an 8-5 margin to keep the series going. That was all they could muster however as old Sam Goode put the shackles on them in game five, a 7-2 decision for Toronto. Ossie Julious (9-for-15, 4 RBIs) was the offensive star, while Allan Allen went 2-0 without allowing an earned run.

The victory gave Toronto fans something to shout about and the team, in the aftermath of the victory, officially changed its name from the Provincials to the Wolves.