The Pittsburgh Miners were clearly the cream of the crop in the Federal Association. Entering the 1901 season they had won three straight pennants... and lost the Championship series to the Continental champs (the first to Toronto and then twice to the Chicago Cougars). But to get to that fourth crack at the Continental champs, the Miners would have to face down a new challenger in their own pennant race.

 Before we get into the Federal race, we'll take a look at the Continental which saw a new team rise to the top after many years of being also-rans. The Cleveland Foresters had been getting good production out of Jimmy Massey and Jack Arabian for years, but they finally got some support in 1901 and that helped the Foresters win the first pennant in club history, overtaking the recent powerhouses in Chicago and Toronto to do so. Arabian had the season of his life, hitting .406 with 13 homers and 101 RBIs and Massey was as good as ever (.342-2-84) but three others hit over .300 and one of the few who didn't (1B Morris Ford) drove in 111 runs with some clutch hitting. With Tom Galatis picking up his game on the mound (26-13, 2.77), the Foresters had an ace, but it was the CA's top offense that carried Cleveland in 1901.

Chicago fell back to second place, eight games off the pace as some of their old stalwarts started looking, well, old. Don Noftall was still a rock, going 24-15 with a 2.94 ERA and their front office manager, Jasper Bryant, was still an ace at talent acquisition, grabbing the underperforming Charlie Knoell from Atlanta in the Dixie Association, putting him behind Noftall and getting a 20-14, 2.70 season out of him and a 19-17, 3.21 effort from rookie Al Stevens. Toronto was third as both Thomas Watkins (.349) and Rich Rowley (.329) dropped off from their otherworldly efforts of previous years and though still excellent, Allan Allen (23-18, 2.99) got little run support. 

Montreal was fourth with SS Dick Bunney making a big jump in performance to the tune of a .383 average (3rd best in the CA) and New York was fifth with their shortstop - John Waggoner - recording a .384 average as he continued to cement his place as an all-time great and their ace, Bill Temple, winning a pitching Triple Crown with a 28-14 record, 2.21 ERA and 264 strikeouts. The bottom three spots were made up of Philadelphia, Baltimore and Brooklyn. 

The Miners road to a fourth-straight pennant saw them facing down a brand-new challenger as the Boston Brahmins made several off-season moves that paid off with their highest win total in team history (85). The biggest addition - and one that would pay dividends for quite a while - was Woody Trease. The erstwhile Rochester Rook and son of Lynwood Trease took the Fed by storm, going 28-9 with a 2.36 ERA in his first year in the big time. With fellow rookie Bill McDaniel (26-12, 2.51) and holdover Jim Dixon (20-12, 2.90), the Brahmins' pitching was solid. The lineup was improved as well - Boston traded for SS Fred Roby from Philadelphia and 2B Jacob Waters from the NY Gothams to vastly improve their middle infield. Former star RF Martin Thomas was part of the Gothams trade and his departure opened up a slot for Jim Underwood, who though 30-years-old, was a newcomer to FABL and did good work at the plate (.305, 15 triples) and in right field (where Thomas was becoming a liability). But the Brahmins finished seven back of the Miners whose 94-43 record was the standard once again.

Boston did it with the usual suspects: a lineup built around multi-talented Dolph Geis (.356-9-67 & batting champ) and Tobias Sutter (.335-5-70, 2nd in batting) and excellent pitching. Ike Bell - just 22 years old - had won renown for his blazing fastball and he continued to dominate the opposing hitters - his 34-8, 1.44 ERA and 239 strikeouts would have won him a Triple Crown had Boston's Bill McDaniel not struck out seven more hitters. With Aaron Wright (26-11, 2.25) a more than capable #2 and Henry Burton (15-8, 2.56) & Fred Henry (16-13, 3.40) splitting the #3 role, Pittsburgh allowed 450 runs, tops in the circuit (as were the 670 runs they scored on offense).

Washington finished third - the Eagles had the league's third-place hitter in RF Joseph Turner (.329) and may have been more of a factor had Turner been able to play the whole season - he missed 20-plus games to injury. That trio dominated the rest of the league: fourth-place New York was 59-77 and 34.5 games off the pace. St. Louis, Detroit, Detroit and surprisingly, the Chicago Chiefs rounded out the rest of the standings table. The Chiefs had great pitching - Joe Ballman (1.63) and Tom Darr (2.07) were 2nd and 3rd respectively in ERA, but they couldn't hit, finishing dead last in runs scored with just 470 for the season. Only 2B Johnny Cashmere (.270-7-61) had a respectable season for William Whitney's bunch and it was this last-place finish that may have sparked Whitney's decision to turn over the day-to-day operation of the club to his son William Jr. (better known as "Wash") at the conclusion of the season.

The World Championship Series was more of a coronation than a competition. Though the Foresters made a game of it several times, there was a sense that they were happy just to be there which was most certainly not the case for Pittsburgh. The Miners, thrice denied the crown, swept the Foresters to claim their first World Championship - and the first for the Federal Association since the Gothams' win in 1896. With nine Series in the books, the Feds now held a 5-4 edge in championships.