One of the biggest open secrets in baseball was that Bill Temple, the young, exceedingly fast and talented left-hander of the New York Stars, was a raging alcoholic. Temple's frequent drunken antics - some of them on the field during games - kept the star pitcher in hot water with Stars management. So it was only a moderate surprise when in January of 1903, New York dealt him to Detroit. Not only did it remove a lingering problem, but it sent that problem to the other Federal Association, where it'd be less likely to come back to bite them someplace uncomfortable.

The Temple deal did shock on one level - he was, along with Ike Bell and Allan Allen, generally considered one of the game's three best pitchers and certainly the best left-handed pitcher. In return for Temple and rookie outfielder Phil Thompson, the Stars received P Frank Whitcomb, 2B Peter Wilbourn and RF George Reid. While none of them approached Temple's singular level of talent, the hitters provided significant upgrades and Whitcomb was a good, young pitcher. The effect on the Stars? Well, they won 11 games more than they had in 1902 and again claimed the pennant. Reid hit .368 - great, but only third on his own team (and the league, as the Stars had the CA's top three hitters) as George Cary hit .419 and Bill Craigen hit .380 while Wilbourn hit just .224, but was a significant upgrade defensively at second base. Whitcomb ended up injured and not pitching, but Gil Purdy came into his own as the team's new ace and ripped off a league-best 34-7 record with a 1.80 ERA and channeled Temple enough to lead the league with 229 strikeouts. 

Temple? He went from a contender to an also-ran (Detroit finished fifth with a 65-75 mark) and that impacted his won-lost record more than anything else. He posted a 23-18 record, but had a solid 2.24 ERA and led the Federal Association (and FABL overall) with 325 strikeouts. He also purportedly got into a fight with a bear (which he lost), crashed his brand-new 1903 Cadillac Touring automobile into a bridge abutment, got married - and divorced - and fell down the stairs at Detroit's Thompson Field, twisting his ankle (he pitched anyway), all during the 1903 season.

The Stars finished 12.5 games ahead of second-place Chicago (they were rapidly approaching an unflattering nickname referring to their continual runner-up status). Baltimore, a club on the rise, finished third at 79-59, just ahead of the Toronto Wolves, who were having their own issues with a star pitcher: Allan Allen was frustrated with the club's lack of hitting and reportedly requested to be dealt to a Federal Association contender. Bill Craigen's 99 RBIs led the league as did the 14 homers hit by Brooklyn's Joe Casey (a small positive in an otherwise dismal 45-91 season for the Kings). John Waggoner, the Stars shortstop, swiped 72 bases to lead the league in that category. John Bigness of the Sailors posted a 1.73 ERA to keep Gil Purdy from winning a Triple Crown while Purdy's Stars team mate Jack Taylor finished third in ERA with a 2.03 mark. Allan Allen and Baltimore's Jim Fuller each had 26 wins, tied for second behind Purdy's 34.

Over in the Fed, the Boston Minutemen repeated as champions too with an 89-49 record, 6.5 games ahead of Pittsburgh, which had bounced back from their off-season in 1902. The Minutemen had the league's top hitter in Nelson Morris (.365) and it's third-best hitter as well (Jim Underwood, .338). Pittsburgh's Dan Dunn led the league in homers (11) and RBIs (104) with Morris and Willie Wynder of St. Louis second in HRs (10 each) and Underwood and another Minuteman star (Charles Coller) finishing second and third in RBIs with 101 and 91, respectively. And Jacob Waters led the league in steals with 65 - and yep, he played for Boston, too.

Pitching? Tom Edwards of the Miners was the tops in ERA with a 1.95 mark, slightly ahead of the 1.98 mark posted by Woody Trease, who did lead in wins with 28 with team mate Bill McDaniel second (27) and Ike Bell of Pittsburgh third (26). Temple led the loop in whiffs, with 55 more than Trease's 270. Joe Broege of the Gothams was third with 242 strikeouts. For the sabermatricians out there, Temple posted a ridiculous 12.4 WAR for the fifth-place Dynamos in his first season in Detroit.

Only Boston and Pittsburgh finished over .500 in a bad pennant race in the Fed. The third through seventh place finishers were clumped together just in the 62 to 67 win range. The Gothams finished third - their offense was putrid, but they could pitch and defend. Washington was fourth and just the opposite - they could hit but didn't pitch or field well. Detroit was - with the exception of Temple - mediocre at the plate and on the mound. St. Louis finished sixth and was an intriguing story. They had three hitters top .300 - an increasingly rare event as pitching started dominating the game - and a very solid rookie hurler named Charlie Sis (24-17, 2.51) - but were last in runs allowed. Chicago, which had been good in 1902, was not in 1903 and the once-proud Philadelphia Keystones had fallen into the basement with a 55-79 record. They could console themselves with having at least been better than the bottom two teams in the Continental.

The World Championship Series (now increasingly referred to simply as the World's Series) was a rematch and matched up a team that led its league in both runs and runs allowed (New York) and a team that was 1st in runs and 2nd in runs allowed (Boston). Not surprisingly the series featured close games... but it turned out that there were only four of them and they were all won by the Boston Minutemen. Boston got its revenge on New York for the 1902 loss thanks to two outstanding efforts by Woody Trease - a 4-2 win in game one and series-clinching 3-0 shutout in game four - and enough timely hitting to win game two 5-4 and game three 7-6.

The offseason saw some interesting developments vis-a-vis the minor leagues. The Heartland League, which had been operating as a "bandit" organization poaching low-level players from the "organized" leagues, agreed to sign on to the Federally Aligned Baseball Leagues organization for 1904. And in the distant west, still a long train ride from the bulk of America's population, a new circuit was being formed by none-other than William W. Whitney. The elder Whitney had moved to California to oversee the West Coast portion of his fruit-importation empire and found that he missed baseball. With the Chiefs now run by his son William Washington Whitney Jr (aka Wash Whitney), Whitney gathered a group of businessmen, just as he had in 1876 and created the Great Western League which would start play in 1904 as well - and naturally signed it up with FABL.