As of 1911, the Federally Aligned Baseball Leagues' Managing Commission was comprised of League President Robert Owings (representing the tie-breaking vote) and four owners (two from each Association): Tim Hillyard (Baltimore), Rich Tanner (Montreal), Jefferson Edgerton (Philadelphia) and Steve Cunningham (Boston). Three of the owners (Tanner, Edgerton & Cunningham) were in their 70s and very much conservative and what we'd today call "old school" and while Hilyard was not young (66), he was progressive in his thinking and set forth a two-pronged proposal that would radically change the way FABL did business: the addition of a draft to "fairly allocate talent" and directly affiliating the FA/CA clubs with one minor club at each level (then consisting of AAA, AA and A). Cunningham (with George Theobald whispering in his ear) was the first to get on board. Tanner and Edgerton were more reluctant, but eventually Edgerton saw the light and agreed. Hillyard wouldn't budge, but with 3 of the 4 members in favor, his nay was overridden and the measure passed. Both the amateur draft and the "farm system" were born.

Initially, the affiliation of minor clubs was not what it is today, but more limited. The FABL clubs could assign players to their affiliated club as a "loan" and recall them if they desired. The minor clubs were able to sign their own players outside the parent's player pool and these players were available to the parent club for purchase. In other words, the parent club did not completely control the affiliate's roster as is the case today. This system actually only lasted 15 years before the agreement was amended to what we have now prior to the 1926 season.

The first draft was held in December of 1911 with the 16 FABL clubs selecting 28 amateur players apiece. The players were high schoolers and collegians who had finished school in 1911. With this influx of talent, the second piece of Hilyard's proposal immediately bore fruit as these young players were (in almost every case) not ready for Fed or Continental play, so having affiliated "minor" clubs on which to stash them was key. 

The first player drafted was Mark Robinson, a centerfielder from Berkeley High School in California who was chosen by the Philadelphia Sailors - a team desperately needing an infusion of talent. Robinson was nowhere near ready to play for the Sailors, but he seemed talented and looked like he'd be a player... someday. And that's what the draft was all about.