1912 was a surprising season. There was one good pennant race and one not-so-good race, but the teams winning those races were among the bigger surprises. Three FABL clubs were based in cities whose name began with the letter 'B' and all three were involved in the pennant races. Boston, the one-time powerhouse that had fallen hard after manager-personnel man George Theobald sold off his expensive talent, was back in a big way, winning 97 games and the Fed pennant by a cushy 12-game margin over Pittsburgh (another former power on the rebound). In the Continental, perennial contender Baltimore was at it again (they still had both Powell Slocum & Mike Marner after all) but the shocker was the Brooklyn Kings. The Kings hadn't sniffed a pennant since their last win way back in their Border Association days in 1891 but they won the 1912 Continental flag by two games over Baltimore in a major shocker.

Brooklyn was solid at the plate and good in the field and on the mound but was a team without a "superstar" (unlike, say, Baltimore who had two of them). Mel Hancock, the team's shortstop, was probably the best player on the team and he had a stat line of .309-0-80 with 31 steals: good, but not outstanding. Hancock was supported by other solid but unspectacular players like C Paul Tattersall (.277-13-84), LF Jake Hooper (.292-11-83) and RF Bill Inscoe (.305-1-54). Hooper suffered an elbow injury late in the season that kept him out of the World Series unfortunately for Brooklyn. The sum was better than the parts - Brooklyn led the CA in runs (738) and was 2nd in batting average (.275). The pitching was third in the league but had two solid pitchers in Phil Miller (25-16, 2.79) and Danny Goff (23-12, 2.39).

Baltimore, the runners-up (again) got a third-straight .400 season from hitter-non-pareil Powell Slocum, delivering a .404 season with 244 hits, 40 doubles and 115 runs scored (all tops in not only the CA, but FABL). It was his seventh straight 200-plus hit season and his fifth season with an average over .385 - his lifetime average now stood at a sterling .376 and he had 1704 hits at the ripe old age of 25. Similarly spectacular was Mike Marner. Though he failed to win 30 games for the first time in his six-year career, the now-25-year-old still led the league with a 26-15 mark and also topped the ERA charts with a 2.09 mark. His career record at the end of 1911? 194-76 with a 1.77 ERA. With the retirement of Allan Allen and the injury-related fading away of both Bill Temple and Woody Trease, only Charlie Sis could possibly compare to Marner's single-minded dominance on the mound (and Sis had a bad year himself). Still, Baltimore's 88 wins was two fewer than Brooklyn's and they finished second for a third time in four seasons.

Chicago star John Dibblee had a big dropoff from the heady heights of the season before, but he did finish second in the batting race to Slocum with a .354 average. The Cougars were again doomed by a lack of top-notch pitching - their lineup produced 678 runs, but they allowed 623 and that slim margin did not equal anything more than a third-place standing. The Stars were fourth and the most news they made was when they swung a midseason trade with the crosstown Gothams, swapping aging star SS John Waggoner for the Gothams' 24-year-old SS Jim Broudy who looked pretty good with a .273 average for the Stars. The Wolves fell to fifth with Charlie Sis having - for him - a terrible season (22-20, 3.07) as part of a staff that finished next-to-last in runs allowed. Montreal was sixth, but won 72 games, and there was some hope in Quebec that things might - at long last - turn around for the Saints. Philadelphia was seventh and Cleveland was last.

Baltimore's Henry Whitney hit 16 homers and drove in 103 RBIs to lead the CA in both stats. Montreal's Charlie Firestone led the league in strikeouts with 262 and it was hoped that the 24-year-old would become the Saints ace. They grabbed him from new affiliate Nashville and he posted a 22-18, 2.87 ledger in his first season in the big time.

Over in the Fed, there wasn't much of a race - Boston was simply too strong for the competition, thanks to an offense that scored 821 runs and simply clubbed opponents into submission (read: the pitching isn't that good so let's score as much as possible). Leadoff man CF Bill McMurtrie hit .323 and drove in 83 runs, star LF Fred Huffman hit .334 with 7 homers and 100 RBIs, 1B Paul Shaffer hit 11 homers with 99 RBIs in the cleandup spot and 3B Frank Betts finished second in the league with a .362 average (and drove in 90 runs). They hit .291 as a team and the only thing they didn't do at an elite level was steal bases (they were sixth with 190). The best pitcher was George Johnson whose 25-15, 3.31 season wouldn't impress too many observers. Those same observers would point out that this team winning the pennant was a prime example of George Theobald's genius: when he had the pitching he rode that, when he didn't, he loaded up on hitting. 

Pittsburgh finished second - a return to the prime time for the Miners who had last competed back in 1907 when they won the most recent of their five pennants. Fifth-place just a year ago, the Miners might have won the pennant with their top-rated pitching had they had Clyde Burns (16-5, 2.31) all season long. Burns pitched the first half of the season in Minneapolis and was not purchased until June. He did lead the league in ERA and one can only wonder if having him for the full season might have put Pittsburgh in striking distance of Boston. Maybe not, but baseball is a great sport for what-ifs and rehashes.

Another surprise took place in Detroit where Woody Trease, expected to retire with a dead arm after 1911, Trease returned. He probably wished he hadn't - he no longer had any zip on his pitches and the batters took advantage as he finished 21-23 with a 3.92 ERA before retiring right after the World Series and joining his father in Peoria as the older Trease's pitching coach, starting a second career at the young age of 32. Trease finished his career with a record of 325-185 and an ERA of 2.24, leaving behind a great legacy in which he was arguably baseball's best pitcher over the period of 1903-1909.

Washington was the best of five Fed clubs who failed to make the .500 mark, posting a 75-77 record. Harry Rowell hit .322 and Buck Trujillo .321, but the rest of the offense was poor and even though the Eagles were 2nd in pitching, the offense was 7th and they couldn't overcome that. The Gothams picked up John Waggoner in a midseason trade and hoped that he'd provide some veteran leadership (and hitting) to a club that had finished second in both 1910 and '11. But it wasn't to be: Waggoner was 38 and a shadow of his former self. He did hit .273, and formed a nice double-play combination with batting champion and star 2B Ed Ziehl (.366-5-91) and though Harry Dunn (.341-2-76) and Wash Berentsen (.310-5-85) were also solid hitters, the team had a lot of bad luck, losing many close games. They were 3rd in hitting and 5th in pitching and probably better than their 75-78 record would indicate.

The Chiefs were sixth - they had a star at 1B in Conrad Gardner (.329-12-101) and an ace in Tommy Woodlin (25-16, 2.34) but not much else and were 72-82 on the year. St, Louis again had dismal pitching, sinking the chances of a decent lineup and they posted a 71-83 mark for a seventh-place finish. Philadelphia dropped into the cellar with a 59-93 mark and had to console themselves with having a great prospect in 1B Ed Fisher (.346-11-69) and the top pick in the next amateur draft.

The World Series was a bit of a downer for many. Brooklyn had captured the hearts of many baseball fans with their rise from the ashes. Boston, on the other hand, had six pennant and a trio of World Championships already. But the underdog just wasn't up to snuff and the Kings only managed a single win: a 2-1 victory in game two of series in which they lost game three 15-1 and game four 14-5. The Boston lineup was just too powerful: four of the Boston regulars hit .400 or better in the Series with Fred Huffman going 9-for-19 with a homer and 7 RBIs.

Ed Ziehl won his second straight Whitney Award as the Federal Association MVP while Powell Slocum picked up his first in the Continental (only an otherworldly season by John Dibblee prevented Slocum from winning in '11).