Sometimes the past comes back to haunt you in ways you may not have anticipated. Such was the case for the Century League (and by extension the Border Association simply by virtue of being in the same business) when the Bigsby brothers returned to the professional baseball scene in the winter of 1889-90. 

You may recall that brothers Charles and Miles Bigsby were the de facto kings of baseball in New York when William Whitney launched his Century League in 1876. Charles, as the older (and wealthier) brother, claimed Manhattan as his bailiwick while Miles settled in Brooklyn. The New York Knights fell to the wayside when Charles was sent to prison for crimes committed as part of his Tammany Hall connection. Miles soldiered on with the Brooklyn Kings for a while before attempting - and failing - to oust Whitney and take control of the league itself.

After a relatively quiet 1888, the war between the Century League and Border Association heated up again in 1889. The first shot was again fired by the Century League as they (again) pilfered one of the Association's top teams, this time luring the St. Louis Brewers whose original owner (Hans Fuchs) had been James Tice's best friend in baseball. With Hans gone and son George running the team, the Brewers jumped. Ironically, Century League rules prohibited selling alcohol at games, so the Fuchs Brewery-owned Brewers were renamed the Pioneers.

The Bordermen wasted little time in responding, again following a familiar script by placing a new team in a Century League stronghold - this time it was Philadelphia, home of one of the CL's original clubs (the Keystones) and arguably its most popular player (Zebulon Banks). Both circuits were so focused on their own games of brinkmanship that they failed to notice a new threat rising right under their noses, which would change the face of the sport just one year later.

John Ransom, Chicago Cougars Owner

At the close of the 1886 season, Century League President Ned Wilson completed what he saw as a coup: he "purloined" the Border Association's champions by convincing Pittsburgh Quarries owner Martin Elswich to jump leagues. Both sides had been stealing players from each other since the Association showed up in 1882, but this was a whole new level of larceny. 

Naturally the reaction from the BA President James Tice was not fit for print. But Tice was also a smart man, and he decided that though he could not duplicate Wilson's coup, he could escalate things in his own way. Wilson's office was in Chicago, the Century League's headquarters from its birth. Tice needed a replacement for Pittsburgh and decided there'd be no better place for his league's new franchise than.... Chicago. 

1888 was a relatively calm year in the lengthening hostilities between the Century League and Border Association. No clubs jumped leagues, no one put a new club in the other's territory... for once the big stories were all on the field and not off it.

Fruit magnate William W. Whitney's vision came to fruition - and yes, that's a pun - in the spring of 1876 when the Century League took the field for the first time. A West Point-educated engineer, Whitney had fallen in love with baseball while in the Union Army during the Civil War and after getting his fruit business up and running turned his attention to his favorite pastime.