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.

Depending on who you'd ask, 1900 was either the first year of the 20th century or the last of the 19th, but either way, the results on the field in FABL didn't change much - the Chicago Cougars and Pittsburgh Miners were still the class of their respective organizations. There were other storylines to be found, including the debut of a kid with great bloodlines who seemed almost predestined for greatness, a former dynasty hitting rock bottom and another on the rise.

The 1898 season was special. The Federal Association had a race for the ages between an up-and-comer and an established power that came down to the last day of the season with the two clubs facing off for the pennant. The Continental Association's race wasn't as close, but it did feature a club completing a rebound in a way that ended up changing the team's name. Add in a tremendous season from some established stars, a great debut or two, some old faces in new places and the you can honestly say that the 1898 season was a special one.

1899 marked the 25th season of professional baseball and the Federal Association, born out of the old Century League, celebrated the milestone. CL and FABL founder William Whitney was no longer the young firebrand whose dream became a reality - he was now nearing his 60th birthday and passing on more of the day-to-day business of running the Chicago Chiefs to his son, Wash Whitney. The 25th season was a good one, and the FABL faced the end of the century at peace and looking to the future.

In 1897 baseball was then, as it is now, a business. And businesses are ultimately concerned with the bottom line. And the New York Gothams, as successful as they had been, were faced with a situation where they had become victims of their own success - their payroll was too high to be maintained. So changes needed to be made. And those changes would alter the landscape of both the Federal and Continental Associations with immediate impact.