The first game in the history of the Century League took place on April 22, 1876 with Boston visiting Philadelphia. The visiting squad won the game by a score of 5-2 with Boston's Ted Maston getting the first hit in league history and Daniel Fallow notching the victory. In honor of the Centennial Exhibition that would take place in Philadelphia that summer, the Philadelphia squad became known as the Centennials while Boston was dubbed the Pilgrims. 

John Tice, Cincinnati owner

Before the Century League could reach its first anniversary the brewing resentment among two of its club owners came to a head. The issue was perceived special treatment for the Philadelphia and New York clubs at the expense of the Cincinnati and St. Louis clubs. Considering that New York and Philadelphia were the two largest cities in the country and that meant more potential customers, it was no surprise that a shrewd businessman like William Whitney would not want to leave those cities open. 

For 1878 the Century League returned the same six clubs it had the previous year. The results however, could not have been different. Embarrassed and angry after a dismal season in 1877, Miles Bigsby opened his wallet and remade his Brooklyn Unions. And it worked.

Those who may have wondered if the Century League would be yet another in a series of failed baseball leagues received their answer in 1877. Though staggered by the loss of two of its western outlets in Cincinnati and St. Louis, the league soldiered on and turned in a good and competitive second campaign.

The league's two weakest clubs in '76 were much improved in their sophomore campaigns. Both Detroit and New York rose from the bottom two spots and came close to claiming the pennant. What stood in their way was the fourth-place finisher of the season before - Chicago. 

For 1879, William Whitney was determined to find two new clubs for the Century League; the goal was to have eight teams in the loop and the desertions of Cincinnati and St. Louis had meant playing the 1878 season with six. Though both Cincinnati and St. Louis were still intact and playing independently of the Century League, Whitney did not approach either of them but looked for other quality independent clubs. He found two - and though neither was good enough to actually challenge for the pennant, both finished ahead of two of the existing clubs in their first season.