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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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.