Both the first and last pitches of the 1927 Federally Aligned Baseball Leagues' season was thrown at Philadelphia's Broad Street Park. The long-time home of the Keystones, the park was the site for the season's traditional opener as the first game of the season... and for the first time since the start of the World's Championship series, the Keystones won the pennant and represented the Federal Association.

It was a long, and not easy, road to their first pennant since the 1892 season for the Keystones. There was a key (pardon the pun) similarity between the '92 Stones and their 1927 squad, aside from the pennant win: both were led by big stars at first base. The '92 team had the legendary Zebulon Banks manning first and the '27 club featured Rankin Kellogg, easily the best player to don the Keystones' pinstriped duds since Banks left town.

Rankin Kellogg, Phi. Keystones

The Keystones consistency was their strongest suit in 1927. While they didn't lead wire-to-wire, they nearly did, and the did occupy the top spot on the 1st of every month from May through October. They did need an extra game to get past the Detroit Dynamos with whom they finished in a flat-footed tie at 85-69, but won that contest easily, by a score of 7-0 to claim the FA flag.

Kellogg won the Triple Crown, leading the Fed in average (.364), homers (32) and RBIs (133). It helped a bit that St. Louis PIoneers' slugger Max Morris was hurt in August (he had 30 homers in 117 games), but Kellogg's achievement was a rare one - he joined Morris (who had done it three times) and a pair of 19th century stars (Fred Roby in 1894 and Bob DeVilbiss in 1878) in pulling it off.

Kellogg wasn't alone in having a great season at the plate: in all, six of the eight Keystone regulars topped the .300 mark with catcher Carl Ames (.338-12-97) and centerfielder Lee Smith (.326-11-97) having particularly strong campaigns. The pitching was... well, it was ugly, finishing last in the league in runs allowed. But that just proved how outstanding the offense was for the Keystones in 1927.

Detroit's second-place finish, while a disappointing end for the club and its fans, did represent a significant uptick in the Dynamos' fortunes after three straight finishes at or near the bottom of the standings. With CF Frank Platt (.344-11-95) and LF Cy Lynch (.311-11-88) likely to be joined by 1925 #1 overall pick RF Al Wheeler (a combined 30 HRs in the minors in '27) in the not-too-distant future, the Dynamos' outlook seems bright.

The two New York clubs - one in each league - had a lot in common. For one thing, they shared nearly identical addresses, with their ballparks being located across the street from each other in northern Manhattan on Riverside Drive. The older park was Bigsby Oval, which had been the home to the original New York baseball club, Charles Bigsby's New York Knights, who had a five-year run that ended when their owner was sent to Sing Sing Prison for his assorted crimes. His younger brother, Miles, who was the original owner of the Brooklyn Unions - like the Knights a charter Century League club formed in 1876 - took over as the leader of the family. Miles took his Unions out of the Century League in 1885 only to launch the rival Peerless League in 1890. In the meantime, the Border Association's New York Stars were founded (in 1882) and initially, they rented the Bigsby Oval from Miles Bigsby. The Century League created its own New York entry - the Gothams - just a year later in 1883 - and they too, called the Oval home. 

Two teams sharing the Bigsby Oval didn't last very long - the Stars, somewhat to spite Miles Bigsby and his high rent, built a ballpark just across the street from the Oval. Thus from the birth of the Gothams in 1883, a rivalry was born - one in which the teams fought not on the field, but in the newspapers and at the turnstiles, fighting for the hearts and minds of New York's baseball fans. Exacerbating the issue was the denouement of the Peerless League - a merger of three leagues into two under a brand-new umbrella as the FABL was born in 1892. The settlement put a Bigsby in charge of the Gothams - Charles Bigsby Jr., who shared control with his uncle Miles - a man who still harbored a great deal of animosity for the Stars ownership under first Roger Davidson and then later his son Fred. 

Fast forward to the 1920s. The Stars had built a powerhouse at Riverside Park, winning pennants and World Championships in both 1924 and 1925. The Gothams meanwhile were scuffling - the glory days of their own run at the top of the baseball world was far in the past during the first years of the Bigsbys' ownership in the 1890s. Since then the Gothams had been firmly in second-place to the Stars and it rankled the Bigsby family - especially Miles, who despite reaching his 80s, was still very much in charge of things at the Bigsby Oval.

So as 1926 started, it appeared that the two-time defending champion Stars would maintain their stranglehold on baseball in the nation's largest metropolis. Instead, the Stars came out of the gate slowly and it was the Gothams who were seizing the headlines with their strong play in the Federal Association. Led by a group of solid youngsters, the Gothams vaulted to the top of the Fed's standings, and fought a spirited pennant race with the St. Louis Pioneers, Philadelphia Keystones and Washington Eagles. Eventually, only the Pioneers were still in the hunt with the Gothams, but the New York club held them off, claiming the Federal's flag with a 96-58 record, six games ahead of the Pioneers. This was the club's first pennant since 1896.

The Gothams had the Fed's top rookie in RF Rusty Shearer. The 24-year-old from, Colleyville, Texas had been signed to a minor league deal in 1925 and played in 33 games for the Gothams in '25 - hitting .333 in 78 at-bats. In '26, Shearer won the starting job in right field and had an impressive campaign that included a .359 average, a league-leading 31 triples, 117 runs scored, and 116 driven in. Shearer was not the only youngster playing at a high level in the Oval however, as the team's first round pick in the draft, LF Bud Shearer, came up midseason after tearing up the minors, and continued to impress with a .333 average, six homers and 49 RBIs in 93 games. 26-year-old centerfielder George Moore hit .351 with 96 RBIs to provide New York with arguably the best outfield in the Fed, and definitely the best young outfield in the circuit. The team overcame a series of injuries to key pitchers and still managed to lead their league in fewest runs allowed. 

The Stars, on the other hand, were tepid in the early going, watching the Gothams steal their thunder in Manhattan, and the Brooklyn Kings steal their thunder in the Continental Association. Brooklyn, the third, and sometimes forgotten, club in the city of New York, owned the early going with their own stellar youth movement, led by first-round pick Doug Lightbody, and outfielder who went straight to the big leagues from college and dominated the first half of the season, hitting .359 in 79 games before his season was ended by an elbow injury. Led by Lightbody and an offense that was the Continental's most potent outfit, the Kings were in the race all summer long. Injuries took a toll and despite having five players hitting .322 or better in their regular lineup (even after Lightbody was hurt), the Kings ended up second with an impressive 94-60 record, coming after a 1925 campaign that saw them finish 70-84 and in last place.

The Kings' second-place finish came because the Stars found themselves in July and tore up the Continental for two months and even a middling final stanza in September could not keep the New York squad from a third-straight pennant. Like the Gothams, the Stars were 96-58, two games better than Brooklyn. As had been the case in both their previous titles, the Stars pitching was outstanding. Southpaw Dick Richards, the club's ace, went 23-7 with a 2,42 ERA and became the Continental's first recipient of the Allan Allen Award as the league's most outstanding pitcher. Sammy Butler, the #2 man, went 20-10 with a 3.36 ERA and the third starter, Pete Scanlon, posted a 17-15, 3.74 ledger. Overall, the club allowed just 620 runs, the fewest in either league. The Stars' pitching was so good that even having just the fourth-best offense in the league could not hold them back. The Stars didn't have a single hitter record 100 RBIs, and their best hitters by average, LF Tim Johnson and C Ernie Sprenkle, hit .320 which would have placed sixth on the Brooklyn Kings. 

Toronto finished third in the Continental, 88-66, eight games back. The Wolves featured strong pitching - lefty Don Cannaday was 25-9, 2.53 and would have been the Allen winner if Dick Richards hadn't been so impressive himself. Willie Couillard (17-16, 3.47), Birdie Smith (12-11, 3.62) and Henry Fischer (15-14, 3.62) gave Toronto a strong foursome. The Wolves didn't really have any offensive standouts, but were second in the league in scoring (though far behind Brooklyn) and 3B Floyd Spear (.335-5-93) picked up in a midseason trade with the Chicago Chiefs the year before, looked like a solid cornerstone. The fourth-place Philadelphia Sailors were in the pennant race for much of the season before a late swoon dropped them to fourth; they finished 87-67 just behind the Wolves. Veteran pitcher Rube Smith led the league in ERA (2.23) but missed five weeks with an ill-timed back injury that dampened the Sailors' pennant chances. 

The bottom half of the Continental standings was led by the Baltimore Cannons and their 74-80 mark. The Cannons did feature the CA's MVP in RF Sandy Lovelle, who hit .354 at the top of the order for the Cannons. Sixth-place Montreal started slowly and made some progress later in the season, though their 61-93 record was still a disappointment to their fans. They did bring back a fan favorite in Hal Eason, acquired from the Keystones in June. The slugging veteran right fielder finished with 19 homers for the Saints (24 overall) to lead the league, four ahead of team mate Paul Tattersall, a veteran backstop acquired just before the season from the Gothams. The Chicago Cougars were seventh, one game behind Montreal (60-94) and made a handful of moves to position the club for future success. Among the bright spots for the Cougars was the play of catcher Slick Hostetter, a 27-year-old who improved his average from .282 to .340 and showed a discerning eye as well with 63 walks and a .414 on-base percentage. Last-place Cleveland, coming off a 2nd-place finish in 1925, dropped 25 games off their win total and by season's end had gone all-in on a rebuilding process.

The Federal Association runners-up from St. Louis fell victim to a late-season swoon, but gave the Gothams all they could handle for most of the season. Led by the power-duo of RF Max Morris who hit a league-best 33 homers and LF Art Charles, who hit .379 on a league-leading 242 hits with 29 doubles, 18 triples and 17 homers to power his league-leading 124 runs batted in, the Pioneers had a potent offense, but their pitching was thin behind their top two of Jimmy Clinch (20-14, 3.94) and Rolla Puckett (.24-7, 3.59). Third place Washington had the league's top hitter in catcher T.R. Goins, whose .395 average, 24 homers and 121 RBIs, saw him win the Fed's Whitney Award as league MVP and be the engine of the Fed's top-scoring lineup. Cap McDonald (21-9, 3.85) led the Washington pitching staff which was the club's weak link. The Keystones finished fourth at 78-76. Philly had a lot of room for optimism though - 1B Rankin Kellogg (.326-29-113) was just 23 and looked like a future Whitney winner in the making and 2B Eddie Hogan (.359), catcher Carl Ames (.304-9-94), RF Al Thornton (.329-4-40) and CF Lee Smith (.324) looked like a solid young core - if some pitching could be found as the 'Stones allowed the 7th most runs in the Fed.

The Boston Minutemen with a 73-81 record, finished fifth. They did have the (controversial) Allen winner in reliever Dode Jefferis, who edged out St. Louis' Rolla Puckett with a season that saw him pitch in 93 games, record 18 saves and post a league-best 2.41 ERA. The Chicago Chiefs were sixth with a 68-86 record and were done in by the league's worst pitching. This was something of a surprise in Chicago where the Chiefs usually had good pitching and poor hitting. This time, the hitting was respectable, but the pitching was terrible aside from Joe Foley (20-16, 4.19). Detroit made a one-spot improvement over 1925, climbing out of the basement into seventh-place, three games ahead of Pittsburgh. There wasn't a lot to crow about in either Detroit or Pittsburgh in 1926. It was hoped that the high draft picks would turn things around as both clubs were mired in mediocrity.

The highly-anticipated World Series between the Stars and Gothams turned out to be something of a dud. The Gothams took game one by a 9-5 margin, getting to the usually reliable Sammy Butler but after that the series was all Stars. The Continental powerhouse got two great starts for ace Dick Richards, saw Butler bounce back with a strong effort in game four, and some come-from-behind magic from their lineup to claim their third straight World Championship. 

The Gothams had further bad news just a week later when longtime owner Miles Bigsby passed away at his home. The 84-year-old Bigsby, though always a controversial figure, was one of the founders of professional baseball, going back to the foundation of the Century League in 1876. His death left Keystones' owner Jefferson Edgerton as the last surviving member of the original octet of men who created professional baseball in America fifty years earlier.