Edward "Ned" Wilson, CL President

In the wake of the tumultuous league meetings in November of 1885, the Ned Wilson era officially began with the new Century League president adding two new clubs to replace the departed Brooklyn Unions and Boston Pilgrims. Ironically, one of the new clubs would be in Buffalo - where departed Unions owner Miles Bigsby had wanted to place a club. The Buffaloes, as they'd be known, were not owned by Bigsby's crony however and were a respectable addition. The other team, however, was a direct shot in the ongoing war with the Border Association and as such turned out to be a mistake that quickly became obvious.

That second club would be in Canada - directly challenging a market that had thus far been the sole property of the Border Association. The club, the Quebec Frontenacs, was poorly run and poorly staffed. They would limp home in last place with a poor 27-92 record, and then immediately disband without a trace of lamentation from the largely disinterested Quebecois public.

In other CL news, the pennant was won by the Providence Gems, who posted an 88-36 mark, ten games better than the Philadelphia Keystones. The Gothams continued to be a strong contender, finishing third at 70-56, followed by Washington (67-58) and the middling St. Paul Crusaders (60-66). Buffalo was competitive and finished 53-65 in sixth place, followed by Whitney's Chicago Chiefs, who had a poor season and finished in seventh place at 51-75. Providence had picked up Jim Jones from the defunct Brooklyn club (Bigsby's bid to start a third league died in the cradle the previous winter) and he continued to dominate opposing pitchers with a fourth-straight batting title. Baseball writers had dubbed Jones "The Big Steam Engine" as he kept chugging along. He hit .369 and through six full seasons had five batting crowns and a .375 lifetime batting average.

Frank Sobreville, "The Trojan Horse" as he was known (he hailed from Troy, NY) was second in batting, collecting a .363 average for Philly. 26-year-old Freeman Rogers joined the Gems and hit .360 to keep his team mate Jones honest. Chicago's lone bright spot was rookie pitcher Nathan Watters who went 21-15 with a league-best 1.74 ERA. Providence had the two winningest arms in the league in George Payne (30-6, 1.88) and German-import Pretzels Cronauer (29-6, 2.20).

The Border Association, for its part, was not going through the war with the CL unscathed. Border President James Tice of Cincinnati was likewise feeling the heat in the wake of his companions seeing Whitney ousted and thinking their loop might benefit from an "impartial" (or non-owner) President as well. For now Tice was safe, but the sharks were gathering. One of the biggest issues concerned Kansas City. The Western Club was beginning to increasingly suffer from its high operating costs. The club, which debuted in 1883 and finished 2nd, had trended downward ever since, finishing 5th, then 7th and finally bottoming out in last place in '86 - despite having the batting champion in Joe Johnson who hit .402 for the season. With Century League teams looking on with great interest, Johnson would need to be paid to stay in KC... something needed to be done.

Pittsburgh won the pennant with an 88-51 mark, just ahead of Montreal (86-52). Cincinnati was third, followed by St. Louis, Brooklyn, New York and Toronto. Montreal found a terrific young pitcher in 22-year-old New Yorker Clarence Young. He went 31-6 with a 2.14 ERA and struck out 336 batters in 366.2 innings - all were league-leading totals and the winning percentage (.838) and strikeout totals were league records.

But bad news for the Bordermen came soon after the end of the season. With Quebec having folded, CL President Ned Wilson promptly offered the open slot in his league to the Border Association champion Pittsburgh club... and they accepted. This was the first break in the ranks and signaled a new escalation in the "Border War."