Sometimes the past comes back to haunt you in ways you may not have anticipated. Such was the case for the Century League (and by extension the Border Association simply by virtue of being in the same business) when the Bigsby brothers returned to the professional baseball scene in the winter of 1889-90. 

You may recall that brothers Charles and Miles Bigsby were the de facto kings of baseball in New York when William Whitney launched his Century League in 1876. Charles, as the older (and wealthier) brother, claimed Manhattan as his bailiwick while Miles settled in Brooklyn. The New York Knights fell to the wayside when Charles was sent to prison for crimes committed as part of his Tammany Hall connection. Miles soldiered on with the Brooklyn Kings for a while before attempting - and failing - to oust Whitney and take control of the league itself.

Several years later, Charles was still in Sing Sing, but his 26-year-old son Charles Jr. was now wielding his father's political and financial clout while Miles still had his own connections in Brooklyn's government and business circles. Miles was also still angry with the fallout of his failed coup and looking to get back into baseball. With both the Century League and the Border Association disinterested (and the latter having a club in Brooklyn), Miles decided that the best way to run a league was to create one himself.

So that's what he did. Enlisting his nephew and assorted cronies up and down the East Coast, Bigsby quickly put together a seven-man group with the financial means to both build ballparks and ballclubs. The new league was named the Peerless League (Miles wanted a name that exemplified the concept that his league would be the best baseball league in all ways). The seven initial clubs were in Brooklyn, New York, Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Notably, most of those cities were represented by either the CL or BA (and in a couple of cases - both). Detroit was the furthest west location - Bigsby was keeping things close to his center of operations - and like Baltimore, had already proven to be a suitable location for a club.

Miles then pulled off another coup - he stole a team from the Century League. With connections in Buffalo, the Bigsby group convinced that city's club to jump. With eight clubs, Bigsby now concentrated on players and he and his group were willing to pay. Money being what it is, there were plenty of takers. In the course of a couple months, the Peerless League went from being a concept in Bigsby's mind to a full-blown crisis for both the established baseball leagues.

The immediate impact on the established leagues was financial - their operating costs shot through the roof as they scrambled to keep some of their talent. But many big names went to the Bigsbys' league. The Brooklyn club (nicknamed the Bigsbys) copped Jason Young from the Gothams, Joe Johnson from the Keystones, Ira Williams from the Stars and Harry Ford from the Monarchs (and those were just the bigger names - nearly all of the Bigsbys roster came from either the CL or BA). The Gothams were hit particularly hard: Charles Jr made a point of trying to steal as many players from them as possible, and his club (the Imperials) featured an entire starting lineup and two starting pitchers from the Gothams. To add insult to injury, the Gothams were a tenant of the Bigsby Oval, and paid rent to Charles Jr.

The impact on the Border Association was a bit less initially - and then the Century League decided to replace the Buffalo club with a new club in Cincinnati (a token thumb-nosing at James Tice). The Cincinnati Hustlers weren't much of a team, but they hurt the Monarchs' attendance nonetheless. The Bordermen also lost the Syracuse club who simply could not compete with the skyrocketing salaries and folded up their operation. Replacing the Olympics was a new club in Cleveland - the Foresters.