1905-1906

The New England League disbanded during the summer.  The six-team organization could no longer support the high-salaried imported stars that gave the circuit its identity.  The league’s demise left the better-known players with few options but to sign with the Philadelphia Basketball League, the sole remaining professional league.  Last year’s championship team in Conshohocken resigned from the Philadelphia League to perform as a touring team, paving the way for De Neri, featuring Winnie Kinkaide, and Charlie Bossert, from the New England League champion Natick squad, to spend most of the new season in first place.  However, the surprising Manayunk club defeated the tough St.Simeon squad on the final day of the season to tie De Neri for the title.  After two weeks of haggling over the details, the two teams agreed to a best-of-three-game playoff.  The series turned out to be anticlimactic, however, with the experienced De Neri club easily winning two straight games 24-18 and 52-24.

The decision of the Conshohocken club to tour reflected a growing trend. Independent clubs such as the Paterson Crescents, New York Nationals, Reading Bears and St. Johnsbury Saints were creating growing reputations. Schenectady Co. E, led by Ed and Lew Wachter,  gained status as the best team  in the Northeast. A team based in Tamaqua, a small town located in the Northeast Pennsylaviana coal mining region was one of the best teams operating anywhere in the country during the the 1905-06 season.  Featuring Harry Hough and Joe Fogarty, two of the most skilled players in the game, Tamaqua won 54 of 65 games.

Meanwhile, the immediate future of the professional game was germinating in the western part of the state of Pennsylvania.  The Pittsburgh South Side club had killed off much of the interest in the area a few years earlier by collecting all the best players in the immediate region to totally dominate the action and destroy all league activity.  But the competitive spark was rekindled midway in the 1905-06 season when the nearby East Liverpool, Ohio team dipped into the wealth of talent in Philadelphia and signed former National League star Bill Keenan to challenge South Side’s longtime supremacy.  It turned out to be the opening volley in a battle that would usher in a new era in professional basketball.

NEW ENGLAND BASKETBALL LEAGUE

PHILADELPHIA BASKETBALL LEAGUE

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