1908-1909

The Central League started its season with five holdover teams and new squads in Johnstown and Uniontown. The league remained centered in Pittsburgh with three teams (Homestead, McKeesport and South Side) within trolley car proximity. The two new franchises were located the greatest distance from the city, but still within easy same day round trip train service. Teams often booked “special trains” and were accompanied by hundreds of their supporters for out of town games. The league played through a 72-game schedule, and finished the season with all seven franchises intact. Each club played four games per week, two at home, and two on the road, truly a full time major league organization.

While the league as a whole seemed solid, there was trouble in East Liverpool. The defending champion Potters were sold to new owners who refused to meet the salary demands of the two-time champions, and released the entire squad. Former New York Wanderers’ star Sandy Shields was signed to rebuild the team, but the whole situation deteriorated into a fiasco that saw the once dominant club win only four victories in seventy-one league games. They lost their final game of the season 110-9.

The pennant race was a thriller with Homestead, McKeesport, and South Side battling down to the last week of the season.  Homestead emerged as the unexpected champion with a squad that was heavily weighted with local talent. Veteran Jackie Adams and Roy Steele, a Homestead youngster, who was just embarking on a twenty-year pro career, led the scoring parade, while Bill Powell showed surprising strength against the league’s better-known centers. Dutch Wolhfarth, another hometown boy, gained considerable notoriety and the sobriquet the “blind dribbler” for his ability to dribble the ball without looking at it, a feat considered wondrous at the time.

Last year’s cellar-dwelling McKeesport Majestics surprised everyone by bounding away to a strong start.  High-scoring Andy Sears shouldered most of the offensive load, while Charley O’Donnell keyed the defense.  Rookies Mio Boggio and Walt Swensen proved to be helpful additions to the Majestics, who managed to take second place by compiling an outstanding homecourt record buoyed by the league’s best attendance mark.

Pre-season favorite South Side began the season with nine straight wins, but was plagued for the remainder of the season by player defections, illnesses, and injuries.  Key performers Harry Hough, Jimmy Kane, and Walter Brady were all out of the lineup for various reasons at midseason.  Hough’s eventual return sparked a run of ten straight victories that catapulted the South Siders to the top of the standings. But the team was staggered once again when Hough went out with a broken hand, and they settled in the end for a disappointing third-place finish.  The league’s highest scoring average was compiled by Steve White of Greensberg, who scored fifteen points a game.  White’s team finished fourth, but was markedly improved over the previous season’s squad.

The new teams in Johnstown and Uniontown evenly divided up the roster of stars off the gutted East Liverpool squad.  Johnstown finished fifth, but compiled a credible 38-33 record behind the potent offense talents of Joe Fogerty, Snake Deal, and Bill Keenan.  Uniontown signed the remaining members of the former championship squad, Winnie Kinkaide, Eddie Ferat and, John Pennino, but could only manage a sixth-place finish.

After seven years of operation, the Philadelphia League folded midway in the new season.  The league had been stripped of all its best players by the higher salaries available in the Central League.  Germantown, with an 11-2 record, was declared champion of the league’s abbreviated final season.

CENTRAL BASKETBALL LEAGUE

NATIONAL BASKETBALL LEAGUE

NEW ENGLAND BASKETBALL LEAGUE

PHILADELPHIA BASKETBALL LEAGUE

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