1911-1912

During the summer, Eastern Basketball League president Bill Scheffer and Hudson River Basketball League Secretary John Poggi tried unsuccessfully to induce Central Basketball League representatives to join in the formation of a National Commission for Basketball.  The proposal placed the Pittsburgh-based Central Basketball League in a quandary. The western Pennsylvania organization was much more dependent on imported stars than the other two leagues, which both had large reservoirs of talented local athletes.  The Central League feared that the Commission would limit player movement and thus cut off their access to the games’ bigger stars, but at the same time they were entrapped in a struggle to support these expensive players.  When the new season got underway, the Central League trembled under its growing financial concerns, while a bitter internal feud wracked the HRL.  Only the EBL entered the new campaign with any prospects for a unfettered season of basketball.

The CBL started its sixth season under the heavy strain of its growing financial burden.  McKeesport could no longer support its two-time champion team, and the club was transferred to Uniontown. South Side attempted to stem its growing losses by replacing last year’s high-priced stars with a younger, less expensive squad.  Charter member Homestead gave up the money battle, and the club was transferred to Charleroi.  After starting the season with only five teams, a sixth franchise was added in Washington, Pennsylvania two weeks after the season got underway, but it was woefully undermanned and lost thirty games in a row before dropping out. With the South Side club gutted of its best players, the veteran Johnstown squad, with its league-leading offense, was left to single-handedly duel with Uniontown’s superlative defensive team for first place.  Andy Sears, Uniontown’s fine shooter, provided the team with most of its offense, and was also a key element in the league’s best defense, the cornerstone of the team’s success. Dutch Wohlfarth, whose scoring and dribbling skills marked him among the league’s best young talents, joined Johnstown holdovers Joe Fogarty, Doc Newman Bill Keenan and Winnie Kincaide. With Fogarty leading the way, Johnstown managed to breach Uniontown’s defense often enough to win the CBL championship by a three game margin.

The highly successful two-year-old Hudson River League was ripped apart in October by bitter factionalism over the proposed re-election of league president Albert Saulpaugh.  When prolonged negotiations failed to satisfy either side, Saulpaugh’s supporters in Catskill, Hudson, Troy, and Schenectady withdrew from the league and formed a rival organization, the New York Basketball State League.  The remaining HRL teams, Kingston, Newburgh, Paterson, and Yonkers regrouped under former league secretary John Poggi. They admitted new teams in White Plains and Trenton and began play in November.

Serious problems emerged almost immediately in the revamped HRL. Kingston saw its entire team jump ship to represent South Side of the CBL, while the Paterson Crescents insisted on also representing Cohoes in the NYSL. The Trenton franchise, in the heart of EBL territory, dropped out after just eight games.  The remaining five teams struggled on under constant pressure from the NYSL which continued to lure players away from the older circuit. The NYSL finally succeeded in their unabashed attempt to destroy the HRL in late January by signing Yonkers’ star Jimmy Clinton.  His departure was the final blow.  It triggered the withdrawal of Yonkers and White Plains and the collapse of the entire HRL.

The upstart New York State League had won a total victory. Paterson continued to represent Cohoes, and Kingston was admitted into the NYSL in place of a weak team in Schenectady.  The only thing lacking in the phenomenal first-year success of the NYSL was any decent competition for Troy, who demolished all opposition. It was the third straight pennant for the powerful Trojans, who had also won pennants in the HRL in 1910 and 1911.

Trenton, last year’s cellar-dweller, soared all the way to the top in the Eastern Basketball League and landed in a tie with Jasper for first place.  The return of offensive star Harry Hough and veteran center Alois Getzinger from the CBL were the key ingredients in the remarkable turnabout. Jasper produced its fine squad by signing ex-De Neri star Buck Reilly and former Camden ace Army Fitzgerald to complement longtime star Jack Donohue.  A best-of-three game playoff was agreed upon to decide the championship.  Each team won a game at home to set up a deciding third on a neutral court in Philadelphia.  Harry Hough’s fifteen points and all-around inspired play controlled the final game to give Trenton a 19-15 win and the EBLtitle.

A contemplated series for the world’s championship between the Hudson River, Central, and Eastern League champions was called off due to Trenton’s inability to get the use of a home court.

CENTRAL BASKETBALL LEAGUE

EASTERN BASKETBALL LEAGUE

HUDSON RIVER BASKETBALL LEAGUE

NEW YORK STATE BASKETBALL LEAGUE

TRI-COUNTY BASKETBALL LEAGUE

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