Max Morris had, quite literally, hammered home the concept of the home run as a primary weapon long before the 1928 season dawned. But that philosophy also ran against a long-entrenched trend in the game favoring "inside baseball" which sneered at the homer in favor of bunts, hit-and-runs and stolen bases. The 1928 season marked a turning point in this philosophical battle as the players themselves began to embrace the power game.

The clearest example of this shift came in Chicago. The Chicago Chiefs boasted a particularly friendly park for power hitters. The problem had always been that the Chiefs' roster didn't feature anyone particularly fond of trying to hit the ball over the fence. That too changed in 1928.

Joe Masters, the Chiefs incumbent third baseman had been a fairly average player in his first six seasons in the Windy City. He hit close to .300 every year and had shown some middling power,reaching double-figures in all but one year (he had 9 that year) but topping out at 15 (which he did twice, including in 1927). Masters focused on improving his swing over the winter of 1927-28 and came to camp with an improved stroke aimed at putting the ball into the air. And it worked - big time.


3B Joe Masters, CHC

Masters stroked 56 home runs, drove in 195 runs (a new record) and hit .388 - numbers that would likely win a Triple Crown most years, but not in the Federal Association in 1928. The batting crown went to Masters' team mate LF Jim Hampton who was over .400 most of the season before settling for a .397 mark and the batting title.

With Masters & Hampton leading the way, the Chiefs were out in front most of the season, won 95 games and took the pennant by a nice round 10-game margin over the second-place Detroit Dynamos. Chicago was not one-dimensional, with a pair of 20-game winners - and a pair of 19-game winners as well, giving them the league's second stingiest staff to go along with their league-leading offense.

Second-place Detroit won 85 games and the '28 season saw the Dynamos finally bring up 1926 #1 overall pick Al Wheeler. The 20-year-old right fielder hit .306 with 18 homers and 101 RBIs but was second fiddle to breakout star Frank Vance, a third baseman who flirted with .400 most of the season before fading a bit and finishing tied for second with a .388 average.

Both the first and last pitches of the 1927 Federally Aligned Baseball Leagues' season was thrown at Philadelphia's Broad Street Park. The long-time home of the Keystones, the park was the site for the season's traditional opener as the first game of the season... and for the first time since the start of the World's Championship series, the Keystones won the pennant and represented the Federal Association.

It was a long, and not easy, road to their first pennant since the 1892 season for the Keystones. There was a key (pardon the pun) similarity between the '92 Stones and their 1927 squad, aside from the pennant win: both were led by big stars at first base. The '92 team had the legendary Zebulon Banks manning first and the '27 club featured Rankin Kellogg, easily the best player to don the Keystones' pinstriped duds since Banks left town.

Rankin Kellogg, Phi. Keystones

The Keystones consistency was their strongest suit in 1927. While they didn't lead wire-to-wire, they nearly did, and the did occupy the top spot on the 1st of every month from May through October. They did need an extra game to get past the Detroit Dynamos with whom they finished in a flat-footed tie at 85-69, but won that contest easily, by a score of 7-0 to claim the FA flag.

Kellogg won the Triple Crown, leading the Fed in average (.364), homers (32) and RBIs (133). It helped a bit that St. Louis PIoneers' slugger Max Morris was hurt in August (he had 30 homers in 117 games), but Kellogg's achievement was a rare one - he joined Morris (who had done it three times) and a pair of 19th century stars (Fred Roby in 1894 and Bob DeVilbiss in 1878) in pulling it off.

Kellogg wasn't alone in having a great season at the plate: in all, six of the eight Keystone regulars topped the .300 mark with catcher Carl Ames (.338-12-97) and centerfielder Lee Smith (.326-11-97) having particularly strong campaigns. The pitching was... well, it was ugly, finishing last in the league in runs allowed. But that just proved how outstanding the offense was for the Keystones in 1927.

Detroit's second-place finish, while a disappointing end for the club and its fans, did represent a significant uptick in the Dynamos' fortunes after three straight finishes at or near the bottom of the standings. With CF Frank Platt (.344-11-95) and LF Cy Lynch (.311-11-88) likely to be joined by 1925 #1 overall pick RF Al Wheeler (a combined 30 HRs in the minors in '27) in the not-too-distant future, the Dynamos' outlook seems bright.