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Baseball: MiLB Double-A « billsportsmaps.com

billsportsmaps.com

June 10, 2016

Affiliated Double A minor league baseball (MiLB): location-map of 3 leagues, the Eastern League, the Southern League, the Texas League (2015 attendances)/+ the 3 new teams in Double-A baseball since 2011 (Pensacola, Biloxi, Hartford)/+ illustrations for the 4 highest-drawing Double-A teams in 2015 (Frisco, Birmingham, Richmond, Reading).

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: MiLB Double-A — admin @ 2:58 pm

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Affiliated Double A minor league baseball (MiLB): location-map of 3 leagues, the Eastern League (EL), the Southern League (SL), the Texas League (TX): map with 2015 attendances




Links…
-Teams in Double-A ball…Double-A (baseball) (en.wikipedia.com).
-Official site of the Eastern League…Double-A/Eastern League.
-Official site of the Southern League…Double-A/Southern League.
-Official site of the Texas League…Double-A/Texas League.
-2015 Affiliated Attendance by League…2015 Affiliated Attendance by League (by Kevin Reichard at ballparkdigest.com).
-2015 Affiliated Attendance by Average.. 2015 -Affiliated Attendance by Average (by Kevin Reichard at ballparkdigest.com).

-Top 100 MiLB caps in 2014 [fan vote]…Clash of the Caps – Who has the best caps in the minor leagues? [2014 season] [#1: El Paso Chihuahuas]…(milb.com/milb/fans/caps).
-Top 100 MiLB caps in 2015 [fan vote]…Clash of the Caps – Who has the best caps in the minor leagues? [2015 season] [#1: Daytona Tortugas]…(milb.com/milb/fans/caps).

-Here is the Double-A map I made from April 2011, Minor League Baseball: the 3 Double-A leagues…the Eastern League, the Southern League, and the Texas League. Map, with all 30 teams’ 2010 average attendances, locations, and MLB affiliations.

    The 3 new teams in Double-A baseball since 2011
    (2012: Pensacola Blue Wahoos, 2015: Biloxi Shuckers, 2016: Hartford Yard Goats)…

-2012, Pensacola Blue Wahoos of the Southern League – the Carolina League [Single-A/Class-A-Advanced level] Kinston, NC franchise moved ~58 miles north-west to the Greater Raleigh-Durham, NC area [in Zebulon, NC], as the Carolina Mudcats (II) /meanwhile, the Carolina Mudcats (I) franchise (est. 1991) moved from Zebulon, NC to Pensacola, FL as the Pensacola Blue Wahoos [and also thereby moved up a level from the Single-A/Class-A Advanced level, to the Double-A level]. Pensacola Blue Wahoos (en.wikipedia.org).
{See this small franchise-shift-graphic from March 2012, billsportsmaps.com/carolina-mudcats-II_kinston-to-zebulon_zebulon-to-pensacola.}

-2015, Biloxi Shuckers of the Southern League – the Huntsville, AL franchise moved ~328 miles south to Biloxi, MS as the Biloxi Shuckers. Biloxi Shuckers. (en.wikipedia.org). From Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos site, from November 2014, by Chris Creamer, Introducing the Biloxi Shuckers (news.sportslogos.net).

-2016, Hartford Yard Goats of the Eastern League – the New Britain, CT franchise has moved ~12.5 miles north to Hartford, CT as the Hartford Yard Goats. Hartford Yard Goats (en.wikipedia.org). From the New York Times, from June 28 2015, by Kristin Hussey, Hartford Yard Goats? The Name Isn’t a Hit Yet (nytimes.com/nyregion). Hartford ballpark will not be ready for opening day 2016…Yard Goats Deal Would Have Stadium Ready May 31; Hartford, Team, Developer All Kick In Millions ([Hartford] courant.com).

2015 overall league-average attendances for the 3 Double-A leagues…
Texas League: 5,181 per game overall.
Eastern League: 4,580 per game overall.
Southern League: 3,605 per game overall.

    The 4 highest-drawing ball clubs in Double-A baseball in 2015 (all Double-A teams which drew over 6 K per game)
    Frisco RoughRiders (TL), Birmingham Barons (SL), Richmond Flying Squirrels (EL), Reading Fighting Phils (EL)…

Frisco RoughRiders (Texas League) [the Double-A farm team of the Texas Rangers]…
Frisco, Texas is about 25 miles N of Dallas, TX; and Frisco is about 42 miles NNE of where their parent-club the Texas Rangers are located, in Arlington, TX. In 2015, the Frisco RoughRiders (est. 2003), once again drew the highest in Double-A baseball, at 6,918 per game at their Dr. Pepper Ballpark. That figure of 6.9 K was also the 20th-best minor-league-baseball attendance – out of the 176 MiLB teams which report attendance figures [176 teams within 14 MiLB leagues].
frisco-roughriders_dr-pepper-ballpark_best-crowds-in-double-a_h_.gif
Photo credits above –
Aerial shot at twilight of Dr. Pepper Ballpark twilight, photo unattributed at sportstravelmagazine.com. Interior shot of main grandstand at Dr. Pepper Ballpark, photo unattributed at activerain.com/blogsview/dr-pepper-ballpark-in-frisco-texas. Interior shot of Dr. Pepper Ballpark during a night game (photo circa 2015), photo by Frisco RoughRiders via milb.com/[Frisco tickets].

Birmingham Barons (Southern League) [the Double-A farm team of the Chicago White Sox]….
Birmingham, at 6,352 per game had the 24th-highest MiLB attendance in 2015.
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Photo credits above –
Exterior shot of Regions Field’s distinctive giant aluminum-clad BIRMINGHAM sign, photo by Pac-Clad Petersen Aluminum at pac-clad.com. Interior shot of Regions Field from the 1st base stands, photo from 2014 by Mark Almond/malmond@al.co at al.com.

Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League) [the Double-A farm team of the San Francisco Giants]….
Richmond, at 6,055 per game, had the 27th-highest MiLB attendance in 2015.
richmond-flying-squirrels_the-diamond_b_.gif
Photo credits above –
Interior shot from 2nd deck of the Diamond, photo by Richmond Flying Squirrels at linkedin.com/company/richmond-flying-squirrels. Interior shot from 1st base side of 1st deck of the Diamond during the 2015 home opener, photo by Dean Hoffmeyer at richmond.com/sports/flying-squirrels.

Reading Fighting Phils (Eastern League) [the Double-A farm team of the Philadelphia Phillies]….
Reading, at 6,044 per game, had the 28th-highest MiLB attendance in 2015.
reading-fighting-phils_firstenergy-stadium_b_.gif
Photo credits above –
Interior shot of main stand at FirstEnergy Stadium, photo by Reading Fighting Phils at milb.com/[Reading attendance history, 1987-2015]. View from outfield swimming pool at FirstEnergy Stadium, photo by Malcolm Macmillan at theballparkguide.mlblogs.com/tag/reading-fightin-phils. View from leftfield dining deck booths at FirstEnergy Stadium, photo by Malcolm Macmillan at theballparkguide.mlblogs.com/tag/reading-fightin-phils.
___
Thanks to BallparkDigest.com, for attendance figures, 2015 Affiliated Attendance by League (ballparkdigest.com).
Thanks to the contributors at:
Double-A (baseball) (en.wikipedia.com).
Thanks to AMK1211 for blank map of USA, ‘File:Blank US Map with borders.svg”>File:Blank US Map with borders.svg‘ (commons.wikimedia.org).
Thanks to milb.com for photos of Akron, Biloxi, Corpus Christie, Midland, Mobile, Reading, Springfield cap-logos, here.

June 13, 2011

Minor League Baseball: the Eastern League.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: MiLB Double-A — admin @ 7:04 am

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Eastern League (baseball)



The Eastern League, established in 1923, is one of 3 Double-A minor leagues in Organized Baseball. Double-A is two steps below Major League Baseball. {You can see my map of all 3 Double-A minor leagues, with 2010 attendances and all 30 teams’ MLB affiliations, in this post, here.}. The Eastern League was historically centered in New York and Pennsylvania, and by the 1930s, the league had expanded it’s range to include teams from cities in New Jersey and Connecticut. The present-day Eastern League has teams in 9 states – in the Northeast, in Pennsylvania [with 4 teams], New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, and Maryland); plus one team in in Ohio; and one team in Virginia.

For it’s first 15 season. the Eastern League was originally known as the New York-Pennsylvania League. [That name has actually been used for 3 different minor leagues, starting with the New York-Pennsylvania League (I) that existed for just one season in 1891; while the current New York-Pennsylvania League (III) is almost universally known as the New York-Penn League and is a Class A-Short Season League.]

The charter members in 1923 of the league that the present-day Eastern League evolved from – the New York-Pennsylvania League (II) – were ball clubs from Binghamton, NY; Elmira, NY; Scranton, PA; Wilkes-Barre; PA; Williamsport, PA; and York, PA. A team from Harrisburg, PA entered the league the following season of 1924. Binghamton and Harrisburg have (different) ball clubs in the present-day Eastern League. The longest-running current team in the Eastern League is the Reading (Pennsylvania) Phillies, who began playing in the league in 1967. Reading also is the team in the Eastern League with the longest-running continuous affiliation with the same Major League team, the Philadelphia Phillies. 2011 will be the 45th-straight season of the Philadelphia/Reading partnership. This 45-year run is tied with one other MLB/minor league partnership for the longest currently in Organized Baseball – the other being between the Class A Florida State League ball club the Lakeland Tigers and the Detroit Tigers.

Throughout it’s first 10 seasons, the New York-Pennsylvania League (II) was a Class B league (equivalent to the fourth level below the Major Leagues). In 1933, it was upgraded 2 levels (by-passing the A-1 level), to a Class A league. In 1938, when the Scranton ball club moved to Hartford, CT, the league changed it’s name to the Eastern League (III). [The "(III)" is there because there was a minor league called the Eastern League (I) that existed in the Nineteenth century from 1884 to 1886 (it merged with two other leagues to form the precursor-league to the present-day Triple-A league the International League). The second Eastern League (II) was what the International League was called between 1892 and 1911.]

The modern-era Eastern League moved up a level and became a Double-A level league in 1963, when Organized Baseball did an overhaul of it’s league-level classifications. The Double-A Eastern League of 1963 was a 6-team circuit comprised of these ball clubs (with MLB affiliations noted)…Binghamton Triplets (Kansas City A’s), Charleston [West Virginia] Indians (Cleveland Indians), Elmira Pioneers (Baltimore Orioles), Reading Red Sox (Boston Red Sox), Springfield [Massachusetts] Giants (San Francisco Giants), York [Pennsylvania] White Roses (Washington Senators).

From 1958 to 1993, the Eastern League fluctuated from 6 to 8 teams. In 1994, the modern-day Eastern League began when the league expanded to 10 teams and 2 divisions, with the addition of new ball clubs in Portland, ME and New Haven, CT. New Haven lost their team when the franchise moved to Manchester, NH in 2004. The most recent shift saw the Norwich, CT team move to Richmond, VA in 2010. That team, the Richmond Flying Squirrels, led the Eastern League in attendance in their debut season last year, drawing 6,626 per game.

Besides Richmond, the Eastern League features several other teams that draw above 5,000 per game these days – the Reading Phillies, the Portland Sea Dogs, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the New Britain Rock Cats, and the Trenton Thunder. Another good-drawing ball club in the Eastern League, particularly for the small size of it’s municipality, is the Altoona Curve. Altoona, Pennsylvania only has a metro-area population of 126,000, yet the Altoona Curve is able to draw over 4,000 per game. Granted, Altoona’s Blair County Ballpark {Bing.com/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here} is next door to an amusement park (Lakemont Park), and you can see the roller coaster that looms behind right field, but it is pretty impressive for a town smaller than 150,000 to regularly draw over 4,000 per game for minor league baseball.

As a whole, the Eastern League averaged 4,663 per game last season.

Click on image below for list of Eastern League statistics – 2009 average attendances; 2010 average attendances; teams’ metro areas and metro area populations; age of teams and length of time the team has had their current MLB-affiliation; and Eastern League titles…
milb_eastern-league_metro-areas_attendance2009_2010_mlb-affiliations_titles_segment_.gif

Photo credits -
Binghamton Mets/NYSEG Stadium…Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.
New Britain Rock Cats/New Britain Stadium…Aerial image from bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats/Northeast Delta Dental Stadium…photo by David Sailors/Corbis, at Flickr.com, here.
Portland Sea Dogs/Hadlock Field…photo from http://www.projectballpark.org/boston/hadlock.html.
Reading Phillies/First Energy stadium…Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.
Trenton Thunder/Mercer County Waterfront Park…photo from SwinglePrints.com.

Akron Aeros/Canal Park…Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.
Altoona Curve/Blair County Ballpark…Photo from Baseballparks.com, here.
Bowie Baysox/Prince George’s Stadium…photo from LittleBallparks.com.
Erie SeaWolves/Jerry Uht Park…Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.
Harrisburg Senators/Metro Bank Park…Aerial image from bing.com/maps/Bird’s eye satellite view, here.
Richmond Flying Squirrels/The Diamond…Aerial image from bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Eastern League (baseball)‘.
Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com, ‘Eastern League (AA) Encyclopedia and History‘.

Attendances from NumberTamer.com, [ NumberTamer.com ] pdf, ‘2010 Minor League Analysis / 2010 Minor League Att‘ [attendances by league begin at page 29 in the pdf].
Thanks to the Biz of Baseball site, for 2009 attendances, here.

Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com, here, for Eastern League total attendance numbers.
Thanks to the MiLB/Eastern League site, for this article, .’History – Eastern League History (1923-Present)

May 25, 2011

Minor League Baseball: the Texas League.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: MiLB Double-A — admin @ 7:21 am

Click on image below for 2011 Texas League map, with team profiles including ballpark photos
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Texas League (baseball)





The Texas League is one of 3 Double-A (AA) minor leagues in Organized Baseball. Double-A is two steps below Major League Baseball. {You can see my map of all 3 Double-A minor leagues, with 2010 attendances and all 30 teams’ MLB affiliations, here.} Of the 3 leagues, the Texas League draws the highest these days. The Texas League pulled in an average of 5,264 per game in 2010.

Click on image below for chart of Texas League teams, with metro populations, teams’ average attendances the last 2 seasons, teams’ MLB affiliations (including tenure), and Texas League titles
milb_texas-league_metro-areas_attendance2009_2010_mlb-affiliations_titles_segment2.gif

The Texas League (II) has played continuously since 1902, except for 3 years off during World War II (1943-45), making this season, 2011, the Texas League’s 107th season. The oldest current ball club in the Texas League that has played continuously in the same metro area is the Arkansas Travelers, of Little Rock, AR, who have been a minor league ball club since 1963 (starting out with a 3-year stint in the Triple-A PCL), and have been in the Texas League since 1966, making 2011 the ball club’s 46th straight season in the Texas League [Note: before this, there was a Little Rock Travellers in the now-defunct Southern Association from 1901-09; 1915-58;1960-61 - see this, 'Little Rock, Arkansa Teams History' at Baseball-Reference.com, here]. Another team, the Midland (Texas) RockHounds, have now played 40 straight seasons in the league. Midland also have the longest current affiliation with an MLB team (the Oakland A’s) – 13 years.

The first incarnation of the Texas League was established in 1888, and played 5 seasons, up to 1892. A decade later, in 1902, the Texas League (II) was re-formed as a D-class minor league, with 6 teams (all teams with no MLB affiliations [ie, were Independents])…Corsicana Oil Citys, Dallas Giants, Fort Worth Panthers, Paris Eisenfelder’s Homeseekers, Sherman-Denison Students/Texarkana Casketmakers, Waco Tigers. By 1911, the Texas League was a Class B level league [~equivalent to the Class-A Short Season level today, 5 levels below the Majors]. In 1921, the Texas League became a Class A level league. In 1936, the Texas League moved up another level, becoming a Class A1 league. And in its first season back after WWII, in 1946, the Texas League became a Class AA level league. The teams in the Texas League that first season at Class AA in 1946 were (with MLB affiliation)…Beaumont Exporters (New York Yankees), Dallas Rebels (Detroit Tigers), Fort Worth Cats (Brooklyn Dodgers), Houston Buffaloes (St. Louis Cardinals), Oklahoma City Indians (Cleveland Indians), San Antonio Missions (St. Louis Browns), Shreveport Sports (Chiicago White Sox), Tulsa Oilers (Chicago Cubs).
From the Baseball-Reference.com, ‘Texas League (AA) Encyclopedia and History‘.


On the map page
On the map page each team’s location is shown with a dot and the team’s home ball cap logo. At the right of the map page, each team’s home cap logo is also shown in larger size in the team’s profile box. The profile boxes include a photo of the team’s ballpark, the team’s year of establishment and their year of joining the Texas League. 2010 home regular season average attendance is also listed along with ballpark capacity, and the year the ballpark opened. Finally, the profile boxes include each team’s Major League Baseball parent-club, and the length of time the team has been part of that MLB team’s farm system.

The list of 8 teams’ 2010 average attendances is below the map. 2010 attendance figures from NumberTamer.com/ -Numbertamer.com’s Minor League Baseball – 2010 attendance analysis [pdf] (Note, league attendances begin on page 28 of the 60 page pdf.)
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Map page photo credits -
Arkansas Travellers/Dickey-Stephens Park…Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.
Northwest Arkansas Naturals/Arvest Ballpark…Photo from Skyscrapercity.com thread, ‘Little Ballparks‘.
Springfield Cardinals/Hammons Field…Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.
Tulsa Drillers/ONEOK Field…Photo by Tom Gilbert at Tulsa World via NewsOK.com, here.

Corpus Christie Hooks/Whataburger Park…Photo from mysite.verizon.net/CharlieBallparks, ‘A Tasty Burger, a Tasty Field‘.
Frisco RoughRiders/Dr. Pepper Ballpark…Photo from Skyscrapercity.com thread, ‘Little Ballparks‘.
Midland RockHounds/Citibank Ballpark image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.
San Antonio Missions/Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium…Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Texas League‘.
2009 attendance figures from BizOfBaseball.com/Minor League attendance database, here.
Thanks to NumberTamer.com…2010 attendance figures from NumberTamer.com/ -Numbertamer.com’s Minor League Baseball – 2010 attendance analysis [pdf] (Note, league attendances begin on page 28 of the 60 page pdf.)

April 19, 2011

Minor League Baseball: the Southern League.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: MiLB Double-A — admin @ 6:19 pm

Click on image below for 2011 Southern League map, with team profiles including ballpark photos
milb_2011_southern-league_post_e.gif
Southern League (baseball)



The Southern League is one of 3 Double-A minor leagues in Organized Baseball. Double-A is two steps below Major League Baseball. {You can see my map of all 3 Double-A minor leagues, with 2010 attendances and all 30 teams’ MLB affiliations, in this post, here.}. The modern-day Southern League was established in 1963, when the fourth incarnation of the South Atlantic League moved up one level, from Class A. and as part of Organized Baseball’s re-organization of the minor league system, became one of three Double-A leagues. The following year, 1964, the South Atlantic League (IV) changed it’s name to the Southern League (II).
Click on image below for list of Southern League statistics – 2009 average attendances; 2010 average attendances; teams’ metro areas and metro area populations; tenure [age] of teams and length of time the team has had their current MLB-affiliation; and each team’s Southern League titles…
milb_southern-league_metro-areas_attendance2009_2010_mlb-affiliations_titles_segment_.gif

The Southern League annually plays one official league game in the oldest operating ballpark in the USA – Birmingham, Alabama’s Rickwood Field {from Baseball Pilgrimages site, ‘Rickwood Field, opened 1910′}. For the 2011 Rickwood Classic on June 1st, spitball pitcher Gaylord Perry will be guest of honor, and the teams – the Birmingham Barons and the Chattanooga Lookouts – will be wearing throwback uniforms of the 1961 Southern Association teams the Birmingham Barons and the Chattanooga Lookouts. 2011 is the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Southern Association season. The 1961 Southern Association season was the last season of the now-defunct Southern Association, a league which the present-day Southern League is heir to, in terms of it’s minor league level and in the similarity of the locations of it’s teams. I think the organizers of the game this year at Rickwood Field ignored the fact that some anniversaries should not be honored. Because in 1961, 14 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, and 15 years after black ball players were playing on minor league baseball teams in other minor leagues, the 1961 Southern Association was the only professional baseball league in the USA that was still segregated. Wearing uniforms from that period, in this celebratory manner, honors, by default, the institution those uniforms came from. And in 1961, the Southern Association, by still clinging to a policy of segregation, was a racist institution. The Southern Association in 1961 was acting in a manner that would become outlawed by an act of Congress 3 years later (the Civil Rights Act of 1964).

The first Southern League existed for just 5 seasons in the late Nineteenth century, from 1885 to 1889. 13 years later, the Southern Association filled the void in the region left by the passing of the original Southern League of the 1880s. The Southern Association started in 1901 and existed for 61 seasons, from 1901 to 1961. The 8 original charter members of the Southern Association in 1901 were these 8 ball clubs (with no MLB affiliations [ie, all the 8 teams were Independents])…Birmingham Barons, Chattanooga Lookouts, Little Rock Travellers, Memphis Egyptians, Nashville Vols, New Orleans Pelicans, Selma Christians, Shreveport Giants.

The Southern Association was initially graded Class B in 1901. In it’s second season, in 1902, the Southern Association was moved up a minor league level to Class A (from 1902 to 1935). The Southern Association then was raised a level to Class A1 from 1936 to 1945; then raised another level to Class AA from 1946 to 1961 [Class AA was the equivalent of modern-day Double-A level ball.] The ball clubs in that first season that the Southern Association was a Class AA league in 1946 were (with MLB affiliations listed)…Atlanta Crackers (Independent), Birmingham Barons (Pittsburgh Pirates), Chattanooga Lookouts (Washington Senators), Little Rock Travellers (Chicago White Sox), Memphis Chickasaws (Independent), Nashville Volunteers (Chcago Cubs), New Orleans Pelicans (Boston Red Sox).

At the same point in time as this, the minor leagues saw it’s first black players play, in 1946, for the the Brooklyn Dodgers’ highest farm team, the Class AAA Montreal Royals of the International League. Those two players were Jackie Robinson and Johnny Wright. Also in 1946, the Brooklyn Class B farm team the Nashua (New Hampshire) Dodgers also had 2 black players on it’s roster – Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella. The reason for this was baseball visionary Branch Rickey, who, as General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers National League ball club, opposed segregation on moral grounds and felt that it was well past time for American society to see black players play in the Major Leagues…and besides, it was foolish to not tap into such a deep pool of talent that Negro Leagues ball players represented. Some of his colleagues in baseball felt otherwise, some very strongly; and some of the paying public felt otherwise, some very strongly – but those sort of people belonged in pointed white hoods. The following season, Jackie Robinson was called up to the Brooklyn Dodgers, and broke the color barrier. Two months later in June, 1947, Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians became the first black player to play in the American League. Four years later – by May, 1951 – 6 Major League teams had integrated – the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Cleveland Indians, the St. Louis Browns, the New York Giants, the Boston Braves, and the Chicago White Sox {from en.wikipedia.com, see this, ‘List of first black Major League Baseball players by team and date‘}. By 1955, 13 teams had integrated. The holdouts were: the Philadelphia Phillies (integrated in April 1957), the Detroit Tigers (integrated in May 1958), and finally, because of a racist owner in Tom Yawkey, the Boston Red Sox (in July 1959). {see this, ‘Baseball color line‘}.

Similarly, through the early-to-mid-1950s, all the many and varied minor leagues throughout North America became integrated following the Brooklyn Dodgers’ farm system’s example, with one notable exception – the Southern Association was never integrated. By way of comparison with other minor leagues from the South…the Carolina League was integrated by 1951, and the South Atlantic League was integrated by 1953 (with one of the first 5 black players there being Hank Aaron). Eight years after that, into the 1960s, the Southern Association – the highest level minor league in the South at the time – still kept black players off their teams. For this reason, it was pretty much for the best that the Southern Association shut down after the 1961 season. The reason for it’s demise is still debated.

There is no doubt that minor league attendances were dropping pretty much everywhere in the era of the late 1950s and early 1960s. A popular theory is that the Southern Association went bust mainly due to sharp declines in attendance exacerbated by fan indifference as a result of television broadcasts of Major League ball games, which had became widespread by the late 1950s. But baseball writer Alan Barra, in his book ‘Rickwood Field‘, insists televised MLB games were not the reason. However, his point that there are a plethora of Major League ball games on most every night these days, and that doesn’t hurt minor league baseball today, fails to account for the novelty factor of televised baseball in the 1950s. Barra does feel that segregation contributed to the Southern Association’s declining popularity, and rightly points out that black fans in the South would have had a big incentive to stay away from segregated minor league ball games when black stars in the Major Leagues could be followed on television or the radio. Boycotts led by Civil Rights leaders in several Southern Association cities also contributed, most notably in New Orleans, where the demise of the Pelicans after the 1959 season is blamed specifically on the boycott that saw attendance plunge dramatically. The following season, 1960, Memphis also saw attendances decline to the point that they were only drawing around 670 per game, and the ball club folded. Plus, two teams, New Orleans and Mobile, saw their Major League affiliations dropped, and were forced to become Independent. New Orleans was dropped by the Yankees after the 1958 season; Mobile was dropped by the Indians after the 1960 season. In each case, the following season these teams had losing records and went bust at the end of the season.

Another factor could have been the rise of Little League participation, replacing the family outings to minor league ballparks. College football’s rise in popularity in the South by the late 1950s was yet another factor in undermining interest in minor league baseball in the region. There also is the fact that by the late 1950s, many minor league ballparks were in decline and were in areas that had become run down and viewed as being unsafe. Finally, there is the fact that MLB teams stopped going to Southern Association ballparks and playing the widely popular exhibition games that were a big part of the minor league experience back then, because the MLB teams’ black players would be barred by Jim Crow laws from playing. This contributed to the pall that began to hang over the increasingly empty ballparks in the league. Barra, while ultimately insisting that nobody really knows why attendances fell off so bad in the late 1950s and the early 1960s in the Southern Association, does concede the following in a footnote on page 165 – that writer Willie Morris told him “The combination of air-conditioning and television did keep a lot of people in the South from the ballparks during the summer”. This is a good point. But I think all the factors mentioned above contributed to wounding the condition of the Southern Association, but the stake to the heart was the refusal to integrate. I am holding out for the essential decency of most people, and saying that attendances dropped so precipitously because maybe enough baseball fans in the South knew deep down that, at a time when black MLB players like Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe, Hank Aaron, and Ernie Banks were winning Most Valuable Player awards, that a segregated baseball league in the late 1950s and the early 1960s was an enterprise that was just wrong, and should not be supported.

Perhaps sports writer Sam Heys, of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said it best, “The Southern Association chose death over integration.”

With the Southern Association gone after 1961, this left only the Texas League as a Class AA league, meaning in 1962 there were only 12 Class AA teams in all of minor league baseball. At the time, the Major Leagues were comprised of 20 teams (10 in each league), so just 12 Class AA farm teams supplying players to 20 big league ball clubs was a problem. To address this gap, the president of the Class A South Atlantic League, Sam Smith, led the drive to elevate the South Atlantic League (IV) (aka the “Sally League”) up one level to the Class AA status as a replacement for the defunct Southern Association. Just as this was happening, before the 1963 season, minor league baseball was re-organized, with the modern-day classifications introduced, so the South Atlantic League became a Double-A (AA) league in 1963. It would change it’s name the following year, 1964, to the Southern League (II). [Note: the South Atlantic League (V), still affectionately known as the Sally League, would be re-born 17 years late, in 1980, as a Class-A league.]

In 1963, the 8 teams from the old South Atlantic League that moved up a minor league level to AA were…Asheville Tourists (Pittsburgh Pirates), Augusta Yankees (New York Yankees), Charlotte Hornets (Minnesota Twins), Chattanooga Lookouts (Philadelphia Phillies), Knoxville Smokies (Detroit Tigers), Lynchburg White Sox (Chicago White Sox), Macon Peaches (Cincinnati Reds), Nashville Volunteers (Los Angeles Angels). Augusta and Nashville dropped out after 1963, and in 1964 when the league changed it’s name to the Southern League, two additional teams were created in Birmingham, AL, and Columbus, GA. Birmingham’s new team was again called the Barons, and was an Oakland A’s affiliate. Columbus’ team was called the Confederate Yankees. Confederate Yankees? In a league that replaced a segregated league?… Sigh. None of these original, modern-day Southern League teams remain, but 3 of those metropolitan areas – Birmingham, Chattanooga and the Greater Knoxville area have teams in the current, 2011 Southern League. [With respect to Knoxville, the current Southern League team the Tennessee Smokies can be considered as being from Greater Knoxville (they play home games 22 miles east-south-east of Knoxville, in Sevier County, in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains).]

Going back further in history, there are 5 cities that had Southern Association teams, and that currently have teams in the Southern League as of 2011. They are…Birmingham, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Mobile, and Montgomery. Half of the current Southern League is comprised of teams from cities that have Southern Association history going back 8 decades or more, and in the case of Birmingham, Chattanooga, Mobile, and Montgomery, these four cities had ball clubs in the Southern Association going back more than 100 years ago. And in the case of the Birmingham Barons and the Chattanooga Lookouts, even the nicknames have remained the same.

The map itself shows each team’s location with their home ball cap logo. At the lower right of the map page, 2010 Southern League home regular season average attendances are shown. At the right of the map page, each team’s home cap logo is also shown in larger size in the team’s profile box. Just below that is listed the ball club’s metro area population (and home-city [or town] population, if the team plays on the outskirts of a larger city). The profile boxes also include a photo of the team’s ballpark, the team’s year of establishment, and their year of joining the Southern League. 2010 home regular season average attendance is also listed along with ballpark capacity, and the year the ballpark opened. Finally, the profile boxes include each team’s Major League Baseball parent-club, and the length of time the team has been part of that MLB team’s farm system. The Birmingham Barons have the longest-running affiliation, 26 years now, with the same MLB team – the Chicago White Sox (1986-2011).

[Note: with minor league baseball being fundamentally a developmental entity, and not a competitive end in itself, titles are not really considered to be of the prime importance that they are in the Major Leagues. But if you are curious about titles won by the Southern League teams, that can be found at the far right on the second gif in this post, here.
...
The longest-running team in the Southern League is the Jacksonville Suns. The Suns are also the reigning back-to-back champions, winning the 2010 Southern League title (as well as winning the 2009 title). The Jacksonville Suns are entering their fourth decade of consecutive play in the Southern League. The Suns are also the highest-drawing ball club in the Southern League these days, drawing 5,141 per game in 2010. Counting the 2011 season, the Jacksonville Suns have played 42 consecutive seasons now in the Southern League [although for a 6-year period the Jacksonville Suns were known as the Jacksonville Expos]. This team was formed in 1962 and played 7 seasons as a Triple-A team, as the Cleveland Indians top farm team in 1962-63; then as the St. Louis Cardinals top farm team in 1964-65; then as the New York Mets top farm team from 1966 to 68. The Jacksonville Suns went on a 1-year hiatus in 1969, and then dropped down to the Double-A level and joined the Southern League in 1970, as a dual Montreal Expos/Milwaukee Brewers farm team. After a short return back to the Cleveland Indians’ farm system in 1971, the Jacksonville Suns began a 13-year affiliation with the Kansas City Royals in 1972. The Suns were a KC Royals farm team from 1972 to 1984. After that, Jacksonville became part of the Montreal Expos farm system again, this time for 6 seasons – from 1985 to 1990. During this period the team was called the Jacksonville Expos. A notable Jacksonville player from this era was future-Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. The 6’10” left-handed pitcher, who later became known as The Big Unit and won 303 games in the Major Leagues, spent 1987 in Jacksonville, going 11-8 with a 3.73 ERA in 24 starts.
In 1991, Jacksonville became called the Suns again, and began a 3-year stint as a Seattle Mariners farm team (1991-93). Then from 1994 to 2000, the Suns became a Detroit Tigers farm team. In 2001, the Suns began an 8-year stint as a Los Angeles Dodgers farm team. Finally, in 2009, the Jacksonville Suns became a farm team of a Major League Baseball team in the same state that Jacksonville is in, when they began their current stint as a Florida Marlins farm team [the Marlins' Triple-A team is the New Orleans Zephyrs of the PCL]. There is speculation that the Jacksonville Suns might return to Triple-A status in the near future.

Photo credits -
Carolina Mudcats/Five County Stadium…Aerial photo from Skyscrapercity.com thread, ‘Little Ballparks‘.
Chatanooga Lookouts/AT&T Field…Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.
Huntsville Stars/Joe W. Davis Stadium…Photo from CityVoter.com, here.
Jackson Generals/Pringles Park photo from MinorLeagueBaseball.com, here.
Tennessee Smokies/Smokies Park…Photo from InsideSevierville.com/ ‘The Tennessee Smokies‘.

Birmingham Barons/Regions Park…Photo from Skyscrapercity.com thread, ‘Little Ballparks‘.
Jacksonville Suns/Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville photo from MinorLeagueBaseball.com, here.
Mississippi Braves/Trustmark Park aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s eye satellite view, here.
Mobile BayBears/Hank aaron Stadium aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.
Montgomery Biscuits/Montgomery Riverwalk stadium aerial image [facing est], from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Southern League (baseball)‘.

Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com, ‘Southern League (AA) Encyclopedia and History‘.

2009 attendance figures from BizOfBaseball.com/Minor League Attendance Database, here. 2009 and 2010 cumulative and league-average Southern League attendance from Baseball-Reference.com, here.
2010 Attendance figures from NumberTamer.com/ -Numbertamer.com’s Minor League Baseball – 2010 attendance analysis [pdf] (Note, league attendances begin on page 28 of the 60 page pdf.)
Unincorporated community of Kodak, Tennessee population from Fizber.com.

No thanks to whoever wrote the following article at the MiLB/Southern League official site, ‘League History – History of the Southern League‘. This article touches on the history of the South Atlantic League that morphed into the Southern League, as well as the history of the Southern Association. But it should have been mentioned in this article that the Southern Association was never integrated. This is where a lot of people are going to get their information on the history of minor league baseball in the South, and this sort of white-washing of history is dangerous. The thing is, saying that the Southern Association was never integrated does not harm the reputation of the Southern League, because the Southern League came from a league that WAS integrated.

April 12, 2011

Minor League Baseball: the 3 Double-A leagues…the Eastern League, the Southern League, and the Texas League. Map, with all 30 teams’ 2010 average attendances, locations, and MLB affiliations.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: MiLB Double-A — admin @ 11:56 am

Please note: there is a more recent map of this (2016) here…
Affiliated Double A minor league baseball (MiLB): location-map of 3 leagues, the Eastern League, the Southern League, the Texas League (2015 attendances)/+ the 3 new teams in Double-A baseball since 2011 (Pensacola, Biloxi, Hartford)/+ illustrations for the 4 highest-drawing Double-A teams in 2015 (Frisco, Birmingham, Richmond, Reading).
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milb_aa_double-a_baseball2011_post_c.gif
Double-A Baseball map – 3 leagues/30 teams, with 2010 attendances and each team’s MLB affiliation



Below – list of Double-A teams’ metro-area populations
[Note: click on image below to enlarge]
milb_metro-area-populations-of-double-a-teams_2010attendances_.gif

The map shows the location of all 30 Double-A teams. There are 3 Double-A leagues in Organized Baseball. Each Major League Baseball team has one of the 30 Double-A teams in its farm system. The Double-A, or AA level of baseball, is two steps below Major League Baseball. These days, however, Double-A baseball often is the launching pad for young talent that is on a fast-track to the Major Leagues.

Each team’s home ball cap logo is placed on the map next to the ball club’s location.
The regions in the United States that the 3 Double-A leagues themselves are based in can be seen via the thin black lines on the map which serve to separate, geographically, the three leagues’ teams.
The 12-team Eastern League covers all of the Northeastern USA, plus eastern Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia. The Eastern League averaged 4,663 per game last season.
The 10-team Southern League covers the region of North Carolina west through Tennessee, and south to include Mississippi, Alabama, and northern Florida. The Southern League averaged 3,188 per game last season.
The 8-team Texas League covers the region of south-western Missouri, south through Arkansas, south-west through Oklahoma, and, of course, Texas. The Texas League averaged 5,264 per game last season.

The teams’ average attendances are within their league attendance list. Next to each team’s 2010 home, regular-season average attendance is their home ball cap logo, and the logo of their Major League Baseball parent-club. [At the very top, center of the map page are all the MLB teams' logos - listed alphabetically with the team name under it (in case you are not familiar with MLB iconography).]

Below, the highest-drawing Double-A ball club – the Frisco RoughRiders
[Note: to see a full-screen view, click on images below.]

frisco_roughriders_dr-pepper-ballpark_i.gif
Photo credits – Skyscrapercity.com thread ‘Little Ballparks‘. Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye view. FriscoMovers.info.

Of the 3 leagues, the Texas League draws the highest these days. The Texas League pulled in an average of 5,264 per game in 2010. It must be pointed out, though, that 3 of the 8 teams in the Texas League come from pretty large metropolitan areas (the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex; San Antonio, Texas; and Tulsa, Oklahoma). That being said, no one has ever called Springfield, Missouri or Corpus Christi, Texas large cities – and the Springfield Cardinals and the Corpus Christi Hooks (an Astros farm team) both draw above 5,000 per game. Both these two Texas League teams share the marketing advantage of being a farm team of a relatively close-by MLB team – Springfield, MO {metro population ~430,000) is 191 miles south-west of the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis, MO; and Corpus Christi, TX (metro population ~431,000) is 184 miles south-west of the Houston Astros in Houston, TX.

The Frisco Roughriders, a Texas Rangers farm team, are extremely close-by their parent-club. Frisco is located 23 miles north of Dallas, and 34 miles from the Texas Rangers’ home in Arlington, TX. The Frisco RoughRiders drew the highest of all 30 Double-A teams in 2010, pulling in 7,886 per game. That is now the sixth-straight year that the Frisco RoughRiders led all 30 Double-A teams in average attendance. Furthermore, Frisco had a higher average attendance than 20 of the 30 Triple-A teams last year, and had the 12th-highest average attendance among all minor league teams in 2010 [Note: list of entire 2010 minor league teams' average attendances (334 teams) is linked to at the end of this post.]. The second highest-drawing Texas League team in 2010 was the Tulsa Drillers – a Colorado Rockies farm team, who drew 6,185 per game last season.

The Eastern League draws the second-best of the 3 leagues, with an average of 4,663 per game in 2010. Like the Texas League, the Eastern League also has some pretty large metro areas, including the Greater Washington, DC/Baltimore, MD metro area (where the Bowie Baysox of Bowie, Maryland come from); the Greater Cleveland/Akron, Ohio metro area (where the Akron Aeros come from); the Greater Richmond, Virginia metro area (where the Richmond Flying Squirrels come from); and the Greater Hartford, Connecticut metro area (where the New Britain Rock Cats come from). Also, like the Texas League, there are several mid-sized cities in the Eastern League with 300,000 to 600,000 metro areas (4 teams). Unlike the Texas League, the Eastern League has teams that come from small cities with metro areas lower than 300,000 (4 teams).

In the Eastern League there is a factor that on first glance might seem to deflate attendances but seems to increase fan interest and attendance. That is the fact that every Eastern League ball club is within less than a 2-hours’ drive to one or more Major League ball clubs, with the exception of the Binghampton Mets (who are about 2 and a half hours away from the New York Yankees and about 3 hours away from their parent-club, the New York Mets). The near proximity to MLB teams that Eastern League teams have does not seem to depress attendances, especially when you compare gate figures with the lower drawing Southern League. I think easy proximity to an expensive outing at, say Fenway Park (home of MLB’s Boston Red Sox), encourages many folks in New England to instead follow the Red Sox on television and actually go to a ball game in Manchester, NH or New Britain, CT, or Portland, ME – for about one-quarter of the expense. But the Eastern League’s decent gate figures despite being surrounded by so many Major League teams might be more a case of the fact that sports fans in the Deep South don’t really follow baseball as much as sports fans in the Northeast do.

Having said that, it is ironic that the Eastern League’s best-drawing team last season was a team from the South – the brand-new ball club called the Richmond Flying Squirrels – a San Francisco Giants farm team, who drew 6,626 per game. [The Richmond team came from Norwich, CT, where they were a NY Yankees affiliate. They moved to Richmond, filling the gap left when the city of Richmond lost their Triple-A team after the 2009 season, when the Atlanta Braves moved their Triple-A team to Gwinnett, Georgia - a county adjacent to Atlanta.] The Reading Phillies are the second-best drawing Eastern League team. Reading pulled in 6,615 per game last season. The Reading/Philadelphia Phillies’ partnership has gone on for 45 consecutive seasons, and the Reading Phillies now have one of the two longest-running-affiliations with one Major League ball club (the other 45-year partnership is the affiliation of the Lakeland Tigers of the Class-A Florida League with the Detroit Tigers). [The previous longest-running affiliation was the Appalachian League (Rookie League) Bluefield Orioles with the Baltimore Orioles, which lasted 53 years, from 1958 to 2010. The Bluefield Blue Jays, as they are now known, were dropped by Baltimore over the winter and are now part of the Toronto Blue Jays farm system].

With teams such the Reading Phillies and the Frisco RoughRiders, MLB teams have seen the synergistic effect of placing a minor league farm team close to the parent-club’s location – Reading, Pennsylvania is just 47 miles west of Philadelphia. Other Eastern League teams that drew above 5,000 per game last season were the Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs – a Red Sox farm team (that is 99 miles north-east of Fenway Park); the New Hampshire Fisher Cats – who are a Toronto Blue Jays farm team; the New Britain Rock Cats – who are a Minnesota Twins farm team; and the Trenton Thunder, a New York Yankees farm team (that is 64 miles south-west of Yankee Stadium).

The Southern League draws the lowest of the three Double-A leagues, averaging 3,188 per game in 2010. Southern League ball clubs generally come from 400K to 600K metro-areas, with 3 locations – Jacksonville, FL (the Jacksonville Suns); Birmingham, Alabama (the Birmingham Bulls); and Raleigh/Durham, NC (the Carolina Mudcats) being the only relatively large-sized metro-areas in the Southern League. The only Major League team at all close-by for 90% of the teams in the Southern League is the Atlanta Braves, with the exception of the western Tennessee team called the Jackson Generals being closer to St. Louis than it is Atlanta. Jackson, TN is also the smallest Double-A city, with a metro population of around just 107,000. Even the Jacksonville Suns are closer to Atlanta than their parent-clubs’ location in Miami, Florida. The Jacksonville Suns, a Florida Marlins farm team, were the highest-drawing Southern League team last season, drawing 5,141 per game.

In the following weeks, I will have posts on each of the 3 Double-A leagues, with ball club profiles including ballpark photos and metro-area populations.

Here is an interesting list, from the Ballpark Digest site, ‘2010 Baseball Attendance by Average [Minor Leagues]‘.
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Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Minor league baseball‘.

Attendance figures from NumberTamer.com/ -Numbertamer.com’s Minor League Baseball – 2010 attendance analysis [pdf] (Note, league attendances begin on page 28 of the 60 page pdf.)

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