billsportsmaps.com

May 29, 2016

Affiliated Triple-A minor league baseball (MiLB): location-map of 2 leagues, the Pacific Coast League (PCL) & the International League (IL) – with 2015 attendances and MLB-team-affiliations noted./ + illustrations for: the highest-drawing MiLB team in 2015, the Charlotte Knights & the 3rd-highest drawing team in MiLB in 2015, the Sacramento River Cats.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: MiLB Triple-A — admin @ 9:39 pm

pacific-coast-league_international-league_map_2015-attendances_post_e_.gif
Affiliated Triple-A baseball: location-map of 2 leagues, the Pacific Coast League (PCL) & the International League (IL), w/ 2015 attendances and MLB-team-affiliations noted




By Bill Turianski on 29 May 2016; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-Official site of the International League…Triple-A International League [MiLB].
-International League/current teams (en.wikipedia.org).
-Official site of the Pacific Coast League…Triple-A Pacific Coast League [MiLB].
-Pacific Coast League (en.wikipedia.org).
-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).

-Article on Norfolk Tides’ bizarre new bright-green/orange/black/turquoise/grey uniforms…Tides Unveil New Creative Identity) [article, with 5 disparaging comments by angry Norfolk fans] (milb.com/news).

-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).

    Affiliated Triple-A minor league baseball (MiLB):
    Location-map of the 2 leagues, the Pacific Coast League (PCL) & the International League (IL) -
    with 2015 attendances and MLB-team-affiliations noted

By Bill Turianski on 11 April 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.

Elements of the map page…
The location-map shows the top-minor-league/AAA affiliate of each Major League Baseball team – 30 teams from one of two Triple-A leagues: the Pacific Coast League (PCL) & the International League (IL). On the map, the teams are shown with their home-cap-crest and the cap-crest of their MLB parent-club. Flanking the map are the 2015 attendances of the teams, with the PCL teams on the far left of the map, and the International League teams on the far right. Listed in both the PCL & IL league-charts are:
1). 2015 Attendance figures (home regular season average attendance),
2). Change in crowd-size from previous season (numerical change from 2014),
3). Ballpark name,
4). Ballpark city-location,
5). Ballpark capacity (total capacity and seated capacities),
6). Year the ballpark was opened.

Finally, a line has been inserted on the map, running north from the Florida panhandle, through the middle of Tennessee, then jogging west in Kentucky, and then running north again between Indiana and Illinois. This line denotes the division between the PCL-territory (to the west of the line), and the IL-territory (to the east of the line). In case you are wondering, the furthest-east PCL team – the Nashville Sounds, is slightly west of the furthest-west IL team – the Indianapolis Indians. In other words, there is no over-lap between the 2 leagues’ territorial ranges. But just barely.

There are actually 3 Triple-A leagues within Minor League Baseball (which is run by Major League Baseball)…
There are 3 Triple-A leagues: the International League, the Pacific Coast League, and the Mexican League. The International League and the Pacific Coast League are comprised of pro ball clubs at the Triple-A level which have an affiliation with one of the 30 Major League Baseball teams. But the Mexican League is comprised of pro ball clubs at the Triple-A level without any affiliations to MLB teams. {To see my map-and-post on the 2015 Mexican League, click on the following, Mexico: Liga Mexicana de Béisbol (LMB) (Mexican League), location-map/attendance-map (2014 figures), with active-clubs titles list.}


The International League (IL)…
-International League/current teams (en.wikipedia.org).
-Baseball-reference.com/BR Bullpen blog/International League (baseball-reference.com/bullpen).
The International League was established in 1884, with the modern-day International League re-established in 1912. As it says at the Baseball-reference.com blog, …”The “international” in the name was due to the league having teams in Toronto and Montréal for decades.”…{see this}. Currently [2016], the IL has 14 teams in 3 divisions. The IL spans the Northeast (6 teams), the South Atlantic Seaboard (4 teams), the eastern part of the Upper Midwest (3 teams), and the south-central Ohio River Valley (1 team). In 2015, the IL continued to be the highest-drawing minor league, averaging 7,199 per game (down 70 per game, from the 7,269 per game the IL averaged in 2014).

The oldest team in the IL is the Rochester Red Wings…
The Red Wings, of Rochester, New York, have been an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins since 2003, and have existed as a pro ball club in Rochester – continuously – since 1899 {source: baseball-reference.com/[city, Rochester NY]}. Along with the Toledo Mud Hens and the Syracuse Chiefs, the Rochester Red Wings are [tied for being the] second biggest pro sports team in the USA which is community-owned (the biggest community-owned team in the USA is, of course, the Green Bay Packers of the NFL)/{sources: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fan-owned_sports_teams#Baseball ; Rochester Community Baseball}. The Rochester Red Wings are tied with the Columbus Clippers (established 1977) for the most Governor’s Cup International League titles – 10. Columbus, a Cleveland Indians affiliate since 2009, won the 2015 International League title (their 3rd IL title in 6 years). But the Governor’s Cup title was established in 1933 as the trophy for the IL’s then-newly-established playoffs {see this, Governor’s Cup}. So if you count all International League titles, starting in 1912 [when the Eastern League (I) changed its name to the International League], Rochester has won 14 IL titles (and 20 minor league baseball titles, overall). Rochester’s last IL title was in 1997.

The highest drawing team in the IL these days is the Charlotte Knights…
The Charlotte Knights have basically tripled their fan-base ever since leaving their inadequate ballpark that was situated way out of town. That ballpark was about 19 miles south of the Charlotte, North Carolina city center – and was actually out-of-state, in Fort Mill, South Carolina. In 2013, the Knights drew a league-worst 3.0 K per game at that in-the-middle-of-nowhere ballpark. Now (since 2014), the Knights play in a sweet new 10.2 K-capacity ballpark in downtown Charlotte, which is called BB&T Ballpark (Charlotte) {see illustration below}, and the Charlotte Knights pack ‘em in to the tune of 9.4 K per game. That has made the Charlotte Knights (an affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) the highest-drawing minor league team in all of the USA, Canada, and Mexico {see MiLB 2015 attendance figures at the links section at the top of this post}. The other high-drawing teams in the International League are the Indianapolis Indians (a Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate) and the aforementioned Columbus Clippers, both of whom draw above 9 K; while the Lehigh Valley IronPigs [of Allentown, PA] (a Philadelphia Phillies affiliate), and the Buffalo Bisons (a Toronto Blue Jays affiliate) both draw above 8 K.

Below: BB&T Ballpark (Charlotte). Home of the Charlotte Knights (the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox).
Best-drawing team in the IL & Best attendance in all of minor league baseball in 2015 (best of all 176 MiLB teams which record attendance)…
bb-and-t-ballpark_charlotte-knights_c_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Logos from sportslogos.net/[Charlotte Knights]. Exterior roof-top view of stadium, photo by Barton Mallow [architect] at bartonmalow.com/projects/Charlotte-Knights. Interior shot of ballpark with downtown Charlotte skyline in the background, photo by Charlotte Knights at milb.com/[Charlotte Knights/tickets].

The Pacific Coast League (PCL)…
-Pacific Coast League/current teams (en.wikipedia.org).
-Baseball-reference.com/BR Bullpen blog/Pacific Coast League (baseball-reference.com/bullpen).
The Pacific Coast League was established in 1903. The PCL currently [2016] has 16 teams in 4 divisions within 2 conferences. The PCL spans not only the Pacific Coast but the entire Western United States (that whole area of the continental USA which is west of the Mississippi River) – plus 3 teams east of the Mississippi: one in New Orleans and two in Tennessee. The reason for the vast geographical spread of the Pacific Coast League is that, in 1997, the PCL absorbed 5 teams from the defunct American Association, which was Midwestern-US-based, and was the third Triple-A affiliated league back then. (Here are the 5 former-American-Association-teams that were absorbed into the PCL in 1997: Iowa Cubs, Nashville Sounds, New Orleans Zephyrs, Oklahoma City RedHawks [now nicknamed the Dodgers], Omaha Royals [now nicknamed the Storm Chasers].) In 2015, the PCL continued to be the second-highest-drawing minor league, averaging 6,508 per game (up 223 per game, from the 6,285 per game the PCL averaged in 2014). The PCL title-winner last year [2015] was the Fresno Grizzlies, who are a Houston Astros affiliate.

The team with the most PCL titles no longer exists – that was the San Francisco Seals, who won 13 PCL titles before the team moved on (to Phoenix, AZ) after the 1957 season, to make way for big league baseball in the Bay Area, when the New York baseball Giants moved from New York City to become the San Francisco Giants in 1958.
Here is a small map that I put together in 2009 which shows the old, Golden-Age/early 1950s Pacfic Coast League…
pacific-coast-league_in-the-1950s_d.gif
Original source of image above – [PCL, 2009 map (incl. Golden Age of PCL/1950s map).] (billsportsmaps.com/MiLB Triple A)

The oldest city-location in the PCL is in Sacramento, California…
Sacramento’s first PCL team was in 1903, with several franchise-shifts since then; the current ball club there moved from Vancouver, BC, Canada to Sacramento in 2000, becoming the River Cats. The Sacramento River Cats, an affiliate of the nearby San Francisco Giants, are perennially the highest-drawing PCL team, and were again in 2015, drawing 9.3 K per game. The other high-drawing teams in the PCL are the Round Rock Express [of Greater Austin, TX] (a Texas Rangers affiliate), the El Paso Chihuahuas [est. 2014] (a San Diego Padres affiliate), and the Albuquerque Isotopes (a Colorado Rockies affiliate). [Side-note: the Albuqueque Isotopes are (brilliantly) named after the fictional ball club which moved from Springfield to Albuquerque, in a famous 2001 episode of The Simpsons/ see this article from Telegraph.co.uk, from May 2015 by Rebecca Hawkes: The Simpsons: 26 times real life echoed the show/ and see #17 there: 'When the Albuquerque Isotopes became a real baseball team'.] Those 3 teams – Round Rock Express, El Paso Chihuahuas, and Albuquerque Isotopes – all drew above 8 K last season [2015]. A team that drew very close to 8 K last year was the Nashville Sounds, who drew 7.9 K (and increased their crowd-size by over 3 thousand per game), thanks to their brand-new 10-K-capacity ballpark in the downtown of the Music City, First Tennessee Park.

Below: Raley Field. Home of the Sacramento River Cats (the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants).
Best-drawing team in the PCL & Third-best attendance in all of minor league baseball in 2015 (3rd-best of all 176 MiLB teams which record attendance)…
raley-field_sacramento-river-cats_e_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Logos from: sportslogos.net/[Sacramento River Cats]. Aerial view of stadium, photo unattributed at city-data.com. Interior/night-time view of a full house at Raley Field, photo by Chris at westsacliving.com/[blog article on visiting Raley Stadium]
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Thanks to BallparkDigest.com, for attendance figures, 2015 Affiliated Attendance by League (ballparkdigest.com).
Thanks to the contributors at:
-Pacific Coast League (en.wikipedia.org);
-International League (en.wikipedia.org).
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 Rochester Red Wings, for photo of home cap crest, here (redwings.milbstore.com/store).

March 26, 2011

Baseball in Mexico: Liga Mexicana de Béisbol (Mexican League), 2011.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: MiLB Triple-A,Mexico: Béisbol — admin @ 4:04 pm

Click on image below for full map page of the Mexican League…
mexico_liga-mexicana-de-beisbol_2011_post_b.gif
Mexican League




[Note: I have a more recent post on Mexican League baseball, from May 2015, which features the 3 new LMB teams, at the following link,
Mexico: Liga Mexicana de Béisbol (LMB) (Mexican League), location-map/attendance-map (2014 figures), with active-clubs titles list.
...
The Mexican League began it's 2011 season in mid-March, and at this point teams have played 5 or 6 games - MiLB site/Mexican League/standings [in Spanish], here.

On the map page, each team’s profile box includes the team’s year of formation, their ballpark and capacity, and their Mexican league titles (and year of last title). The team’s home and away uniforms are also shown. At the lower left of the map of Mexico is the 2010 final standings and playoff results, and next to that is 2010 Mexican League teams’ average home attendances.

The Mexican League is one of 3 Triple-A minor leagues in Organized Baseball. Unlike the other two Triple-A leagues – the Pacific Coast League (based in the west and midwest of the USA) and the International League (based in the east and midwest of the USA), the Mexican League’s teams are not affiliated with any of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs. In fact, the Mexican League has three minor leagues of it’s own, the Liga Norte de Mexico, the Liga de Beisbol del Noroeste de Mexico, and the Liga de Mexicana de Beisbol Academia (a winter league). The season is scheduled for 104 games, and runs from the middle of March, to mid-July, with the playoffs in late July/early August, then, in mid-August, the Serie Final (Final Series).

The Mexican League was founded in 1925, with 6 teams. The only original team that has survived to this day are Águilas Rojos de Veracruz (Veracruz Red Eagles), although there was a Mexico City team back then, and there is now a different, present-day Mexico City team – Diablos Rojos del México (Mexico City Red Devils), who were formed in 1940 and have won the most Mexican League titles, with 15 (their last title in 2008).

By the late 1930s, and into the 1940s, the Mexican League began to attract, via lucrative contracts and a more racially-tolerant atmosphere, a large contingent of top players from the Negro Leagues in America. Among the Negro League stars that crossed the border to play in Mexico were ‘Satchel’ Paige, Josh Gibson, ‘Cool Papa’ Bell and Ray Dandridge (all Baseball Hall of Fame members). During this era, Cuban-born players also arrived in numbers to play in the Mexican League. The combined effect of this was that Mexican-born players were pushed aside, as only a few, such as Angel Castro and Jesus Valenzuela, were competitive with the Negro League and Cuban players. And in 1946, white MLB players like Sal ‘the Barber’ Maglie and Hal Lanier were lured to play south of the border by fat contracts. But MLB put a stop to this with legal action in 1948, and at this point in time, with the 1947 breaking of the color barrier by Jackie Robinson, top drawer black ballplayers were able to join MLB teams, so the Mexican League ceased being a viable option. By the mid-1950s, the Mexican League was in dire financial straits. New owners in the ranks were instrumental in making the league part of Organized Baseball in the USA, first as a Double-A minor league circuit, then in 1967, the Mexican League became a Triple-A league.

Currently, there are 14 teams in the Mexican League (down from 16 teams in 2010). 2010 (and 2009) champions were Seraperos de Saltillo (Saltillo Serape Makers), who beat Pericos de Puebla (Puebla Parrots) 4 games to 1 in the 2010 Serie Final.
From Baseball de World.com, from 17 August, 2010, “Saltillo Seraperos Capture LMB Crown‘.
From PitLane.mx, Agosto 18, 2010, ‘Los bicampeones del beisbol mexicano...’
seraperos-de-saltillo_estadio-francisco-i-madero.gif
saltillo-serape-makers2010champions_c.gif
Photo credits – llbmexico.com Seraperos de Saltillo site. MinorLeagueBaseball.com/Travis Minix stats. PitLane.mx. Bing.com/maps.

Saltillo is the capital city of the state of Coahuila in northern Mexico, south and west of the southern panhandle of Texas, and 240 mi. (400 km.) west of Monterrey. Saltillo has a metro area population of around 725,000 {2005 census figure}. Its most famous exports are Saltillo tile, and the locally-woven, multi-colored zarapes (serapes). Saltillo has a sizable auto industry, with a GM assembly plant, a Chrysler truck assembly plant, and two engine facillities. I wouldn’t say Saltillo is the Detroit of Mexico (with Saltillo boasting more scenic beauty and less urban decay), but 37% of the cars and 62% of the trucks produced in Mexico are assembled in Saltillo. The Saltillo Serape Makers draw pretty well by current Mexican League standards, pulling in 5,272 per game 2 seasons ago, and, 4,946 in 2010, when they just barely made it into the 8-team playoffs, but then over-achieved in the post-season, going on to win their second consecutive title. Saltillo actually drew in to the 10,000s in 2005 and 2006, and in the 9,000s in 2007. Within that time period, another nearby team, 9-time-title-winners Sultanes de Monterrey (Monterrey Sultans), were drawing 17,990 per game in 2006, 9,639 per game in 2007 when Monterrey won the title, and 12,424 per game in 2008. But owing to the global economic collapse in late 2008, Mexican League attendances plummeted in 2009 and 2010, pretty much across the board, with turnstile increases only in teams that were doing well that season, such as with the 2010 Zona Norte first-place Mexico City Red Devils, with a +1,641 per game increase (to 5,280 per game), and the 2010 Monterrey Sultans (who had the fourth-best record in 2010), with a +2,013 per game increase (to 6,731 per game). You can see just how bad the poor economy has affected Mexican baseball’s drawing power, because Monterrey’s average attendance last season was only 37% of what it was just 5 years ago. And the Mexican League’s last expansion – in 2003, when it added 2 teams to make a 16-team league – that has been wiped away with the off-season demise of the Chihuahua Dorados and the Nuevo Laredo Owls.

Below is the list of Mexican League titles won by active ball clubs…
mexiican-league_all-time_titles-list_to-2010_c.gif

The Mexican League teams that make up the 2 divisions of -Zona Norte (North Division) and Zona Sul (South Division)

There is a cluster of 5 Mexican League teams in the north-east region of Mexico just south and west of Texas, including the aforementioned Saltillo Serape Makers and Monterrey Sultans. The other 3 teams in this cluster are Acereros de Monclova (Monclova Steelers), Vaqueros Laguna (Laguna Cowboys), and Broncos de Reynosa (Reynosa Broncos). Monclova Steelers have no titles, but draw well (highest attendance in 2009 at 8,114 per game; and 2nd highest draw at 5,304 per game last season). Laguna Cowboys also have no titles, and draw OK (6,014 per game 2 years ago). Reynosa is a city in the state of Tamaulipais, which is home to many of the foreign-owned factories known as the maquiladoras. Reynosa have 1 title to the franchise, but that was the first version of the team (which existed in the Mexican League from 1963 to 1976, and won the 1969 title). This third-version Reynosa Broncos (III) team came from Tijuana in 2009, as Potros de Tijuana (Tijuana Colts), who drew 8,361 per game in 2007, but 2 years later went bust, and were shipped by the league to Reynosa, Tamaulipas to re-start the Broncos franchise. (Basically they pulled a maneuver similar to what the Cleveland Browns (NFL) did, and contravened actual franchise-shift history and adopted the stats and titles of the old team. In other words, the Reynosa ball club are pretending they own the title that a previous Reynosa ball club won.) These 5 teams plus the aforementioned Mexico City and Puebla teams make up the Zona Norte. Puebla Parrots have won the fourth-most titles, with 4 titles (their last in 1986). Puebla moved over from the Zona Sur in the off-season to re-balance the league after the 2 teams dropped out. Now that those two teams (Nuevo Laredo and Chihuahua) are gone, the present Zona Norte teams look to have a considerably higher drawing power than the present Zona Sul teams.

The Zona Sul is made up of 5 teams which are strung out along the southern Gulf of Mexico coast, one team in the interior south of the capital, and one team on the coast facing the Caribbean. That last ball club is Tigres de Quintana Roo (Quintana Roo Tigers), of Cancún, Quintana Roo state, who are tied with Monterrey for the second-most titles, with 9 (their last title in 2005). The Tigres de Quintana Roo/Diablos Rojos de México rivalry is the biggest rivalry in Mexican baseball. The Zona Sul team from the interior is Guerreros de Oaxaca (Oaxaca Warriors), who moved from Mexico’s second-largest city, Guadalajara, in 1996. Two years later, in 1998, Oaxaca won the title. The other 5 teams in Zona Sul are…the venerable but 40-years-on-without-a-title Veracruz Red Eagles; the title-less and least-supported Petroleros de Minatitlán (Minatitlán Oilers); one-time-title-winner (1993 title) Olmecas de Tabasco (Tabasco Olmecs); the perpetually cash-strapped/two-time title winners (last in 2004) Piratas de Campeche (Campeche Pirates); and the best-supported Zona Sul team, three-time title-winners Leones de Yucatán (Yucatán Lions), who won their third title in 2006. The Yucatán Lions’ color scheme – dark green with orange trim – is an example of how in Mexican baseball, a considerable number of teams employ green, dark green, or teal as their primary color (5 teams), while the second-most popular primary color for a team is red (4 teams). This is like the colors of the Mexican flag. It’s a counterpoint to the plethora of MLB teams in the USA who sport variations of the American flag’s red, white, and blue [13 MLB teams total with variations/combinations of red-white-and-blue].
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Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com.
Saltillo ballpark at night from llbmexico.com
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, and es.wikipedia.org, ‘Mexican League (baseball)‘.
Liga Mexicana de Béisbol
For the blank map of Mexico, thanks to Sémhur at Wikimedia Commons, ‘Mexico states blank map svg‘.
Thanks to Ballparkdigest.com, for 2010 Mexican League attendances, here (all minor leagues’ 2010 average attendances). Thanks to The Biz of Baseball.com for 2009 attendances.

April 19, 2010

Minor League Baseball: the International League, the 14 ball clubs and their ballparks.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: MiLB Triple-A — admin @ 8:12 am

Please note: A more recent map of the International League (2016) is available, here:
Affiliated Triple-A minor league baseball (MiLB): location-map of 2 leagues, the Pacific Coast League (PCL) & the International League (IL) – with 2015 attendances and MLB-team-affiliations noted./ + illustrations for: the highest-drawing MiLB team in 2015, the Charlotte Knights & the 3rd-highest drawing team in MiLB in 2015, the Sacramento River Cats.

international-league_w-ballparksmlb-affiliations_post.gif




The International League is a Triple-A league, one of the three top-ranked minor leagues in the Major League Baseball farm system. [The other Triple-A leagues are the Pacific Coast League, and the Mexican League.]
Reigning champions are the Durham Bulls, the top minor league affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. The Bulls swept the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in 3 games  last September, to claim the Governor’s Cup.

Here is the official site of the minor leagues,  Minor League Baseball.com… MiLB.
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On the map, I have ball club profile boxes which contain the franchise history of each team (note- this is not the same as the minor league baseball history of each city, because just as major league teams (ie, franchises) can move from city to city, so too can minor league teams). I also have the full lists of MLB affiliations of each team, including the logo of each minor league team’s present-day parent-club.  Then there are a couple photos of each team’s ballpark, with capacity and opening date listed.

At the lower left on the map page, there is an article on the roots of the International League, and then brief histories of the three oldest teams in the league…the Rochester Red Wings, the Indianapolis Indians, and the Toledo Mud Hens. 

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Below- 2009 average attendances of International League teams, with the ball clubs’ current logos and home caps.

international-league_attendance2009.gif

Thanks to Little Ballparks.com {click here}.   Thanks to Ballpark Reviews.com {click here}.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org {click here (set at International League page)}.  
Thanks to http://international.league.milb.com/ , for information on the early history of the league.

April 14, 2010

Triple-A Baseball, the Pacific Coast League: 2009 attendances.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: MiLB Triple-A — admin @ 11:27 am

Please note: A more recent map of the PCL (2016) is available, here:
Affiliated Triple-A minor league baseball (MiLB): location-map of 2 leagues, the Pacific Coast League (PCL) & the International League (IL) – with 2015 attendances and MLB-team-affiliations noted./ + illustrations for: the highest-drawing MiLB team in 2015, the Charlotte Knights & the 3rd-highest drawing team in MiLB in 2015, the Sacramento River Cats.

pcl_2009attendance_post.gif



The Pacific Coast League, or PCL, is one of three Triple-A leagues in Major League Baseball’s minor league system [The other two Triple-A leagues are the eastern-USA-based International League, and the Mexican League.]. Triple-A is the highest designation in the minor league system. The Pacific Coast League was established in 1903. Since 1998, the PCL has been a 16-team league, and it now stretches from the Pacific Coast inland, all the way east to middle Tennessee.
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In the first half of the 20th century, and up until the end of the 1957 season, the Pacific Coast League had a unique postion among minor league baseball leagues. This was because all the other minor leagues had teams which were in close proximity to major league ball clubs. But since there were no MLB clubs further west than St. Louis, Missouri until 1958, the PCL had no competition for fans. One could say because of this isolation, the PCL was sort of in a class by itself. And in fact, from 1952 to 1957, the PCL was given the “Open” classification, putting them a step above the Triple-A classification. This was part of the Pacific Coast League’s attempt to become the third major league, alongside the American League and the National League.
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Seasons in the PCL could go from early February to December. In 1905, the San Francisco Seals played 230 games, and up until the mid-1950s, teams in the PCL were playing about 2 dozen more games (around 170-180 per season) than MLB teams.
Most PCL players were locally born, and wages were so competitive with other leagues, and even with the major leagues, that many skilled players chose to remain out west in the PCL, rather than sign with major league teams in the east. Of course, the PCL did produce some greats, indeed two of the all-time greatest ball players began here: Joe DiMaggio, with the San Francisco Seals, and Ted Williams, with the original, minor league San Diego Padres.

Below: The Pacific Coast League in the early 1950s…

pacific-coast-league_in-the-1950s_d.gif

The Los Angeles Angels, a charter member of the PCL dating back to 1903, played in the 21,000-capacity Wrigley Field (Los Angeles), from 1925 to 1957. Here is a page on the LA version of Wrigley Field, from the BallParkTour.com site… Wrigley Field (Los Angeles). The Los Angeles Angels were the flagship team and the second-most successful PCL team of the first 55 years of the league, winning 12 titles in that era (the San Francisco Seals won 14 titles in that era). The LA Angels’ big rivals were [the second incarnation of] the Hollywood Stars (1938-1957), who actually played right adjacent to Hollywood in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles, in the 13,000-capacity Gilmore Field (now the site of CBS Television City). True to their name, the ball club had movie stars as supporters, and even investors, of the team, and had the slogan “The Hollywood Stars owned by the Hollywood stars.” Star of Westerns Gene Autry was a principal owner, and the cinema superstar Gary Cooper was also a co-owner. Comedian and box-office topper Bob Hope was actively involved with the Stars, and in the link I have put in a couple of sentences on, you can see a photo of Hope hamming it up at Gilmore Field, alongside Gary Cooper.

However, being the third major league was not in the cards for the Pacific Coast League. The demise of train travel, and the rise of jet aircraft travel on a widespread basis circa the mid 1950s certainly led to the erosion of the PCL’s convenient isolation. But what really did in their preeminent status in the minor leagues was the arrival of two major league ball clubs. Basically, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants, by moving to California in 1958, put an end to the Golden Age of PCL baseball. After the Dodgers displaced both the Los Angeles Angels and the Hollywood Stars; and the Giants displaced the San Francisco Seals, these three ball clubs were forced to relocate to smaller markets, and the clout that the league had disappeared, almost overnight, as its once captive markets had a higher calibre of baseball nearby to follow, and its three strongest franchises were neutered. The LA Angels moved north, to eastern Washington state, as the Spokane Indians. The SF Seals moved to Arizona, as the Phoenix Giants. And the Hollywood Stars moved to Utah, as the second incarnation of the Salt Lake Bees, before folding in 1965 (a third Salt Lake Bees has been in the present-day PCL since 1994). Boy, moving from the center-of-the-universe nirvana of 1950s Hollywood to the ascetic cultural landscape of Utah…you really know the party is over when that happens.

So the 1958 move west of the Dodgers and the Giants was not just a wrenching loss for the borough of Brooklyn and National League baseball fans in the New York City area, but it also spelt the end of a halcyon era in west coast baseball.

The modern-day PCL took on 5 Midwest ball clubs in the autumn of 1997, when the American Association (minor league) folded. The teams that joined the PCL from the AA, after the 1997 season were: the Iowa Cubs, the Nashville Sounds, the New Orleans Zephyrs, the Omaha Royals, and the Oklahoma [City] RedHawks. That winter, another city from the middle of the country was added to balance the league at an even amount of teams…the Memphis Redbirds. Also in 1998, the Fresno Grizzlies joined the league (with the franchise that left Phoenix after Phoenix got an MLB team).

Since then, the PCL has shed all 3 of its Canadian teams. First to go was Vancouver, who in 1999 moved to the capital city of California to become the Sacramento River Cats. The River Cats are currently the highest-drawing team in the PCL, and averaged 9,126 per game last year.

Then in 2003, the Calgary Cannons moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico (who had lost a PCL team 2 years earlier). The fans in Albuquerque voted for the team’s nickname, The Isotopes, which is a reference to the baseball team from fictional Springfield, in The Simpsons. The Isotopes draw third-best in the PCL, and averaged 8,363 in 2009.

The third and last Canadian PCL team to go was the Edmonton Trappers, in 2005. This team now plays near Austin, Texas as the Round Rock Express. Round Rock draws well, second-best currently in the PCL, pulling in 8,708 per game last season.
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Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org…Pacific Coast League.
Thanks to Retro Brand (vintage wear) site, Retro Brand store.
Thanks to LogoServer, LogoServer, PCL logos.
Thanks to The Biz Of baseball site, for the attendance figures… Biz Of Baseball/Minor League Baseball Attendance Database.

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