International League
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International League

International League
Internationalleague.png
Classification
SportBaseball
Founded1884 (138 years ago) (1884)
No. of teams20
CountryUnited States
Most recent
champion(s)
Durham Bulls (2021)
Most titlesRochester Red Wings (19)
TV partner(s)MiLB.TV, MLB Network, and local sports networks
Official websitewww.milb.com

The International League (IL) is a Minor League Baseball league that operates in the United States. Along with the Pacific Coast League, it is one of two leagues playing at the Triple-A level, which is one grade below Major League Baseball (MLB).

The league traces its roots to 1884, while the modern IL began in 1912. Following MLB's reorganization of the minor leagues in 2021, it operated as the Triple-A East for one season before switching back to its previous moniker in 2022. It is so named because throughout its history the International League had teams in Canada and Cuba as well as those in the United States. Since 2008, however, all of its teams have been based in the US. The IL's 20 teams are located in 14 states stretching from Papillion, Nebraska, to Worcester, Massachusetts, and from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Jacksonville, Florida.

A league champion is determined at the end of each season. The Rochester Red Wings have won 19 International League titles, the most in the league's history, followed by the Columbus Clippers (11) and the Baltimore Orioles, original Buffalo Bisons, and Toronto Maple Leafs (10). During the era of the Governors' Cup playoffs from 1933 to 2020, the most cup titles were won by Columbus (11), followed by Rochester (10) and the Syracuse Mets (8).

History

The International League was created from the mergers of member teams from three precursor leagues: the Eastern League of 1884, which was itself a re-organization of the Interstate Association of 1883; the New York State League, formed in 1885; and the Ontario League, also organized in 1885. The New York State League and Ontario League merged in 1886 to form the International League, and in 1887 the Eastern League was absorbed to create a ten-club league. Also in 1887, the International League passed a resolution barring African Americans from playing in the league.[1] The league collapsed soon afterwards, when the northern teams claimed that it was too onerous to travel to the south and formed the International Association.

International League baseball executives in 1915

The "International League" name was first used in 1886,[2] but did not become the longterm name of the league until 1912. The league ultimately cited 1884 as the year of its foundation, through the following lineage:[3]

The International League was also affected by the effort to establish the Federal League as a new third major league from 1914 to 1915, with franchises being added and dropped and new ballparks built. In 1954, a franchise was awarded to Havana, Cuba, but due to political upheaval in that country it had to be moved--to Jersey City, New Jersey--in the middle of the 1960 season. Another foray into the Caribbean failed when the newly created team in San Juan, Puerto Rico, added in 1961, had to be moved to Charleston, West Virginia, in mid-season.

In June 1971, an IL all-star team beat the New York Yankees, 15-13, in an exhibition game at Silver Stadium in Rochester, New York, before a crowd of 11,001--notable players on the all-star squad included Don Baylor, Carlton Fisk, and Bobby Grich.[4] In August 1983, another team of IL all-stars were defeated by the Cleveland Indians, 8-6, in 11 innings before 11,032 fans at Franklin County Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.[5]

The International League and the American Association, another Triple-A league that operated in the Midwest, voted in 1988 to play interleague games as part of the Triple-A Alliance.[6] The league also split into two divisions that year. The interleague concept ended in 1992, but the two league divisions remained.

In 1998, the International League reorganized into three divisions with the addition of four new teams--the Buffalo Bisons, Indianapolis Indians, and Louisville Redbirds joined from the disbanded American Association, while the Durham Bulls joined from the Class A Carolina League.[7]

The start of the 2020 season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic before ultimately being cancelled on June 30.[8][9] Prior to the 2021 season, Major League Baseball (MLB) assumed control of Minor League Baseball in a move to increase player salaries, modernize facility standards, and reduce travel through better geographical alignment.[10] As part of this reorganization, the International League was expanded to 20 teams and temporarily renamed the "Triple-A East" for the 2021 season.[10] Of these 20 teams, 14 were existing members of the International League,[11] four were the easternmost teams from the Pacific Coast League,[12] one was promoted from the Double-A Southern League,[13] and one moved from the independent American Association of Professional Baseball.[14] Following MLB's acquisition of the rights to the names of the historical minor leagues, the Triple-A East was renamed the International League effective with the 2022 season.[15]

Structure and season

The International League is divided into the East Division and West Division, each consisting of 10 teams. As of the 2022 season, all teams play a 150-game schedule, beginning in early April and concluding in late September.[16]

Championship and interleague play

IL All-Stars at the 2015 Triple-A All-Star Game

After the completion of the season, the two division champions meet in a single game to determine a league champion.[17] From 1933 to 2019, the three division champions and a wild card team squared off in series playoffs to determine a champion, with the winner awarded the Governors' Cup, the league's championship trophy.[18] Following the cancelled 2020 season, rather than hold playoffs for its championship, the 2021 title was awarded to the team with the best regular-season record.[19]

In further postseason play, the IL champion meets the Pacific Coast League's champion in the Triple-A National Championship Game, a single game to determine an overall champion of Triple-A baseball, which has been held annually since 2006, excluding 2020 and 2021. Previously, the IL champion also competed in the Triple-A World Series (1983, 1998-2000), Junior World Series (1919), and other sporadic postseason competitions throughout the league's history.

Other interleague play occurred during the Triple-A All-Star Game. Traditionally, the game had taken place on the day after the mid-summer Major League Baseball All-Star Game.[20] The game was meant to mark a symbolic halfway-point in the season (though not the mathematical halfway-point which, for most seasons, is usually one month prior). During the All-Star break, no regular-season games were scheduled for two days before the All-Star Game itself.[21]

Current teams

Division Team Founded MLB Affiliation Affiliated Since City Stadium Capacity
East Buffalo Bisons 1979 Toronto Blue Jays 2013 Buffalo, New York Sahlen Field 16,600
Charlotte Knights 1976 Chicago White Sox 1999 Charlotte, North Carolina Truist Field 10,200
Durham Bulls 1980 Tampa Bay Rays 1998 Durham, North Carolina Durham Bulls Athletic Park 10,000
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp 1962 Miami Marlins 2021 Jacksonville, Florida 121 Financial Ballpark 11,000
Lehigh Valley IronPigs 2008 Philadelphia Phillies 2007 Allentown, Pennsylvania Coca-Cola Park 10,100
Norfolk Tides 1961 Baltimore Orioles 2007 Norfolk, Virginia Harbor Park 11,856
Rochester Red Wings 1899 Washington Nationals 2021 Rochester, New York Frontier Field 10,840
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders 1989 New York Yankees 2007 Moosic, Pennsylvania PNC Field 10,000
Syracuse Mets 1934 New York Mets 2019 Syracuse, New York NBT Bank Stadium 10,815
Worcester Red Sox 2021 Boston Red Sox 2021 Worcester, Massachusetts Polar Park 9,508
West Columbus Clippers 1977 Cleveland Guardians 2009 Columbus, Ohio Huntington Park 10,100
Gwinnett Stripers 2009 Atlanta Braves 2009 Lawrenceville, Georgia Coolray Field 10,427
Indianapolis Indians 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates 2005 Indianapolis, Indiana Victory Field 13,750
Iowa Cubs 1969 Chicago Cubs 1981 Des Moines, Iowa Principal Park 11,500
Louisville Bats 1982 Cincinnati Reds 2000 Louisville, Kentucky Louisville Slugger Field 13,131
Memphis Redbirds 1998 St. Louis Cardinals 1998 Memphis, Tennessee AutoZone Park 10,000
Nashville Sounds 1978 Milwaukee Brewers 2021 Nashville, Tennessee First Horizon Park 10,000
Omaha Storm Chasers 1969 Kansas City Royals 1969 Papillion, Nebraska Werner Park 9,023
St. Paul Saints 1993 Minnesota Twins 2021 Saint Paul, Minnesota CHS Field 7,210
Toledo Mud Hens 1965 Detroit Tigers 1987 Toledo, Ohio Fifth Third Field 10,300
Current team locations:
  East Division
  West Division

League timeline

These teams were either charter members of the IL in 1912 or were added as expansion teams thereafter.[11]

Former American Association teams

Three current teams joined the IL in 1998 from the American Association, which disbanded after the 1997 season.[22] Indianapolis had previously played in the IL in 1963.[11]

Former Pacific Coast League teams

Four current teams were placed in the IL from the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 2021.[12]

Former Southern League teams

One current team was placed in the IL from the Double-A Southern League in 2021.[13]

  • Jacksonville Suns (1962-1968, 1970-1984) -> Jacksonville Expos (1985-1990) -> Jacksonville Suns (1991-2016) -> Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (2017-present)

Former independent teams

One current team was placed in the IL from the independent American Association of Professional Baseball in 2021.[23]

Champions

The International League has crowned a league champion each season since 1884. Through 1932, champions were the regular-season pennant winners--the team with the best win-loss record at the conclusion of the regular season. From 1933 to 2020, postseason playoffs were held to determine champions. Participants from 1933 to 1987 were usually the four teams with the highest winning percentage. From 1988 to 2020, the four qualifiers were the division winners and one or two wild card teams. The winner of each season's championship playoffs was awarded the Governors' Cup. These playoffs and the Governors' Cup trophy were discontinued in 2021. The 2021 winner was the team with the best regular-season record, and the 2022 championship will be decided via a single game between the winners of the East and West Divisions.

Active International League teams appear in bold.

Championship wins by team
Team Wins Governors'
Cup wins
Year(s)
Rochester Red Wings (Rochester Bronchos/Hustlers) 19 10 1899, 1901, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1939, 1952, 1955, 1956, 1964, 1971, 1974, 1988, 1990, 1997
Columbus Clippers 11 11 1979, 1980, 1981, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1996, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2019
Baltimore Orioles 10 2 1908, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1944, 1950
Buffalo Bisons (1886-1970) 4 1891, 1904, 1906, 1915, 1916, 1927, 1933, 1936, 1957, 1961
Toronto Maple Leafs 4 1902, 1907, 1912, 1917, 1918, 1926, 1934, 1960, 1965, 1966
Montreal Royals 8 7 1898, 1941, 1946, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1953, 1958
Syracuse Mets (Syracuse Chiefs) 8 1935, 1942, 1943, 1947, 1954, 1969, 1970, 1976
Durham Bulls 7 6 2002, 2003, 2009, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2021
Newark Bears 5 4 1932, 1937, 1938, 1940, 1945
Norfolk Tides (Tidewater Tides) 5 1972, 1975, 1982, 1983, 1985
Providence Grays (Providence Clamdiggers) 0 1894, 1896, 1900, 1905, 1914
Richmond Braves 5 1978, 1986, 1989, 1994, 2007
Pawtucket Red Sox 4 4 1973, 1984, 2012, 2014
Syracuse Stars 3 0 1885, 1888, 1897
Toledo Mud Hens 3 1967, 2005, 2006
Buffalo Bisons (1979-present) 2 2 1998, 2004
Charlotte Knights 2 1993, 1999
Detroit Wolverines 0 1889, 1890
Indianapolis Indians 2 1963, 2000
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees) 2 2008, 2016
Atlanta Crackers 1 1 1962
Binghamton Bingoes 0 1892
Charleston Charlies 1 1977
Erie Blackbirds 0 1893
Havana Sugar Kings 1 1959
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Jacksonville Suns) 1 1968
Jersey City Skeeters 0 1903
Louisville Bats (Louisville RiverBats) 1 2001
Newark Indians 0 1913
Ottawa Lynx 1 1995
Springfield Maroons 0 1895
Toronto Canucks 0 1887
Trenton Trentonians 0 1884
Utica Pent-Ups 0 1886

Awards

The IL recognizes outstanding players and team personnel annually near the end of each season.

MVP Award

The Most Valuable Player Award, first awarded in 1932, is given to honor the best player in the league.[24]

Most Valuable Pitcher Award

The Most Valuable Pitcher Award, first awarded in 1953, serves to recognize the league's best pitcher. Pitchers were eligible to win the MVP award from 1932 to 1952 as no award was designated solely for pitchers.[24]

Rookie of the Year Award

The Rookie of the Year Award, created in 1950, is given to the best player with no prior IL experience.[24]

Manager of the Year Award

The Manager of the Year Award, started in 1967, is given to the league's top manager.[24]

Executive of the Year Award

The Executive of the Year Award, first awarded in 1964, honored team executives who contributed to the success of the league.[24]

Spirit of the International League Award

The Spirit of the International League Award, first awarded in 2010, honored team executives who exhibited dedication to creating and maintaining positive fan experiences when visiting IL games.[24][25]

International League Hall of Fame

The International League Hall of Fame was established in 1947 to honor league players, managers, and executives who have made significant contributions to the league. The Hall of Fame inducted its first class of nine men in 1947. A plaque was unveiled at the IL's New York City offices located in the Ruppert Building at 535 Fifth Avenue. Today, the plaque has no permanent home, but exists as a traveling display that visits a number of the league's ballparks each season. The Hall became dormant after 1963, but was revived in 2007. New members are elected before the start of each season.[26]

See also

References

  1. ^ Mancuso, Peter. "July 14, 1887: The color line is drawn | Society for American Baseball Research". sabr.org. Society for American Baseball Research. Archived from the original on April 16, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  2. ^ "The Diamond Field". San Francisco Examiner. March 29, 1886. p. 2. Retrieved 2021 – via newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "International League Yearly Standings". Stats Crew. Retrieved 2022.
  4. ^ Castor, Jim (June 25, 1971). "Stars Outslug Yanks, 15-13". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York. p. D1. Retrieved 2021 – via newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "Perkins keys Tribe's 8-6 win over IL stars". Telegraph-Forum. Bucyrus, Ohio. UPI. August 19, 1983. p. 11. Retrieved 2021 – via newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "Notable Events in American Association History". Triple-A Baseball. Retrieved 2017.
  7. ^ Bray, Jim (January 29, 1998). "Lynx open April 9 at JetForm". Ottawa Citizen. Ontario. p. B2. Retrieved 2021 – via newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "A Message From Pat O'Conner". Minor League Baseball. March 13, 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  9. ^ "2020 Minor League Baseball Season Shelved". Minor League Baseball. June 30, 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  10. ^ a b Mayo, Jonathan (February 12, 2021). "MLB Announces New Minors Teams, Leagues". Major League Baseball. Retrieved 2021.
  11. ^ a b c "International League (AAA) Encyclopedia and History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved 2021.
  12. ^ a b "Pacific Coast League (AAA) Encyclopedia and History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved 2021.
  13. ^ a b "Southern League (AA) Encyclopedia and History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved 2021.
  14. ^ "American Association (Independent) Encyclopedia and History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved 2021.
  15. ^ "Historical League Names to Return in 2022". Minor League Baseball. March 16, 2022. Retrieved 2022.
  16. ^ Franco, Anthony (February 3, 2022). "Triple-A Baseball Season Expanded to 150 Games". MLB Trade Rumors. Retrieved 2022.
  17. ^ "Las Vegas to Host Inaugural Triple-A Triple Championship Weekend". Minor League Baseball. May 3, 2022. Retrieved 2022.
  18. ^ "International League Personnel and Staff". International League. Retrieved 2017.
  19. ^ "MiLB Announces 'Triple-A Final Stretch' for 2021". Minor League Baseball. July 14, 2021. Retrieved 2021.
  20. ^ "Omaha Storm Chasers and Werner Park to Host 2015 Triple-A Baseball All-Star Game". Omaha Storm Chasers. Minor League Baseball. March 5, 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  21. ^ "Durham Lands 2014 Triple-A ASG". Minor League Baseball. February 20, 2013. Retrieved 2014.
  22. ^ "American Association (AA) Encyclopedia and History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved 2022.
  23. ^ "American Association (Independent) Encyclopedia and History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved 2021.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g "International League Award Winners". International League. Retrieved 2017.
  25. ^ "IL honors Syracuse's Don Waful". International League. March 30, 2016. Retrieved 2017.
  26. ^ "International League Hall of Fame". International League. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved 2016.

External links


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