International League

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International League
Logo of the International League.png

sport baseball
abbreviation IL
League foundation 1884
Teams 14th
Country countries United StatesUnited States United States
Title holder Scranton / Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
Record champions Rochester Red Wings (10)
^ Major League Baseball

The International League is a minor league in American baseball . It is, along with the Mexican League and the Pacific Coast League , one of three leagues that belong to the Triple-A class .

The league was founded in 1884 through a merger of several baseball leagues. The league got its current name because it was a member of Canadian teams from the beginning until 2008 . In the meantime there was also a team from Cuba and one from Puerto Rico , but after a short time they moved back to the USA. The league now consists of fourteen teams, all of which are located in the eastern United States .


There are a total of 14 teams in the International League, which are divided into three different divisions . There is a North , a West and a South Division. The West and South Divisions each have four teams, while the North Division has six teams. The International League season begins in April and ends with the Governors' Cup final in September or October. Each team must first play around 140 regular season games and meet each team in the league several times during the season. The winners of the individual divisions then qualify for the play-offs after the end of the regular season . In addition, there is always a wildcard team , namely the best runner-up from all divisions, with the highest win rate. In the play-offs, the winner of the West Division meets the winner of the South Division . The North Division winner competes against the wildcard team . These teams then compete against each other in a best-of-five series. The winners of these series then meet in the final of the Governors' Cup.


Babe Ruth

The league was founded in 1885 through the merger of the New York State League and the Ontario League to form the International League. Two years later, the league took on two Eastern League teams that had stopped playing. Since the Eastern League was founded in 1884, this year is given as the year the International League was founded. The first few years of the new league were quite turbulent. In the beginning, new teams were constantly added while others were eliminated from the league. This constant change in the participating teams led to the league briefly disbanded in 1890. However, it re-formed relatively quickly and resumed gaming in 1891. Nevertheless, the league's financial situation remained tense. That subsided over time and the league experienced an upswing at the beginning of the 20th century. New baseball stadiums were built all over the country and interest in the International League increased. Even so, the teams did not have enough money to keep top players, and so, for example, the Baltimore Orioles had to sell their star player Babe Ruth to the Boston Red Sox from Major League Baseball .

When the USA entered the First World War in 1918 , the International League had to reorganize and narrow down the catchment area of ​​the participating teams. At the time, the league was still the only one in the minor league system to manage the 1918 season. In the 1920s, the Baltimore Orioles and Rochester Red Wings formed the first dynasties in the league. At the end of that decade, the league ran into financial difficulties again, mainly due to the Great Depression . These difficulties subsided in 1933 when the general manager of the Montreal Royals , Frank Shaughnessy , introduced the playoff system in the league, which continues to this day. After that, there were quiet times for the league both financially and in terms of teams.

In 1946, the Montreal Royals caused a sensation again when they signed a dark-skinned player for the first time with Jackie Robinson . This made Robinson the first dark-skinned player in the International League and was also a year later in the MLB. Eight years later, the league lived up to its name and took the Havana Sugar Kings from Cuba into the league, which means that there were now teams from a total of three different countries. The Kings then stayed in the league until 1960 before the team was relocated to the United States due to political unrest in Cuba. Overall, there were many relocations of teams within the league in the 1960s. In the course of this, there was also a brief team in the Puerto Rican capital San Juan .

McCoy Stadium, home of the longest baseball game in history

In the 1970s, the International League was largely quiet again before it caused a sensation in the 1981 season. Because on April 18, 1981 at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings , with a total of 32 innings without a winner, the longest professional baseball game in history. The 33rd inning was then played a few days later and Pawtucket then managed to get a run that resulted in a 3-2 win. Such marathon games were not uncommon at this time and so the triple A system was renewed in 1988 . This system was valid until 1991 and said that each team had to play 42 so-called interleague games against teams from the then other triple-A league, the American Association , during the regular season . This did not benefit the teams in the International League, as very few of them managed to achieve a positive balance. Therefore the system was not continued after 1991.

The Major League Baseball strike in 1994 resulted in the International League gaining greater media coverage than ever before. So it came about that even regular season games of the International League were broadcast nationwide on ESPN or TNT . This presence ended quickly after the end of the 1994 season. Three years after the baseball minor leagues had come to the fore, the American Association dissolved. Therefore, the International League took on three teams in this league with Buffalo, Indianapolis, and Louisville. When the terrorist attacks took place on September 11, 2001 four years later , this did not leave the International League unaffected and so the best-of-five series for the Governors' Cup was canceled after only one game and the winner from the first game, the Louisville Bats , were named series winners. In 2008 and 2009, the league saw its last team moves. First, the Ottawa Lynx moved and were the last team from Canada to be represented in the league. The last move to date was in 2009 when the Richmond Braves moved to Lawrenceville , Gwinnett County .


division team City / region Stadium (-name) Founded joined the league Farm team of
North Buffalo bison Buffalo , NY Coca-Cola Field 1979 1998 Toronto Blue Jays
Lehigh Valley IronPigs Allentown , PA Coca-Cola Park 1993 Philadelphia Phillies
Pawtucket Red Sox Pawtucket , RI McCoy Stadium 1970 1973 Boston Red Sox
Rochester Red Wings Rochester , NY Frontier Field 1899 Minnesota Twins
Scranton / Wilkes-Barre RailRiders Moosic , PA PNC Field 1886 New York Yankees
Syracuse Chiefs Syracuse , NY NBT Bank Stadium 1934 1958 Washington Nationals
South Charlotte Knights Charlotte , NC BB&T Ballpark 1976 1993 Chicago White Sox
Durham Bulls Durham , NC Durham Bulls Athletic Park 1902 1998 Tampa Bay Rays
Gwinnett Braves Lawrenceville , GA Coolray Field 2009 Atlanta Braves
Norfolk Tides Norfolk , VA Harbor Park 1961 1969 Baltimore Orioles
west Columbus Clippers Columbus , OH Huntington Park 1977 Cleveland Indians
Indianapolis Indians Indianapolis , IN Victory Field 1902 1998 Pittsburgh Pirates
Louisville Bats Louisville , KY Louisville Slugger Field 1966 1998 Cincinnati Reds
Toledo Mud Hens Toledo , OH Fifth third field 1897 1965 Detroit Tigers

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Robinson and the Royals
  2. Baseball's longest game, 30 years later