American Association (20th century)
The American Association was a minor league baseball league at the Triple-A level of baseball in the United States from 1902 to 1962 and 1969 to 1997. Together with the International League, it contested the Junior World Series which determined the championship team in minor league baseball, at least for the eastern half of the United States. Later, its teams would also compete in the Triple-A World Series, and its players in the Triple-A All-Star Game.
For most of the American Association's existence, in both incarnations, it comprised teams primarily from the central part of the United States. The league's attendance base began to be eroded significantly in the 1950s and early 1960s due to expansion and westward migration of major league teams into several of the AA's larger member cities: Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Kansas City, Missouri; and Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota. By 1961, the league was down to six clubs.
After the 1962 season, the American Association disbanded, and some of its member teams were distributed between the Pacific Coast League and the International League, while others (the Louisville Colonels and Omaha Dodgers) folded. The Indianapolis Indians were first assigned to the IL but then, in a geographic oddity, they were switched to the PCL. The Dallas Rangers, the Denver Bears, and the Oklahoma City 89ers also went to the PCL.
With major league expansion in 1969, and the need for four new Triple-A farm teams, the time seemed right for reviving the league, which re-acquired its old Indianapolis territory from the PCL, along with several cities that were new to the Association.
In the early 1990s, with significant cities like Buffalo, Denver, Indianapolis, and others in the league, the American Association published a media guide with a league map on the cover and the question "Can It Be the Third Major League?" The President of the American Association at the time was Branch Rickey III, grandson of Branch Rickey, who integrated major league baseball in 1947 and later headed up the proposed Continental League, which was to be a third major league.
After the 1997 season, the American Association disbanded for the second time, and its teams were again distributed to the remaining Triple-A leagues. The Iowa Cubs, Nashville Sounds, New Orleans Zephyrs, Oklahoma City 89ers (renamed the Oklahoma RedHawks, now the Oklahoma City RedHawks), and Omaha Royals migrated to the West Coast Pacific Coast League starting with the 1998 season. The Buffalo Bisons, Indianapolis Indians, and Louisville Redbirds became part of the International League, also starting in 1998.
The Buffalo Bisons were the last league champions in 1997, and the trophy is still in their possession.
On and off, from 1905 to 1975, the American Association champion played against the champion from the International League in the Junior World Series. The champions from these two leagues and the Pacific Coast League also met during 1983 at the Triple-A World Series.
From 1988 until the league's demise in 1997, players from all three Triple-A leagues were selected to play in the mid-season Triple-A All-Star Game. One team was made up of All-Stars from American League affiliates and the other of National League affiliates.
Complete team list
1902-1962 Team timeline
1969-1997 Team timeline
League champions and MVPs 1933-1997