The California League is a Class A Advanced minor league baseball league which operates throughout the state of California. Before 2002, it was classified as a "High-A" league, indicating its status as a Class A league with the highest level of competition within that classification, and the fifth step between Rookie ball and the Major Leagues. Although Minor League Baseball, the umbrella organization for Minor Leagues that are affiliated with Major League Baseball, has eliminated the distinction between High-A and other full-season A leagues, most Major League teams still use such leagues as a standard promotion step. A few draftees, generally early-round draftees with college experience, will be assigned to a High-A team upon signing a professional contract, but generally players will not arrive at this level until their third or fourth year of professional play.
There were various attempts in the 1800s and early 1900s to form a California League. The first lasted from 1887-1889, then 1891, 1893, and 1899-1902. After the National Association of minor leagues was formed in 1902, the California League operated outside the NA as an independent league in 1902 and again from 1907-1909. Unfortunately this led to huge differences in the quality of teams competing with each other. In 1907 San Francisco was 3-34, while in 1908 San Francisco was 9-67 and Oakland was 4-71. Oakland and San Francisco competed in every year of these various leagues, with San Francisco having two teams 1887-1888.
All of the current teams are playing in stadiums that have been built or extensively renovated since 1990. League attendance continues to increase each season, with over one million fans attending games per year. The league is divided into a Northern Division and a Southern Division.
Modesto Nuts (1946-present, as Modesto Reds in 1946-61; as Modesto Yankees 1962-69, Modesto Cardinals 1970-74 and Modesto A's 1975-2004)
Oakland Oaks (1941, moved to Visalia as a result of World War II 1942-45); Oakland became a Pacific Coast League city, while Visalia Oaks folded by 1944.
Palm Springs Angels (1985-93) before relocation to Lake Elsinore in 1994. Palm Springs was the former spring training camp for the then-California Angels from 1961 to 1993. Palm Springs held other minor league and collegiate teams in the 1990s and 2000s.
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (1966-present, as Lodi Crushers under affiliation with the San Francisco Giants in 1966-69; as Lodi Padres in 1970-71; as Lodi Orioles in 1972; as Lodi Lions in 1973; as Lodi Orions 1974-75 all under affiliation with the Baltimore Orioles; as Lodi Dodgers in 1976-83; as Lodi Crushers under affiliation with the Seattle Mariners in 1984; as Ventura County Gulls in 1986; as San Bernardino Spirit in 1987-92) but another team with the name appeared.
The Los Angeles area, Riverside, San Bernardino, Palm Springs, Yuma (AZ) and Las Vegas (NV) were also major league spring training site cities, as well possessed California League teams on different occasions.
Cities that have had California League Teams (current in bold)