The first incarnation of the FECL was as a Class D circuit that played from 1940 through May 14, 1942. It shut its doors, along with many other minor leagues, a few months after the United States entered World War II, and, despite the postwar baseball boom, it was not revived.
The second Florida East Coast League was a Rookie-class "complex league" owned and operated by Major League Baseball clubs. It existed for one season — 1972 — and was intended to provide a second Florida-based league for 18- and 19-year-old players, along with the established Gulf Coast League, which is located in southwest and west-central Florida. The FECL of 1972 featured four teams based at minor league training complexes in Cocoa and Melbourne.