International League

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This article is about the minor league baseball league. For other uses, see International League (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Inter-National League.
International League
Internationalleague.png
International League logo
Sport Baseball
Founded 1884
No. of teams 14
Country United States
Most recent champion(s) Durham Bulls
Most titles Rochester Red Wings (10)
Official website www.ilbaseball.com

The International League (IL) is a minor league baseball league that operates in the eastern United States. Like the Pacific Coast League and the Mexican League, it plays at the Triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball. It was so named because it had teams in both the United States and Canada (and for several years in the 1950s in Cuba as well). However, since the relocation of the Ottawa Lynx to Allentown, Pennsylvania, to become the Lehigh Valley IronPigs for the 2008 season, all of the league's teams are now based in the U.S.

History[edit]

International League baseball executives in 1915

The International League was created from the mergers of member teams from three precursor leagues: the Eastern League, founded in 1884; the New York State League, formed in 1885; and the Ontario League, also organized in 1885. The New York State and Ontario leagues merged in 1886 to form the International League, and in 1887 the Eastern League was absorbed to create a 10-club league.

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. Teams and league names came and went over the years. 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 1971, an International League all-star team beat the New York Yankees in an exhibition game in Rochester, New York, before 11,000 people. In 1984, the all-stars lost to the Cleveland Indians in 11 innings before 11,032 fans in Columbus, Ohio, to commemorate the league's 100th anniversary.

Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, PA, home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

The International League and the American Association, another Triple-A league that operated in the Midwest, voted in 1988 to play inter-league games. The league also split into two divisions that year. The inter-league concept ended in 1992, but the two league divisions remained.

In further inter-league play, in 1988, the three Triple-A leagues, the other being the Pacific Coast League, met to play the first Triple-A All-Star Game. One team was made up of All-Stars from American League affiliates and the other of National League affiliates. Beginning in 1998, a team of IL All-Stars faced off against a team of PCL All-Stars. This game was the first of its kind. It was played in the Buffalo Bison's new stadium, Pilot Field (now known as Coca-Cola Field).

Also in 1998, with the addition of three new teams from the disbanded American Association and the Durham Bulls who previously played in the Carolina League, the International League reorganized into three divisions: the North Division, South Division, and West Division.

At the end of each season, the three divisional leaders and a wild card team square off in best-of-5 playoffs, with the winning team of the finals awarded the Governors' Cup, the league's championship trophy.

Since 2006 the league champion has met to play the PCL champion in the Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game, a single Triple-A Championship game. Previous class championship series included the Junior World Series and the Triple-A World Series.

Current teams[edit]

Division Team Founded1 MLB Affiliation City Stadium Capacity2
North Buffalo Bisons 1979 Toronto Blue Jays Buffalo, New York Coca-Cola Field 18,025
Lehigh Valley IronPigs 2008 Philadelphia Phillies Allentown, Pennsylvania Coca-Cola Park 10,100
Pawtucket Red Sox 1973 Boston Red Sox Pawtucket, Rhode Island McCoy Stadium 10,031
Rochester Red Wings 1899 Minnesota Twins Rochester, New York Frontier Field 13,500
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders 1989 New York Yankees Moosic, Pennsylvania PNC Field 10,000
Syracuse Chiefs 1961 Washington Nationals Syracuse, New York NBT Bank Stadium 11,071
South Charlotte Knights 1993 Chicago White Sox Charlotte, North Carolina BB&T Ballpark 10,200
Durham Bulls 1998 Tampa Bay Rays Durham, North Carolina Durham Bulls Athletic Park3 10,000
Gwinnett Braves 2009 Atlanta Braves Lawrenceville, Georgia Coolray Field 10,475
Norfolk Tides 1969 Baltimore Orioles Norfolk, Virginia Harbor Park 12,067
West Columbus Clippers 1977 Cleveland Indians Columbus, Ohio Huntington Park 10,100
Indianapolis Indians 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates Indianapolis, Indiana Victory Field 14,230
Louisville Bats 1982 Cincinnati Reds Louisville, Kentucky Louisville Slugger Field 13,131
Toledo Mud Hens 1965 Detroit Tigers Toledo, Ohio Fifth Third Field 10,300
1 Indicates current IL franchise's first year in current city. Some franchises have prior history in other cities, or had local predecessor franchises at other levels that shared their current name.
2 Many stadiums have lawn seating and thus capacity is approximate.
3 Will host the 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game

Current team rosters[edit]

Defunct teams[edit]

Champions[edit]

List of Governors' Cup champions

In 1933, the International League introduced a new playoff system, awarding the winner the Governors' Cup. This has become the recognized International League champion.

Championships by Team[edit]

Rank Team Championships Years
1 Rochester Red Wings 10 1939, 1952, 1955, 1956, 1964, 1971, 1974, 1988, 1990, 1997
2 Columbus Clippers 9 1979, 1980, 1981, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1996, 2010, 2011
3 Syracuse Chiefs 8 1935, 1942, 1943, 1947, 1954, 1969, 1970, 1976
4 Montreal Royals 7 1941, 1946, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1953, 1958
5 Buffalo Bisons 6 1933, 1936, 1957, 1961, 1998, 2004
6 Norfolk Tides 5 1972, 1975, 1982, 1983, 1985
Richmond Braves 5 1978, 1986, 1989, 1994, 2007
8 Newark Bears 4 1937, 1938, 1940, 1945
Toronto Maple Leafs 4 1964, 1960, 1965, 1966
Durham Bulls 4 2002, 2003, 2009, 2013
11 Toledo Mud Hens 3 1967, 2005, 2006
Pawtucket Red Sox 3 1973, 1984, 2012
13 Baltimore Orioles 2 1944, 1950
Charlotte Knights 2 1993, 1999
Indianapolis Indians 2 1963, 2000
16 Havana Sugar Kings 1 1959
Atlanta Crackers 1 1962
Jacksonville Suns 1 1968
Charleston Charlies 1 1977
Ottawa Lynx 1 1995
Louisville Bats 1 2001
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees 1 2008

Italics indicate team is now defunct.

MVP award[edit]

Hall of fame[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]