Northern League (baseball, 1902–71)

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This article is about the original incarnations of the Northern League, which operated between 1902 and 1971. For the more recent league, see Northern League (baseball, 1993–2010).
Northern League
Northern League Baseball Logo.svg
Sport Baseball
Founded 1902
Countries  United States
Continent North America

The Northern League was a name used by several minor league baseball organizations that operated off and on between 1902 and 1971 in the upper midwestern United States and Manitoba, Canada. In total, there have been six incarnations of the Northern League, with the most recent beginning play in 1993 and ending after the 2010 season.


The Northern League name represented five leagues in this timeframe:

Historical overview[edit]

The first Northern League operated between 1902 and 1905. In 1906, the league merged with the Copper Country Soo League to become the Northern-Copper Country League. The league would later change its name to the Minnesota-Wisconsin League (1909–11) and the Central International League (1912), which folded partway through the season. During this time, a separate league attempted to revive the Northern League name in 1908, but did not finish its first season.

Following the demise of the Central International League, many teams reformed under the Northern League banner in 1913. The league would last until 1917, when it was forced to disband due to a lack of players as a result of World War I. The league did not re-emerge until 1933. It did not operate between 1943 and 1945 because of a lack of manpower during World War II, and finally folded again in 1971.

While the Northern League in its various incarnations began as an independent loop, by 1938 it was ranked as a Class 'C' loop in minor league baseball. In 1965 it was reclassified as 'A' ball by the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues as the lower levels of Minor League Baseball were reorganized. Operating as a lower calibre rookie level league, coupled with the general decline in interest in the minor leagues ultimately led to the Northern League's demise in 1971.

League champions[edit]

Famous players[edit]

Many future Major Leaguers, including some of baseballs most famous names played in the Northern League, including: