The Southeastern League was the name of three baseball circuits in minor league baseball which operated in the Southeastern and South Central United States. Two of these leagues were associated with organized baseball; the third and most recent incarnation was an independent league that operated for two seasons in 2002-03.
The first Southeastern League lasted for three years, from 1910 through 1912. At Class D, it was considered on the lowest rung of the minor league ladder, and had six clubs located in the American states of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee. Stung by the midseason collapse of two of its six franchises, this league disbanded on August 2, 1912.
Class B league (1926-50)
In 1926 a new, Class B Southeastern League took the field, with six teams — representing Montgomery, Alabama; Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Florida; and Albany, Columbus and Savannah, Georgia. Although this league would be periodically shut down by the Great Depression and World War II, it continued as a Class B circuit, four levels below Major League Baseball, through 1950.
Its lineup of teams in its final season included the champion Pensacola Fliers, Meridian Millers, Montgomery Rebels, Jackson Senators, Vicksburg Billies, Selma Cloverleafs, Gadsden Pilots and Anniston Rams. Both Gadsden and Anniston withdrew from the league before the end of the season.
Independent league (2002-03)
The most recent version of the Southereastern League was an independent circuit, with member teams were not affiliated with any Major League Baseball team.
The league began play in 2002 after the demise of the All-American Association. For its inaugural season, it placed teams in Montgomery, Ozark, and Selma, Alabama, along with Pensacola, Florida, Americus, Georgia, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Ozark Patriots and Americus Arrows franchises folded at mid-season. The Pensacola Pelicans won the inaugural league championship.
After completing the season, the league added two franchises for 2003. The league had high hopes for its new team in Macon, Georgia and Houma, Louisiana, along with the already successful clubs in Montgomery and Pensacola. However, after just two games the Selma Cloverleafs folded, forcing the league to operate the club as a road team for the duration of the season under the name "Southeastern Cloverleafs." The Macon Peaches also fared a lot worse than expected. Still, the league completed the year, with Pensacola compiling the league's best mark at 42-23 and Baton Rouge defeating Pensacola, 3 games to 1, in the league championship series.
Ultimately, the league could not survive the arrival of affiliated baseball to Montgomery. The Orlando Rays of the Southern League, who had played at Walt Disney World for four years, became the Montgomery Biscuits and effectively drove the Wings out of town. In addition, the Springfield/Ozark Mountain Ducks of the Central Baseball League moved to Pensacola and assumed the Pelicans name. As a result, the league folded prior to the 2004 season.
Member teams (2003)
- Baton Rouge RiverBats
- Houma Hawks
- Macon Peaches
- Montgomery Wings
- Pensacola Pelicans
- Selma/Southeastern Cloverleafs
- Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, eds., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 3d edition. Durham, N.C: Baseball America, 2007.