Western League (defunct minor league)

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The Western League is a name given to several circuits in American minor league baseball. Its earliest progenitor, which existed from 1885 to 1899, was the predecessor of the American League. During the 20th century, there were four incarnations of the Western League, including a Class D loop that played from 1939–41 and an independent loop (outside of "organized baseball") that began play in 1995. This article, however, concentrates on the two Class A leagues that played from 1900–37 and from 1947–58.

The minor leagues went unclassified through 1901. From 1902 until 1911, Class A was the highest level in the minor leagues. In 1912, a new top tier, Class AA, was created; in 1936, a second tier, Class A1, came into being. In 1946, the Class AA leagues were renamed AAA, and the A1 loops were renamed AA. Thus the Western League – whose clubs were actually located in the Great Plains, Rocky Mountain States, the Upper Midwest and the Upper Southwest – was a top-level minor league until 1911, then two levels below Major League Baseball through 1935, and three steps removed in 1936–37 and when it was revived in 1947 during the post-war minor league baseball boom.

Its longest-serving franchise was located in Des Moines, Iowa, which joined the WL in 1900 and played continuously through 1937, when the league shut down during the Great Depression. Des Moines then rejoined the reborn Western circuit when Colorado Senator Edwin C. Johnson founded it in 1947; this team, a Chicago Cubs affiliate called the Des Moines Bruins, then played for the final 12 years of the league's existence.

1900 League[edit]

Teams in Denver, Colorado, Des Moines, Iowa, Omaha, Nebraska, Pueblo, Colorado, St. Joseph, Missouri, Sioux City, Iowa all formed and created the new Western League.

1900[edit]

Team Name Record
Denver Grizzlies 61–44
Des Moines Hawkeyes 54–45
Sioux City Cornhuskers 49–48
Omaha Omahogs 51–53
St. Joseph Saints 51–58
Pueblo Indians 41–64

1901[edit]

The teams in Pueblo and Sioux City folded. New teams in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and St. Paul, Minnesota, formed and joined the League. Teams from Kansas City, Missouri, and Minneapolis, Minnesota moved from the American League.

Team Name Record
Kansas City Blues 79–44
St. Paul Saints 69–54
St. Joseph Saints 69–58
Denver Grizzlies 60–59
Omaha Omahogs 61–62
Minneapolis Millers 56–62
Des Moines Hawkeyes 48–75
Colorado Springs Millionaires 45–73

1902[edit]

The Minneapolis and St. Paul teams joined the American Association. New teams in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Peoria, Illinois, formed and joined the League.

Team Name Record
Kansas City Blue Stockings 82–54
Omaha Indians 84–56
Milwaukee Creams 80–54
Denver Grizzlies 81–57
St. Joseph Saints 71–68
Colorado Springs Millionaires 63–75
Des Moines Midgets 54–83
Peoria Distillers 35–103

1903[edit]

Team Name Record
Milwaukee Creams 83–43
Colorado Springs Millionaires 76–52
Kansas City Blue Stockings 65–61
St. Joseph Saints 62–59
Denver Grizzlies 61–70
Peoria Distillers 57–69
Des Moines Undertakers 55–76
Omaha Indians 49–78

1904[edit]

The teams in Milwaukee, Kansas City, and Peoria folded. the Sioux City, Iowa team from the Iowa-South Dakota League joined the League.

Team Name Record
Omaha Packers 90–60
Colorado Springs Millionaires 85–58
Denver Grizzlies 87–61
Des Moines Prohibitionists 76–69
St. Joseph Saints 53–93
Sioux City Soos 45–98

1905[edit]

The Colorado Springs team, with a record of 22–48, moved to Pueblo, Colorado on July 15, where they had a record of 30–44.

Team Name Record
Des Moines Underwriters 95–54
Denver Grizzlies 92–58
Omaha Rourkes 87–62
Sioux City Packers 80–68
Colorado Springs Millionaires/Pueblo Indians 52–92
St. Joseph Saints 37–109

1906[edit]

The St. Joseph team moved to the Western Association. A new team in Lincoln, Nebraska, formed and joined the League.

Team Name Record
Des Moines Champions 97–50
Lincoln Ducklings 75–74
Omaha Rourkes 73–74
Sioux City Packers 69–81
Denver Grizzlies 68–81
Pueblo Indians 63–85

1907[edit]

Team Name Record
Omaha Rourkes 84–63
Lincoln Treeplanters 79–63
Des Moines Champs 76–63
Denver Grizzlies 67–75
Pueblo Indians 65–73
Sioux City Packers 56–90

1908[edit]

Team Name Record
Sioux City Soos 88–57
Omaha Rourkes 86–59
Lincoln Greenbackers 74–73
Denver Grizzlies 71–75
Pueblo Indians 63–78
Des Moines Boosters 54–94

1909[edit]

Teams from Topeka, Kansas, and Wichita, Kansas, joined from the Western Association.

Team Name Record
Des Moines Boosters 93–59
Sioux City Soos 94–60
Omaha Rourkes 84–68
Topeka Jayhawks 76–73
Wichita Jobbers 71082
Denver Grizzlies 69–82
Lincoln Greenbackers 61–89
Pueblo Indians 58–93

1910[edit]

The Pueblo team folded. A new team in St. Joseph, Missouri, formed and joined the League.

Team Name Record
Sioux City Packers 108–60
Denver Grizzlies 102–65
Lincoln Railsplitters 95–71
Wichita Jobbers 89–78
Omaha Rourkes 84–82
St. Joseph Drummers 76–91
Des Moines Boosters 72–96
Topeka Jayhawks 42–125

1911[edit]

The Wichita team, with a record of 15–9, moved to Pueblo, Colorado on May 22, Their record there was 77–66.

Team Name Record
Denver Grizzlies 111–54
St. Joseph Drummers 93–72
Wichita Jobbers/Pueblo Indians 92–75
Omaha Rourkes 85–80
Sioux City Packers 85–80
Lincoln Railsplitters 84–81
Topeka Kaws 60–104
Des Moines Boosters 49–113

1912[edit]

The Pueblo team moved back to Wichita, Kansas.

Team Name Record
Denver Grizzlies 99–63
St. Joseph Drummers 94–72
Omaha Rourkes 92–71
Des Moines Boosters 82–80
Lincoln Railsplitters 83–81
Sioux City Packers 74–85
Wichita Jobbers 75–89
Topeka Jayhawks 51–109

Denver defeated the Minneapolis team of the American Association 4 games to 1.

1913[edit]

Team Name Record
Denver Bears 104–62
Des Moines Boosters 93–72
St. Joseph Drummers 89–78
Lincoln Greenbackers 87–80
Omaha Rourkes 79–86
Sioux City Packers 73–92
Topeka Jayhawks 73–92
Wichita Jobbers 65–101

Milwaukee of the American Association defeated Denver 4 games to 2.

1914[edit]

Wichita Jobbers renamed Wichita Wolves.

Team Name Record
Sioux City Indians 105–60
Denver Bears 96–72
St. Joseph Drummers 89–75
Des Moines Boosters 82–81
Lincoln Tigers 81–87
Omaha Rourkes 77–87
Topeka Jayhawks 68–97
Wichita Wolves 63–102

Indianapolis of the American Association defeated Denver 4 games to 2.

1915[edit]

Team Name Record
Des Moines Boosters 87–53
Denver Bears 82–55
Topeka Jayhawks 75–63
Omaha Rourkes 71–69
Lincoln Tigers 70–69
Sioux City Packers 66–68
Wichita Wolves 57–80
St. Joseph Drummers 43–94

1916[edit]

The Wichita team, with a record of 58–84, moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado on September 10. Their record there was 2–10.

Team Name Record
Omaha Rourkes 92–57
Lincoln Tigers 87–63
Sioux City Indians 79–71
Denver Bears 78–75
Des Moines Boosters 75–75
Topeka Savages 67–86
Wichita Wolves/Colorado Springs Millionaires 57–94

Louisville of the American Association defeated Omaha 4 games to 1.

1917[edit]

The Topeka team folded. A new team in Joplin, Missouri formed and joined the League. Colorado Springs moved back to Wichita. St. Joseph, with a record of 34–56, moved to Hutchinson, where their record was 32–24, on July 24. Sioux City moved to St. Joseph on August 5.

Team Name Record
Des Moines Boosters 84–62 (1st half winner)
Lincoln Links 83–64
Sioux City Indians/St. Joseph Drummers 80–66
Joplin Miners 79–68
Omaha Rourkes 73–75
St. Joseph Drummers/Hutchinson Wheatshockers 66–80
Denver Bears 62–86
Wichita Wolves 61–87

Hutchinson defeated Joplin 3 games to none for the second half title. Des Moines defeated Hutchinson 4 games to 2 for the championship.

1918[edit]

The Denver and Lincoln teams folded. New teams in Sioux City, Iowa, and Topeka, Kansas, formed and joined the League. Hutchinson, with a record of 14–19, moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on June 2, where they compiled a record of 19–18. Topeka, with a record of 19–13, moved to Hutchinson, Kansas, where they compiled a record of 18–18, on June 2. The League suspended operations on July 7 due to World War I.

Team Name Record
Wichita Jobbers 41–24
Topeka Kaw-nees/Hutchinson Salt Packers 37–31
Des Moines Boosters 36–31
Joplin Miners 34–31
Omaha Rourkes 33–32
Hutchinson Salt Packers/Oklahoma City Oklahomans
St. Joseph Saints 30–38
Sioux City Indians 22–42

1919[edit]

The Hutchinson team folded. A new team was formed in Topeka, Kansas, and joined the League.

Team Name Record
St. Joseph Saints 78–57
Tulsa Oilers 77–63
Wichita Jobbers 75–65
Des Moines Boosters 71–67
Oklahoma City Indians 69–69
Sioux City Indians 68–72
Joplin Miners 57–78
Omaha Rourkes 56–80

Tulsa lead St. Joseph 3 games to 1 in the championship series when the series was cancelled due to bad weather.

Wichita's Joe Wilhoit had a 69-game hitting streak, which remains the professional baseball record.

1920[edit]

Team Name Record
Tulsa Oilers 92–61
Wichita Jobbers 92–62
Oklahoma City Indians 82–68
Omaha Rourkes 76–77
St. Joseph Saints 74–80
Joplin Miners 73–81
Sioux City Packers 63–88
Des Moines Boosters 58–93

1921[edit]

Team Name Record
Wichita Witches 106–61
Omaha Buffaloes 95–73
Oklahoma City Indians 93–75
Sioux City Packers 81–83
St. Joseph Saints 79–88
Joplin Miners 76–91
Des Moines Boosters 71–92
Tulsa Oilers 65–103

1922[edit]

Joplin moved to the Western Association. A new team formed in Denver, Colorado, and joined the League.

Team Name Record
Tulsa Oilers 103–64
St. Joseph Saints 98–70
Wichita Wolves 94–73
Omaha Buffaloes 91–77
Sioux City Packers 86–79
Oklahoma City Indians 73–94
Denver Bears 63–105
Des Moines Boosters 61–107

Tulsa beat Mobile of the Southern Association 4 games to 1, with 1 tie

1923[edit]

Team Name Record
Oklahoma City Indians 102–64
Tulsa Oilers 101–67
Wichita Izzies 100–68
Omaha Buffaloes 92–74
Des Moines Boosters 87–79
St. Joseph Saints 65–101
Sioux City Packers 59–105
Denver Bears 59–107

1924[edit]

Sioux City moved to the Tri-State League. Lincoln joined from the Nebraska State League.

Team Name Record
Omaha Buffaloes 103–61
Denver Bears 100–67
Tulsa Oilers 98–69
St. Joseph Saints 86–79
Oklahoma City Indians 82–86
Wichita Izzies 79–88
Des Moines Boosters 59–106
Lincoln Links 57–108

1925[edit]

Team Name Record
Des Moines Demons 98–70
Denver Bears 97–71
Oklahoma City Indians 88–76
Wichita Izzies 80–84
St. Joseph Saints 77–87
Omaha Buffaloes 74–89
Tulsa Oilers 75–91
Lincoln Links 70–91

1926[edit]

Team Name Record
Des Moines Demons 99–64
Oklahoma City Indians 100–66
St. Joseph Saints 89–75
Tulsa Oilers 86–78
Denver Bears 88–80
Omaha Buffaloes 77–89
Lincoln Links 64–101
Wichita Izzies 58–108

Springfield of the Three-I League led Des Moines 3 games to 1 when the series was cancelled due to bad weather.

1927[edit]

St. Joseph moved to the Western Association. A new team in Amarillo, Texas formed and joined.

Team Name Record
Tulsa Oilers 101–53
Wichita Larks 91–63
Des Moines Demons 82–72
Denver Bears 77–75
Oklahoma City Indians 68–86
Amarillo Texans 66–87
Omaha Buffaloes 66–88
Lincoln Links 63–90

Waco of the Texas League beat Tulsa 3 games to 2, with 1 tie.

1928[edit]

Lincoln moved to the Nebraska State League. A new team in Pueblo, Colorado, formed and joined the League.

Team Name Record
Oklahoma City Indians 95–67 (1st half winner)
Tulsa Oilers 96–69 (2nd half winner)
Wichita Larks 94–70
Pueblo Steel Workers 85–78
Denver Bears 81–84
Omaha Crickets 71086
Amarillo Texans 60–93
Des Moines Demons 63–98

Tulsa beat Oklahoma City 4 games to 1, with 1 tie, for the championship.

1929[edit]

Amarillo folded. The Topeka, Kansas team from the Western Association joined.

Team Name Record
Tulsa Oilers 95–66
Oklahoma City Indians 85–68
Omaha Crickets 81–75
Wichita Aviators 77–79
Denver Bears 73–81
Topeka Jayhawks 75–85
Des Moines Demons 72–86
Pueblo Steelworkers 69–90

1930[edit]

The Tulsa team folded. A new team formed in St. Joseph, Missouri and joined the League.

Team Name Record
Wichita Aviators 89–56
Omaha Packers 76–66
Oklahoma City Indians 79–71
Des Moines Demons 77–71
Pueblo Braves 75–75
Denver Bears 74–74
Topeka Senators 66–84
St. Joseph Saints 53–92

1931[edit]

Team Name Record
Des Moines Demons 94–51 (2nd half winner)
Wichita Aviators 92–58 (1st half winner)
St. Joseph Saints 79–64
Pueblo Braves 76–69
Oklahoma City Indians 70–80
Denver Bears 64–77
Topeka Senators 58–86
Omaha Packers 49–97

Des Moines beat Wichita 4 games to 2 for the championship.

1932[edit]

Topeka moved to the Western Association. The Tulsa team folded.

Team Name Affiliation Record
Tulsa Oilers Pittsburgh Pirates 98–48 (1st half winner)
Denver Bears St. Louis Cardinals 83–64
Oklahoma City Indians 83–67 (2nd half winner)
Des Moines Demons 71–72
St. Joseph Saints 72–75
Wichita Aviators Chicago Cubs 63–86
Pueblo Braves 62–90
Omaha Packers 58–88

Oklahoma City beat Tulsa 2 games to 1 for the second half title. Tulsa beat Oklahoma City 4 games to none for the championship.

1933[edit]

Denver & Pueblo folded. Oklahoma City and Tulsa moved to the Texas League. The teams from Hutchinson, Kansas and Springfield, Missouri joined from the American Association. New teams in Joplin, Missouri, and Topeka, Kansas, formed and joined the League. Wichita, with a record of 6–13, moved to Muskogee on June 6, keeping the Oilers name, where they had a record of 20–82. Hutchinson, with a record of 25–32, moved on July 7 to Bartlesville, where they had a record of 26–38.

Team Name Affiliation Record
Des Moines Demons 81–47
St. Joseph Saints 77–47 (1st half winner)
Springfield Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals 73–50
Topeka Senators Cincinnati Reds 68–55 (2nd half winner)
Omaha Packers 63–61
Joplin Miners St. Louis Browns 55–69
Hutchinson Wheatshockers/Bartlesville Broncos Detroit Tigers 51–70
Wichita Oilers/Muskogee Oilers 26–95

St. Joseph beat Topeka 4 games to 1. St. Joseph lost to the Davenport team from the Mississippi Valley League 4 games to 2.

1934[edit]

Bartlesville, Joplin, Muskogee, and Springfield moved to the Western Association. The teams from Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois joined from the Mississippi Valley League. New teams in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Sioux City, Iowa formed and joined the League.

Team Name Affiliation Record
Sioux City Cowboys 74–50 (1st half title tie)
Davenport Blue Sox 70–53 (2nd half winner)
Des Moines Demons 68–56 (1st half title tie)
St. Joseph Saints 65–56 (1st half title tie)
Topeka Senators Cincinnati Reds 59–64
Rock Island Islanders 58–65
Omaha Packers 49–73
Cedar Rapids Raiders 47–73

St. Joseph beat Sioux City 3 games to 1 in the first round of playoffs. Davenport beat Des Moines by the same number. In the championship, St. Joseph beat Davnport 4 games to 3.

1935[edit]

Topeka folded. A new team in Keokuk, Iowa formed and joined the League. Omaha, with a record of 22–15, moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa on June 25, where they had a record of 33–31. Rock Island folded July 17. Council Bluffs folded August 27.

Team Name Affiliation Record
Davenport Blue Sox 70–46
St. Joseph Saints 58–48
Des Moines Demons 58–55
Sioux City Cowboys 54–52
Cedar Rapids Raiders 53–57
Keokuk Indians 49–66
Omaha Packers/Council Bluffs Rails 55–46
Rock Island Islanders 19–46

Sioux City beat Davenport 3 games to none, and St. Joseph beat Des Moines 3 games to none, in the first round of the playoffs. St. Joseph beat Sioux City 4 games to 3 for the championship.

1936[edit]

Keokuk and St. Joseph folded. New teams formed in Omaha, Nebraska, and Waterloo, Iowa, and joined the League. Omaha moved to Rock Island on August 18.

Team Name Affiliation Record
Davenport Blue Sox Brooklyn Dodgers 74–52 (1st & 2nd half winner)
Cedar Rapids Raiders St. Louis Cardinals 70–58
Des Moines Raiders (Iowans) 64–64
Omaha Robin Hoods/Rock Island Rocks 62–64
Sioux City Cowboys 61–64
Waterloo Hawks 50–79

1937[edit]

Rock Island folded July 7.

Team Name Affiliation Record
Cedar Rapids Raiders St. Louis Cardinals 78–38 (1st & 2nd half winner)
Waterloo Reds 61–55
Davenport Blue Sox Brooklyn Dodgers 57–59
Des Moines Iowans St. Louis Browns 57–62
Sioux City Cowboys Detroit Tigers 50–63
Rock Island Islanders 20–46

Cedar Rapids and Waterloo moved to the Three-I League. Sioux City moved to the Nebraska State League. Davenport, Des Moines, and the League itself folded.

The Post-World War II League[edit]

In addition to Des Moines, the 1947 Western League consisted of teams in Sioux City, Pueblo, Omaha, Denver, and Lincoln. All six clubs were affiliated with major league farm systems. The WL expanded to eight teams in 1950, but the encroachment of televised baseball and major league franchise shifts into former AAA cities hit the league hard. In 1955, the Western League's two strongest franchises, the Denver Bears and the Omaha Cardinals, were admitted to the AAA American Association.

The WL continued for four more seasons before folding in the autumn of 1958. Its last champion, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, attracted only 61,000 fans for the season. In addition to the founding clubs and the Sky Sox, the postwar WL had teams in Albuquerque, Amarillo, Topeka, and Wichita.

List of teams[edit]

References[edit]

  • Lloyd Johnson and Miles Wolff, editors. The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 1997 edition. Durham, N.C.: Baseball America.
  • Sumner, Benjamin Barrett. Minor League Baseball Standings: All North American Leagues, Through 1999. Jefferson, N.C.:McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0781-6

Notes[edit]