American Association (20th century)

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The American Association was a minor league baseball league at the Triple-A level of baseball in the United States from 1902 to 1962 and 1969 to 1997. Together with the International League, it contested the Junior World Series which determined the championship team in minor league baseball, at least for the eastern half of the United States. Later, its teams would also compete in the Triple-A World Series, and its players in the Triple-A All-Star Game.

History[edit]

For most of the American Association's existence, in both incarnations, it comprised teams primarily from the central part of the United States. The league's attendance base began to be eroded significantly in the 1950s and early 1960s due to expansion and westward migration of major league teams into several of the AA's larger member cities: Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Kansas City, Missouri; and Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota. By 1961, the league was down to six clubs.

After the 1962 season, the American Association disbanded, and some of its member teams were distributed between the Pacific Coast League and the International League, while others (the Louisville Colonels and Omaha Dodgers) folded. The Indianapolis Indians were first assigned to the IL but then, in a geographic oddity, they were switched to the PCL. The Dallas Rangers, the Denver Bears, and the Oklahoma City 89ers also went to the PCL.

With major league expansion in 1969, and the need for four new Triple-A farm teams, the time seemed right for reviving the league, which re-acquired its old Indianapolis territory from the PCL, along with several cities that were new to the Association.

In the early 1990s, with significant cities like Buffalo, Denver, Indianapolis, and others in the league, the American Association published a media guide with a league map on the cover and the question "Can It Be the Third Major League?" The President of the American Association at the time was Branch Rickey III, grandson of Branch Rickey, who integrated major league baseball in 1947 and later headed up the proposed Continental League, which was to be a third major league.

After the 1997 season, the American Association disbanded for the second time, and its teams were again distributed to the remaining Triple-A leagues. The Iowa Cubs, Nashville Sounds, New Orleans Zephyrs, Oklahoma City 89ers (renamed the Oklahoma RedHawks, now the Oklahoma City RedHawks), and Omaha Royals migrated to the West Coast Pacific Coast League starting with the 1998 season. The Buffalo Bisons, Indianapolis Indians, and Louisville Redbirds became part of the International League, also starting in 1998.

The Buffalo Bisons were the last league champions in 1997, and the trophy is still in their possession.

Interleague play[edit]

On and off, from 1905 to 1975, the American Association champion played against the champion from the International League in the Junior World Series. The champions from these two leagues and the Pacific Coast League also met during 1983 at the Triple-A World Series.

From 1988 to 1992, the AA and IL voted in to play interleague games during the season.

From 1988 until the league's demise in 1997, players from all three Triple-A leagues were selected to play in the mid-season Triple-A All-Star Game. One team was made up of All-Stars from American League affiliates and the other of National League affiliates.

Complete team list[edit]

1902-1962 Team timeline[edit]

Dallas Rangers Houston Buffaloes Charleston Senators Toledo Mud Hens Omaha Dodgers St. Paul Saints Saint Paul Apostles Denver Bears Kansas City Blues (American Association) Minneapolis Millers Milwaukee Brewers (American Association) Louisville Colonels Indianapolis Indians Omaha Cardinals Columbus Red Birds Columbus Senators

1969-1997 Team timeline[edit]

Nashville Sounds Evansville Triplets Omaha Royals Oklahoma City 89ers New Orleans Zephyrs Denver Zephyrs Denver Bears Tulsa Oilers (baseball) Iowa Cubs Iowa Oaks Indianapolis Indians Buffalo Bisons Wichita Aeros

League champions and MVPs 1933-1997[edit]

Year Champion MVP
1933 Columbus Red Birds Joe Hauser, Minneapolis
1934 Columbus Red Birds Pinky Hargrave, Minneapolis
1935 NONE HELD Mike Ryba, Columbus
1936 Milwaukee Brewers Rudy York, Milwaukee
1937 Columbus Red Birds Red Kress, Minneapolis
1938 Kansas City Blues W.Wyatt, Mil O.Bejma, St.Paul
1939 Louisville Colonels Gil English, St. Paul
1940 Louisville Colonels Phil Rizzuto, Kansas City
1941 Columbus Red Birds Johnny Pesky, Louisville
1942 Columbus Red Birds Eddie Stanky, Milwaukee
1943 Columbus Red Birds Stew Hofferth, Indianapolis
1944 Louisville Colonels Babe Martin, Toledo
1945 Louisville Colonels Stan Wentzel, Indianapolis
1946 Louisville Colonels Jerry Witte, Toledo
1947 Milwaukee Brewers Steve Gerkin, Minneapolis
1948 Saint Paul Saints Les Fleming, Indianapolis
1949 Indianapolis Indians Froilan Fernandez, Indianapolis
1950 Columbus Red Birds Ray Dandridge, Indianapolis
1951 Milwaukee Brewers Al Unser, Milwaukee
1952 Kansas City Blues Don Bollweg, Kansas City
1953 Kansas City Blues Gene Conley, Toledo
1954 Louisville Colonels Herb Score, Indianapolis
1955 Minneapolis Millers Rance Pless, Indianapolis
1956 Indianapolis Indians Marv Throneberry, Denver
1957 Denver Bears Carlton Willey, Wichita
1958 Minneapolis Millers Wayne Terwilliger, Charleston
1959 Minneapolis Millers Bob Will, Fort Worth
1960 Louisville Colonels Steve Boros, Denver
1961 Louisville Colonels Cliff Cook, Indianapolis
1962 Louisville Colonels Jack Smith, Omaha
1969 Omaha Royals Bernie Carbo, Indianapolis RF
1970 Omaha Royals George Spriggs, Omaha OF
1971 Denver Bears Richie Scheinblum, Denver OF
1972 Evansville Triplets Pat Bourque, Wichita 1B
1973 Tulsa Oilers Cliff Johnson, Denver DH
1974 Tulsa Oilers Pete LaCock, Wichita 1B
1975 Evansville Triplets Héctor Cruz, Tulsa 3B
1976 Denver Bears Roger Freed, Denver 1B
1977 Denver Bears Frank Ortenzio, Denver 1B
1978 Omaha Royals Champ Summers, Indianapolis OF
1979 Evansville Triplets Karl Pagel, Wichita OF
1980 Springfield Redbirds Randy Bass, Denver 1B
1981 Denver Bears Manny Castillo, Omaha 3B
1982 Indianapolis Indians Ken Phelps, Wichita 1B
1983 Denver Bears Mike Stenhouse, Wichita 1B
1984 Louisville Redbirds Alan Knicely, Wichita 1B
1985 Louisville Redbirds Steve Buechele, Oklahoma City 3B
1986 Indianapolis Indians Barry Larkin, Denver SS
1987 Indianapolis Indians Lance Johnson, Louisville OF
1988 Indianapolis Indians Luis de los Santos, Omaha 1B
1989 Indianapolis Indians Greg Vaughn, Denver OF
1990 Omaha Royals Juan González, Oklahoma City OF
1991 Denver Zephyrs Jim Olander, Denver OF
1992 Oklahoma City 89ers Jim Tatum, Denver 3B
1993 Iowa Cubs Eduardo Zambrano, Iowa OF
1994 Indianapolis Indians Dwayne Hosey, Omaha OF
1995 Louisville Redbirds Eric Owens, Indianapolis 2B
1996 Oklahoma City 89ers Lee Stevens, Oklahoma City DH
1997 Buffalo Bisons Magglio Ordóñez, Nashville OF

External links[edit]