American Association of Independent Professional Baseball
|No. of teams||12|
|Winnipeg Goldeyes (2016)|
|Most titles||Winnipeg Goldeyes (2)|
|Official website||Official website|
The American Association of Independent Professional Baseball is an independent professional baseball league founded in 2005. It operates in the states of Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Texas, along with the Canadian province of Manitoba, mostly in cities not served by MLB teams or their minor league affiliates. Miles Wolff is the league commissioner. League offices are located in Durham, North Carolina.
The American Association was founded in October 2005 when the St. Paul Saints, Lincoln Saltdogs, Sioux City Explorers, and Sioux Falls Canaries announced they were leaving the Northern League. Around the same time, the Central Baseball League announced it was disbanding after four seasons. The Fort Worth Cats, Shreveport-Bossier Sports, Pensacola Pelicans, Coastal Bend Aviators, and El Paso Diablos joined the four former Northern League teams and the expansion St. Joe Blacksnakes to form the American Association as a ten-team league. The new league began play in 2006, with a 96-game schedule, which has since expanded to 100 games.
2008 saw the league lose the Blacksnakes and Aviators, with the Grand Prairie AirHogs and Wichita Wingnuts joining in their place. In 2011 and 2012 the league went through a significant shift. Fort Worth left the league to join United League Baseball, while Shreveport and Pensacola both relocated. The Pelicans moved to Amarillo, Texas and became the Amarillo Sox (later the Amarillo Thunderheads) while Shreveport, who had changed their name to the Shreveport-Bossier Captains, moved to Laredo, Texas and became the Laredo Lemurs. In addition, four more Northern League franchises (Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks, Gary SouthShore RailCats, Kansas City T-Bones, and Winnipeg Goldeyes) joined the American Association as that league's stability came into question.
For the 2012 season, the American Association began interleague play with the Can-Am League. The two leagues are both headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, and both have Miles Wolff as their commissioner. This was similar to interleague play in Major League Baseball, but American Association and Can-Am League are separate legal entities and have separate playoffs/championships.
At the end of the 2013 season, due to the Tucson Padres relocating to their city, the El Paso Diablos suspended operations. The team was eventually revived and relocated, currently operating as the Joplin Blasters.
On November 19, 2015, Miles Wolff announced that there would no longer be interleague play. It also was announced that for the Amarillo Thunderheads and Grand Prairie AirHogs would operate as a joint team (Texas AirHogs) playing 25 games in Amarillo and 25 games in Grand Prairie to make up a 12-team league.
Typically the American Association recruits college, ex-major and ex-minor players. Former affiliated-league players that get injured or have other circumstances join the AA as an opportunity to get resigned by major league organizations. Other players consist of college players that were not drafted into MiLB, but seek the opportunity to be seen by major league scouts and possibly get signed by major league organizations. Other former MLB players join the AA as a way to stay involved in baseball after their career as a major league player, often as coaches and managers.
As of 2008, the salary cap for each league was $100,000, with a minimum salary of $800 per month. The price of an expansion team is also about $750,000. This is in stark contrast with the minor and major leagues. Commissioner Miles Wolff stated in an interview that “We have to pay the salaries of the players, which they don't in an affiliated [league]. It's a much riskier business. Just because of the longevity and tradition, we usually don't get the best cities, either, so some of the markets we're in are not great markets. But as I say, I think it's a better product.”
|American Association of Independent Professional Baseball|
|Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks||1996||Fargo, North Dakota||Newman Outdoor Field||4,513|
|Sioux Falls Canaries||1993||Sioux Falls, South Dakota||Sioux Falls Stadium||4,500|
|St. Paul Saints||1993||Saint Paul, Minnesota||CHS Field||7,210|
|Winnipeg Goldeyes||1994||Winnipeg, Manitoba||Shaw Park||7,481|
|Gary SouthShore RailCats||2002||Gary, Indiana||U.S. Steel Yard||6,139|
|Kansas City T-Bones||2003||Kansas City, Kansas||CommunityAmerica Ballpark||6,537|
|Lincoln Saltdogs||2001||Lincoln, Nebraska||Haymarket Park||8,000|
|Sioux City Explorers||1993||Sioux City, Iowa||Lewis and Clark Park||3,631|
|Cleburne Railroaders||2017||Cleburne, Texas||The Depot||N/A|
|Laredo Lemurs||2012||Laredo, Texas||Uni-Trade Stadium||6,000|
|Wichita Wingnuts||2008||Wichita, Kansas||Lawrence-Dumont Stadium||6,400|
|Texas AirHogs||2016||Grand Prairie||QuikTrip Park||5,445|
League members Former Team
- Shreveport-Bossier Captains – moved to Laredo, Texas to become Laredo Lemurs
- Coastal Bend Aviators – founding member of league, originally from Central Baseball League, folded after 2007.
- Pensacola Pelicans – founding member of league, originally from Central Baseball League, folded in preparation for new Double-A Southern League team to begin play in 2012. Franchise sold and became the Amarillo Sox.
- St. Joe Blacksnakes – founding member of league, expansion franchise, folded after 2007.
- Fort Worth Cats – founding member of the league, had its membership revoked by the league on October 26, 2011 after failing to provide the league with a letter of credit. Moved to United League Baseball, later folded.
- El Paso Diablos – suspended operations after the 2013 season to make way for the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas.
- Amarillo Thunderheads – Originally called the Amarillo Sox, merged with the Grand Prairie AirHogs (now Texas AirHogs) prior to the 2016 season.
- Joplin Blasters – Folded following the 2016 season.
|2006||Fort Worth Cats||St. Paul Saints||3-2 (best-of 5)|
|2007||Fort Worth Cats||St. Paul Saints||3-2 (best-of 5)|
|2008||Sioux Falls Canaries||Grand Prairie AirHogs||3-1 (best-of 5)|
|2009||Lincoln Saltdogs||Pensacola Pelicans||3-2 (best-of 5)|
|2010||Shreveport-Bossier Captains||Sioux Falls Pheasants||3-0 (best-of 5)|
|2011||Grand Prairie AirHogs||St. Paul Saints||3-2 (best-of 5)|
|2012||Winnipeg Goldeyes||Wichita Wingnuts||3-0 (best-of 5)|
|2013||Gary SouthShore RailCats||Wichita Wingnuts||3-1 (best-of 5)|
|2014||Wichita Wingnuts||Lincoln Saltdogs||3-0 (best-of 5)|
|2015||Laredo Lemurs||Sioux City Explorers||3-1 (best-of 5)|
|2016||Winnipeg Goldeyes||Wichita Wingnuts||3-2 (best-of 5)|
The American Association hosted an annual All-Star Game from 2006 to 2010. The league's first All-Star game was played in El Paso, Texas, on July 18, 2006, which pit a team of American Association All-Stars against an All-Star team from the Can-Am League. Its current format pits the all-stars from each division against each other. There was no All-Star game in 2011, 2012, or 2013. The Winnipeg Goldeyes hosted the 2014 All-Star game.
- Game results
- 2006 – AA 5, Can-Am 3
- 2007 – South 6, North 4
- 2008 – South 11, North 4
- 2009 – North 6, South 2
- 2010 – South 12, North 3
- 2011 – No game played
- 2012 – No game played
- 2013 – No game played
- 2014 – South 7, North 0
- 2015 – No game played
- 2016 – North 6, South 1
- Most Valuable Players
- 2006 – Jake Whitesides, (St. Joe Blacksnakes)
- 2007 – Jorge Alvarez, (El Paso Diablos)
- 2008 – Brian Fryer, (Fort Worth Cats)
- 2009 – Trevor Lawhorn, (Sioux Falls Canaries)
- 2010 – Chris Garcia, (Shreveport-Bossier Captains)
- 2011 – Lee Cruz, (Amarillo Sox)
- 2012 – Nic Jackson, (Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks)
- 2013 – C. J. Ziegler, (Wichita Wingnuts)
- 2014 – Devin Goodwin, (Laredo Lemurs)
- "RailCats release schedule, American Association announces crossover games with Can-Am League". NWI Times. November 30, 2011.
- "ThunderHeads, AirHogs to merge teams". Amarillo Globe-News. November 19, 2015.
- "American Association: 12 teams in 2016". Ballpark Digest. November 19, 2015.
- van der Horst, Roger (May 19, 2008). "All About Baseball: Wolff Happily Stays Independent". Proquest Newsstand. McClatchy-Tribune Business News. Retrieved April 4, 2016.