American Association of Professional Baseball
|No. of teams||12|
|Milwaukee Milkmen (2020)|
|Most titles||Winnipeg Goldeyes (3)|
|Official website||Official website|
The American Association of Professional Baseball is an independent professional baseball league founded in 2005. It operates in the central United States and Canada, mostly in cities not served by Major League Baseball teams or their minor league affiliates. Joshua Schaub is the league commissioner. League offices are located in Moorhead, Minnesota. Though a separate entity, the league shared a commissioner and director of umpires with the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball during that league's existence. The American Association of Professional Baseball has 501(c)(6) tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. In 2020, as part of MLB's reorganization of the minor leagues, the American Association, together with the Atlantic League and the Frontier League, became an official "MLB Partner League".
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 were both headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, and both had Miles Wolff as their commissioner. This was similar to interleague play in Major League Baseball, but American Association and Can-Am League were separate legal entities and had 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, operating as the Joplin Blasters. The Blasters ceased operations after the conclusion of the 2016 season.
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, the Texas AirHogs, playing 25 games in Amarillo and 25 games in Grand Prairie to make up a 12-team league. The team remained in Grand Prairie full-time in 2017, with the Cleburne Railroaders joining the league the same season. Shortly before the 2017 season, the Laredo Lemurs withdrew from the league. They were temporarily replaced by the Salina Stockade from the Pecos League for the season. The Chicago Dogs joined for 2018  and the Milwaukee Milkmen joined in 2019, replacing the Wichita Wingnuts, who folded.
In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league announced that 6 of its 12 clubs would play an abbreviated 60-game season beginning on July 3, 2020. Five stadiums were used for gameplay: Sioux Falls Stadium (hosting the Sioux Falls Canaries and St. Paul Saints during July), Newman Outdoor Field (hosting the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and Winnipeg Goldeyes), Franklin Field (hosting the Milwaukee Milkmen), Impact Field (hosting the Chicago Dogs), and CHS Field (hosting the St. Paul Saints beginning in August). Players from non-participating teams had the opportunity to be drafted by one of the six active clubs. A limited number of fans were allowed to attend games, in accordance with local government guidelines and restrictions.
The 2021 season sees the league lose both the Texas AirHogs, who dropped out of the league, and the St. Paul Saints who move to affiliated ball as the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. Joining the league in 2021 is the Kane County Cougars, who where dropped from affiliated ball during the 2021 minor league reorganization, as well as the Houston Apollos who will be a traveling team for the 2021 campaign.
The American Association typically recruits college, ex-major and ex-minor players. Former affiliated-league players who get injured or have other circumstances join the AA as an opportunity to get re-signed by major league organizations. For example, David Peralta was signed in 2004 as a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals but suffered injuries and was released in 2009. He resurrected his career as an outfielder with teams such as the AA's Wichita Wingnuts and Amarillo Sox in 2012 and 2013, then became a starting outfielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Other players include college players who were not drafted into MLB 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 MLB career, often as coaches and managers.
As of 2008, the salary cap for each team 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. Former 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 Professional Baseball|
|North||Chicago Dogs||2018||Rosemont, Illinois||Impact Field||6,300|
|Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks||1996||2011||Fargo, North Dakota||Newman Outdoor Field||4,513|
|Gary SouthShore RailCats||2002||2011||Gary, Indiana||U.S. Steel Yard||6,139|
|Kane County Cougars||1991||2021||Geneva, Illinois||Northwestern Medicine Field||10,923|
|Milwaukee Milkmen||2019||Franklin, Wisconsin||Franklin Field||4,000|
|Winnipeg Goldeyes||1994||2010||Winnipeg, Manitoba||Shaw Park||7,481|
|South||Cleburne Railroaders||2017||Cleburne, Texas||The Depot at Cleburne Station||1,750|
|Houston Apollos||2002||2021||Houston, Texas||Traveling team|
|Kansas City Monarchs||2003||2010||Kansas City, Kansas||Field of Legends||6,537|
|Lincoln Saltdogs||2001||2006||Lincoln, Nebraska||Haymarket Park||8,000|
|Sioux City Explorers||1993||2006||Sioux City, Iowa||Lewis and Clark Park||3,631|
|Sioux Falls Canaries||1993||2006||Sioux Falls, South Dakota||Sioux Falls Stadium||4,500|
League members Former Team
- St. Paul Saints – team moved to MiLB to become the Minnesota Twins Triple-A affiliate following the 2020 season
- 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, became the Amarillo Sox
- St. Joe Blacksnakes – founding member of league, 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 (later Texas) AirHogs prior to the 2016 season
- Joplin Blasters – Folded following the 2016 season
- Laredo Lemurs - Folded following the 2016 season
- Salina Stockade - Moved to the Can-Am League as a partial-schedule traveling team following the 2017 season
- Texas AirHogs - Joined the league as the Grand Prairie AirHogs; changed name to Texas AirHogs after merging with the Amarillo Thunderheads prior to 2016 season; last played in 2019; folded following a 2020 season in which they were inactive due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Wichita Wingnuts Suspended operations following the 2018 season as their ballpark was to be demolished to make way for a new ballpark and the Triple-A Wichita Wind Surge
|2006||Fort Worth Cats||St. Paul Saints||3–2|
|2007||Fort Worth Cats||St. Paul Saints||3–2|
|2008||Sioux Falls Canaries||Grand Prairie AirHogs||3–1|
|2009||Lincoln Saltdogs||Pensacola Pelicans||3–2|
|2010||Shreveport-Bossier Captains||Sioux Falls Pheasants||3–0|
|2011||Grand Prairie AirHogs||St. Paul Saints||3–2|
|2012||Winnipeg Goldeyes||Wichita Wingnuts||3–0|
|2013||Gary SouthShore RailCats||Wichita Wingnuts||3–1|
|2014||Wichita Wingnuts||Lincoln Saltdogs||3–0|
|2015||Laredo Lemurs||Sioux City Explorers||3–1|
|2016||Winnipeg Goldeyes||Wichita Wingnuts||3–2|
|2017||Winnipeg Goldeyes||Wichita Wingnuts||3–2|
|2018||Kansas City T-Bones||St. Paul Saints||3–1|
|2019||St. Paul Saints||Sioux City Explorers||3–0|
|2020||Milwaukee Milkmen||Sioux Falls Canaries||4–1|
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, 2013, 2018, or 2020.
- 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 – game cancelled
- 2012 – game cancelled
- 2013 – game cancelled
- 2014 – South 7, North 0
- 2015 – North 3, South 1
- 2016 – North 6, South 1
- 2017 – Can-Am 3, AA 2
- 2018 – game cancelled
- 2019 – North 7, South 3
- 2020 – game cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- 2021 – game cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
Most Valuable Players
- 2006 – Pichi Balet, (Lincoln Saltdogs)
- 2007 – Jorge Alvarez, (El Paso Diablos)
- 2008 – Beau Torbert, (Sioux Falls Canaries)
- 2009 – Greg Porter, (Wichita Wignuts)
- 2010 – Beau Torbert, (Sioux Falls Canaries)
- 2011 – Lee Cruz, (Amarillo Sox)
- 2012 – Nic Jackson, (Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks)
- 2013 – C. J. Ziegler, (Wichita Wingnuts)
- 2014 – Brent Clevlen, (Wichita Wignuts)
- 2015 – Vinny DiFazio, (St. Paul Saints)
- 2016 – Nate Samson, (Sioux City Explorers)
- 2017 – Josh Romanski, (Winnipeg Goldeyes)
- 2018 – Jose Sermo, (Sioux City Explorers)
- 2019 – Keon Barnum, (Chicago Dogs)
- 2020 – Adam Brett Walker II, (Milwaukee Milkmen)
|Year||Total attendance||Average Per Game||Change from previous year avg|
*Limited attendance due to COVID-19 pandemic.
- "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. October 31, 2017.
- "American Association, Frontier League now MLB Partner Leagues". Ballpark Digest. August Publishing. September 24, 2020. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
- "RailCats release schedule, American Association announces crossover games with Can-Am League". NWI Times. November 30, 2011. Archived from the original on May 6, 2018.
- "ThunderHeads, AirHogs to merge teams". Amarillo Globe-News. November 19, 2015. Archived from the original on March 1, 2016.
- "American Association: 12 teams in 2016". Ballpark Digest. November 19, 2015. Archived from the original on June 2, 2017.
- Gallardo, Yocelin (May 3, 2017). "Lemurs Owner Withdraws Team from League". KGNS.com. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
- Reichard, Kevin (July 28, 2017). "New for 2018: Chicago Dogs". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
- "American Association unveils plans for 2020 season". americanassociationbaseball.com. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
- "Texas AirHogs terminate membership in American Association". Retrieved October 23, 2020.
- Saints, St Paul. "Saints Bring Their Distinctive Brand Of Entertainment To Triple-A | St. Paul Saints". www.saintsbaseball.com. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
- Johnson, Paul. "Kane County Cougars lose their major league affiliation with the Arizona Diamondbacks and now plan to join one of MLB's 'partner leagues'". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
- Imakesandwichesforaliving (February 9, 2021). "American Association announces expansion, 2021 schedule". Twinkie Town. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
- van der Horst, Roger (May 19, 2008). "All About Baseball: Wolff Happily Stays Independent". McClatchy-Tribune Business News. ProQuest 465137999. Cite journal requires
- "AMERICAN ASSOCIATION of Independent Professional Baseball". www.americanassociationbaseball.com. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
- "2018 American Association". Baseball Reference. Retrieved May 18, 2019.
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