American Association of Independent Professional Baseball

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American Association
American Association.png
Sport Baseball
Founded 2005
No. of teams 12
Countries United States
Canada
Most recent
champion(s)
Winnipeg Goldeyes (2017)
Most titles Winnipeg Goldeyes (3)
Official website americanassociationbaseball.com

The American Association of Independent Professional Baseball is an independent professional baseball league founded in 2005. It operates in the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, 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. Though a separate entity, the league shares a commissioner and director of umpires with the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball.

History[edit]

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.[1] 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, 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 (Texas AirHogs) playing 25 games in Amarillo and 25 games in Grand Prairie to make up a 12-team league.[2][3] The team remained in Grand Prairie full-time in 2017, with the Cleburne Railroaders joining league the same season. Shortly before the 2017 season, the Laredo Lemurs withdrew from the league.[4] They were temporarily replaced by the Salina Stockade from the Pecos League for the season. The Chicago Dogs joined for 2018.[5]

Business model[edit]

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 re-signed 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 team was $100,000, with a minimum salary of $800 per month.[6] The price of an expansion team is also about $750,000.[6] 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.”[6]

Teams[edit]

Current teams[edit]

American Association of Independent Professional Baseball
Division Team First Season City Stadium Capacity
North
Chicago Dogs 2018 Rosemont, Illinois Impact Field 6,300
Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 1996 Fargo, North Dakota Newman Outdoor Field 4,513
Gary SouthShore RailCats 2002 Gary, Indiana U.S. Steel Yard 6,139
St. Paul Saints 1993 Saint Paul, Minnesota CHS Field 7,210
Sioux Falls Canaries 1993 Sioux Falls, South Dakota Sioux Falls Stadium 4,500
Winnipeg Goldeyes 1994 Winnipeg, Manitoba Shaw Park 7,481
South
Cleburne Railroaders 2017 Cleburne, Texas The Depot at Cleburne Station 1,750
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
Texas AirHogs 2008 Grand Prairie, Texas AirHogs Stadium 5,445
Wichita Wingnuts 2008 Wichita, Kansas Lawrence-Dumont Stadium 6,400

Future teams[edit]

Future teams
Team City Stadium Capacity Joining League
Milwaukee Franklin, Wisconsin Ballpark Commons 4,000 2019


League timeline[edit]

Chicago DogsSalina Stockade (baseball)Cleburne RailroadersJoplin BlastersWinnipeg GoldeyesKansas City T-BonesGary SouthShore RailCatsFargo-Moorhead RedHawksWichita WingnutsTexas AirHogsGrand Prairie AirHogsSioux Falls CanariesSioux City ExplorersLaredo LemursShreveport-Bossier CaptainsSt. Paul SaintsSt. Joe BlacksnakesAmarillo ThunderheadsPensacola PelicansLincoln SaltdogsUnited League BaseballNorth American LeagueFort Worth CatsEl Paso DiablosCoastal Bend Aviators

League members Former Team

Former teams[edit]

Champions[edit]

Season Winner Runner-up Result
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

All-Star Game[edit]

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)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "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. 
  2. ^ "ThunderHeads, AirHogs to merge teams". Amarillo Globe-News. November 19, 2015. Archived from the original on March 1, 2016. 
  3. ^ "American Association: 12 teams in 2016". Ballpark Digest. November 19, 2015. Archived from the original on June 2, 2017. 
  4. ^ Gallardo, Yocelin (May 3, 2017). "Lemurs Owner Withdraws Team from League". KGNS.com. Retrieved May 4, 2017. 
  5. ^ Reichard, Kevin (July 28, 2017). "New for 2018: Chicago Dogs". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved July 28, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c van der Horst, Roger (May 19, 2008). "All About Baseball: Wolff Happily Stays Independent". Proquest Newsstand. McClatchy-Tribune Business News. Retrieved April 4, 2016. 
  7. ^ "AMERICAN ASSOCIATION of Independent Professional Baseball". www.americanassociationbaseball.com. Retrieved May 6, 2018. 

External links[edit]