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California League

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California League
ClassificationSingle-A (2022–present)
Low-A (2021)
Class A-Advanced (1990–2020)
Founded1941 (83 years ago) (1941)
No. of teams8
CountryUnited States
Most recent
Modesto Nuts (2023)
Most titlesSan Jose Giants (12)
Official websitewww.californialeague.com

The California League is a Minor League Baseball league that operates in California. Having been classified at various levels throughout its existence, it operated at Class A-Advanced from 1990 until its demotion to Single-A following Major League Baseball's 2021 reorganization of the minor leagues. The league temporarily operated for the 2021 season as the Low-A West before reassuming its original moniker in 2022.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, league attendance continued to increase each season, with over one million fans attending games per year, part of a general nationwide growth and expansion to smaller towns, cities, and regions below those in the National League or American League with Minor League Baseball at various levels of play in growing popularity in the last few decades.


There were various attempts in the late 1800s and early 1900s to form a "California League" on the West Coast, considering the distance of the two current major leagues which generally had teams only in the Northeast and were restricted at first until World War I by long-distance train travel. The first organized California League lasted from 1887 to 1889, then another followed in 1891, and 1893, and finally in 1899–1902. After the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, an organization of minor leagues was formed in 1902, (following the "truce" and agreements between the older National League of 1876 and the newly "upstart" American League of 1901), the California League operated outside the NAPBL system as an independent league in 1902 and again from 1907 to 1909. This led to huge differences in the quality of teams competing with each other. In 1907, the San Francisco team was 3–34, while later in 1908 San Francisco was 9–67 and Oakland was 4–71. Oakland and San Francisco competed in every year of these various state leagues, with San Francisco having two teams during 1887–88.

The latest version of the California League was founded in 1941, and included teams in Anaheim, Bakersfield, Fresno, Merced, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, and Stockton. The following year, as a result of World War II, the league dropped to four teams, then ceased and suspended operations altogether, although major league baseball and some minor leagues continued as much as possible with limited availability of players during the war years. It reorganized and came back in 1946, adding teams in Visalia, San Jose, and Ventura by 1947. Further east, Reno, Nevada joined the league in 1955 with the movement of the old Channel Cities Oilers in Santa Barbara and continued as a member for 37 years.

Though nicknames and affiliations shifted, the California League's postwar configuration was largely stable by the late 1950s; four of the six cities in the league in 1960 would still be part of the league 50 years later. The league reached eight clubs in 1966 and would hold that for ten years, briefly dipped to six before wavering between eight and nine clubs in the early eighties, then reached ten in 1986 and held that configuration for thirty-one seasons. From 1996 to 2016, the league had a remarkably stable alignment for Class A baseball, with no teams moving or folding for twenty-one years. After the 2016 season, the Bakersfield Blaze, long dogged by inadequate facilities and unable to negotiate significant repairs, and the High Desert Mavericks, suffering from falling attendance and a lease dispute with the city of Adelanto, were folded; the High-A level replaced them by expanding the Carolina League to ten teams.[1]

The start of the 2020 season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic before ultimately being cancelled on June 30.[2][3] As part of Major League Baseball's 2021 reorganization of the minor leagues, the California League was demoted to Low-A and temporarily renamed the "Low-A West" for the 2021 season.[4] Following MLB's acquisition of the rights to the names of the historical minor leagues, the Low-A West was renamed the California League and reclassified as a Single-A league effective with the 2022 season.[5]

Current teams[edit]

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Current team locations:
  North Division
  South Division

Fresno Grizzlies
Modesto Nuts
San Jose Giants
Stockton Ports
Inland Empire 66ers
Lake Elsinore Storm
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
Visalia Rawhide
Overview of California League teams
Division Team MLB Affiliation City Stadium Capacity
North Fresno Grizzlies Colorado Rockies Fresno, California Chukchansi Park 10,650
Modesto Nuts Seattle Mariners Modesto, California John Thurman Field 4,000
San Jose Giants San Francisco Giants San Jose, California Excite Ballpark 4,200
Stockton Ports Oakland Athletics Stockton, California Banner Island Ballpark 5,300
South Inland Empire 66ers Los Angeles Angels San Bernardino, California San Manuel Stadium 8,000
Lake Elsinore Storm San Diego Padres Lake Elsinore, California Lake Elsinore Diamond 7,866
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes Los Angeles Dodgers Rancho Cucamonga, California LoanMart Field 6,200
Visalia Rawhide Arizona Diamondbacks Visalia, California Valley Strong Ballpark 2,468

League champions[edit]

Year by Year list of league champions:

Complete team list (1941–1942, 1946–present)[edit]

The Los Angeles area, Riverside, San Bernardino, Palm Springs, Yuma (AZ) and Las Vegas (NV) were also major league spring training site cities, as well possessed California League teams on different occasions.

Cities that have had California League teams[edit]

  • Adelanto (1991–2016)
  • Anaheim (1941)
  • Atwater (1960s)
  • Bakersfield (1941–42, 1946–1975, 1978–79, 1982–2016)
  • Fresno (1941–42, 1946–1988, 2021–present)
  • Lake Elsinore (1994–present)
  • Lancaster (1996–2020)
  • Las Vegas, Nevada (1958)
  • Lodi (1966–1984)
  • Merced (1941)
  • Modesto (1946–1964, 1966–present)
  • Palm Springs (1986–1993)
  • Rancho Cucamonga (1993–present)
  • Reno, Nevada (1955–1964, 1966–1992)
  • Riverside (1941, 1988–1990, 1993–1995)
  • Rohnert Park (1980–1985)
  • Salinas (1954–1958, 1963–1965, 1973–1980, 1982–1987, 1989–1992)
  • San Bernardino (1941, 1987–present)
  • San Jose (1942, 1947–1958, 1962–1976, 1979–present)
  • Santa Barbara (1941–42, 1946–1953, 1962–1967)
  • Santa Clara (1979)
  • Stockton (1941, 1946–1972, 1978–present)
  • Ventura (1947–1955, 1986)
  • Visalia (1946–1962, 1968–1975, 1977–present)


Modesto has hosted a California League team longer than any other city, hosting a team in all but seven of the CL's 82 seasons.

League timeline[edit]

Lancaster JetHawksLake Elsinore StormRancho Cucamonga QuakesPalm Springs AngelsRedwood PioneersSanta Clara PadresLodi DodgersLas Vegas Wranglers (baseball)Reno Silver SoxReno Silver SoxSalinas SpursSalinas SpursSalinas SpursSalinas SpursSalinas SpursVentura County GullsVentura OilersVisalia RawhideVisalia RawhideVisalia RawhideModesto NutsModesto NutsSan Jose GiantsSan Jose GiantsSan Jose Red SoxSan Jose Red SoxStockton PortsStockton PortsStockton PortsSanta Barbara DodgersSanta Barbara DodgersSanta Barbara DodgersInland Empire 66ersSan Bernardino StarsHigh Desert MavericksRiverside RubesMerced BearsFresno GiantsBakersfield BlazeBakersfield BlazeBakersfield BlazeBakersfield BlazeAnaheim Aces

Active team Former team

Team list (prior incarnations)[edit]


1896, 1898–1902[edit]


California League Hall of Fame[edit]

The California League inducted its first class of 15 inductees into its Hall of Fame in 2016.[7]


Most Valuable Player[edit]

The California League Most Valuable Player Award was established in 1941.

Pitcher of the Year[edit]

For award winners, see footnote[8]

Rookie of the Year[edit]

For award winners, see footnote[8]

Manager of the Year[edit]

For award winners, see footnote[8]

Doug Harvey Award[edit]

The Doug Harvey Award—established in 2010—is for the umpire of the year.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cal League to downsize in 2017". California League. Minor League Baseball. August 22, 2016. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  2. ^ "A Message From Pat O'Conner". Minor League Baseball. March 13, 2020. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  3. ^ "2020 Minor League Baseball Season Shelved". Minor League Baseball. June 30, 2020. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  4. ^ Mayo, Jonathan (February 12, 2021). "MLB Announces New Minors Teams, Leagues". Major League Baseball. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  5. ^ "Historical League Names to Return in 2022". Minor League Baseball. March 16, 2022. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  6. ^ "California League (Adv A) Encyclopedia and History".
  7. ^ "California League League Hall of Fame". California League. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved May 23, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d Go to the California League website (Minor League Baseball; retrieved on 2017-05-23), click on "About" and then "League Award Winners" and then scroll down through the five awards. The Doug Harvey Award is at the bottom.

External links[edit]