The Heartland League was founded with teams in Lafayette, Indiana; Anderson, Indiana; Will County, Illinois; and Dubois County, Indiana. Lafayette won the championship in 1996. In 1997 the Clarksville Coyotes, Tennessee Tomahawks, and Columbia Mules joined the league from the Big South League. The Altoona Rail Kings also joined the league from the North Atlantic League. The four teams from the previous year remained, giving the league eight teams. In 1997 the league drew over 210,000 fans, more than three times as many fans as in 1996. The league fielded six teams in 1998, but teams in Huntington, West Virginia and Booneville, Mississippi suspended operations midway through the season and the league suspended operations after the Cook County Cheetahs jumped to the Frontier League. The Cheetahs moved to Crestwood IL and changed their name to the Windy City Thunderbolts. As of July 2008, the team play at Standard Bank Stadium (originally known as Hawkinson Ford Field).
The Mid-America League was based in Lafayette, Indiana, and was an independent baseball league located entirely within Indiana. The Mid-America League was the same league as the Heartland League with a different name and the same franchise. The Mid-America League operated in only four cities which were not served by Major or Minor League Baseball teams and is not affiliated with either.