was a Illinois– Indiana– Iowa League minor league baseball organization that operated for the better part of 60 years, mostly in those three states. It was popularly known as the Three–I League and also sometimes jokingly as the Three-Eye League.
The league began play in 1901 and disbanded after the 1961 season. It had also been inactive during some years of
World War I, the Great Depression and World War II, following the lead of many minor leagues that suspended operations or failed during those severe times.
As with many minor leagues, especially at the lower classifications, its membership fluctuated a great deal over its six decades. At various times it had teams in such medium-sized cities as
Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Bloomington, Decatur, Danville, Peoria, Springfield, Evansville and Terre Haute.
It was a Class B league in the old classification system that ran from Class D up to Class Triple-A. Since 1961 its territory has largely been supplanted by the
Midwest League, which began as a Class D organization in 1947 and is now Class A under the restructuring of the minors that occurred in 1963.
The league's unique name made it a convenient reference point for any mention of the minor leagues.
Casey Stengel made the following comment in later life, evidently still feeling stung from having been traded by the New York Giants to the Boston Braves in the 1923-1924 off-season, despite having hit 2 game-winning home runs in the World Series: "It's lucky I didn't hit 3 home runs in three games, or McGraw would have traded me to the 3-I League!"
Hall of Fame Alumni [ edit ]
At least 14 Baseball Hall of Famers spent part of their Minor League Career in the League:
Billy Williams, 1958 Burlington Bees
, 1957 Bob Uecker Evansville Braves -- NOTE: Uecker is the 2003 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award
Luis Aparicio, 1954 Waterloo White Hawks
Jim Bunning, 1951 Davenport Tigers
Warren Spahn, 1941 Evansville Bees
Lou Boudreau, 1938 Cedar Rapids Raiders
Burleigh Grimes, 1935 Bloomington Bloomers
Hank Greenberg, 1931 Evansville Hubs
Carl Hubbell, 1927 Decatur Commodores
Chuck Klein, 1927 Evansville Hubs
Tony Lazzeri, 1923 Peoria Tractors
Red Ruffing, 1923 Danville Veterans
Joe McGinnity, 1922 Danville Veterans
Red Faber, 1909-1910 Dubuque Dubs
Mordecai Brown, 1901 Terre Haute Hottentots; 1919-1920 Terre Haute Browns
Major League Alumnni [ edit ]
Note: This list is incomplete
Most Valuable Player(s) [ edit ]
Bloomington, Illinois, Decatur, Illinois and Terre Haute, Indiana left the Central League and joined this league. New teams in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Davenport, Iowa, Evansville, Indiana, Rockford, Illinois, and Rock Island, Illinois formed and joined the league. Two of the teams, Davenport and Evansville, chose "River Rats" as their team name. Terre Haute won the title behind the impressive pitching of Mordecai Brown, future Chicago Cubs mound star.
Evansville and Terre Haute joined the
Central League. New teams in Dubuque, Iowa and Joliet, Illinois formed. Joliet, with a record of 14-19, moved to Springfield, Illinois on June 12, where they had a record of 28-61.
The Rockford team folded, and a new team in
Peoria, Illinois formed.
After the season ended, Cedar Rapids lost to the
Burlington, Iowa team from the Iowa State League 4 games to 3.
The Davenport team folded. The team from
Clinton, Iowa joined after leaving the Iowa State League.
The Clinton team folded. A new team in
Davenport, Iowa formed.
After the previous disappointing season, Cedar Rapids folded. The Decatur team moved to the
Northern Association. The team from Waterloo, Iowa left the Central Association to join here. A new team from Danville, Illinois formed and joined the league as well.
The team from Bloomington folded. The
Quincy, Illinois team from the Central Association joined the league. The Springfield team, with a 12-4 record, moved to Decatur, Illinois on May 31, where their record was 57-56.
The teams from Rock Island and Waterloo folded. New teams from
Springfield, Illinois and Bloomington, Indiana joined the league.
The Danville team, with a record of 26-53, moved to
Moline, Illinois on July 14, where their record was 20-33.
The Springfield team folded. A new team in
Rockford, Illinois formed. Dubuque moved to Freeport, Illinois during the season. The Decatur team folded on August 10. The league adopted a playoff system in which the team with the best record in the first half of the season would play the team with the best record in the second half of the season.
Moline beat Davenport 4 games to 2 for the title.
The Freeport team folded. New teams in
Hannibal, Missouri and Rock Island, Illinois formed and joined the league. The playoff system was apparently dropped.
The Davenport team folded. A new team in
Alton, Illinois formed and joined the league.
The league suspended operations because of
World War I.
The teams in Alton, Hannibal, Quincy, and Rock Island folded. New teams in
Evansville, Indiana and Terre Haute, Indiana formed and joined the league.
New teams in
Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Rock Island, Illinois formed and joined the league. Evansville changed their names to the "Evas".
The teams in Cedar Rapids and Rock Island moved to the
Mississippi Valley League. New teams in Danville and Decatur formed and joines the league.
The Rockford team folded. The Moline team moved to the
Mississippi Valley League.
New teams in Quincy and Springfield formed and joined the league.
Springfield played Bay City of the
Michigan State League and won 4 games to none. They were leading against Des Moines of the Western League 3 games to 1 when the series was canceled due to cold weather.
The league returned to the playoff format in which the team with the best record in the first half of the season played the team with the best records in the second half of the season for the title.
Decatur beat Terre Haute for the title 4 games to 1, with 1 tie.
Two teams with the nickname "Tractors" played in the league this season.
Quincy played Canton of the
Central League after the season ended and lost 4 games to 2.
The league returned to the best record in the 1st half vs. best record in the 2nd half playoff system.
Danville defeated Evansville 4 games to 2 for the title. Danville went on to play Springfield of the
Central League and lead 3 games to 2 when the series was cancelled because of poor attendance.
Quincy beat Springfield 4 games to 2 for the championship.
The teams in Bloomington and Evansville folded before the season, and the Springfield and
Decatur teams folded on July 12.
The Terre Haute, Peoria, Quincy, and Danville teams all folded on July 15, as did the league itself. The league was restarted in 1935, 1937-1942, and 1946-1961.
All Former Teams (1901-1961) [ edit ]
Alton Blues, 1917
Bloomington Bengals, 1937
Bloomington Bloomers, 1903-1910, 1912-1917, 1919-1929, 1935, 1938-1939
Bloomington Cubs, 1930-1931
Bloomington Blues, 1901-1902
Burlington Bees, 1954-1961
Burlington Flints, 1952-1953
Little Falls Braves (boston braves) was a mock name of the Major Leagues Boston Braves, 1914-1953
Cedar Rapids Braves, 1958-1961
Cedar Rapids Indians, 1950-1954
Cedar Rapids Raiders, 1938-1942, 1957
Cedar Rapids Rabbits, 1901-1909, 1920-1921
Clinton Giants, 1939-1941
Clinton Infants, 1907-1908
Clinton Owls, 1937-1938
Danville Dodgers, 1946-1950
Danville Speakers, 1910-1914
Danville Veterans, 1922-1932
Davenport Blue Sox, 1913-1916
Davenport Cubs, 1946-1947
Davenport DavSox, 1957-1958
Davenport Knickerbockers, 1906
Davenport Pirates, 1948-1949
Davenport Prodigals, 1909-1912
Davenport Quads, 1950
Davenport River Rats, 1901-1904
Davenport Riversides, 1905
Davenport Tigers, 1951-1952
Decatur Commies, 1948
Decatur Commodores, 1901-1909, 1912-1915, 1922-1932, 1935, 1937-1942, 1946-1947, 1950
Decatur Cubs, 1949
Decatur Nomads, 1911
Des Moines Demons, 1959-1961
Dubuque Shamrocks, 1903-1905
Dubuque Dubs, 1906-1910, 1912-1915
Dubuque Hustlers, 1911
Evansville Bees, 1938-1942
Evansville Braves, 1946-1957
Evansville Evas, 1919-1923
Evansville Little Evas, 1924
Evansville Hubs, 1926-1931
Evansville Pocketeers, 1925
Evansville River Rats, 1901-1902
Fort Wayne Chiefs, 1935
Fox Cities Foxes, 1959-1961
Freeport Comeons, 1915
Green Bay Bluejays, 1958-1959
Green Bay Dodgers, 1960
Hannibal Mules, 1916-1917
Joliet Standards, 1903
Keokuk Kernels, 1952-1957
Lincoln Chiefs, 1959-1961
Madison Blues, 1923-1942
Moline Plowboys, 1914-1917, 1919-1923, 1937-1941
Peoria Chiefs, 1953-1957
Peoria Distillers, 1905-1917
Peoria Reds, 1937
Peoria Tractors, 1919-1932, 1935
Quincy Gems, 1913-1917, 1946-1956
Quincy Indians, 1928-1932
Quincy Infants, 1911
Quincy Old Soldiers, 1912
Quincy Red Birds, 1925-1927
Rochester A's, 1958
Rock Island Islanders, 1901-1911, 1916-1917, 1921
Rockford Red Sox, 1901-1904
Rockford Rox, 1917, 1919-1923
Rockford Wakes, 1915-1916
Sioux City Soos, 1959-1960
Springfield Browns, 1938-1942, 1946-1949
Springfield Foot Trackers, 1903
Springfield Hustlers, 1904
Springfield Senators, 1905-1912, 1925-1932, 1935
Springfield Watchmakers, 1913-1914
Terre Haute Browns, 1919-1920
Terre Haute Hottentots, 1901-1902
Terre Haute Phillies, 1946-1954
Terre Haute Tigers, 1955-1956
Terre Haute Tots, 1921-1932, 1935, 1937
Topeka Hawks, 1959
Topeka Reds, 1960-1961
Waterloo Boosters, 1910-1911
Waterloo Hawks, 1940-1942, 1947
Waterloo Red Hawks, 1938-1939
Waterloo White Hawks, 1946, 1948-1956
Winona A's, 1958
See also [ edit ]
References [ edit ]
Sumner, Benjamin Barrett.
Minor League Baseball Standings:All North American Leagues, Through 1999. Jefferson, N.C.:McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0781-6