Midwest League logo
|President||Richard A. Nussbaum II|
|No. of teams||16|
|Quad Cities River Bandits (2017)|
|Most titles||Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Lansing Lugnuts (9)|
|TV partner(s)||Fox Sports Midwest|
The Midwest League is a Minor League Baseball league, established in 1954 and based in the Midwestern United States. It is a Class A league that plays a full season; its players are typically players in their second or third year of professional play.
The Midwest League began as the Illinois State League (1947–1948), then became the Mississippi–Ohio Valley League (1949–1955). In 1956, the Mississippi–Ohio Valley League was renamed the Midwest League. Today, the league has 16 teams in two divisions. The Lansing Lugnuts and Wisconsin Timber Rattlers franchises jointly have won the most league championships, with nine each.
The Midwest League directly evolved from two earlier leagues in the region. In 1947, the Class D Illinois State League (ISL) began operation with six Illinois teams – the Belleville Stags, Centralia Cubs, Marion Indians, Mattoon Indians, Mount Vernon Braves and the West Frankfort Cardinals. In 1949, the ISL changed its name to the Mississippi–Ohio Valley League after Marion moved their franchise to Kentucky and became the Paducah Chiefs. In 1954, the Mississippi-Ohio Valley League expanded, adding teams in Clinton and Dubuque, Iowa. The Mississippi-Ohio Valley League was then renamed Midwest League in 1956.
The original teams in 1956, the first year of Midwest League play, were: Clinton Pirates, Decatur Commodores, Dubuque Packers, Kokomo Dodgers, Lafayette Red Sox, Mattoon Phillies, Michigan City White Caps and the Paris Lakers. Mattoon is the oldest franchise in the MWL, evolving into today's Fort Wayne TinCaps, while Clinton is the oldest MWL locale.
In 1960, the Davenport, Iowa based Quad City Braves joined the league as an expansion team. In 1962, Appleton, Burlington, and Cedar Rapids joined the Midwest League from the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League which folded operations when those franchises switched leagues. All those franchised remain in the league today. In 1963, the Midwest League was designated as a Class A league, after the minor league classification structure was reorganized.
In 1976, the Midwest League contracted from ten teams to eight, as franchises in Danville and Dubuque were eliminated. In 1982, the league expanded from 8 to 12 teams, adding the Beloit Brewers, the Danville Suns, the Madison Muskies, and the Springfield Cardinals. The Peoria Suns relocated from Danville in 1983, and acquired their current name, Peoria Chiefs, the following year. In 1988, the league began splitting its season into two halves and expanded from 12 to 14 teams, with the addition of franchises in South Bend, Indiana, and Rockford, Illinois. During the 1990s several teams changed cities as Major League Baseball placed higher standards on minor league baseball facilities; franchises in smaller cities were sold to new owners who moved those teams to new ballparks in larger cities. Kenosha, Madison, Rockford, Springfield, Waterloo, and Wausau lost teams during this decade while Battle Creek, Dayton, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids (West Michigan), Kane County, and Lansing gained teams.
The 1978 Appleton Foxes are ranked #93 on the Top-100 All Time teams by MiLB.com. Led by future Cy Young Award winner LaMarr Hoyt, the team finished 97-40. Harry Chappas, Ross Baumgarten and Britt Burns were all called up to the parent Chicago White Sox at the conclusin of the MWL season. The 97 wins by the Foxes remains a Midwest League record.
The Fort Wayne TinCaps are the oldest franchise in the league, having begun as the Mattoon Indians in 1947 and playing in Keokuk, Iowa; Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin; and Kenosha, Wisconsin, before moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1993. The Clinton LumberKings have been in one city longer than any Midwest League team, having called Clinton, Iowa, home since 1954.
On September 2, 2008, Minor League Baseball announced that two teams would transfer from the fellow Class A South Atlantic League to the Midwest League: the Lake County Captains (an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians playing in Eastlake, Ohio) and the Bowling Green Hot Rods (an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays playing in Bowling Green, Kentucky).
Current team rosters
Teams since 1956
- Beloit Snappers (1995–present)
- Beloit Brewers (1982–94)
- Bowling Green Hot Rods (2010–present)
- Burlington Bees (1962–81, 1993–present)
- Cedar Rapids Kernels (1993–present)
- Clinton LumberKings (1994–present)
- Danville Warriors (1970–76)
- Dayton Dragons (2000–present)
- Decatur Commodores (1956–74)
- Dubuque Packers (1956–67, 1974–76; second franchise relocated from Quincy, Illinois)
- Dubuque Royals (1968)
- Fort Wayne TinCaps (2009–present)
- Great Lakes Loons (2007–present), based in Midland, Michigan
- Kane County Cougars (1991–present), based in Geneva, Illinois
- Kokomo Dodgers (1956–61)
- Lake County Captains (2010–present)
- Lansing Lugnuts (1996–present)
- Michigan City White Caps (1956–59)
- Paris Lakers (1956–59)
- Peoria Chiefs (1984–present)
- Quad Cities River Bandits (2008–present), based in Davenport, Iowa
- Quincy Cubs (1965–73); franchise moved to Dubuque, Iowa, after the 1973 season
- South Bend Cubs (2015–present)
- West Michigan Whitecaps (1994–present)
- Madison Muskies (1982–93)
- Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (1995–present), based in Grand Chute, Wisconsin
- "Personnel and Staff". Midwest League. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
- "Minor League Baseball – The Midwest League"
- 2011 Midwest League Media Guide
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