Midwest League

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Midwest League
Midwest League Logo.svg
Midwest League logo
Sport Baseball
Founded 1954
No. of teams 16
Country USA
Most recent
champion(s)
West Michigan Whitecaps
Most titles Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (8 titles)
Classification Class A
Official website Official Website

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.[1][2] Today, the league has 16 teams in 2 divisions.[3]

History[edit]

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. [4]

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.[5] 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.[6]

The 1975 Waterloo Royals, led by future MLB All-Stars Willie Wilson and Dan Quisenberry, are ranked #60 on MiLB.com's Top 100 Teams. The Royals finished the season 93–35.[7]

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.[8]

The 1978 Appleton Foxes are ranked #93 on the Top-100 All Time teams by MiLB.com. [9] 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. [10]

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.

The Southwest Michigan Devil Rays moved to Midland, Michigan, and became the Great Lakes Loons prior to the 2007 season.

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).[11]

Current teams[edit]

Division Team MLB Affiliation City Stadium Capacity
Eastern Bowling Green Hot Rods Tampa Bay Rays Bowling Green, Kentucky Bowling Green Ballpark 4,559[12]
Dayton Dragons Cincinnati Reds Dayton, Ohio Fifth Third Field 7,230
Fort Wayne TinCaps San Diego Padres Fort Wayne, Indiana Parkview Field 8,100
Great Lakes Loons Los Angeles Dodgers Midland, Michigan Dow Diamond 5,200
Lake County Captains Cleveland Indians Eastlake, Ohio Classic Park 7,273
Lansing Lugnuts Toronto Blue Jays Lansing, Michigan Cooley Law School Stadium 11,000
South Bend Cubs Chicago Cubs South Bend, Indiana Four Winds Field at Coveleski Stadium 5,000
West Michigan Whitecaps Detroit Tigers Comstock Park, Michigan Fifth Third Ballpark 10,071
Western Beloit Snappers Oakland Athletics Beloit, Wisconsin Harry C. Pohlman Field 3,501
Burlington Bees Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Burlington, Iowa Community Field 3,200
Cedar Rapids Kernels Minnesota Twins Cedar Rapids, Iowa Veterans Memorial Stadium 5,300
Clinton LumberKings Seattle Mariners Clinton, Iowa Ashford University Field 5,500
Kane County Cougars Arizona Diamondbacks Geneva, Illinois Fifth Third Bank Ballpark 10,923
Peoria Chiefs St. Louis Cardinals Peoria, Illinois Dozer Park 7,377
Quad Cities River Bandits Houston Astros Davenport, Iowa Modern Woodmen Park 4,024
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Milwaukee Brewers Appleton, Wisconsin Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium 5,900

Current team rosters[edit]

Midwest League Champions[edit]

Year by Year championship teams: List of Midwest League champions

Midwest League teams since 1956[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]