|No. of teams||4 to 12 each season|
The Northwestern League was a sports league that operated in the Central United States during the early years of professional baseball for five seasons: 1879, 1883–1884, and 1886–1887. After the 1887 season, the league was replaced by the Western Association. A second Northwestern League, located in the Pacific Northwest, formed in 1905.
The Northwestern League of 1883–1884 is considered the first baseball "minor league", as it was party to the National Agreement of 1883, along with the National League and American Association, whereby the leagues agreed to honor each other's suspensions, expulsions, and player reserve clauses, and established territorial rights.
Results by season
The league operated for a total of five seasons, during a span of nine years.
Four teams participated in the 1879 season, which ran from May 1 to July 7.
|Dubuque Red Stockings||19–5 (.792)||—||Ted Sullivan|
|Rockford White Stockings||13–9 (.591)||5||James McKee|
|Omaha Green Stockings||5–13 (.278)||11|
|Davenport Brown Stockings||5–15 (.250)||12||J. W. Green|
The 1883 season featured eight teams and ran from May 1 to September 29.
|Toledo Blue Stockings||56–28 (.667)||—||William Voltz / Charlie Morton|
|Saginaw Greys||54–30 (.643)||2||Arthur Whitney|
|Peoria Reds||49–35 (.583)||7||Charles Flynn / Charles Levis / A. C. Harding|
|Grand Rapids (MI)||48–36 (.571)||8||Charles Eden / Henry Jones|
|Springfield (IL)||37–47 (.440)||19||C. J. Frichtel / John Peters / John Crawford|
|Bay City (MI)||35–49 (.417)||21||John Crawford / William Montgomery / Chester Morgan|
|Fort Wayne Hoosiers||34–50 (.405)||22||Jack Remsen / Milton Scott|
|Quincy Quincys||23–61 (.274)||33||Charles Overrecker / Ed Hengel / Dickey Pearce|
The 1884 season began on May 1 with 12 teams. The Bay City team disbanded in late July and was replaced by Evansville. In early August, multiple other teams disbanded. Play continued through August 13, at which time Milwaukee had the best record of teams still active. Milwaukee was later offered the league championship for the abbreviated season, but declined it.
|Grand Rapids (MI)||48–15 (.762)||—||Horace Phillips|
|Saginaw Greys||47–21 (.691)||3+1⁄2||William Dyer|
|Quincy Quincys||45–23 (.662)||5+1⁄2||George Brackett|
|Peoria Reds||40–25 (.615)||9||James Whitfield / Charles Flynn|
|Milwaukee Brewers||42–30 (.583)||10+1⁄2||Charles Cushman / James McKee / Tom Loftus|
|Minneapolis Millers||30–42 (.417)||22+1⁄2||Benjamin Tuthill|
|Muskegon (MI)||23–40 (.365)||27||A. R. Bradford / Charles Cushman / John Rainey|
|Fort Wayne Hoosiers||22–43 (.338)||29||John McDonough / Harry Smith|
|St. Paul Apostles||24–48 (.333)||30+1⁄2||Robert Hunter / Andrew Thompson|
|Stillwater (MN)||21–46 (.313)||31||Joseph May / Joe Miller / Fred Gunkle / John Peters|
|Terre Haute (IN)||15–50 (.231)||36||Al Buckenberger / George Hammerstein|
|Evansville (IN)||4–1 (.800)||n/a||Stephen Hagan|
|Bay City (MI)||39–16 (.709)||n/a||Bill Watkins|
The league reorganized on August 14, and started a second season with a limited schedule of 24 games planned for each of four teams. This short season would also end early due to financial difficulties, with the final game played on September 7.
|Milwaukee Brewers||11–4 (.733)||—||Tom Loftus|
|Minneapolis Millers||7–4 (.636)||2||Benjamin Tuthill|
|St. Paul Apostles||7–7 (.500)||3+1⁄2||Andrew Thompson|
|Winona Clippers||1–11 (.083)||8+1⁄2||John Rainey|
In 1886, the league was recreated when the Duluth Jayhawks; Eau Claire Lumbermen; St. Paul Freezers, Minneapolis Millers, Milwaukee Brewers, and the Oshkosh, Wisconsin team composed the league. Duluth won the championship.
In 1887, the Northwestern League featured the Des Moines Hawkeyes, Duluth Freezers, Eau Claire, LaCrosse Freezers, Milwaukee Cream Citys, Minneapolis Millers, Oshkosh and the St. Paul Saints. Oshkosh won the championship.
- Thornly, Stew (2006). Baseball in Minnesota: The Definitive History. ISBN 978-0-87351-551-1.
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- The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball. Lloyd Johnson & Miles Wolff, editors (Third ed.). Baseball America. 2007. ISBN 1932391177.CS1 maint: others (link)
- "1883 Northwestern League". Baseball-Reference.com.
- "Two More Gone". St. Paul Globe. August 7, 1884. p. 6. Retrieved April 21, 2021 – via newspapers.com.
- "Northwestern League". Chicago Tribune. August 14, 1884. p. 7. Retrieved April 21, 2021 – via newspapers.com.
- "The New Northwestern League". St. Louis Globe-Democrat. August 15, 1884. p. 8. Retrieved April 21, 2021 – via newspapers.com.
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- "The 1884 St. Paul Saints". Retrosheet. Retrieved April 22, 2021.
- "The 1884 Milwaukee Grays". Retrosheet. Retrieved April 22, 2021.
- "1886 Northwestern League". Baseball-Reference.com.
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- "Bay City Ball Club History". baycitybaseballclub.com. Archived from the original on June 27, 2006 – via Wayback Machine.