Pioneer League (baseball)
Pioneer League logo
|President||James R. McCurdy (1994-Present)|
|No. of teams||8|
|Missoula Osprey (2015)|
|Most titles||Billings Mustangs (15)|
The Pioneer League is a minor league baseball league which currently operates in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States. In the past, it also operated in adjoining portions of Canada. It is classified as a Rookie League, and is staffed with mostly first and second year players. The Pioneer League is a short-season league operating from June to early September.
Along with the Appalachian League, it forms the second-lowest rung on the minor league ladder. Although classified as a Rookie league, the level of play is slightly higher than that of the two "complex" Rookie leagues, the Gulf Coast League and Arizona League. Unlike these two leagues, Pioneer League games charge admission and sell concessions.
The Pioneer League began in 1939 with six teams in Idaho and Utah. With players in short supply due to World War II, the league suspended operations for the 1943 through 1945 seasons. In 1948, the league expanded into Montana. At that time, several of the teams were operating as minor league affiliates of Pacific Coast League teams, which were unsuccessfully trying to grow into a major league. When the Los Angeles Dodgers displaced the Hollywood Stars PCL team, they moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, taking away the Pioneer League's largest market. By 1959, the league was down to six teams, and by 1964, there were only four. By the end of the 1970s there were eight teams, a number that remains to this day and is not likely to change without further expansion or contraction within Major League Baseball.
In 2015, total league attendance was 633,622.
|Northern||Billings Mustangs||Cincinnati Reds||Billings, Montana||Dehler Park||5,000|
|Great Falls Voyagers||Chicago White Sox||Great Falls, Montana||Centene Stadium||2,500|
|Helena Brewers||Milwaukee Brewers||Helena, Montana||Kindrick Legion Field||2,010|
|Missoula Osprey||Arizona Diamondbacks||Missoula, Montana||Ogren Park at Allegiance Field||3,500|
|Southern||Grand Junction Rockies||Colorado Rockies||Grand Junction, Colorado||Suplizio Field||7,014|
|Idaho Falls Chukars||Kansas City Royals||Idaho Falls, Idaho||Melaleuca Field||3,400|
|Ogden Raptors||Los Angeles Dodgers||Ogden, Utah||Lindquist Field||8,262|
|Orem Owlz||Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||Orem, Utah||Brent Brown Ballpark||5,000|
Current team rosters
Pioneer League teams (1939–present)
James R. McCurdy is the current president of the Pioneer Baseball League. McCurdy received his BBA from the University of Houston in 1970 and his JD from the University of Texas School of Law in 1974. He mediated the restructure of Minor League Baseball's governing structure in 1992 and was an inaugural member of the MiLB board of trustees from 1992-94. In 1993, he was appointed by the president of MiLB to serve on the Professional Baseball Executive Council. McCurdy was elevated to the position of league president in 1994, replacing Ralph Nelles who was the president from 1975 to 1993. McCurdy also teaches sports law courses at Gonzaga University School of Law and the University of San Diego School of Law. His publications include: Sports Law: Cases & Materials (with Ray Yasser, C. Peter Goplerud, and Maureen Weston) (7th ed. LexisNexis 2011), Thunder on the Road from Seattle to Oklahoma City: Going from NOPA to ZOPA in the NBA, in Legal Issues in American Basketball ch. IV (Lewis Kurlantzick ed., Academica Press 2011), and, The Fundamental Nature of Professional Sports Leagues, Constituent Clubs, & Mutual Duties to Protect Market Opportunities: Organized Baseball Case Study, in Legal Issues in Professional Baseball ch. IV (Lewis Kurlantzick ed., Academica Press 2005).