Triple-A World Series

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The Triple-A World Series was an infrequently held contest featuring the champions of each Triple-A level minor league of Major League Baseball, with the intent of crowning an overall champion of Triple-A Baseball.

The first Series was held in 1983 as a round robin tournament. It was revived as a best-of-five series from 1998 to 2000.


Initial 1983 series[edit]

The first Triple-A World Series was held in 1983 as a round robin tournament featuring the champions of each of the International League (IL), the American Association (AA), and the Pacific Coast League (PCL). The Tidewater Tides (IL) won the 1983 series, 3-1, against the PCL's Portland Beavers and the AA's Denver Bears.

This was only a one-time event, and there was not another post-season meeting of these minor leagues until 1988 when the International League and the American Association held the first Triple-A Classic.

Las Vegas 1998–2000 revival[edit]

A revived Triple-A World Series was held from 1998 to 2000 between the International League and the Pacific Coast League, after the realignment of Triple-A from three leagues to two. It matched Triple-A Baseball's two league champions in a best-of-five series to determine an overall Triple-A Champion. The Series, was played at Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Nevada during the third week of September and was televised live, worldwide, on ESPN2.

The event was a sponsorship success, with companies such as the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, The Money Store, Cox Communications, and the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino using the event as a springboard for a promotion presence in all 30 Triple-A markets. Additional hospitality events, such as dinner cruises, Las Vegas shows, cocktail parties, and golf outings, made the event memorable for sponsors, fans, players, and executives alike.

End of the Triple-A World Series[edit]

Just a few months after apparently sealing the deal on a revised version of the Triple-A World Series for 2001, it was announced the event would be placed on indefinite hiatus.

Sparse attendance was a problem; games were held on weekdays. The final series in 2000 even included two games played at noon in 100-degree heat. Fans of the participating teams had insufficient time to arrange plans to attend the event. During the 2000 event, average paid attendance hit a three-year low of 2,311.

Despite efforts by the Las Vegas convention bureau, it wasn't an easy task to get vacationers and conventioneers away from the casinos and into the ballpark to watch players of whom they may have never heard. ESPN2's television ratings for the 2000 series were low, especially when compared to the night games of the first two years when the time difference caused the games to air too late at night for most fans on the East Coast.

At the end of the original three-year deal, a new plan was hastily hammered out to buy the event time to work out a better situation for 2002. It was decided that the event would be cut from a five-day midweek event to a best-of-three series to be played Friday through Sunday. It was hoped that this arrangement would allow baseball fans from all over to make plans for a brief and enjoyable vacation in advance.

Meanwhile, plans also were in the works to try to move the event to a new site in 2002. Options initially included Cooperstown, New York, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. That proposal was supported by the IL owners, but shot down by those of the PCL. Despite the attraction of baseball history and charm, Doubleday Field was small, old, had no lights, and fell well below Triple-A standards.

Other ideas included allowing venues to bid on the event on a year-by-year basis, or finding a way to move the event to the two home parks of the teams involved. The latter idea was the one that has been most ardently embraced by players, fans, and the PCL. But it also posed the most logistical problems because of the lack of preparation time, especially for a three-game series that could include teams from opposite corners of the country. There was also hostility from the major leagues regarding the series because it would interfere with late-season pennant races and draw attention away from them in terms of television viewer attendance and, especially, player availability.

Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game[edit]

After the final Triple-A World Series in 2000, the International League and the Pacific Coast League returned to ending their seasons after the crowning of their champions.

The two leagues contested a new, single game, Triple-A interleague championship in 2006. The Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game is an on-going success, with three wins by the International League's champion, and six wins by the Pacific Coast League's champion, since 2006.


1983 Triple-A World Series[edit]

The three league champions in 1983 were the Tidewater Tides of the International League, the Denver Bears of the American Association, and the Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League. Tidewater had defeated the Richmond Braves, 3 games to 1, to win their league's championship, the Governors' Cup. Denver defeated the Louisville Redbirds, 4 games to 0, to win their league title, and Portland swept the Albuquerque Dukes in 3 games to take the PCL crown.

Held in Louisville, Kentucky, Tidewater ended up winning the tournament and the World Series, with a 3–1 round robin record. With a 2–2 record, Portland finished second, and Denver finished at 1–3 in third place. This format for a post-season champsionship was not repeated, and this was the last time all three leagues faced each other in the same season.

1998 Las Vegas Triple-A World Series[edit]

1998 Las Vegas Triple-A World Series logo
New Orleans Zephyrs (PCL) def Buffalo Bisons (IL)
Game 1 New Orleans Zephyrs 7 Buffalo Bisons 3
Game 2 New Orleans Zephyrs 2 Buffalo Bisons 9
Game 3 New Orleans Zephyrs 3 Buffalo Bisons 2
Game 4 New Orleans Zephyrs 12 Buffalo Bisons 6
MVP: Lance Berkman, OF, New Orleans (.467, 3 HR, 6 RBI)

Buffalo defeated the Durham Bulls, 3 games to 2, to advance to the World Series, and New Orleans defeated the Calgary Cannons, 3 games to 2, to advance.

The New Orleans Zephyrs hit eight home runs to defeat the Buffalo Bisons, 3 games to 1, in this battle of former American Association rivals. Left-hander John Halama went the distance for the Zephyrs in Game One, striking out nine, and Daryle Ward hit a pair of home runs as New Orleans won the inaugural game. James Betzold, Phil Hiatt, and Jeff Manto each had a pair of RBIs as the Bisons evened the series with a Game Two victory. Ken Ramos and Marc Ronan hit back-to-back homers in the bottom of the eighth inning of Game Three as New Orleans rallied for a 3–2 victory. Lance Berkman drove in six runs on three home runs and a single, while Casey Candaele scored three runs as the New Orleans Zephyrs won Game Four to win the inaugural Las Vegas Triple-A World Series. Manto had three hits and three RBI in a losing effort.

1999 Las Vegas Triple-A World Series[edit]

1999 Las Vegas Triple-A World Series logo
Vancouver Canadians (PCL) def. Charlotte Knights (IL)
Game 1 Vancouver Canadians 5 Charlotte Knights 6
Game 2 Vancouver Canadians 5 Charlotte Knights 4
Game 3 Vancouver Canadians 2 Charlotte Knights 4
Game 4 Vancouver Canadians 9 Charlotte Knights 7
Game 5 Vancouver Canadians 16 Charlotte Knights 2
MVP: Terrence Long, OF, Vancouver (.429, 9 H, 10 RBI)

Charlotte defeated the Durham Bulls, 3 games to 1, to advance to the World Series and Vancouver defeated the Oklahoma RedHawks, 3 games to 1, to advance.

The Vancouver franchise capped its final season in Canada with a Triple-A World Series Title defeating the Charlotte Knights in 5 games. Eric Christopherson drove in Chad Mottola in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead Charlotte in a Game One victory. Terrence Long drove in three runs as the Canadians tied the series with a 5–4 Game Two win. Jon Garland struck out eight, allowing no earned runs, and Jeff Abbott, Jeff Liefer, and Luis Raven homered as the Knights won Game Three, 4–2. Jeff Ball, Mario Encarnacion, and Long each drove in two runs as Vancouver scored two in the bottom of the eighth inning to win Game Four, 9–7. Tilson Brito had a pair of homers for Charlotte. Behind Mark Mulder's complete game seven-hitter in Game Five, Vancouver blasted Charlotte 16–2 to win the second annual Triple-A World Series. Long drove in 4 runs, while José Ortiz and Roberto Vaz had 3 RBIs apiece for the Canadians.

2000 Las Vegas Triple-A World Series[edit]

2000 Las Vegas Triple-A World Series Logo
Indianapolis Indians (IL) def. Memphis Redbirds (PCL)
Game 1 Indianapolis Indians 8 Memphis Redbirds 3
Game 2 Indianapolis Indians 3 Memphis Redbirds 2
Game 3 Indianapolis Indians 4 Memphis Redbirds 11
Game 4 Indianapolis Indians 9 Memphis Redbirds 2
MVP: Santiago Pérez, SS, Indianapolis (.462, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R)

Indianapolis defeated the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, 3 games to 2, to advance to the World Series and Memphis defeated the Salt Lake Buzz, 3 games to 1, to advance.

The Indianapolis Indians became the first IL club to capture a Las Vegas Triple-A World Series Championship, topping Memphis in 4 games. Lyle Mouton totaled four RBI as Indianapolis rolled to an 8–3 Game One victory. Game Two was as climactic as any in Triple-A World Series history. Memphis tied the score in the top of the ninth off IL All-Star closer Bob Scanlan, but the Tribe's Creighton Gubanich led off the bottom of the frame with a walk-off home run to give Indianapolis a 3–2 win and 2–0 series lead. Memphis climbed back into the series with a Game Three win, as Larry Sutton hit two home runs to help the Redbirds erase an early two-run deficit. Indianapolis ace left-hander Horacio Estrada pitched a gem for the Tribe in Game Four, allowing two runs in the first inning, then holding Memphis scoreless for the next seven frames as the Indians won the series with a 9–2 victory.

See also[edit]