- Pacific Coast League
Infobox sports league
pixels = 150px
caption = Pacific Coast League logo
founded = 1903
teams = 16
country = USA
Sacramento River Cats
website = [http://www.pclbaseball.com www.pclbaseball.com] The Pacific Coast League (PCL) is a
minor league baseballleague operating in the West and Midwest of the United States. It is one of two leagues, along with the International League, playing at the Triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball.
The PCL has had a long tradition on the West Coast, with teams with evocative names such as the
Hollywood Stars, Los Angeles Angels, Mission Reds(representing San Francisco's Mission District), Oakland Oaks, Portland Beavers, Sacramento Solons, Salt Lake Bees, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Seals, Seattle Rainiers, Vernon Tigerslater the Tacoma Tigers, Vancouver Canadiansand the Hawaii Islanders2,000 miles off the mainland of North America.
A near-major league
In the first half of the 20th century, the Pacific Coast League developed into one of the premier regional baseball leagues. The cities enfranchised by the other two high-minor leagues, the
International Leagueand the American Association, were generally interwoven geographically with the major leagues. Such was not the case with the PCL. With no major league baseball team existing west of St. Louis, the PCL was unrivaled as the vehicle for American west coast baseball. Although never recognized as a true major league, the quality of play was considered very high. Drawing from a strong pool of talent in the area, the PCL produced a number of outstanding players, including future major-league stars Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Tony Lazzeri, Paul Waner, Earl Averill, and Ernie Lombardi.
While many PCL stars went on to play in the major leagues, teams in the league were often successful enough that they could offer competitive salaries to avoid being outbid for their stars' services. Some players made a career out of the minor leagues. One of the better known of those was Frank Shellenback, whose major league pitching career was brief [http://www.baseball-reference.com/s/shellfr01.shtml] but who compiled a record PCL total of 295 wins, against 178 losses. [http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Frank_Shellenback]
In addition, the mild climate of the West Coast, especially in California, allowed the league to play longer seasons, sometimes starting in late February and ending as late as the beginning of December. This allowed players to potentially hone their skills more sharply, and also to earn an extra month or two worth of pay and reduce the need to find offseason work, something which even some major league players found necessary because of the low salaries, by today's standards. The longer playing season also provided room for additional games on the schedule, giving team owners a chance at generating more revenue.
Teams sometimes played over 200 games in a single season. The high-water mark was the 1905 season, in which the
San Francisco Sealsset the all-time PCL record by playing in 230 games (PCL Record Book, p.30). Even just prior to the 1958 reshuffling, the league was playing 170-180 games per season. One consequence of such lengthy seasons was that a number of the all-time minor league records for season statistical totals are held by players from the PCL.
1952, the PCL became the only minor league in history to be given the "Open" classification, a step above the AAA level. This limited the rights of major league clubs to draft players from the PCL, and was seen as a step toward the circuit becoming a third major league.
The shift to the Open classification came just as minor league teams from coast to coast suffered a sharp drop in attendance, primarily due to the availability of major league games on television. The hammer blow to the PCL's major league dreams came in 1958, when the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and the New York Giants moved to San Francisco. As a result, three of the PCL's flagship teams (the Los Angeles Angels, the
Hollywood Stars, and the San Francisco Seals) were immediately forced to relocate to smaller markets. Additionally, the PCL did not benefit from the comparison with the major leagues, which now occupied the same territory and drew away much of the attention of its former fans. The league never recovered from this blow. It reverted to AAA classification, and soon diminished in the public eye to nothing more than another minor league.
Of the cities represented in the PCL in its heyday, only
Salt Lake City, Portland, and Sacramento remain, and even these are represented by different franchises than those that had originally called these cities home. The Oakland Oaks had moved to Canada two years before the arrival of the Giants. The San Diego Padres and Seattle Rainierswere displaced by Major League teams in 1969, but by this time the PCL's decline was already far advanced.
In 1997, the Pacific Coast League agreed to take five teams from the disbanding American Association, which had operated in the Midwest; a sixth team was added to the league as an expansion team, thus providing the scheduling convenience of an even number of teams. The league now stretches from western
Washingtonto Middle Tennessee.
The league is divided into two conferences, the American Conference and the Pacific Conference; after a realignment for
2005necessitated by the move of the Edmonton Trappersto Round Rock, Texas, each is divided into a North Division and a South Division. The Trappers' move also ended the league's presence in Canada; as recently as 1999, the league had teams north of the border in Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton, but they left for Sacramento in 2000, Albuquerque in 2003, and Round Rock in 2005 respectively. In 2005, the Pacific Coast League became the first minor league ever to achieve a season attendance of over 7 million.
Championship and interleague play
At the end of the season, the North and South Division winners within each conference meet in a best-of-five series to determine conference champions. Then, the American and Pacific Conference winners play a best-of-five series to determine a league champion.
Since by|2006 the league champion has played against the
International Leaguechampion in the Bricktown Showdown, a single game for the Triple-A Championship. Previously, the PCL champion also competed in the Triple-A World Series.
In further interleague play, in by|1988, the three Triple-A leagues, the other being the American Association, met to play the first
Triple-A All-Star Game. One team was made up of All-Stars from American Leagueaffiliates and the other of National Leagueaffiliates. Beginning in by|1998, a team of PCL All-Stars faced off against a team of IL All-Stars.
Salt Lake Bees
Note: Teams in italics are PCL "classic" teams from the league's height in the 1950s.
* "Los Angeles Angels" (1903–1957) →
Spokane Indians(1958–1971) → Albuquerque Dukes(1972–2000) → Portland Beavers(2001–present)
* "Oakland Oaks" (1903–1955) →
Vancouver Mounties(1956–1962) → Dallas Rangers(1963–1964) → Vancouver Mounties(1965–1969) → Salt Lake City Angels(1970–1974) → Salt Lake City Gulls(1975–1984) → Calgary Cannons(1985–2002) → Albuquerque Isotopes(2003–present)
Portland Beavers(1903–1917)1 → Sacramento Senators (1918-1935) → " Sacramento Solons" (1936–1960) → Hawaii Islanders(1961–1987) → Colorado Springs Sky Sox(1988–present)
Portland Beavers" (1919–1972) → Spokane Indians(1973–1982) → Las Vegas Stars (1983–2000) → Las Vegas 51s(2001–2009, to be renamed in 2010)
Portland Beavers(1978–1993) → Salt Lake Buzz (1994–2001) → Salt Lake Stingers (2002-2005) → Salt Lake Bees(2006-present)
* Sacramento Sacts/Senators (1903) → Tacoma Tigers (1904-1905)→ Sacramento Senators (1905)2 →
Fresno Raisin Eaters(1906) → Sacramento Solons(1909–1914)3 → Salt Lake Bees(1915–1925) → Hollywood Stars(1926–1935) → "San Diego Padres" (1936–1968) → Eugene Emeralds(1969–1973) → Sacramento Solons(1974–1976) → San Jose Missions(1977-1978) → Ogden A's (1979–1980) → Edmonton Trappers(1981–2004) → Round Rock Express(2005–present)
* "San Francisco Seals" (1903–1957) → Phoenix Giants (1958–1959) → Tacoma Giants (1960–1965) → Phoenix Giants (1966–1985) →
Phoenix Firebirds(1986–1997) → Fresno Grizzlies(1998–present)
* Seattle Indians (1903–1906, 1919-1938)4 → "
Seattle Rainiers" (1938–1964) → Seattle Angels (1965–1968) → Tucson Toros(1969–1997) → Tucson Sidewinders(1998–2008)→ Reno Aces(2009–present) [ [http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/related/191624.php "PCL approves Sidewinders sale; Reno gets site."] "The Arizona Daily Star". 13 July 2007. 4 February 2008.]
Vancouver Canadians(1978–1999) → Sacramento River Cats(2000–present)
Vernon Tigers(1909–1925) → Mission Reds(1926–1937) → " Hollywood Stars" (1938–1957) → Salt Lake Bees(1958–1965) → Tacoma Cubs (1966–1971) → Tacoma Twins (1972–1977) → Tacoma Yankees (1978) → Tacoma Tugs (1979) → Tacoma Tigers (1980–1994) → Tacoma Rainiers(1995–present)
1The 1917 Portland Beavers folded operations, and its slot in the PCL was offered to Sacramento.
2The 1905 Tacoma Tigers were moved back to Sacramento in the middle of the 1905 season due to poor play, then were moved again to Fresno the following season.
3The 1907-08 Sacramento Solons played in the California League after returning from Fresno.
4The 1907-1918 Seattle Indians played in the Class B Northwest League.
Former American Association teams
Five current league teams were acquired by the PCL following the disbandment of the American Association after the 1997 season.
Evansville Triplets(1970–1984) → Nashville Sounds(1985–present)
Houston Buffaloes(1959–1961) → Oklahoma City 89ers (1962–1996)5 → Oklahoma RedHawks(1997–2008) → Oklahoma City RedHawks(2008–future)
* Iowa Oaks (1969–1981) →
* Kansas City Cowboys (1900-1903) → Kansas City Blues (1904–1954) → Denver Bears6 (1955–1984) → Denver Zephyrs (1985–1992) →
New Orleans Zephyrs(1993–present)
Omaha Royals(1969–1998) → Omaha Golden Spikes (1999-2001) → Omaha Royals(2002- present)
5The Oklahoma City 89ers were a member of the Pacific Coast League from 1963-1968.
6The Denver Bears were a member of the Pacific Coast League from 1963-1968.
Presidents of the PCL
Eugene F. Bert
J. Cal Ewing
Judge Thomas F. Graham
Allan T. Baum
William H. McCarthy
Harry A. Williams
Hyland H. Baggerly
William C. Tuttle
*1944–1954 Clarence H. Rowland
Claire V. Goodwin
Leslie M. O’ Connor
William B. McKechnie, Jr.
William S. Cutler
*1998–present Branch Rickey III
List of defunct PCL teams
*Pacific Coast League champions
Sports league attendances
*"Pacific Coast Baseball League Record Book 1903-1969", compiled by William J. Weiss, League Statistician; published by the PCL, 1969.
* [http://www.pclbaseball.com Pacific Coast League official website]
* [http://pclbaseball.com/pcl100/ Pacific Coast League History]
* [http://www.tripleabaseball.com Triple-A Baseball official website]
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