American Association of Professional Baseball

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American Association of Professional Baseball
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2021 American Association season
200px
Sport Baseball
Founded 2005
No. of teams 12
Countries United States
Canada
Most recent champion(s) Kansas City Monarchs (2021)
Most titles Winnipeg Goldeyes (3)
Official website Official website

The American Association of Professional Baseball is an independent professional baseball league founded in 2005. It operates in the central United States and Canada, mostly in cities not served by Major League Baseball teams or their minor league affiliates. Joshua Schaub is the league commissioner. League offices are located in Moorhead, Minnesota. Though a separate entity, the league shared a commissioner and director of umpires with the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball during that league's existence. The American Association of Professional Baseball has 501(c)(6) tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service.[1] In 2020, as part of MLB's reorganization of the minor leagues, the American Association, together with the Atlantic League and the Frontier League, became an official MLB Partner League.[2]

History

The American Association was founded in October 2005 when the St. Paul Saints, Lincoln Saltdogs, Sioux City Explorers, and Sioux Falls Canaries announced they were leaving the Northern League. Around the same time, the Central Baseball League announced it was disbanding after four seasons. The Fort Worth Cats, Shreveport-Bossier Sports, Pensacola Pelicans, Coastal Bend Aviators, and El Paso Diablos joined the four former Northern League teams and the expansion St. Joe Blacksnakes to form the American Association as a ten-team league. The new league began play in 2006, with a 96-game schedule, which has since expanded to 100 games.

2008 saw the league lose the Blacksnakes and Aviators, with the Grand Prairie AirHogs and Wichita Wingnuts joining in their place. In 2011 and 2012 the league went through a significant shift. Fort Worth left the league to join United League Baseball, while Shreveport and Pensacola both relocated. The Pelicans moved to Amarillo, Texas and became the Amarillo Sox (later the Amarillo Thunderheads) while Shreveport, who had changed their name to the Shreveport-Bossier Captains, moved to Laredo, Texas and became the Laredo Lemurs. In addition, four more Northern League franchises (Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, Gary SouthShore RailCats, Kansas City T-Bones, and Winnipeg Goldeyes) joined the American Association as that league's stability came into question.

For the 2012 season, the American Association began interleague play with the Can-Am League.[3] The two leagues were both headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, and both had Miles Wolff as their commissioner. This was similar to interleague play in Major League Baseball, but American Association and Can-Am League were separate legal entities and had separate playoffs/championships.

At the end of the 2013 season, due to the Tucson Padres relocating to their city, the El Paso Diablos suspended operations. The team was eventually revived and relocated, operating as the Joplin Blasters. The Blasters ceased operations after the conclusion of the 2016 season.

On November 19, 2015, Miles Wolff announced that there would no longer be interleague play. It also was announced that for the Amarillo Thunderheads and Grand Prairie AirHogs would operate as a joint team, the Texas AirHogs, playing 25 games in Amarillo and 25 games in Grand Prairie to make up a 12-team league.[4][5] The team remained in Grand Prairie full-time in 2017, with the Cleburne Railroaders joining the league the same season. Shortly before the 2017 season, the Laredo Lemurs withdrew from the league.[6] They were temporarily replaced by the Salina Stockade from the Pecos League for the season. The Chicago Dogs joined for 2018 [7] and the Milwaukee Milkmen joined in 2019, replacing the Wichita Wingnuts, who folded.

In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league announced that 6 of its 12 clubs would play an abbreviated 60-game season beginning on July 3, 2020.[8] Five stadiums were used for gameplay: Sioux Falls Stadium (hosting the Sioux Falls Canaries and St. Paul Saints during July), Newman Outdoor Field (hosting the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and Winnipeg Goldeyes), Franklin Field (hosting the Milwaukee Milkmen), Impact Field (hosting the Chicago Dogs), and CHS Field (hosting the St. Paul Saints beginning in August). Players from non-participating teams had the opportunity to be drafted by one of the six active clubs. A limited number of fans were allowed to attend games, in accordance with local government guidelines and restrictions.

The 2021 season sees the league lose both the Texas AirHogs, who dropped out of the league,[9] and the St. Paul Saints who move to affiliated ball as the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.[10] Joining the league in 2021 is the Kane County Cougars, who were dropped from affiliated ball during the 2021 minor league reorganization,[11] as well as the Houston Apollos who will be a traveling team for the 2021 campaign.[12]

In May 2021, the league announced the approval of Lake Country Baseball, based in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, as a new member of the league starting in 2022. Construction on a new stadium and multi-use indoor sports facility is expected to be completed in spring of 2022.[13] The team selected the name Lake Country DockHounds, after hosting an online name the team contest.[14]

Business model

The American Association typically recruits college, ex-major and ex-minor players. Former affiliated-league players who get injured or have other circumstances join the AA as an opportunity to get re-signed by major league organizations. For example, David Peralta was signed in 2004 as a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals but suffered injuries and was released in 2009. He resurrected his career as an outfielder with teams such as the AA's Wichita Wingnuts and Amarillo Sox in 2012 and 2013, then became a starting outfielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Other players include college players who were not drafted into MLB but seek the opportunity to be seen by major league scouts and possibly get signed by major league organizations. Other former MLB players join the AA as a way to stay involved in baseball after their MLB career, often as coaches and managers.

As of 2008, the salary cap for each team was $100,000, with a minimum salary of $800 per month.[15] The price of an expansion team is also about $750,000.[15] This is in stark contrast with the minor and major leagues. Former Commissioner Miles Wolff stated in an interview that "We have to pay the salaries of the players, which they don't in an affiliated [league]. It's a much riskier business. Just because of the longevity and tradition, we usually don't get the best cities, either, so some of the markets we're in are not great markets. But as I say, I think it's a better product."[15]

In 2018, the league raised the minimum salary to $1,200 per month to comply with the new Save America's Pastime Act.[16]

Roster rules

Rosters are limited to 23 players, with a maximum of five may be veterans and minimum of five must be rookies. The remaining players will be designated limited service players and of those LS players only six (6) may be LS-4. Two of the LS-4 players may have LS-5 status.

Rookie: A player with less than one year of service.

LS-1: A player with fewer than two years of service.

LS-2: A player with fewer than three years of service.

LS-3: A player with fewer than four years of service.

LS-4: A player with fewer than five years of service.

LS-5: A player with less than 6 years of service.

Veteran: A player with six or more years of service. If a player has six or more years of service but has not reached the age of 26 by September 1 of that season, he will be considered an LS-4. If he has not reached the age of 24 by September 1 of that season, he will be considered an LS-3.[17]

Teams

Team locations:
  North Division
  South Division

Current teams

American Association of Professional Baseball
Division Team Founded Joined City Stadium Capacity
North Chicago Dogs 2018 Rosemont, Illinois Impact Field 6,300
Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 1996 2011 Fargo, North Dakota Newman Outdoor Field 4,172
Gary SouthShore RailCats 2002 2011 Gary, Indiana U.S. Steel Yard 6,139
Kane County Cougars 1991 2021 Geneva, Illinois Northwestern Medicine Field 10,923
Milwaukee Milkmen 2019 Franklin, Wisconsin Franklin Field 4,000
Winnipeg Goldeyes 1994 2010 Winnipeg, Manitoba Shaw Park 7,461
South Cleburne Railroaders 2017 Cleburne, Texas The Depot at Cleburne Station 1,750
Kansas City Monarchs 2003 2010 Kansas City, Kansas Legends Field 6,537
Lake Country DockHounds 2022 Oconomowoc, Wisconsin Wisconsin Brewing Company Park 2,500
Lincoln Saltdogs 2001 2006 Lincoln, Nebraska Haymarket Park 8,500
Sioux City Explorers 1993 2006 Sioux City, Iowa Lewis and Clark Park 3,631
Sioux Falls Canaries 1993 2006 Sioux Falls, South Dakota Sioux Falls Stadium 4,500

League timeline

League members Former Team

Former teams

Champions

Season Winner Runner-up Series Result
2006 Fort Worth Cats St. Paul Saints 3–2
2007 Fort Worth Cats St. Paul Saints 3–2
2008 Sioux Falls Canaries Grand Prairie AirHogs 3–1
2009 Lincoln Saltdogs Pensacola Pelicans 3–2
2010 Shreveport-Bossier Captains Sioux Falls Pheasants 3–0
2011 Grand Prairie AirHogs St. Paul Saints 3–2
2012 Winnipeg Goldeyes Wichita Wingnuts 3–0
2013 Gary SouthShore RailCats Wichita Wingnuts 3–1
2014 Wichita Wingnuts Lincoln Saltdogs 3–0
2015 Laredo Lemurs Sioux City Explorers 3–1
2016 Winnipeg Goldeyes Wichita Wingnuts 3–2
2017 Winnipeg Goldeyes Wichita Wingnuts 3–2
2018 Kansas City (T-Bones) Monarchs St. Paul Saints 3–1[19]
2019 St. Paul Saints Sioux City Explorers 3–0
2020 Milwaukee Milkmen Sioux Falls Canaries 4–1
2021 Kansas City Monarchs Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 3–0
American Association championships
Team Number Years
Winnipeg Goldeyes 3 2012, 2016, 2017
Fort Worth Cats 2 2006, 2007
Kansas City Monarchs 1 2018, 2021
Sioux Falls Canaries 1 2008
Lincoln Saltdogs 1 2009
Shreveport-Bossier Captains 1 2010
Grand Prairie AirHogs 1 2011
Gary SouthShore RailCats 1 2013
Wichita Wingnuts 1 2014
Laredo Lemurs 1 2015
St Paul Saints 1 2019
Milwaukee Milkmen 1 2020


All-Star Game

The American Association hosted an annual All-Star Game from 2006 to 2010. The league's first All-Star game was played in El Paso, Texas, on July 18, 2006, which pit a team of American Association All-Stars against an All-Star team from the Can-Am League. Its current format pits the all-stars from each division against each other. There was no All-Star game in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2018, 2020, or 2021.

Game results
  • 2006 – AA 5, Can-Am 3
  • 2007 – South 6, North 4
  • 2008 – South 11, North 4
  • 2009 – North 6, South 2
  • 2010 – South 12, North 3
  • 2011 – game cancelled
  • 2012 – game cancelled
  • 2013 – game cancelled
  • 2014 – South 7, North 0
  • 2015 – North 3, South 1
  • 2016 – North 6, South 1
  • 2017 – Can-Am 3, AA 2
  • 2018 – game cancelled
  • 2019 – North 7, South 3
  • 2020 – game cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 2021 – game cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Most Valuable Players

  • 2006 – Pichi Balet, (Lincoln Saltdogs)
  • 2007 – Jorge Alvarez, (El Paso Diablos)
  • 2008 – Beau Torbert, (Sioux Falls Canaries)
  • 2009 – Greg Porter, (Wichita Wingnuts)
  • 2010 – Beau Torbert, (Sioux Falls Canaries)
  • 2011 – Lee Cruz, (Amarillo Sox)
  • 2012 – Nic Jackson, (Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks)
  • 2013 – C. J. Ziegler, (Wichita Wingnuts)
  • 2014 – Brent Clevlen, (Wichita Wingnuts)
  • 2015 – Vinny DiFazio, (St. Paul Saints)
  • 2016 – Nate Samson, (Sioux City Explorers)
  • 2017 – Josh Romanski, (Winnipeg Goldeyes)
  • 2018 – Jose Sermo, (Sioux City Explorers)
  • 2019 – Keon Barnum, (Chicago Dogs)
  • 2020 – Adam Brett Walker II, (Milwaukee Milkmen)
  • 2021 – Adam Brett Walker II, (Milwaukee Milkmen)

League attendance

Year Total attendance Average Per Game Change from previous year avg
2006 1,296,936 2,819 n/a
2007 1,318,841 2,924 +105
2008 1,506,870 3,312 +388
2009 1,483,214 3,154 -158
2010 1,227,518 2,692 -462
2011 2,162,269 3,152 +460
2012 2,241,510 3,508 +356
2013 2,150,031 3,435 -73
2014 1,885,998 3,332 -103
2015 2,006,110 3,215 -117
2016 1,833,503 3,156 -59
2017 1,866,910 3,322 +166
2018 1,891,794 3,251 -71
2019 1,775,249 3,082 -169
2020 179,150** 1,066* -2,016
2021 1,198,085 2,106* +1,040

*Limited attendance due to COVID-19 pandemic. **60 game schedule with 6 teams due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Attendance Records

Season: 413,482, St. Paul, 2016

Game: 13,406, El Paso, July 4, 2011[17]

See also

References

  1. "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. October 31, 2017.
  2. "American Association, Frontier League now MLB Partner Leagues". Ballpark Digest. August Publishing. September 24, 2020. Retrieved October 2, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "RailCats release schedule, American Association announces crossover games with Can-Am League". NWI Times. November 30, 2011. Archived from the original on May 6, 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "ThunderHeads, AirHogs to merge teams". Amarillo Globe-News. November 19, 2015. Archived from the original on March 1, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "American Association: 12 teams in 2016". Ballpark Digest. November 19, 2015. Archived from the original on June 2, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Gallardo, Yocelin (May 3, 2017). "Lemurs Owner Withdraws Team from League". KGNS.com. Retrieved May 4, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Reichard, Kevin (July 28, 2017). "New for 2018: Chicago Dogs". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved July 28, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "American Association unveils plans for 2020 season". americanassociationbaseball.com. Retrieved June 13, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Texas AirHogs terminate membership in American Association". Retrieved October 23, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Saints, St Paul. "Saints Bring Their Distinctive Brand Of Entertainment To Triple-A | St. Paul Saints". www.saintsbaseball.com. Retrieved February 18, 2021.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Johnson, Paul. "Kane County Cougars lose their major league affiliation with the Arizona Diamondbacks and now plan to join one of MLB's 'partner leagues'". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved February 18, 2021.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Imakesandwichesforaliving (February 9, 2021). "American Association announces expansion, 2021 schedule". Twinkie Town. Retrieved February 18, 2021.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "LAKE COUNTRY BASEBALL APPROVED FOR MEMBERSHIP IN THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION" (Press release). American Association of Professional Baseball. May 17, 2021. Retrieved May 17, 2021.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Reichard, Kevin (June 10, 2021). "New for 2022: Lake Country DockHounds". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved June 12, 2021.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 van der Horst, Roger (May 19, 2008). "All About Baseball: Wolff Happily Stays Independent". McClatchy-Tribune Business News. ProQuest 465137999. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Pannier, Robert (May 16, 2018). "American Association Raises Rookie Salaries to Accommodate Federal Law". Minor League Sports Report. Retrieved June 14, 2021.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. 17.0 17.1 American Association 2021 Media Guide (PDF). 2021.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "AMERICAN ASSOCIATION of Independent Professional Baseball". www.americanassociationbaseball.com. Retrieved May 6, 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "2018 American Association". Baseball Reference. Retrieved May 18, 2019.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links