California League

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California League
Sport Baseball
Founded 1941
Ceased 2020
Replaced by Low-A West
President Charlie Blaney[1]
No. of teams 8
Country United States
Last champion(s) Visalia Rawhide (2019)
Most titles San Jose Giants (11)
Stockton Ports (11)
Classification Class A-Advanced
Official website

The California League was a Minor League Baseball league that operated in California and Nevada. It was classified at various levels throughout its existence, lastly at Class-A Advanced from 1990 onward, one of three leagues at that level.[lower-alpha 1]

All were teams affiliated with MLB teams located west of the Rockies. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, league attendance continued to increase each season, with over one million fans attending games per year, part of a general nationwide growth and expansion to smaller towns, cities, and regions below those in the National League or American League with Minor League Baseball at various levels of play in growing popularity in the last few decades. The league was divided into a Northern Division and a Southern Division. The league was replaced by Low-A West.


There were various attempts in the late 1800s and early 1900s to form a "California League" on the West Coast, considering the distance of the two current major leagues which generally had teams only in the Northeast and were restricted at first until World War I by long-distance train travel. The first organized California League lasted from 1887 to 1889, then another followed in 1891, and 1893, and finally in 1899–1902. After the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, an organization of minor leagues was formed in 1902, (following the "truce" and agreements between the older National League of 1876 and the newly "upstart" American League of 1901), the California League operated outside the NAPBL system as an independent league in 1902 and again from 1907 to 1909. This led to huge differences in the quality of teams competing with each other. In 1907, the San Francisco team was 3-34, while later in 1908 San Francisco was 9-67 and Oakland was 4-71. Oakland and San Francisco competed in every year of these various state leagues, with San Francisco having two teams during 1887–88.

The latest version of the California League was founded in 1941, and included teams in Anaheim, Bakersfield, Fresno, Merced, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, and Stockton. The following year, as a result of World War II, the league dropped to four teams, then ceased and suspended operations altogether, although major league baseball and some minor leagues continued as much as possible with limited availability of players during the war years. It reorganized and came back in 1946, adding teams in Visalia, San Jose, and Ventura by 1947. Further east, Reno, Nevada joined the league in 1955 with the movement of the old Channel Cities Oilers in Santa Barbara and continued as a member for 37 years.

Though nicknames and affiliations shifted, the California League's postwar configuration was largely stable by the late 1950s; four of the six cities in the league in 1960 would still be part of the league 50 years later. The league reached eight clubs in 1966 and would hold that for ten years, briefly dipped to six before wavering between eight and nine clubs in the early eighties, then reached ten in 1986 and held that configuration for thirty-one seasons. From 1996 to 2016, the league had a remarkably stable alignment for Class A baseball, with no teams moving or folding for twenty-one years. After the 2016 season, the Bakersfield Blaze, long dogged by inadequate facilities and unable to negotiate significant repairs, and the High Desert Mavericks, suffering from falling attendance and a lease dispute with the city of Adelanto, were folded; the High-A level replaced them by expanding the Carolina League to ten teams.[2]

The start of the 2020 season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic before ultimately being cancelled on June 30.[3][4] During the pandemic-shortened 2020 Major League season, the Oakland Athletics used the San Jose Giant's Excite Ballpark as its alternate roster training site.[5]

On December 10, 2020, it was reported that the Lancaster JetHawks folded and the Fresno Grizzlies, who were previously in the Triple-A level's Pacific Coast League, would replace them in the California League; the Visalia Rawhide moved to the Southern Division. The California League was replaced by Low-A West in conjunction with Major League Baseball's reorganization of Minor League Baseball.

California League Champions

Year by Year list of league champions:

Complete team list (1941–42, 1946–2020)

The Los Angeles area, Riverside, San Bernardino, Palm Springs, Yuma (AZ) and Las Vegas (NV) were also major league spring training site cities, as well possessed California League teams on different occasions.

Cities that have had California League Teams (2019–2020 teams in bold)

  • Adelanto (1991–2016)
  • Anaheim (1941)
  • Atwater (1960s)
  • Bakersfield (1941–42, 1946–1975, 1978–79, 1982–2016)
  • Fresno (1941–42, 1946–1988)
  • Lake Elsinore (1994–2020)
  • Lancaster (1996–2020)
  • Las Vegas, Nevada (1958)
  • Lodi (1966–1984)
  • Merced (1941)
  • Modesto (1946–1964, 1966–2020)
  • Palm Springs (1986–1993)
  • Rancho Cucamonga (1993–2020)
  • Reno, Nevada (1955–1964, 1966–1992)
  • Riverside (1941, 1988–1990, 1993–1995)
  • Rohnert Park (1980–1985)
  • Salinas (1954–1958, 1963–1965, 1973–1980, 1982–1987, 1989–1992)
  • San Bernardino (1941, 1987–2020)
  • San Jose (1942, 1947–1958, 1962–1976, 1979–2020)
  • Santa Barbara (1941–42, 1946–1953, 1962–1967)
  • Santa Clara (1979)
  • Stockton (1941, 1946–1972, 1978–2020)
  • Ventura (1947–1955, 1986)
  • Visalia (1946–1962, 1968–1975, 1977–2020)


Modesto has hosted a California League team longer than any other city, hosting a team in all but two of the CL's 65 seasons.

League timeline (1941-2020)

2019-2020 team Former team

Team list (prior incarnations)


1896, 1898–1902


California League Hall of Fame

The California League inducted its first class of 15 inductees into its Hall of Fame in 2016.[7]


Most Valuable Player

The California League Most Valuable Player Award was established in 1941.

Pitcher of the Year

For award winners, see footnote[8]

Rookie of the Year

For award winners, see footnote[8]

Manager of the Year

For award winners, see footnote[8]

Doug Harvey Award

The Doug Harvey Award—established in 2010—is for the umpire of the year.[8]

See also


  1. The other two Class A-Advanced leagues were the Carolina League and the Florida State League.


  1. "Personnel and Staff". California League. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved July 27, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Cal League to downsize in 2017". California League. Minor League Baseball. August 22, 2016. Retrieved July 7, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "A Message From Pat O'Conner". Minor League Baseball. March 13, 2020. Retrieved May 5, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "2020 Minor League Baseball Season Shelved". Minor League Baseball. June 30, 2020. Retrieved July 1, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Didion, Alex. "A's to use San Jose as alternate training site for 2020 MLB season". Yahoo!. Retrieved 24 August 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "California League (Adv A) Encyclopedia and History".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "California League League Hall of Fame". California League. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved May 23, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Go to the California League website (Minor League Baseball; retrieved on 2017-05-23), click on "About" and then "League Award Winners" and then scroll down through the five awards. The Doug Harvey Award is at the bottom.

External links