International League

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International League
Sport Baseball
Founded 1884
Ceased 2021
Replaced by Triple-A East
President Randy Mobley
No. of teams 14
Country United States
Last champion(s) Columbus Clippers (2019)
Most titles Rochester Red Wings (19)
Classification Triple-A (1946–2020)
Double-A (1912–1945)
D (1908)
TV partner(s) MiLB.TV, MLB Network, and local sports networks
Official website

The International League (IL) was a Minor League Baseball league that operated in the eastern United States. The league's headquarters were located in Dublin, Ohio. Like the Pacific Coast League and the Mexican League, it played at the Triple-A level, which was one step below Major League Baseball.

It was so named because throughout its history the International League had teams in Canada and Cuba as well as those in the United States. After 2008, however, all of the league's teams had been based in the U.S.

A league champion was determined at the end of every season. The Rochester Red Wings won 19 International League titles, the most in the league's history, followed by the Columbus Clippers and Toronto Maple Leafs (11). Since the introduction of the Governors' Cup in 1933, the most cup titles have been won by the Columbus Clippers (11), followed by the Rochester Red Wings (10) and Syracuse Mets (8). After the season, the IL champion played in the Triple-A National Championship Game against the Pacific Coast League champion to determine an overall champion of Triple-A baseball. The Columbus Clippers and Durham Bulls each won two national championships, more than any other IL teams.


International League baseball executives in 1915

The International League was created from the mergers of member teams from three precursor leagues: the Eastern League, which was itself a re-organization of the Interstate Association of 1883; the New York State League, formed in 1885; and the Ontario League, also organized in 1885. The New York State and Ontario leagues merged in 1886 to form the International League, and in 1887 the Eastern League was absorbed to create a ten-club league. Also in 1887, the International League passed a resolution barring African Americans from playing in the league.[1]

The league collapsed soon afterwards, when the northern teams claimed that it was too onerous to travel to the south and formed the International Association. Teams and league names came and went over the years. The league was also affected by the effort to establish the Federal League as a new third major league from 1914 to 1915, with franchises being added and dropped and new ballparks built. In 1954, a franchise was awarded to Havana, Cuba, but due to political upheaval in that country it had to be moved — to Jersey City, New Jersey — in the middle of the 1960 season. Another foray into the Caribbean failed when the newly created team in San Juan, Puerto Rico, added in 1961, had to be moved to Charleston, West Virginia, in mid-season.

In 1971, an International League all-star team beat the New York Yankees in an exhibition game in Rochester, New York, before 11,000 people. In 1984, the all-stars lost to the Cleveland Indians in 11 innings before 11,032 fans in Columbus, Ohio, to commemorate the league's 100th anniversary.

The International League and the American Association, another Triple-A league that operated in the Midwest, voted in 1988 to play interleague games as part of the Triple-A Alliance.[2] The league also split into two divisions that year. The interleague concept ended in 1992, but the two league divisions remained.

In 1998, with the addition of three new teams from the disbanded American Association and the Durham Bulls who previously played in the Carolina League, the International League reorganized into three divisions.

The start of the 2020 season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic before ultimately being cancelled on June 30.[3][4] The league was disbanded before the 2021 season in conjunction with Major League Baseball's reorganization of Minor League Baseball.[5] All 14 IL teams were merged into the new Triple-A East.[6]

Structure and season

The International League was divided into three divisions: the North Division, South Division, and West Division. The North Division consisted of six teams, while the South and West Divisions each had four teams.[7] Each club had 140 games scheduled per season.[8] The season typically began during the first week of April and concluded on Labor Day.[9] The league plays by the same rules listed in the Official Baseball Rules published by Major League Baseball.[10]

Championship and interleague play

At the end of each season, the three divisional leaders and a wild card team squared off in best-of-five series playoffs to determine a league champion, with the winner awarded the Governors' Cup, the league's championship trophy. Under this format, the North Division champion played the wild card team, while the champions of the South and West Divisions played one another in best-of-five series. The winners then played each other in a best-of-five series to determine the champion.[11]

From 2006 to 2019, the IL champion played against the Pacific Coast League's champion in the Triple-A National Championship Game, a single game to determine an overall champion of Triple-A baseball. Previously, the IL champion also competed in the Triple-A World Series (1983, 1998–2000), Junior World Series (1919), and other sporadic postseason competitions throughout the league's history.

Other interleague play occurred during the Triple-A All-Star Game. Traditionally, the game had taken place on the day after the mid-summer Major League Baseball All-Star Game.[12] The game was meant to mark a symbolic halfway-point in the season (though not the mathematical halfway-point which, for most seasons, is usually one month prior). During the All-Star break, no regular-season games were scheduled for two days before the All-Star Game itself.[13]

League timeline


The International League crowned a league champion each season since 1884. Through 1932, the championship was awarded to the regular season pennant winner. In 1933, the league introduced a postseason playoff system to determine a champion. The winner was awarded the Governors' Cup.

Championship wins by team

Wins Governors'
Cup wins
Team Championship years
19 10 Rochester Bronchos/Red Wings 1899, 1901, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1939, 1952, 1955, 1956, 1964, 1971, 1974, 1988, 1990, 1997
11 11 Columbus Clippers 1979, 1980, 1981, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1996, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2019
11 4 Toronto Maple Leafs 1897, 1902, 1907, 1912, 1917, 1918, 1926, 1934, 1960, 1965, 1966
10 2 Baltimore Orioles 1908, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1944, 1950
10 4 Buffalo Bisons (1886–1970) 1891, 1904, 1906, 1915, 1916, 1927, 1933, 1936, 1957, 1961
8 7 Montreal Royals 1898, 1941, 1946, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1953, 1958
8 8 Syracuse Chiefs 1935, 1942, 1943, 1947, 1954, 1969, 1970, 1976
6 6 Durham Bulls 2002, 2003, 2009, 2013, 2017, 2018
5 4 Newark Bears 1932, 1937, 1938, 1940, 1945
5 0 Providence Grays/Clamdiggers 1894, 1905, 1896, 1900, 1914
5 5 Richmond Braves 1978, 1986, 1989, 1994, 2007
5 5 Tidewater Tides 1972, 1975, 1982, 1983, 1985
4 4 Pawtucket Red Sox 1973, 1984, 2012, 2014
3 3 Toledo Mud Hens 1967, 2005, 2006
2 2 Buffalo Bisons 1998, 2004
2 2 Charlotte Knights 1993, 1999
2 0 Detroit Wolverines 1889, 1890
2 2 Indianapolis Indians 1963, 2000
2 2 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees/RailRiders 2008, 2016
2 0 Syracuse Stars 1885, 1888
1 1 Atlanta Crackers 1962
1 0 Binghamton Bingoes 1892
1 1 Charleston Charlies 1977
1 0 Erie Blackbirds 1893
1 1 Havana Sugar Kings 1959
1 1 Jacksonville Suns 1968
1 0 Jersey City Skeeters 1903
1 1 Louisville RiverBats 2001
1 0 Newark Indians 1913
1 0 Newark Little Giants 1886
1 1 Ottawa Lynx 1995
1 0 Springfield Maroons 1895
1 0 Trenton Trentonians 1884
1 0 Utica Pent-Ups 1887


The IL recognized outstanding players and team personnel annually near the end of each season.

MVP Award

The Most Valuable Player Award, first awarded in 1932, was given to honor the best player in the league.[14]

Most Valuable Pitcher Award

The Most Valuable Pitcher Award, first awarded in 1953, served to recognize the league's best pitcher. Pitchers were eligible to win the MVP award from 1932 to 1952 as no award was designated solely for pitchers.[14]

Rookie of the Year Award

The Rookie of the Year Award, created in 1950, was given to the best player with no prior IL experience.[14]

Manager of the Year Award

The Manager of the Year Award, started in 1967, was given to the league's top manager.[14]

Executive of the Year Award

The Executive of the Year Award, first awarded in 1964, honored team executives who have contributed to the success of the league.[14]

Spirit of the International League Award

The Spirit of the International League Award, first awarded in 2010, honored team executives who exhibited dedication to creating and maintaining positive fan experiences when visiting IL games.[14][15]

Hall of fame

The International League Hall of Fame was established in 1947 to honor league players, managers, and executives who have made significant contributions to the league. The Hall of Fame inducted its first class of 9 men in 1947. A plaque was unveiled at the IL's New York City offices located in the Ruppert Building at 535 Fifth Avenue. Today, the plaque has no permanent home, but exists as a traveling display which visits a number of the league's ballparks each season. The Hall became dormant after 1963, but was revived in 2007. New members are elected before the start of each season.[16]

See also


  1. Mancuso, Peter. "July 14, 1887: The color line is drawn | Society for American Baseball Research". Society for American Baseball Research. Archived from the original on April 16, 2019. Retrieved May 6, 2019.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Notable Events in American Association History". Triple-A Baseball. Retrieved May 24, 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. Reichard, Kevin (February 12, 2021). "Minor League Baseball Overhaul Unveiled". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved February 13, 2021.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Mayo, Jonathan (February 12, 2021). "MLB Announces New Minors Teams, Leagues". Major League Baseball. Retrieved February 12, 2021.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "International League Current Standings". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved July 22, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Pawtucket Red Sox (October 12, 2017). "Fireworks Every Saturday Night, Special Gifts Every Friday Highlight Pawtucket Red Sox 2018 Schedule". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved October 23, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Official 2017 International League Schedule" (PDF). Minor League Baseball. September 15, 2016. Retrieved July 22, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. " Frequently Asked Questions". The Official Site of Minor League Baseball. 2012. Retrieved July 22, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "International League Personnel and Staff". International League. Retrieved July 22, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Omaha Storm Chasers and Werner Park to Host 2015 Triple-A Baseball All-Star Game". Omaha Storm Chasers. Minor League Baseball. March 5, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Durham Lands 2014 Triple-A ASG". Minor League Baseball. February 20, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 "International League Award Winners". International League. Retrieved July 21, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "IL honors Syracuse's Don Waful". International League. March 30, 2016. Retrieved July 21, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "International League Hall of Fame". International League. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved February 29, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links