The Western Association was the name of five different leagues in American minor league baseball during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The oldest league, originally established as the Northwestern League in 1883, was refounded as the Western Association on October 28, 1887. It began operations in the 1888 season, and lasted through the 1891 season.
A separate Western Association was formed in January 1894 with clubs in Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois and Missouri – with a team in faraway Denver, Colorado added in 1895. This league ceased operations in 1898, but was revived again for the following season. It was renamed the Central League in 1900. In 1901, two leagues were called the Western Association. One had eight teams in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, West Virginia and Indiana; it folded after only one year. The other loop, confusingly located in the same geographic area, was the former Interstate League; it reverted to its original identity in 1902.
The most long-lived Western Association played between 1905 and 1954. Originally the Missouri Valley League, it existed for 42 years during that half century, suspending operations during both world wars and for one season (1933) during the Great Depression. It was largely a Class C circuit, meaning it was a lower minor league, above only the Class D level.
- 1 1905 League
- 2 1914 League
- 3 1920 League
- 4 1934 League
- 5 The Future
- 6 References
Teams in Joplin, Missouri, Leavenworth, Kansas, Sedalia, Missouri, Springfield, Missouri, and Topeka, Kansas joined from the Missouri Valley League. Teams from Guthrie, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma joined from the Southwestern League. A new team in Wichita, Kansas formed and joined the league.
|Oklahoma City Mets||77-58|
|Sedalia Gold Bugs||70-64|
|Topeka White Sox||54-80|
The teams in Guthrie and Sedalia folded. The St. Joseph, Missouri team moved from the Western League. A new team in Webb City, Missouri formed and joined the league. The St. Joseph team, with a record of 16-24, moved to Hutchinson, Kansas, on July 12, where their record was 39-60.
|Topeka White Sox||82-56|
|Oklahoma City Mets||70-69|
|Leavenworth Old Soldiers||68-72|
|Webb City Gold Bugs||57-79|
|St. Joseph Packers/Hutchinson Salt Packers||55-84|
|Oklahoma City Mets||86-54|
|Hutchinson White Sox||77-59|
|Topeka White Sox||75-65|
|Webb City Goldbugs||65-70|
The Leavenworth team folded, and a new team in Enid, Oklahoma, formed and joined the league,
|Oklahoma City Mets||81-58|
|Hutchinson Salt Packers||69-70|
|Webb City Webfeet||66-69|
Topeka and Wichita moved to the Western League. Oklahoma City moved to the Texas League. Huthcinson moved to the Kansas State League. Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and Muskogee, Oklahoma, joined from the Oklahoma–Kansas League. New teams in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and Pittsburg, Kansas formed and joined the league.The Joplin team, with a record of 20-43, moved to El Reno, Oklahoma on July 4, where their record was 16-46. The Webb City team, with a record of 35-39, moved to Sapulpa, Oklahoma on July 18, where their record was 29-20.
|Webb City Webfeet/Sapulpa Oilers||64-59|
|Joplin Miners, El Reno Packers||36-89|
The Pittsburg and Springfield teams folded. New teams in Joplin, Missouri, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, formed and joined the league. The Muskogee and Tulsa teams both folded on July 22, and the Bartlesville and El Reno teams both folded on July 31.
|El Reno Packers||65-43|
The teams in Enid and Guthrie folded. New teams in Coffeyville, Kansas, Fort Smith, Arkansas, Independence, Kansas, Muskogee, Oklahoma, and Tulsa, Oklahoma formed and joined the league. The Joplin and Springfield teams folded May 10, the Coffeyville and Independence teams June 14, and all other teams and the league itself on June 19.
|Fort Smith Scouts||29-14 (1st half winner)|
|Muskogee Redskins||23-21 (2nd half winner)|
|Coffeyville White Sox||15-24|
|Oklahoma City Booters||75-52 (1st half winner)|
|Fort Smith Twins||73-52|
|Muskogee Mets||74-54 (2nd half winner)|
|Joplin-Webb City Miners/Guthrie Senators/Henryetta Boosters||35-92|
Oklahoma City beat Muskogee 4 games to 2 for the championship.
|Oklahoma City Senators||76-62|
|Paris Red Snappers||66-66|
|Fort Smith Twins||61-75|
Oklahoma City beat Muskogee 4 games to 3 for the championship.
|Denison Railroaders||86-49 (1st half winner)|
|Tulsa Producers||80-58 (2nd half winner)|
|Oklahoma City Senators||64-73|
|Fort Smith Twins||61-76|
Denison beat Tulsa 4 games to 2 for the championship.
Paris, with a record of 16-12, moved to Ardmore, Oklahoma, on May 10, where they had a record of 41-86.
|Fort Smith Twins||77-82|
|Oklahoma City Boosters||72-80|
|Paris Athletics/Ardmore Foundlings||57-98|
All teams, and the league itself, folded.
New teams in Chickasha, Oklahoma, Drumright, Oklahoma, Enid, Oklahoma, Fort Smith, Arkansas, Henryetta, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Oklahoma, Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and Springfield, Missouri were formed. The new American Association was formed. The team with the best record in the first half of the season played against the team with the best record in the second half of the season for the championship.
|Okmulgree Drillers||83-46 (1st half winner)|
|Fort Smith Twins||80-58|
|Enid Harvesters||71-53 (2nd half winner)|
Enid and Okmulgee tied 3 games to 3 in the championship round.
|Fort Smith Twins||83-61 (2nd half winner)|
|Chickasha Chicks||74-74 (1st half winner)|
Chickasha beat Fort Smith 4 games to 3 for the championship. Springifled beat Independence (of the Southwestern League) 2 games to 1 Ardmore (of the Texas–Oklahoma League) beat Chickasha 2 games to none
Chickasha moved to the Oklahoma State League. Drumright folded. The team from Joplin, Missouri joined from the Western League, and a new team in McAlester, Oklahoma formed and joined. The Pawhuska team folded on August 16, forfeiting the remainder of their games.
|Enid Harvesters||104-27 (2nd half winner)|
|Joplin Miners||93-42 (1st half winner)|
|Fort Smith Twins||54-79|
|Ardmore Snappers||82-60 (2nd half winner)|
|Okmulgee Drillers||81-63 (1st half winner)|
|Fort Smith Twins||53-92|
Ardmore beat Okmulgee 4 games to 2 for the championship.
Ardmore moved to the Oklahoma State League, and Enid moved to the Southwestern League. Teams from Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Hutchinson, Kansas, Muskogee, Oklahoma, and Topeka, Kansas, joined from the Southwestern League. The Bartlesville team, with a record of 19-23, moved to Ardmore, Oklahoma on June 8, where their record was 56-59. The Joplin team, with a record of 25-24, moved to Bartlesville on June 16, where their record was 44-63.
|Okmulgee Drillers||110-48 (1st half & 2nd half winner)|
|Fort Smith Twins||97-63|
|Hutchinson Wheat Shockers||81-80|
|Bartlesville Bearcats/Ardmore Bearcats||75-82|
|Joplin Boosters/Bartlesville Boosters||69-87|
|Fort Smith Twins||94-56|
|Ardmore Boomers||86-64 (1st half winner)|
|Muskogee Athletics||79-72 (2nd half winner)|
Ardmore beat Muskogee 4 games to 1 for the title.
The team in Independence folded. A new team in McAlester, Oklahoma, formed and joined the league. Ardmore moved to Joplin, Missouri on July 14. The teams in McAlester and Muskogee folded on July 20.
|Springfield Midgets||92-66 (1st half winner)|
|Fort Smith Twins||92-68|
|Ardmore Boomers/Joplin Ozarks||77-81|
The team in Joplin folded. A team from St. Joseph, Missouri, joined from the Western League, and one from Topeka, Kansas joined from the Southwestern League. A new team in Muskogee, Oklahoma, formed and joined the league. The team in St. Joseph, with a record of 38-32, moved to Joplin on July 7, where their record was 35-28.
|Fort Smith Twins||81-51|
|St. Joseph Saints/Joplin Miners||73-60|
The team in Okmulgee folded, and a new team in Independence, Kansas, formed and joined the league.
|Fort Smith Twins||74-63|
|Joplin Miners||70-65 (1st half winner)|
|Independence Producers||66-67 (2nd half winner)|
Joplin beat Independence 4 games to 2 for the title.
|Fort Smith Twins||88-59 (2nd half winner)|
|Shawnee Robins||87-61 (1st half winner)|
|Muskogee Chiefs/Maud Chiefs||61-89|
The Maud team moved back to Muskogee, Oklahoma.
|Independence Producers||76-56 (2nd half winner)|
|Joplin Miners||76-59 (1st half winner)|
|Fort Smith Twins||64-72|
Independence beat Joplin 5 games to 4 for the title.
The Shawnee team folded. A new team in Bartlesville, Oklahoma formed.
|Springfield Red Wings||87-57 (1st & 2nd half winner)|
|Fort Smith Twins||74-76|
The Joplin team, with a record of 2-1, moved to Topeka, Kansas, on May 6, where their record was 36-37. The Independence team, with a record of 12-10, moved to Joplin, Missouri, on May 23, where their record was 7-10, to Independence, Kansas, again on June 10, where their record was 4-12, and finally to Hutchinson, Kansas, on July 20, where their record was 35-36. The Muskogee team, with a record of 18-16, moved to Hutchinson, Kansas, where their record was 19-32, on June 8, and folded on July 18. The Fort Smith team, with a record of 23-29, moved to Muskogee on July 1, where their record was 25-51. The Topeka team folded July 18.
|Springfield Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||79-51 (1st half winner)|
|Bartlesville Bronchos||77-52 (2nd half winner)|
|Independence Producers/Joplin Miners/Independence/Hutchinson||58-68|
|Fort Smith Twins/Muskogee Chiefs||St. Louis Browns||48-80|
|Joplin Miners/Topeka Jayhawks||38-38|
|Muskogee Chiefs/Hutchinson Whest Shockers||37-48|
Springfield beat Bartlesville 5 games to 4 for the title. The Atchinson and Springfield teams moved to the Western League. The Belleville and Muskogee teams, and the Western Association itself, folded.
The new League and all six member teams were created. The season was broken into halves, with the first-half and second-half winners competing in the championship. The founding teams were in Bartlesville, Oklahoma; Hutchinson, Kansas; Joplin, Missouri; Muskogee, Oklahoma; Ponca City, Oklahoma; Springfield, Missouri; and rumor had it Tahlequah, Oklahoma (the Indians) played special games with the league teams in the duration of the 1930s, but was not officially part of the 1930s Western Association.
|Team Name||Affiliation (if any)||Final Record|
|Springfield Red Wings||St. Louis Cardinals||76-58 (1st half tie) (2nd half winner)|
|Ponca City Angels||Chicago Cubs||73-61 (1st half tie)|
|Joplin Miners||Boston Red Sox||66-68|
|Bartlesville Reds||Cincinnati Reds||63-69|
Ponca City defeated Springfield in a one-game playoff for the first-half title. Springfield defeated Ponca City 4 games to 3 for the league title.
Springfield changed their name to the "Cardinals".
|Springfield Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||87-48 (1st half title)|
|Ponca City Angels||Chicago Cubs||76-55 (2nd half title)|
|Hutchinson Larks||St. Louis Cardinals||68-61|
|Bartlesville Reds||Cincinnati Reds||56-79|
|Joplin Miners||New York Yankees||48-81|
Ponca City beat Springfield 5 games to 4 for the championship.
|Ponca City Angels||Chicago Cubs||87-57 (2nd half title)|
|Joplin Miners||New York Yankees||83-58 (1st half title)|
|Hutchinson Larks||Pittsburgh Pirates||79-65|
|Springfield Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||64-78|
|Muskogee Tigers||Brooklyn Dodgers||61-80|
Ponca City won the title over Joplin 5 games to 2.
|Muskogee Reds||Cincinnati Reds||79-61|
|Hutchinson Larks||Pittsburgh Pirates||78-64|
|Joplin Miners||New York Yankees||76-66|
|Springfield Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||76-67|
|Ponca City Angels||Chicago Cubs||71-69|
|Bartlesville Blues||New York Yankees||45-98|
Joplin beat Muskogee 4 games to 3 and Springfield beat Hutchinson 3 games to 1 in the first round of playoffs. Springfield beat Joplin 4 games to 3 for the title.
|Ponca City Angels||Chicago Cubs||84-54|
|Springfield Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||79-56|
|Fort Smith Giants||New York Giants||74-65|
|Hutchinson Larks||Pittsburgh Pirates||70-67|
|Muskogee Reds||Cincinnati Reds||71-68|
|Joplin Miners||New York Yankees||63-74|
Ponca City beat Fort Smith 3 games to 1, and Hutchinson beat Springfield 3 games to 2, in the first round of the playoffs. Ponca City beat Hutchinson 4 games to 1 for the championship.
|Fort Smith Giants||New York Giants||83-50|
|Joplin Miners||New York Yankees||81-56|
|Springfield Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||78-60|
|Topeka Owls||St. Louis Browns||72-65|
|St. Joseph Angels||Chicago Cubs||66-72|
|Muskogee Reds||Cincinnati Reds||60-76|
|Hutchinson Pirates||Pittsburgh Pirates||49-86|
|Topeka Owls||St. Louis Browns||73-60|
|Fort Smith Giants||New York Giants||70-63|
|St. Joseph Saints||Chicago Cubs||69-63|
|Joplin Miners||New York Yankees||68-64|
|Springfield Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||56-76|
|Hutchinson Pirates||Pittsburgh Pirates||50-86|
Fort Smith beat Muskogee 3 games to none, and St. Joseph beat Topeka 3 games to 1, in the first round of the playoffs. St. Joseph beat Fort Smith 3 games to none for the championship.
On June 3, the St. Joseph Ponies (10-22) moved to Carthage, Missouri and became the Carthage Browns and an affiliate of the St. Louis Browns. They had a record of 30-74 in Carthage, and ended in last place.
|Joplin Miners||New York Yankees||93-41|
|Springfield Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||92-43|
|Fort Smith Giants||New York Giants||73-60|
|Muskogee Reds||Cincinnati Reds||64-69|
|Hutchinson Pirates||Pittsburgh Pirates||53-81|
|Salina Millers||Cleveland Indians||46-88|
|St. Joseph Pony Express Riders/Carthage Browns||Chicago Cubs/St. Louis Browns||40-96|
The two teams with the worst records of the previous year, Carthage and Salina, folded. The league returned to a 1st-half vs. 2nd-half winners championship format.
|Topeka Owls||80-53 (2nd half winners)|
|Fort Smith Giants||New York Giants||68-63 (1st half winners)|
|Springfield Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||62-70|
|Joplin Miners||New York Yankees||59-75|
|Hutchinson Pirates||Pittsburgh Pirates||50-76|
Fort Smith beat Topeka 4 games to 3 for the title.
The League suspended play because of World War II.
Springfield moved to St. Joseph. New teams formed in Leavenworth, Kansas and Salina, Kansas. Because of the playoff format, the team with the best overall record, the newly formed Leavenworth Braves, did not qualify for the playoffs.
|Leavenworth Braves||Boston Braves||76-57|
|Hutchinson Cubs||Chicago Cubs||73-56 (2nd half winner)|
|St. Joseph Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||75-62|
|Muskogee Reds||Detroit Tigers||75-64|
|Fort Smith Giants||New York Giants||67-63 (1st half winner)|
|Joplin Miners||New York Yankees||61-73|
|Salina Blue Jays||Philadelphia Phillies||51-77|
Hutchinson beat Fort Smith 4 games to 2 for the title.
The playoffs format was changed again this year.
|Salina Blue Jays||Philadelphia Phillies||85-53|
|Muskogee Reds||St. Louis Browns||75-64|
|St. Joseph Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||72-67|
|Joplin Miners||New York Yankees||67-73|
|Hutchinson Cubs||Chicago Cubs||63-76|
|Fort Smith Giants||New York Giants||59-78|
|Leavenworth Braves||Boston Braves||50-88|
Muskogee beat Salina 3 games to 2, and St. Joseph beat Topeka 3 games to 2, in the first round of the playoffs. St. Joseph beat Muskogee 4 games to 3 for the championship.
The Hutchinson Cubs moved to Springfield, Illinois on July 21. Their record after the move, of 18-45, was worse than their record in Hutchinson, 25-42. No playoff system is known of for this year, so presumably the best overall record is the league champion.
|St. Joseph Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||90-48|
|Fort Smith Giants||New York Giants||82-58|
|Joplin Miners||New York Yankees||75-57|
|Muskogee Reds||St. Louis Browns||61-70|
|Leavenworth Braves||Boston Braves||62-75|
|Salina Blue Jays||Philadelphia Phillies||58-80|
|Hutchinson Cubs/Springfield Cubs||Chicago Cubs||43-87|
Springfield moved back to Hutchinson again, changing their name and losing their affiliation. This season, St. Joseph had the best winning percentage in the history of this incarnation of the league. Perhaps coincidentally, Leavenworth had the worst winning percentage in the history of this version of the league in the same year.
|St. Joseph Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||96-42|
|Fort Smith Giants||New York Giants||86-54|
|Joplin Miners||New York Yankees||86-58|
|Muskogee Reds||St. Louis Browns||77-62|
|Salina Blue Jays||Philadelphia Phillies||69-69|
|Leavenworth Braves||Boston Braves||25-112|
Leavenworth, who ended the previous year with the all-time worst winning percentage in this incarnation of the league, folded. Fort Smith moved to Enid, Oklahoma and a new club from Springfield, Missouri joined.
|Joplin Miners||New York Yankees||90-46|
|Hutchinson Elks||Pittsburgh Pirates||77-60|
|Springfield Cubs||Chicago Cubs||74-61|
|Enid Giants||New York Giants||71-63|
|St. Joseph Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||67-69|
|Salina Blue Jays||Philadelphia Phillies||53-83|
Springfield folded, and a new team started up in Fort Smith.
|Topeka Owls||Chicago Cubs||74-44|
|Joplin Miners||New York Yankees||77-48|
|St. Joseph Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||69-51|
|Salina Blue Jays||Philadelphia Phillies||63-58|
|Muskogee Giants||New York Giants||61-63|
|Hutchinson Elks||Pittsburgh Pirates||57-66|
|Enid Buffalos||Houston Buffaloes||45-79|
|Fort Smith Indians||Cleveland Indians||43-80|
This year, the league returned to the 1st-half winner vs. 2nd-half winner playoff format.
|Joplin Miners||New York Yankees||87-52 (2nd half winner)|
|Muskogee Giants||New York Giants||73-66 (1st half winner)|
|Hutchinson Elks||Pittsburgh Pirates||70-66|
|Topeka Owls||Chicago Cubs||63-76|
|Salina Blue Jays||Philadelphia Phillies||61-77|
|Fort Smith Indians||Cleveland Indians||60-77|
Salina folded, having made the playoffs only once in its seven years of existence. The Fort Smith Indians changed their name to the Fort Smith-Van Buren Twins, and a new team started in St. Joseph, Missouri with a bang.
|St. Joseph Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||83-57|
|Hutchinson Elks||Pittsburgh Pirates||80-60|
|Topeka Owls||Chicago White Sox||78-62|
|Joplin Miners||New York Yankees||71-68|
|Muskogee Giants||New York Giants||57-81|
|Fort Smith-Van Buren Twins||49-90|
St. Joseph beat Joplin and Hutchinson beat Topeka in the first rounds of the playoffs by 3 games to zero each. Hutchinson beat St. Joseph for the championship 4 games to 1.
After having changed its name and finishing with the worst record in the league the previous season, Fort Smith folded. New teams started up in Blackwell, Oklahoma, Iola, Kansas, and Ponca City, Oklahoma.
|Topeka Owls||Chicago White Sox||87-51|
|Muskogee Giants||New York Giants||85-54|
|St. Joseph Saints||New York Yankees||82-57|
|Blackwell Broncos||Chicago Cubs||79-61|
|Hutchinson Elks||Pittsburgh Pirates||72-67|
|Ponca City Jets||62-76|
|Joplin Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||50-89|
Blackwell beat Topeka 3 games to zero, and St. Joseph beat Muskogee 3 games to 2 in the first round of the playoffs. Blackwell beat St. Joseph 4 games to 1 for the title. After the season, Blackwell joined the Sooner State League, and the other seven teams, and the league itself, folded.
The Western Association prospered during the minor league baseball boom that followed World War II, with its clubs in Topeka, Kansas, and St. Joseph, Missouri, drawing over 100,000 fans and most of its eight clubs tied to major league farm systems. But the bust that followed in the early 1950s, caused by the Korean War, the advent of television, and a retrenchment in MLB farm systems, also buffeted the WA. It finally disbanded after the 1954 season, its champion Topeka club, a Chicago White Sox affiliate, drawing half the number of fans the team had drawn during the late 1940s.
There are rumors circulating about a new version of the Western Association that has a target launch of 2015. But those rumors have yet to be substantiated.
- Johnson, Lloyd and Wolff, Miles, ed., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, 1997.
- Sumner, Benjamin Barrett. Minor League Baseball Standings:All North American Leagues, Through 1999. Jefferson, N.C.:McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0781-6
- "Western League versus Western Association" (PDF), SABR Minor League Newsletter, June 2002, retrieved 2009-10-12<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>