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The Pacific Coast League (PCL) is a minor league baseball league operating in the West, Midwest, and Southeast of the United Statesmarker. Along with the International League and the Mexican League, it is one of three leagues playing at the Triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball.

History

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 Districtmarker), Oakland Oaks, Portland Beavers, Sacramento Solons, Salt Lake Bees, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Seals, Seattle Rainiers, Vernon Tigers later the Tacoma Tigers, Vancouver Canadians and the Hawaii Islanders 2,000 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 League and 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, Bobby Doerr, 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 [10803] but who compiled a record PCL total of 295 wins, against 178 losses. [10804] In addition, many a major league player came to the PCL to finish their careers after their time in the majors had ended.

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 Seals set 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.

In 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.

Sudden decline

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 Angelesmarker and the New York Giants moved to San Franciscomarker. 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 Citymarker, Portlandmarker, and Sacramentomarker 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 Rainiers were displaced by Major League teams in 1969, but by this time the PCL's decline was already far advanced.

Recent expansion

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 Washingtonmarker to Middle Tennesseemarker.

The league is divided into two conferences, the American Conference and the Pacific Conference; after a realignment for 2005 necessitated by the move of the Edmonton Trappers to Round Rock, Texasmarker (suburban Austin), 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.

Designated hitter

All of the non-independent minor leagues have adopted the designated-hitter rule. At the Double-A and Triple-A level, when both teams are National League affiliates, they have their pitchers bat; otherwise the DH is used. In the Pacific Coast League, pitchers only hit when both clubs are NL affiliates and both clubs agree to have their pitchers hit. The reason for this is that as players move up and get closer to reaching the majors, teams prefer to have the rules follow (as closely as possible) those of the major leagues.

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 the league champion has played against the International League champion in the Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game, 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 , 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 League affiliates and the other of National League affiliates. Beginning in , a team of PCL All-Stars faced off against a team of IL All-Stars.

Current teams

American Conference
Division Team MLB Affiliation City Stadium Capacity
North Iowa Cubs Chicago Cubs Des Moinesmarker, Iowamarker Principal Parkmarker 11,000
Memphis Redbirds St. Louis Cardinals Memphismarker, Tennesseemarker AutoZone Parkmarker 14,320
Nashville Sounds Milwaukee Brewers Nashvillemarker, Tennesseemarker Herschel Greer Stadiummarker 10,052
Omaha Royals Kansas City Royals Omahamarker, Nebraskamarker Johnny Rosenblatt Stadiummarker 23,100
South Albuquerque Isotopes Los Angeles Dodgers Albuquerquemarker, New Mexicomarker Isotopes Parkmarker 12,215
New Orleans Zephyrs Florida Marlins Metairiemarker, Louisianamarker Zephyr Fieldmarker 10,000
Oklahoma City RedHawks Texas Rangers Oklahoma Citymarker, Oklahomamarker AT&T Bricktown Ballparkmarker1 13,166
Round Rock Express Houston Astros Round Rockmarker, Texasmarker Dell Diamondmarker 11,688
Pacific Conference
Division Team MLB Affiliation City Stadium Capacity
North Colorado Springs Sky Sox Colorado Rockies Colorado Springsmarker, Coloradomarker Security Service Fieldmarker 9,000
Portland Beavers San Diego Padres Portlandmarker, Oregonmarker PGE Parkmarker 19,810
Salt Lake Bees Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Salt Lake Citymarker, Utahmarker Spring Mobile Ballparkmarker2 15,500
Tacoma Rainiers Seattle Mariners Tacomamarker, Washingtonmarker Cheney Stadiummarker 9,600
South Fresno Grizzlies San Francisco Giants Fresnomarker, Californiamarker Chukchansi Parkmarker 12,500
Las Vegas 51s3 Toronto Blue Jays Las Vegasmarker, Nevadamarker Cashman Fieldmarker 10,000
Reno Aces Arizona Diamondbacks Renomarker, Nevadamarker Aces Ballparkmarker 9,100
Sacramento River Cats Oakland Athletics West Sacramentomarker, Californiamarker Raley Fieldmarker 14,680


1 Hosting the 2009 Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game
2 Hosting the 2011 Triple-A All-Star Game
3 The 51s will be renamed in 2010.


Final 2009 season standings

Playoffs

2009

Teams timeline

Note: Teams in italics are PCL "classic" teams from the league's height in the 1950s.



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.



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



Records

  • Longest Consecutive Games Hit Streak: (61 games), Joe DiMaggio, 1933


See also



Sources

  • Pacific Coast Baseball League Record Book 1903-1969, compiled by William J. Weiss, League Statistician; published by the PCL, 1969.


References

External links




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