Northern League (baseball, 1902-71)

Northern League (baseball, 1902-71)

This article refers to the original incarnations of the Northern League, which operated between 1902 and 1971. For the more recent league, see Northern League (baseball, 1993–2010)

The Northern League was a name used by several minor league baseball organizations that operated off and on between 1902 and 1971 in the upper midwestern United States and Manitoba, Canada. In total, there have been six incarnations of the Northern League, with the most recent beginning play in 1993 and ending after the 2010 season.

Incarnations

The Northern League name represented five leagues in this timeframe:

  • First Northern League: 1902–05
    • Northern-Copper League 1906–08
    • Minnesota Wisconsin League 1909–11
    • Central International League 1912
  • Second Northern League: 1908
  • Third Northern League: 1913–17
  • Fourth Northern League: 1933–42
  • Fifth Northern League: 1946–71

Historical overview

The first Northern League operated between 1902 and 1905. In 1906, the league merged with the Copper County Soo League to become the Northern-Copper League. The league would later change its name to the Minnesota-Wisconsin League (1909–11) and the Central International League (1912), which folded partway through the season. During this time, a separate league attempted to revive the Northern League name in 1908, but did not finish its first season.

Following the demise of the Central International League, many teams reformed under the Northern League banner in 1913. The league would last until 1917, when it was forced to disband due to a lack of players as a result of World War I. The league did not re-emerge until 1933. It did not operate between 1943 and 1945 because of a lack of manpower during World War II, and finally folded again in 1971.

While the Northern League in its various incarnations began as an independent loop, by 1938 it was ranked as a Class 'C' loop in minor league baseball. In 1965 it was reclassified as 'A' ball by the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues as the lower levels of Minor League Baseball were reorganized. Operating as a lower calibre rookie level league, coupled with the general decline in interest in the minor leagues ultimately led to the Northern League's demise in 1971.

League champions

  • 1902 Winnipeg Maroons
  • 1903 Winnipeg Maroons
  • 1904 Duluth White Sox
  • 1905 Duluth White Sox
  • 1906 Calumet Aristocrats (NCL)
  • 1907 Winnipeg Maroons (NCL)
  • 1908 Brandon Angels (NCL)
  • 1909 Duluth Dukes (MWL)
  • 1910 Eau Claire Bears (MWL)
  • 1911 Superior Blues (MWL)
  • 1912 Winnipeg Maroons (CIL)
  • 1913 Winona Pirates
  • 1914 Duluth White Sox
  • 1915 Fargo-Moorhead Graingrowers
  • 1916 Winnipeg Maroons
  • 1917 Fargo-Moorhead Graingrowers
  • 1918–1932 LEAGUE DID NOT OPERATE
  • 1933 Superior Blues
  • 1934 Fargo-Moorhead Twins
  • 1935 Winnipeg Maroons
  • 1936 Jamestown Jimmies
  • 1937 Duluth Dukes
  • 1938 Superior Blues
  • 1939 Winnipeg Maroons
  • 1940 Grand Forks Chiefs
  • 1941 Wausau Lumberjacks
  • 1942 Winnipeg Maroons
  • 1943–1945 LEAGUE DID NOT OPERATE
  • 1946 St. Cloud Rox
  • 1947 Aberdeen Pheasants
  • 1948 Grand Forks Chiefs
  • 1949 Eau Claire Bears
  • 1950 St. Cloud Rox
  • 1951 Eau Claire Bears
  • 1952 Superior Blues
  • 1953 Fargo-Moorhead Twins
  • 1954 Fargo-Moorhead Twins
  • 1955 St. Cloud Rox
  • 1956 Duluth-Superior White Sox
  • 1957 Winnipeg Goldeyes
  • 1958 Fargo-Moorhead Twins
  • 1959 Winnipeg Goldeyes
  • 1960 Winnipeg Goldeyes
  • 1961 Aberdeen Pheasants
  • 1962 Eau Claire Braves
  • 1963 Grand Forks Chiefs
  • 1964 Aberdeen Pheasants
  • 1965 St. Cloud Rox
  • 1966 St. Cloud Rox
  • 1967 St. Cloud Rox
  • 1968 St. Cloud Rox
  • 1969 Duluth-Superior Dukes
  • 1970 Duluth-Superior Dukes
  • 1971 St. Cloud Rox

Famous players

Many future Major Leaguers, including some of baseballs most famous names played in the Northern League, including:

References

  • Ballparkwatch Northern League history
  • An Informal History of the Northern League by Herman D. White