Three-I League

Three-I League

The IllinoisIndianaIowa League was a minor league baseball organization that operated for the better part of 60 years, mostly in those three states. It was popularly known as the Three–I League and also sometimes jokingly as the Three-Eye League.

The league began play in 1901 and disbanded after the 1961 season. It had also been inactive during some years of World War I, the Great Depression and World War II, following the lead of many minor leagues that suspended operations or failed during those severe times.

As with many minor leagues, especially at the lower classifications, its membership fluctuated a great deal over its six decades. At various times it had teams in such medium-sized cities as Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Bloomington, Decatur, Danville, Peoria, Springfield, Evansville and Terre Haute.

It was a Class B league in the old classification system that ran from Class D up to Class Triple-A. Since 1961 its territory has largely been supplanted by the Midwest League, which began as a Class D organization in 1947 and is now Class A under the restructuring of the minors that occurred in 1963.

The league's unique name made it a convenient reference point for any mention of the minor leagues. Casey Stengel made the following comment in later life, evidently still feeling stung from having been traded by the New York Giants to the Boston Braves in the 1923-1924 off-season, despite having hit 2 game-winning home runs in the World Series: "It's lucky I didn't hit 3 home runs in three games, or McGraw would have traded me to the 3-I League!"


Bloomington, Illinois, Decatur, Illinois and Terre Haute, Indiana left the Central League and joined this league. New teams in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Davenport, Iowa, Evansville, Indiana, Rockford, Illinois, and Rock Island, Illinois formed and joined the league. Two of the teams, Davenport and Evansville, chose "River Rats" as their team name. Terre Haute won the title behind the impressive pitching of Mordecai Brown, future Chicago Cubs mound star.

Team Name Record Terre Haute Hottentots 72-39
Bloomington Blues 68-44
Cedar Rapids Rabbits 67-45
Rockford Red Sox 57-55
Davenport River Rats 51-61
Evansville River Rats 47-65
Rock Island Islanders 45-66
Decatur Commodores 40-72


Rockford Red Sox 74-52
Terre Haute Hottentots 70-53
Cedar Rapids Rabbits 64-55
Rock Island Islanders 58-61
Davenport River Rats 59-63
Evansville River Rats 57-67
Decatur Commodores 55-69
Bloomington Blues 54-71


Evansville and Terre Haute joined the Central League. New teams in Dubuque, Iowa and Joliet, Illinois formed. Joliet, with a record of 14-19, moved to Springfield, Illinois on June 12, where they had a record of 28-61.

Bloomington Bloomers 72-47
Decatur Commodores 67-51
Davenport River Rats 65-53
Rock Island Islanders 64-54
Cedar Rapids Rabbits 60-60
Rockford Red Sox 58-60
Dubuque Shamrocks 49-72
Joliet Standards/Springfield Foot Trackers 42-80


Springfield Hustlers 72-48
Cedar Rapids Rabbits 70-52
Dubuque Shamrocks 69-54
Bloomington Bloomers 60-61
Decatur Commodores 59-62
Rock Island Islanders 57-65
Davenport River Rats 52-69
Rockford Red Sox 48-76


The Rockford team folded, and a new team in Peoria, Illinois formed.

Dubuque Shamrocks 70-53
Rock Island Islanders 68-55
Springfield Senators 64-58
Decatur Commodores 63-58
Cedar Rapids Rabbits 63-61
Bloomington Bloomers 60-65
Davenport Riversides 56-67
Peoria Distillers 48-75

After the season ended, Cedar Rapids lost to the Burlington, Iowa team from the Iowa State League 4 games to 3.


Cedar Rapids Rabbits 79-43
Peoria Distillers 74-48
Dubuque Dubs 64-55
Springfield Senators 64-56
Rock Island Islanders 58-66
Decatur Commodores 48-67
Bloomington Bloomers 51-74
Davenport Knickerbockers 45-74


The Davenport team folded. The team from Clinton, Iowa joined after leaving the Iowa State League.

Rock Island Islanders 86-46
Decatur Commodores 80-47
Springfield Senators 81-50
Peoria Distillers 77-52
Cedar Rapids Rabbits 72-61
Clinton Infants 53-78
Bloomington Bloomers 51-79
Dubuque Dubs 22-109


Springfield Senators 82-54
Decatur Commodores 77-59
Cedar Rapids Rabbits 69-63
Peoria Distillers 77-52
Dubuque Dubs 67-69
Bloomington Bloomers 64-73
Rock Island Islanders 59-76
Clinton Adults 55-78


The Clinton team folded. A new team in Davenport, Iowa formed.

Rock Island Islanders 90-48
Springfield Senators 81-53
Davenport Prodigals 77-59
Burlington Bloomers 70-67
Peoria Distillers 69-67
Dubuque Dubs 64-71
Decatur Commodores 63-73
Cedar Rapids Rabbits 31-107


After the previous disappointing season, Cedar Rapids folded. The Decatur team moved to the Northern Association. The team from Waterloo, Iowa left the Central Association to join here. A new team from Danville, Illinois formed and joined the league as well.

Springfield Senators 88-48
Rock Island Islanders 81-56
Peoria Distillers 75-64
Waterloo Boosters 72-67
Bloomington Bloomers 60-76
Dubuque Dubs 60-79
Davenport Prodigals 59-80
Danville Speakers 57-82


The team from Bloomington folded. The Quincy, Illinois team from the Central Association joined the league. The Springfield team, with a 12-4 record, moved to Decatur, Illinois on May 31, where their record was 57-56.

Peoria Distillers 76-59
Springfield Senators/Decatur Nomads 69-60
Quincy Infants 71-63
Danville Speakers 69-62
Davenport Prodigals 69-69
Dubuque Hustlers 67-70
Waterloo Boosters 59-76
Rock Island Islanders 58-79


The teams from Rock Island and Waterloo folded. New teams from Springfield, Illinois and Bloomington, Indiana joined the league.

Springfield Senators 90-44
Davenport Prodigals 75-60
Decatur Commodores 69-67
Quincy Old Soldiers 67-70
Dubuque Dubs 65-73
Danville Speakers 63-71
Bloomington Bloomers 58-78
Peoria Distillers 56-80


Quincy Gems 79-60
Dubuque Dubs 74-62
Davenport Blue Sox 68-66
Danville Speakers 69-68
Decatur Commodores 67-68
Springfield Watchmakers 66-70
Bloomington Bloomers 64-71
Peoria Distillers 57-79


The Danville team, with a record of 26-53, moved to Moline, Illinois on July 14, where their record was 20-33.

Davenport Blue Sox 83-52
Peoria Distillers 81-56
Springfield Watchmakers 72-60
Decatur Commodores 72-64
Dubuque Dubs 64-69
Quincy Gems 61-71
Bloomington Bloomers 56-77
Danville Speakers/Moline Plowboys 46-86


The Springfield team folded. A new team in Rockford, Illinois formed. Dubuque moved to Freeport, Illinois during the season. The Decatur team folded on August 10. The league adopted a playoff system in which the team with the best record in the first half of the season would play the team with the best record in the second half of the season.

Moline Plowboys 75-51 (2nd half winner)
Davenport Blue Sox 76-52 (1st half winner)
Rockford Wakes 72-58
Quincy Gems 62-56
Peoria Distillers 68-63
Dubuque Dubs/Freeport Comeons 48-76
Bloomington Bloomers 48-76
Decatur Commodores 37-57

Moline beat Davenport 4 games to 2 for the title.


The Freeport team folded. New teams in Hannibal, Missouri and Rock Island, Illinois formed and joined the league. The playoff system was apparently dropped.

Peoria Distillers 84-50
Hannibal Mules 79-57
Bloomington Bloomers 76-56
Rockford Wakes 67-66
Moline Plowboys 59-76
Rock Island Islanders 57-76
Quincy Gems 57-77
Davenport Blue Sox 56-77


The Davenport team folded. A new team in Alton, Illinois formed and joined the league.

Peoria Distillers 43-23
Rockford Rox 39-21
Hannibal Mules 39-27
Rock Island Islanders 36-26
Quincy Gems 27-38
Moline Plowboys 27-38
Bloomington Bloomers 25-37
Alton Blues 18-44


The league suspended operations because of World War I.


The teams in Alton, Hannibal, Quincy, and Rock Island folded. New teams in Evansville, Indiana and Terre Haute, Indiana formed and joined the league.

Bloomington Bloomers 80-41
Peoria Tractors 68-54
Evansville Black Sox 63-58
Rockford Rox 63-60
Terre Haute Browns 50-70
Moline Plowboys 40-81


New teams in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Rock Island, Illinois formed and joined the league. Evansville changed their names to the "Evas".

Bloomington Bloomers 82-57
Evansville Evas 80-56
Rockford Rox 70-70
Moline Plowboys 69-70
Cedar Rapids Rabbits 68-69
Peoria Tractors 67-71
Terre Haute Browns 58-77
Rock Island Islanders 57-81


Moline Plowboys 78-55
Rockford Rox 72-64
Terre Haute Tots 70-65
Peoria Tractors 70-69
Evansville Evas 67-69
Bloomington Bloomers 65-69
Cedar Rapids Rabbits 62-72
Rock Island Islanders 57-78


The teams in Cedar Rapids and Rock Island moved to the Mississippi Valley League. New teams in Danville and Decatur formed and joines the league.

Terre Haute Tots 85-51
Decatur Commodores 78-58
Peoria Tractors 76-60
Evansville Evas 76-64
Rockford Rox 74-65
Bloomington Bloomers 63-75
Danville Veterans 50-87
Moline Plowboys 49-89


Decatur Commodores 81-54
Rockford Rox 76-63
Terre Haute Tots 71-60
Bloomington Bloomers 72-64
Evansville Evas 72-65
Peoria Tractors 71-65
Danville Veterans 55-81
Moline Plowboys 45-91


The Rockford team folded. The Moline team moved to the Mississippi Valley League.

Terre Haute Tots 75-62
Evansville Little Evas 75-64
Bloomington Bloomers 71-64
Peoria Tractors 71-66
Danville Veterans 59-75
Decatur Commodores 58-78


New teams in Quincy and Springfield formed and joined the league.

Peoria Tractors 89-48
Terre Haute Tots 81-54
Evansville Pocketeers 72-63
Danville Veterans 69-66
Decatur Commodores 62-73
Bloomington Bloomers 56-74
Springfield Senators 56-79
Quincy Red Birds 54-82


Springfield Senators 77-59
Peoria Tractors 75-62
Terre Haute Tots 73-61
Danville Veterans 72-65
Evansville Hubs 72-66
Decatur Commodores 69-67
Quincy Red Birds 62-75
Bloomington Bloomers 43-88

Springfield played Bay City of the Michigan State League and won 4 games to none. They were leading against Des Moines of the Western League 3 games to 1 when the series was canceled due to cold weather.


Danville Veterans 86-50
Peoria Tractors 87-51
Springfield Senators 72-66
Terre Haute Tots 70-66
Decatur Commodores 62-70
Quincy Red Birds 63-75
Bloomington Bloomers 55-83
Evansville Hubs 50-84


The league returned to the playoff format in which the team with the best record in the first half of the season played the team with the best records in the second half of the season for the title.

Decatur Commodores 81-49 (2nd half winner)
Terre Haute Tots 75-59 (1st half winner)
Danville Veterans 69-57
Peoria Tractors 69-66
Evansville Hubs 62-68
Bloomington Bloomers 61-69
Springfield Senators 60-79
Quincy Indians 50-85

Decatur beat Terre Haute for the title 4 games to 1, with 1 tie.


Two teams with the nickname "Tractors" played in the league this season.

Quincy Indians 82-56
Decatur Commodores 81-57
Evansville Hubs 79-57
Terre Haute Tots 72-66
Bloomington Bloomers 70-70
Peoria Tractors 61-76
Springfield Tractors 59-77
Danville Veterans 46-91

Quincy played Canton of the Central League after the season ended and lost 4 games to 2.


The league returned to the best record in the 1st half vs. best record in the 2nd half playoff system.

Evansville Hubs 79-55 (2nd half winner)
Quincy Indians 78-58
Decatur Commodores 77-59
Danville Veterans 71-67 (1st half winner)
Springfield Senators 62-70
Peoria Tractors 57-77
Bloomington Cubs 57-78
Terre Haute Tots 53-76

Danville defeated Evansville 4 games to 2 for the title. Danville went on to play Springfield of the Central League and lead 3 games to 2 when the series was cancelled because of poor attendance.


Springfield Senators 72-45 (1st half winner)
Quincy Indians 67-49 (2nd half winner)
Evansville Hubs 67-58
Decatur Commodores 64-57
Bloomington Cubs 58-61
Terre Haute Tots 55-68
Peoria Tractors 51-68
Danville Veterans 44-72

Quincy beat Springfield 4 games to 2 for the championship.


The teams in Bloomington and Evansville folded before the season, and the Springfield and Decatur teams folded on July 12.

Team Name Affiliation Record
Terre Haute Tots 42-27 (1st half winner)
Peoria Tractors 20-38 (2nd half winner)
Quincy Indians Cleveland Indians 38-31
Danville Veterans St. Louis Cardinals 29-39
Springfield Senators 32-37
Decatur Commodores 24-43

The Terre Haute, Peoria, Quincy, and Danville teams all folded on July 15, as did the league itself. The league was restarted in 1935, 1937-1942, and 1946-1961.

All Former Teams (1901-1961)

Alton Blues, 1917
Bloomington Bengals, 1937
Bloomington Bloomers, 1903-1910, 1912-1917, 1919-1929, 1935, 1938-1939
Bloomington Cubs, 1930-1931
Bloomington Blues, 1901-1902
Burlington Bees, 1954-1961
Burlington Flints, 1952-1953
Little Falls Braves (boston braves) was a mock name of the Major Leagues Boston Braves, 1914-1953
Cedar Rapids Braves, 1958-1961
Cedar Rapids Indians, 1950-1954
Cedar Rapids Raiders, 1938-1942, 1957
Cedar Rapids Rabbits, 1901-1909, 1920-1921
Clinton Giants, 1939-1941
Clinton Infants, 1907-1908
Clinton Owls, 1937-1938
Danville Dodgers, 1946-1950
Danville Speakers, 1910-1914
Danville Veterans, 1922-1932
Davenport Blue Sox, 1913-1916
Davenport Cubs, 1946-1947
Davenport DavSox, 1957-1958
Davenport Knickerbockers, 1906
Davenport Pirates, 1948-1949
Davenport Prodigals, 1909-1912
Davenport Quads, 1950
Davenport River Rats, 1901-1904
Davenport Riversides, 1905
Davenport Tigers, 1951-1952
Decatur Commies, 1948
Decatur Commodores, 1901-1909, 1912-1915, 1922-1932, 1935, 1937-1942, 1946-1947, 1950
Decatur Cubs, 1949
Decatur Nomads, 1911

Des Moines Demons, 1959-1961
Dubuque Shamrocks, 1903-1905
Dubuque Dubs, 1906-1910, 1912-1915
Dubuque Hustlers, 1911
Evansville Bees, 1938-1942
Evansville Braves, 1946-1957
Evansville Evas, 1919-1923
Evansville Little Evas, 1924
Evansville Hubs, 1926-1931
Evansville Pocketeers, 1925
Evansville River Rats, 1901-1902
Fort Wayne Chiefs, 1935
Fox Cities Foxes, 1959-1961
Freeport Comeons, 1915
Green Bay Bluejays, 1958-1959
Green Bay Dodgers, 1960
Hannibal Mules, 1916-1917
Joliet Standards, 1903
Keokuk Kernels, 1952-1957
Lincoln Chiefs, 1959-1961
Madison Blues, 1940-1942
Moline Plowboys, 1914-1917, 1919-1923, 1937-1941
Peoria Chiefs, 1953-1957
Peoria Distillers, 1905-1917
Peoria Reds, 1937
Peoria Tractors, 1919-1932, 1935

Quincy Gems, 1913-1917, 1946-1956
Quincy Indians, 1928-1932
Quincy Infants, 1911
Quincy Old Soldiers, 1912
Quincy Red Birds, 1925-1927
Rochester A's, 1958
Rock Island Islanders, 1901-1911, 1916-1917, 1921
Rockford Red Sox, 1901-1904
Rockford Rox, 1917, 1919-1923
Rockford Wakes, 1915-1916
Sioux City Soos, 1959-1960
Springfield Browns, 1938-1942, 1946-1949
Springfield Foot Trackers, 1903
Springfield Hustlers, 1904
Springfield Senators, 1905-1912, 1925-1932, 1935
Springfield Watchmakers, 1913-1914
Terre Haute Browns, 1919-1920
Terre Haute Hottentots, 1901-1902
Terre Haute Phillies, 1946-1954
Terre Haute Tigers, 1955-1956
Terre Haute Tots, 1921-1932, 1935, 1937
Topeka Hawks, 1959
Topeka Reds, 1960-1961
Waterloo Boosters, 1910-1911
Waterloo Hawks, 1940-1942, 1947
Waterloo Red Hawks, 1938-1939
Waterloo White Hawks, 1946, 1948-1956
Winona A's, 1958

See also


  • Sumner, Benjamin Barrett. Minor League Baseball Standings:All North American Leagues, Through 1999. Jefferson, N.C.:McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0781-6