The Pacific Coast League (PCL) is a minor league baseball league operating in the West and Midwest of the United States. It is one of two leagues, along with the International League, playing at the Triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball.
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 but who compiled a record PCL total of 295 wins, against 178 losses.
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.
Of the cities represented in the PCL in its heyday, only Salt Lake City, Portland, and Sacramento 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.
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 Washington to Middle Tennessee.
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, Texas, 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.
Since the league champion has played against the International League champion in the Bricktown Showdown, 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.
|North||Iowa Cubs||Chicago Cubs||Des Moines, Iowa||Principal Park||11,000|
|Memphis Redbirds||St. Louis Cardinals||Memphis, Tennessee||AutoZone Park||14,320|
|Nashville Sounds||Milwaukee Brewers||Nashville, Tennessee||Herschel Greer Stadium||10,052|
|Omaha Royals||Kansas City Royals||Omaha, Nebraska||Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium||23,100|
|South||Albuquerque Isotopes||Los Angeles Dodgers||Albuquerque, New Mexico||Isotopes Park||12,215|
|New Orleans Zephyrs||Florida Marlins||Metairie, Louisiana||Zephyr Field||10,000|
|Oklahoma City RedHawks||Texas Rangers||Oklahoma City, Oklahoma||AT&T Bricktown Ballpark1||13,166|
|Round Rock Express||Houston Astros||Round Rock, Texas||Dell Diamond||10,000|
|North||Colorado Springs Sky Sox||Colorado Rockies||Colorado Springs, Colorado||Security Service Field||9,000|
|Portland Beavers||San Diego Padres||Portland, Oregon||PGE Park2||19,810|
|Salt Lake Bees||Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||Salt Lake City, Utah||Franklin Covey Field||15,500|
|Tacoma Rainiers||Seattle Mariners||Tacoma, Washington||Cheney Stadium||9,600|
|South||Fresno Grizzlies||San Francisco Giants||Fresno, California||Chukchansi Park||12,500|
|Las Vegas 51s3||Toronto Blue Jays||Las Vegas, Nevada||Cashman Field||10,000|
|Reno Aces||Arizona Diamondbacks||Reno, Nevada||Sierra Nevada Stadium||TBA|
|Sacramento River Cats||Oakland Athletics||West Sacramento, California||Raley Field||14,680|
|American Conference North||W||L||Pct.||GB|
|American Conference South||W||L||Pct.||GB|
|New Orleans Zephyrs||66||75||.468||8½|
|Round Rock Express||64||79||.448||11½|
|Pacific Conference North||W||L||Pct.||GB|
|Salt Lake Bees||83||60||.580||—|
|Colorado Springs Sky Sox||71||72||.497||12|
|Pacific Conference South||W||L||Pct.||GB|
|Sacramento River Cats||83||61||.576||—|
|Las Vegas 51s||74||69||.517||8½|
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.
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.