Definitions

pacific coast

Pacific Coast League

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.

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 District), 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, 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 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.

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 Angeles and the New York Giants moved to San Francisco. 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 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.

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 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.

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 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.

Current teams

American Conference
Division Team MLB Affiliation City Stadium Capacity
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
Pacific Conference
Division Team MLB Affiliation City Stadium Capacity
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

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

Final 2008 season standings

American Conference North W L Pct. GB
Iowa Cubs 83 59 .585
Memphis Redbirds 75 67 .528 8
Omaha Royals 63 81 .438 21
Nashville Sounds 59 81 .421 23

American Conference South W L Pct. GB
Oklahoma RedHawks 78 68 .528
Albuquerque Isotopes 68 75 .476
New Orleans Zephyrs 66 75 .468
Round Rock Express 64 79 .448 11½

Pacific Conference North W L Pct. GB
Salt Lake Bees 83 60 .580
Tacoma Rainiers 80 64 .556
Colorado Springs Sky Sox 71 72 .497 12
Portland Beavers 70 74 .486 13½

Pacific Conference South W L Pct. GB
Sacramento River Cats 83 61 .576
Las Vegas 51s 74 69 .517
Fresno Grizzlies 67 76 .469 15½
Tucson Sidewinders 60 81 .426 21½

Playoffs

2008

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

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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