The International League (IL) is a Minor League Baseball league that operates in the eastern United States and is headquartered in Dublin, Ohio. Like the Pacific Coast League and the Mexican League, it plays at the Triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball.
International League logo
|No. of teams||14|
|Columbus Clippers (2019)|
|Most titles||Rochester Red Wings (19)|
|TV partner(s)||MiLB.TV, MLB Network, and local sports networks|
It was so named because throughout its history the International League has had teams in Canada and Cuba as well as those in the United States. Since 2008, however, all of the league's teams have been based in the U.S. Today, the league is composed of 14 teams across 9 states stretching from Indianapolis, Indiana, to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and from Rochester, New York, to Lawrenceville, Georgia.
A league champion is determined at the end of every season. The Rochester Red Wings have won 19 International League titles, the most in the league's history, followed by the Buffalo Bisons (12) and Columbus Clippers and Toronto Maple Leafs (11). Since the introduction of the Governors' Cup in 1933, the most cup titles have been won by the Columbus Clippers (11), followed by the Rochester Red Wings (10) and Syracuse Mets (8). After the season, the IL champion plays in the Triple-A National Championship Game against the Pacific Coast League champion to determine an overall champion of Triple-A baseball. The Columbus Clippers and Durham Bulls have each won two national championships, more than any other IL teams.
The International League was created from the mergers of member teams from three precursor leagues: the Eastern League, which was itself a re-organization of the Interstate Association of 1883; the New York State League, formed in 1885; and the Ontario League, also organized in 1885. The New York State and Ontario leagues merged in 1886 to form the International League, and in 1887 the Eastern League was absorbed to create a ten-club league. Also in 1887, the International League passed a resolution barring African Americans from playing in the league.
The league collapsed soon afterwards, when the northern teams claimed that it was too onerous to travel to the south and formed the International Association. Teams and league names came and went over the years. The league was also affected by the effort to establish the Federal League as a new third major league from 1914 to 1915, with franchises being added and dropped and new ballparks built. In 1954, a franchise was awarded to Havana, Cuba, but due to political upheaval in that country it had to be moved — to Jersey City, New Jersey — in the middle of the 1960 season. Another foray into the Caribbean failed when the newly created team in San Juan, Puerto Rico, added in 1961, had to be moved to Charleston, West Virginia, in mid-season.
In 1971, an International League all-star team beat the New York Yankees in an exhibition game in Rochester, New York, before 11,000 people. In 1984, the all-stars lost to the Cleveland Indians in 11 innings before 11,032 fans in Columbus, Ohio, to commemorate the league's 100th anniversary.
The International League and the American Association, another Triple-A league that operated in the Midwest, voted in 1988 to play interleague games as part of the Triple-A Alliance. The league also split into two divisions that year. The interleague concept ended in 1992, but the two league divisions remained.
In 1998, with the addition of three new teams from the disbanded American Association and the Durham Bulls who previously played in the Carolina League, the International League reorganized into three divisions.
Structure and season
The International League is divided into three divisions: the North Division, South Division, and West Division. The North Division consists of six teams, while the South and West Divisions each have four teams. Each club has 140 games scheduled per season.. The season typically begins during the first week of April and concludes on Labor Day. The league plays by the same rules listed in the Official Baseball Rules published by Major League Baseball.
Championship and interleague play
At the end of each season, the three divisional leaders and a wild card team square off in best-of-five series playoffs to determine a league champion, with the winner awarded the Governors' Cup, the league's championship trophy. Under this format, the North Division champion plays the wild card team, while the champions of the South and West Divisions play one another in best-of-five series. The winners then play each other in a best-of-five series to determine the champion.
Since 2006, the IL champion has played against the Pacific Coast League's champion in the Triple-A National Championship Game, a single game to determine an overall champion of Triple-A baseball. Previously, the IL champion also competed in the Triple-A World Series (1983, 1998–2000), Junior World Series (1919), and other sporadic postseason competitions throughout the league's history.
Other interleague play occurs during the Triple-A All-Star Game. Traditionally, the game has taken place on the day after the mid-summer Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The game is meant to mark a symbolic halfway-point in the season (though not the mathematical halfway-point which, for most seasons, is usually one month prior). During the All-Star break, no regular-season games are scheduled for two days before the All-Star Game itself.
- Indicates IL franchise's first year in current city. Some franchises have prior history in other cities or had local predecessor franchises at other levels that shared their name.
- Many stadiums have lawn seating; thus, capacity is approximate.
Current team rosters
Current team Former team
The International League has crowned a league champion each season since 1884. Through 1932, the championship was awarded to the regular season pennant winner. In 1933, the league introduced a postseason playoff system to determine a champion. The winner is awarded the Governors' Cup.
Championship wins by team
Active International League teams appear in bold.
|19||10||Rochester Bronchos/Red Wings||1899, 1901, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1939, 1952, 1955, 1956, 1964, 1971, 1974, 1988, 1990, 1997|
|12||6||Buffalo Bisons||1891, 1904, 1906, 1915, 1916, 1927, 1933, 1936, 1957, 1961, 1998, 2004|
|11||11||Columbus Clippers||1979, 1980, 1981, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1996, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2019|
|11||4||Toronto Maple Leafs||1897, 1902, 1907, 1912, 1917, 1918, 1926, 1934, 1960, 1965, 1966|
|10||2||Baltimore Orioles||1908, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1944, 1950|
|8||7||Montreal Royals||1898, 1941, 1946, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1953, 1958|
|8||8||Syracuse Chiefs (Syracuse Mets)||1935, 1942, 1943, 1947, 1954, 1969, 1970, 1976|
|6||6||Durham Bulls||2002, 2003, 2009, 2013, 2017, 2018|
|5||4||Newark Bears||1932, 1937, 1938, 1940, 1945|
|5||0||Providence Grays/Clamdiggers||1894, 1905, 1896, 1900, 1914|
|5||5||Richmond Braves||1978, 1986, 1989, 1994, 2007|
|5||5||Tidewater Tides (Norfolk Tides)||1972, 1975, 1982, 1983, 1985|
|4||4||Pawtucket Red Sox||1973, 1984, 2012, 2014|
|3||3||Toledo Mud Hens||1967, 2005, 2006|
|2||2||Charlotte Knights||1993, 1999|
|2||0||Detroit Wolverines||1889, 1890|
|2||2||Indianapolis Indians||1963, 2000|
|2||2||Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees/RailRiders||2008, 2016|
|2||0||Syracuse Stars||1885, 1888|
|1||1||Havana Sugar Kings||1959|
|1||0||Jersey City Skeeters||1903|
|1||1||Louisville RiverBats (Louisville Bats)||2001|
|1||0||Newark Little Giants||1886|
The IL recognizes outstanding players and team personnel annually near the end of each season.
The Most Valuable Player Award, first awarded in 1932, is given to honor the best player in the league.
Most Valuable Pitcher Award
The Most Valuable Pitcher Award, first awarded in 1953, serves to recognize the league's best pitcher. Pitchers were eligible to win the MVP award from 1932 to 1952 as no award was designated solely for pitchers.
Rookie of the Year Award
The Rookie of the Year Award, created in 1950, is given to the best player with no prior IL experience.
Manager of the Year Award
The Manager of the Year Award, started in 1967, is given to the league's top manager.
Executive of the Year Award
Hall of fame
The International League Hall of Fame was established in 1947 to honor league players, managers, and executives who have made significant contributions to the league. The Hall of Fame inducted its first class of 9 men in 1947. A plaque was unveiled at the IL's New York City offices located in the Ruppert Building at 535 Fifth Avenue. Today, the plaque has no permanent home, but exists as a traveling display which visits a number of the league's ballparks each season. The Hall became dormant after 1963, but was revived in 2007. New members are elected before the start of each season.
- Mancuso, Peter. "July 14, 1887: The color line is drawn | Society for American Baseball Research". sabr.org. Society for American Baseball Research. Archived from the original on April 16, 2019. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
- "Notable Events in American Association History". Triple-A Baseball. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
- "International League Current Standings". milb.com. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
- Pawtucket Red Sox (October 12, 2017). "Fireworks Every Saturday Night, Special Gifts Every Friday Highlight Pawtucket Red Sox 2018 Schedule". www.milb.com. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- "Official 2017 International League Schedule" (PDF). milb.com. Minor League Baseball. September 15, 2016. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
- "MiLB.com Frequently Asked Questions". The Official Site of Minor League Baseball. 2012. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
- "International League Personnel and Staff". International League. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
- "Omaha Storm Chasers and Werner Park to Host 2015 Triple-A Baseball All-Star Game". Omaha Storm Chasers. Minor League Baseball. March 5, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
- "Durham Lands 2014 Triple-A ASG". Minor League Baseball. February 20, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
- "International League Award Winners". International League. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
- "IL honors Syracuse's Don Waful". International League. March 30, 2016. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
- "International League Hall of Fame". International League. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
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