American Association of Independent Professional Baseball

The American Association of Independent Professional Baseball is an independent professional baseball league founded in 2005. It operates in the central United States and Canada, mostly in cities not served by MLB teams or their minor league affiliates. Miles Wolff is the league commissioner. League offices are located in Durham, North Carolina. Though a separate entity, the league shares a commissioner and director of umpires with the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball.

American Association
American Association
SportBaseball
Founded2005
No. of teams12
CountriesUnited States
Canada
Most recent
champion(s)
Kansas City T-Bones (2018)
Most titlesWinnipeg Goldeyes (3)
Official websiteamericanassociationbaseball.com

History

The American Association was founded in October 2005 when the St. Paul Saints, Lincoln Saltdogs, Sioux City Explorers, and Sioux Falls Canaries announced they were leaving the Northern League. Around the same time, the Central Baseball League announced it was disbanding after four seasons. The Fort Worth Cats, Shreveport-Bossier Sports, Pensacola Pelicans, Coastal Bend Aviators, and El Paso Diablos joined the four former Northern League teams and the expansion St. Joe Blacksnakes to form the American Association as a ten-team league. The new league began play in 2006, with a 96-game schedule, which has since expanded to 100 games.

2008 saw the league lose the Blacksnakes and Aviators, with the Grand Prairie AirHogs and Wichita Wingnuts joining in their place. In 2011 and 2012 the league went through a significant shift. Fort Worth left the league to join United League Baseball, while Shreveport and Pensacola both relocated. The Pelicans moved to Amarillo, Texas and became the Amarillo Sox (later the Amarillo Thunderheads) while Shreveport, who had changed their name to the Shreveport-Bossier Captains, moved to Laredo, Texas and became the Laredo Lemurs. In addition, four more Northern League franchises (Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, Gary SouthShore RailCats, Kansas City T-Bones, and Winnipeg Goldeyes) joined the American Association as that league's stability came into question.

For the 2012 season, the American Association began interleague play with the Can-Am League.[1] The two leagues are both headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, and both have Miles Wolff as their commissioner. This was similar to interleague play in Major League Baseball, but American Association and Can-Am League are separate legal entities and have separate playoffs/championships.

At the end of the 2013 season, due to the Tucson Padres relocating to their city, the El Paso Diablos suspended operations. The team was eventually revived and relocated, operating as the Joplin Blasters. The Blasters ceased operations after the conclusion of the 2016 season.

On November 19, 2015, Miles Wolff announced that there would no longer be interleague play. It also was announced that for the Amarillo Thunderheads and Grand Prairie AirHogs would operate as a joint team (Texas AirHogs) playing 25 games in Amarillo and 25 games in Grand Prairie to make up a 12-team league.[2][3] The team remained in Grand Prairie full-time in 2017, with the Cleburne Railroaders joining league the same season. Shortly before the 2017 season, the Laredo Lemurs withdrew from the league.[4] They were temporarily replaced by the Salina Stockade from the Pecos League for the season. The Chicago Dogs joined for 2018.[5]

Business model

Typically the American Association recruits college, ex-major and ex-minor players. Former affiliated-league players that get injured or have other circumstances join the AA as an opportunity to get re-signed by major league organizations. Other players consist of college players who were not drafted into MiLB, but seek the opportunity to be seen by major league scouts and possibly get signed by major league organizations. Other former MLB players join the AA as a way to stay involved in baseball after their career as a major league player, often as coaches and managers.

As of 2008, the salary cap for each team was $100,000, with a minimum salary of $800 per month.[6] The price of an expansion team is also about $750,000.[6] This is in stark contrast with the minor and major leagues. Commissioner Miles Wolff stated in an interview that "We have to pay the salaries of the players, which they don't in an affiliated [league]. It's a much riskier business. Just because of the longevity and tradition, we usually don't get the best cities, either, so some of the markets we're in are not great markets. But as I say, I think it's a better product."[6]

Teams

Current teams

American Association of Independent Professional Baseball
Division Team First Season City Stadium Capacity
North
Chicago Dogs 2018 Rosemont, Illinois Impact Field 6,300
Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 1996 Fargo, North Dakota Newman Outdoor Field 4,513
Gary SouthShore RailCats 2002 Gary, Indiana U.S. Steel Yard 6,139
Milwaukee Milkmen 2019 Franklin, Wisconsin Routine Field 4,000
St. Paul Saints 1993 Saint Paul, Minnesota CHS Field 7,210
Winnipeg Goldeyes 1994 Winnipeg, Manitoba Shaw Park 7,481
South
Cleburne Railroaders 2017 Cleburne, Texas The Depot at Cleburne Station 1,750
Kansas City T-Bones 2003 Kansas City, Kansas T-Bones Stadium 6,537
Lincoln Saltdogs 2001 Lincoln, Nebraska Haymarket Park 8,000
Sioux City Explorers 1993 Sioux City, Iowa Lewis and Clark Park 3,631
Sioux Falls Canaries 1993 Sioux Falls, South Dakota Sioux Falls Stadium 4,500
Texas AirHogs 2008 Grand Prairie, Texas AirHogs Stadium 5,445

League timeline

League members Former Team

Former teams

Champions

Season Winner Runner-up Result
2006 Fort Worth Cats St. Paul Saints 3–2
2007 Fort Worth Cats St. Paul Saints 3–2
2008 Sioux Falls Canaries Grand Prairie AirHogs 3–1
2009 Lincoln Saltdogs Pensacola Pelicans 3–2
2010 Shreveport-Bossier Captains Sioux Falls Pheasants 3–0
2011 Grand Prairie AirHogs St. Paul Saints 3–2
2012 Winnipeg Goldeyes Wichita Wingnuts 3–0
2013 Gary SouthShore RailCats Wichita Wingnuts 3–1
2014 Wichita Wingnuts Lincoln Saltdogs 3–0
2015 Laredo Lemurs Sioux City Explorers 3–1
2016 Winnipeg Goldeyes Wichita Wingnuts 3–2
2017 Winnipeg Goldeyes Wichita Wingnuts 3–2
2018 Kansas City T-Bones St. Paul Saints 3–1

All-Star Game

The American Association hosted an annual All-Star Game from 2006 to 2010. The league's first All-Star game was played in El Paso, Texas, on July 18, 2006, which pit a team of American Association All-Stars against an All-Star team from the Can-Am League. Its current format pits the all-stars from each division against each other. There was no All-Star game in 2011, 2012, or 2013. The Winnipeg Goldeyes hosted the 2014 All-Star game.

Game results
  • 2006 – AA 5, Can-Am 3
  • 2007 – South 6, North 4
  • 2008 – South 11, North 4
  • 2009 – North 6, South 2
  • 2010 – South 12, North 3
  • 2011 – No game played
  • 2012 – No game played
  • 2013 – No game played
  • 2014 – South 7, North 0
  • 2015 – No game played
  • 2016 – North 6, South 1
Most Valuable Players
  • 2006 – Jake Whitesides, (St. Joe Blacksnakes)
  • 2007 – Jorge Alvarez, (El Paso Diablos)
  • 2008 – Brian Fryer, (Fort Worth Cats)
  • 2009 – Trevor Lawhorn, (Sioux Falls Canaries)
  • 2010 – Chris Garcia, (Shreveport-Bossier Captains)
  • 2011 – Lee Cruz, (Amarillo Sox)
  • 2012 – Nic Jackson, (Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks)
  • 2013 – C. J. Ziegler, (Wichita Wingnuts)
  • 2014 – Devin Goodwin, (Laredo Lemurs)

League attendance

Year Total attendance Average Per Game Change from previous year avg
2016 [8] 1,833,503 3,156 n/a
2017 [9] 1,866,910 3,322 +166
2018 [10] 1,891,794 3,251 -71

See also

References

  1. ^ "RailCats release schedule, American Association announces crossover games with Can-Am League". NWI Times. November 30, 2011. Archived from the original on May 6, 2018.
  2. ^ "ThunderHeads, AirHogs to merge teams". Amarillo Globe-News. November 19, 2015. Archived from the original on March 1, 2016.
  3. ^ "American Association: 12 teams in 2016". Ballpark Digest. November 19, 2015. Archived from the original on June 2, 2017.
  4. ^ Gallardo, Yocelin (May 3, 2017). "Lemurs Owner Withdraws Team from League". KGNS.com. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  5. ^ Reichard, Kevin (July 28, 2017). "New for 2018: Chicago Dogs". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c van der Horst, Roger (May 19, 2008). "All About Baseball: Wolff Happily Stays Independent". Proquest Newsstand. McClatchy-Tribune Business News. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  7. ^ "AMERICAN ASSOCIATION of Independent Professional Baseball". www.americanassociationbaseball.com. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  8. ^ aa_admin. "American Association Stats". Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  9. ^ aa_admin. "American Association Stats". Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  10. ^ aa_admin. "American Association Stats". Retrieved 2019-03-03.

External links

CHS Field

CHS Field is a baseball park in downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota. It is home to the St. Paul Saints of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, as well as home to Hamline University's baseball team.

Chicago Dogs

The Chicago Dogs are an independent professional baseball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, that began play in the American Association in 2018. The team plays its home games at the 6,300-seat Impact Field. The team's branding alludes to the Chicago-style hot dog, a local street food.

Cleburne Railroaders

The Cleburne Railroaders are an independent professional baseball team based in Cleburne, Texas, that plays in the American Association. The team, which began play in 2017, plays its home games at The Depot at Cleburne Station.

Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks

The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks are a professional baseball team based in Fargo, North Dakota, in the United States. The RedHawks are a member of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. The RedHawks have played their home games at Newman Outdoor Field since 1996, when the team started as a member of the Northern League. The team plays in the American Association.

Fort Worth Cats

The Fort Worth Cats were a professional baseball team based in Fort Worth, Texas, in the United States. The Cats were a member of the South Division of the now disbanded United League Baseball, which was not affiliated with Major League Baseball. From 2002 to 2014, the Cats played their home games at LaGrave Field.

Under the management of Wayne Terwilliger (2005) and Stan Hough (2006–2007), the team won the 2005 Central Baseball League championship and the 2006 and 2007 American Association championships.

Haymarket Park

Hawks Field at Haymarket Park is a baseball complex in Lincoln, Nebraska. It is half a mile west of the campus of the University of Nebraska in downtown Lincoln. It is named for its location in Lincoln's historic Haymarket District. Adjacent to the ballpark is its smaller sister stadium, Bowlin Stadium, a softball complex.

Joplin Blasters

The Joplin Blasters were an American professional baseball team based in Joplin, Missouri. The Blasters were members of the South Division of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. The team's home games were played at a reconstructed Joe Becker Stadium. The team was managed by former Chicago Cubs player and minor league managing veteran Carlos Lezcano. A home game on May 21, 2015, against the Wichita Wingnuts inaugurated the franchise and its 100-game regular season. The Blasters organization failed to pay the stadium lease during its final season. During the 2016 fall league meetings, it was confirmed by league commissioner Miles Wolff that the Blasters would not be returning for 2017.

Kansas City T-Bones

The Kansas City T-Bones are a professional baseball team based in Kansas City, Kansas, in the United States. The T-Bones are a member of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. The T-Bones have played their home games at T-Bones Stadium (formerly CommunityAmerica Ballpark) since 2003, when the team started as a member of the Northern League. In 2011, the team joined the modern American Association. In 2018, the T-Bones won their first-ever American Association Championship by defeating the St. Paul Saints.

Laredo Lemurs

The Laredo Lemurs were a professional baseball team based in Laredo, Texas, that played in the independent American Association from 2012 to 2016. The team played their home games at the Uni-Trade Stadium in Laredo, replacing the Laredo Broncos of United League Baseball. The team withdrew from the league prior to the start of the 2017 season.

Lincoln Saltdogs

The Lincoln Saltdogs are a professional baseball team based in Lincoln, Nebraska, in the United States. The Saltdogs are the defending champions of the Central Division of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. Since the 2001 season, the Saltdogs have played their home games at Haymarket Park, which they share with the Nebraska Cornhuskers college baseball team.

Milwaukee Milkmen

The Milwaukee Milkmen are a planned independent baseball team based in Franklin, Wisconsin. They are anticipated to begin play in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball in 2019 upon completion of Routine Field.The team's nickname was chosen to reflect Wisconsin's reputation as "America's Dairyland." Milkmen was among ten finalists in a "Name the Team" contest which also included: Barn Owls, Bovines, Broilers, Cheesers, Cow Tippers, Crop Dusters, Farmhands, Haymakers, and War Pigs.

Routine Field

Routine Field is a baseball park under construction in Franklin, Wisconsin, which is part of the Milwaukee metropolitan area. It will be the home of the Milwaukee Milkmen, an independent professional baseball team playing in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball and the NCAA Division I University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers baseball team. It is scheduled to open in 2019.The naming rights are held by Routine Baseball, a baseball apparel brand based in Franklin.

Sioux City Explorers

The Sioux City Explorers are a professional baseball team based in Sioux City, Iowa, in the United States. The Explorers are a member of the Central Division of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. From their inception in 1993 to the present, the Explorers have played their home games at Lewis and Clark Park.

The Explorers, frequently called the X's, have played in the American Association since 2006. Previously, they were members of the Northern League.

Sioux Falls Canaries

The Sioux Falls Canaries are a professional baseball team based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, United States. The Canaries are a member of the North Division of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. Since the 1993 season, the Canaries have played their home games at Sioux Falls Stadium, commonly known as The Birdcage. In the 2010, 2011, and 2012 seasons, the team was called the Sioux Falls Fighting Pheasants.

Sioux Falls Stadium

Sioux Falls Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It originally opened in 1941 and was renovated in 2000. It holds 4,500 people.

It is primarily used for baseball, and is the home field of the unaffiliated Sioux Falls Canaries baseball team of the American Association. It was their home stadium when they won the American Association championship in 2008. Promoting the home team, the stadium is often affectionately proclaimed "The Birdcage".

Texas AirHogs

The Texas AirHogs are a professional baseball team based in Grand Prairie, Texas, in the United States. The AirHogs are a member of the South Division of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. Beginning in the 2008 season as the Grand Prairie AirHogs, the team plays their home games at AirHogs Stadium.

The name "AirHogs"' is a slang term used by U.S. military pilots, and refers to the city's aviation industry (Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control is headquartered in Grand Prairie, and Vought Corporation once had a major plant in Dallas adjacent to Grand Prairie before the company was sold and the plant closed).

For the 2016 season, the AirHogs merged with the Amarillo Thunderheads, taking their current name and splitting games between both home ballparks. For the 2017 season, the team will be based solely in Grand Prairie again.

The Depot at Cleburne Station

The Depot at Cleburne Station is a multi-use facility located in Cleburne, Texas, United States that opened on May 18, 2017. It is designed to accommodate events year-round including professional baseball and soccer, youth sports, and concerts. Seating at the ballpark consists of over 1,750 fixed seats, bleachers, grass berm seating, and several group seating areas. The minor league Cleburne Railroaders baseball team of the independent American Association plays its home games at the stadium. FC Cleburne, a soccer team of the Premier Development League, will begin playing their games at The Depot on May 27, 2017.

Wichita Wingnuts

The Wichita Wingnuts were an independent baseball team based in Wichita, Kansas, in the United States. The Wingnuts were members of the South Division of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball.

An expansion franchise in the 2008 season, the Wingnuts played their home games at Lawrence–Dumont Stadium through the end of the 2018 season. The Wingnuts replaced the Wichita Wranglers, the former AA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The first Wichita Wingnuts manager was Kash Beauchamp, who gained notoriety for his tirade during a game on July 9. Beauchamp's contract was not renewed at the end of the 2008 season. Kevin Hooper replaced Beauchamp as the manager for the 2009 season. The Wingnuts finished the first half of 2008 in second place, but a slide in the second half left them with an overall record of 45–50 in their inaugural season. In 2016, Hooper left to coach as an infield coordinator in the San Diego Padres farm system. Pete Rose Jr. took over as manager following Hooper's departure.

In 2009, the Wingnuts won the North Division title for the first half of the season, and in 2010 hosted the American Association All-Star Game at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. The Wingnuts were named the 2010 American Association Organization of the Year. In 2012, the Wingnuts completed of 3-game sweep of the Laredo Lemurs to advance to the American Association Championship Series against the Winnipeg Goldeyes. In 2013, they defeated the Grand Prairie AirHogs, but lost to the Gary SouthShore RailCats in the American Association Championship Series. In 2014, they defeated the Laredo Lemurs in 4 games, and swept the Lincoln Saltdogs in the final to win their first American Association Championship.

In September 2018, the city of Wichita paid $2.2 million to the Wingnuts to break their lease at Lawrence–Dumont Stadium, with plans to demolish it and build a larger ballpark to host an affiliated Minor League Baseball team. Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell later announced that a new $81 million stadium will be built to host the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes, who have agreed to relocate to Wichita starting in 2020.

Winnipeg Goldeyes

The Winnipeg Goldeyes are a professional baseball team based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The Goldeyes play in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, which they joined in 2011. The American Association is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. Previously, the Goldeyes were members of the Northern League from 1994 until 2010. The Goldeyes were champions of the Northern League in 1994. They are also three-time champions of the American Association; having won in 2012, and back-to-back in 2016–2017.

The Goldeyes have played their home games at Shaw Park since 1999. The team is named after the goldeye, a fish usually served as a smoked delicacy and commonly called Winnipeg goldeye.

American Association of Independent Professional Baseball
North Division
South Division

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