The Appalachian League of Professional Baseball is a Rookie-class Minor League Baseball league that began play in 1911. It operated as a Class D league (1911–1914), (1921–1925), (1937–1955) and (1957–1962) before becoming a Rookie league in 1963. Teams are located in the Appalachian regions of Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee. The league's season starts in June, after major league teams have signed players they selected in the annual amateur draft, and ends in September.
Along with the Pioneer League, it forms the second-lowest rung on the minor league ladder. Although classified as a Rookie league, the level of play is slightly higher than that of the two Rookie leagues based at the parent clubs' spring training complexes, the Gulf Coast League and Arizona League. Unlike these two leagues, Appalachian League games charge admission and sell concessions.
Appalachian League logo
|No. of teams||10|
|Elizabethton Twins (2018)|
|Most titles||Bluefield Blue Jays (14)|
The original Appalachian League only existed for four seasons from 1911–1914 and all teams were independent with no MLB affiliation. The original league consisted of the Asheville Moonshiners, the Bristol Boosters, the Cleveland Counts, the Johnson City Soldiers, the Knoxville Appalachians, and the Morristown Jobbers.
The second Appalachian League existed for five seasons from 1921–1925, and, as before, it consisted entirely of independent teams: the Bristol State-Liners, the Cleveland Manufacturers, the Greeneville Burley Cats, the second iteration of the Johnson City Soldiers, the Kingsport Indians, and the Knoxville Pioneers. Two of the 1921 locations have present-day teams in the Appalachian League: Kingsport, Tennessee, with the present-day Kingsport Mets, and Greeneville, Tennessee, with the present-day Greeneville Reds.
The third iteration of the Appalachian league, which started in 1937, was shifted to D-level minor league, the lowest level in the pre-1963 MLB. It consisted of four teams: the Elizabethton Betsy Red Sox, the third iteration of the Johnson City Soldiers, the Newport Canners, and the Pennington Gap Lee Bears.
|East||Bluefield Blue Jays||Toronto Blue Jays||Bluefield, West Virginia and
|Bowen Field at Peters Park||3,000|
|Burlington Royals||Kansas City Royals||Burlington, North Carolina||Burlington Athletic Stadium||3,500|
|Danville Braves||Atlanta Braves||Danville, Virginia||American Legion Field||2,588|
|Princeton Rays||Tampa Bay Rays||Princeton, West Virginia||H. P. Hunnicutt Field||3,000|
|Pulaski Yankees||New York Yankees||Pulaski, Virginia||Calfee Park||2,500|
|West||Bristol Pirates||Pittsburgh Pirates||Bristol, Virginia and Bristol, Tennessee||Boyce Cox Field at DeVault Memorial Stadium||2,000|
|Elizabethton Twins||Minnesota Twins||Elizabethton, Tennessee||Joe O'Brien Field||2,000|
|Greeneville Reds||Cincinnati Reds||Tusculum, Tennessee||Pioneer Park||4,000|
|Johnson City Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||Johnson City, Tennessee||TVA Credit Union Ballpark||3,800|
|Kingsport Mets||New York Mets||Kingsport, Tennessee||Hunter Wright Stadium||2,000|
League champions have been determined by different means since the Appalachian League's formation in 1911. Before 1984, the champions were usually the league pennant winners. With only a few early exceptions, champions since 1984 have been the winner of postseason playoffs.
Below are the full rosters and coaching staff of the ten Appalachian League teams.Bluefield Blue Jays
The Bluefield Blue Jays are a minor league baseball team of the Rookie Appalachian League representing the twin cities of Bluefield, West Virginia, and Bluefield, Virginia, affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays. The team plays their home games at Bowen Field at Peters Park, a historic stadium (opened in 1939) in Bluefield's city park. The park, which straddles the West Virginia–Virginia state line, is operated by the West Virginia city; however, Bowen Field lies entirely within Virginia.Bristol Pirates
The Bristol Pirates are a Minor League Baseball team in Bristol, Virginia, USA. They are a Rookie-level team in the Appalachian League. As of October 16, 2013, they are owned by the Pittsburgh Pirates.The team plays home games at DeVault Memorial Stadium. Opened in 1969, Devault Memorial Stadium seats 2,000 fans. The team was previously affiliated with the Detroit Tigers, and a previous manager was retired Tigers manager Jim Leyland. They were a farm team of the Chicago White Sox from 1995 to 2013 as the Bristol White Sox.
The team is operated by a non-profit organization, Bristol Baseball, Incorporated (BBI). BBI has no full-time paid staff, instead relying on a volunteer board and general manager to keep and promote professional baseball in Bristol.Burlington Athletic Stadium
Burlington Athletic Stadium (former Godfrey Schmieder Field) is a vintage baseball stadium in the central North Carolina Piedmont city of Burlington. It seats 3500 and serves as home field for the minor league Burlington Royals of the rookie Appalachian League. Originally built in Danville, Virginia, it was purchased in 1959 for $5,000 after the Danville Leafs team folded. After being dismantled in Danville, hauled to its present location and reconstructed, it was ready for baseball again in 1960.The ballpark was known historically as Fairchild Stadium after the adjacent Fairchild Park city recreation area and nearby World War II Fairchild Aircraft manufacturing plant. It played host to many games in the legendary original Carolina League, and appears momentarily in Ron Shelton's 1988 film homage to the minors, "Bull Durham." Current Major League Baseball stars who played for the Burlington Indians include CC Sabathia, the New York Yankees (and, formerly the Cleveland Indians) pitcher who won the 2007 Cy Young Award, Bartolo Colón, the Los Angeles Angels pitcher who won the 2005 Cy Young Award, and Manny Ramírez, Most Valuable Player in the Boston Red Sox 2004 World Series championship. Historic greats who once made Fairchild Stadium their home field include another Red Sox legend, Luis Tiant, and longtime New York Yankees pitcher and coach Mel Stottlemyre. Also, Cleveland Indians player Jim Thome played for the Burlington Indians.
The park was also the site of the eight-hour and 15-minute, 27-inning marathon between the Burlington Indians and Bluefield Orioles on June 24–25, 1988. The WBBB-AM radio play-by-play call of that game by Indians' announcer Richard Musterer stands as the longest continuous single-game solo broadcast in baseball history.Burlington Royals
The Burlington Royals are a minor league baseball team in Burlington, North Carolina, United States. They are a Rookie-level team in the Appalachian League and have been a farm team of the Kansas City Royals since September 1, 2006. For the previous 21 years, the team had been affiliated with the Cleveland Indians as the Burlington Indians. The Royals play home games at Burlington Athletic Stadium. Opened in 1960, Burlington Athletic Stadium seats 3,500 fans.Staff:
Pitching Coach: Carlos Martinez.
Hitting Coach: Jesus Azuaje.
Strength and Conditioning Coach: Jon Ervin.
Athletic Trainer: Saburo Hagihara.
Bench Coach: Kevin Kuntz.
Major League Baseball alumni of note are featured on the wall inside the men's restroom at the Burlington Athletic Stadium in the form of painted jerseys: Manny Ramirez (#22), Jim Thome (#25), Bartolo Colón (#40) and CC Sabathia (#52).Danville Braves
The Danville Braves are a minor league baseball team in Danville, Virginia. They are an Advanced Rookie-level team in the Appalachian League and have been a farm team of the Atlanta Braves since 1982. Since 1993, the Braves have played home games at American Legion Post 325 Field. Opened in 1993, Legion Field seats 2,588 fans. Previously, they played at Calfee Park in Pulaski.
On September 3, 2006, Danville won their first ever Appalachian League championship, defeating the Elizabethton Twins 2 games to 1, in a best of three series. On September 3, 2009, Danville won their second Appalachian League championship, again defeating the Elizabethton Twins, this time two games to zero.
The Danville Braves mascot is a large, green bird named Blooper.Elizabethton Twins
The Elizabethton Twins are a minor league baseball team of the Appalachian League and a rookie-level farm club of the Minnesota Twins. They are located in Elizabethton, Tennessee, and are named for their major league affiliate. The team plays its home games at Joe O'Brien Field which opened in 1974 and seats 2,000 fans. The Twins have won the Appalachian League Championship on 12 occasions (1978, 1984, 1989, 1990, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2017, and 2018).Greeneville Astros
The Greeneville Astros were a Minor League Baseball team of the Rookie League Appalachian League. They were located in Tusculum, Tennessee, and played their home games at Pioneer Park on the campus of Tusculum College. They were an affiliate of the Houston Astros from 2004 to 2017 when the Astros decided to eliminate their Greeneville team and reduce their farm system from nine teams to eight. The Greeneville Astros were replaced by the Cincinnati Reds affiliated Greeneville Reds who assumed the Greeneville Astros spot in the Appalachian League; the Greeneville Reds are not a continuation of the Greeneville Astros and are instead a separate franchise.
The Astros led the Appalachian League in average attendance at Pioneer Park from 2004 to 2014.In 2007, the first former Greeneville Astros made it to the major leagues. Four players from the 2004 Greenville team were called up to Houston late in the 2007 season: Juan Gutiérrez, Felipe Paulino, Troy Patton, and J. R. Towles.Greeneville Reds
The Greeneville Reds are a Minor League Baseball team of the Rookie-level Appalachian League. They are located in Tusculum, Tennessee, a city adjacent to Greeneville, and play their home games at Pioneer Park on the campus of Tusculum University. They are an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. The Greeneville Reds replaced the Greeneville Astros (2004–2017) as the city's entry in the league; the Greeneville Reds are not a continuation of the Greeneville Astros and are instead a separate franchise. Paul Kleinhans-Schulz was the first GM of the Greeneville Reds and will always be known for bringing baseball back to Greeneville. 
The Reds played their inaugural game against the Bristol Pirates on June 19, 2018, at Pioneer Park.Johnson City Cardinals
The Johnson City Cardinals are a Minor League Baseball team based in Johnson City, Tennessee. The Cardinals are affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals organization and play with the Rookie Appalachian League. The team has won nine league championships, most recently in 2016. They play their home games at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.Kingsport Mets
The Kingsport Mets are a Minor League Baseball team of the Appalachian League and the Rookie affiliate of the New York Mets. They are located in Kingsport, Tennessee, and are named for the team's major league affiliate. The team plays its home games at Hunter Wright Stadium which opened in 1995 and has a seating capacity of 2,500. The Mets previously played at Dobyns-Bennett High School. In 1983, while Dobyns-Bennett's field was being renovated, the team temporarily moved to Sarasota, Florida, and played in the Gulf Coast League as the Gulf Coast League Mets.Marion Mets
The Marion Mets were a minor league baseball team based in Marion, Virginia that played in the Appalachian League from 1965 to 1976. They were affiliated with the New York Mets and played their home games at the Marion High School baseball field. Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan pitched for the team in 1965.Martinsville Phillies
The Martinsville Phillies were a short season minor league baseball team located in Martinsville, Virginia. Affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies, they existed from 1988 to 1998, playing in the Appalachian League. They played their home games at Hooker Field. Martinsville was also home to the Martinsville Astros (1999-2003), Martinsville A's (1945-1949) and the Martinsville Manufacturers (1934-1941).Minor League Baseball rosters
As with nearly all North American professional team sports, the size of Minor League Baseball teams is limited by rosters. These size limits vary by each classification. All MLB-affiliated Triple-A and Double-A teams are limited to 25-man active rosters. Unaffiliated Mexican League teams have 35-man rosters, but are limited to 30 active players per game. Class A-Advanced and Class A teams are limited to 25 active players with a total of 35 players under control with additional limitations in regard to prior minor league experience. Teams at lower levels have 35-man active rosters with limitations on minor league service time. A team's reserve roster consists of injured players on the disabled list, those who are restricted or suspended, or who are otherwise temporarily inactive. Major league players on rehabilitation assignments do not count against active roster limits.Pioneer League (baseball)
The Pioneer League is a Minor League Baseball league which currently operates in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States. In the past, it also operated in adjoining portions of Canada. It is classified as a Rookie League and is staffed with mostly first and second-year players. The Pioneer League is a short-season league operating from June to early September.
Along with the Appalachian League, it forms the second-lowest rung on the minor league ladder, the "Rookie Advanced" level. While classified as a Rookie league, the level of play is slightly higher than that of the two spring training complex-based Rookie leagues, the Gulf Coast League and Arizona League. Unlike those leagues, Rookie Advanced leagues charge admission and sell concessions.Princeton Rays
The Princeton Rays are a Minor League Baseball team in Princeton, West Virginia, United States. They are an Advanced Rookie-level team in the Appalachian League and have been an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays since September 27, 1996. The Princeton franchise began play in the Appalachian League in 1988 and was previously affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1988–89), was a co-op team known as the Princeton Patriots (1990), and then was affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds (1991–96) before joining forces with Tampa Bay.
The Princeton Rays play their home games at H.P. Hunnicutt Field, which originally opened in 1988 (and was completely rebuilt in 2000 on the same site) and seats 1,950 fans. The team plays an annual 68-game schedule that traditionally extends from mid-June through the end of August. Through the completion of the 2012 season, the franchise has seen 57 former players move on to play regular season major league baseball that at one time wore the Princeton uniform. This list of players includes big names such as Brandon Backe, Rocco Baldelli, Carl Crawford, Jonny Gomes, Josh Hamilton, Seth McClung, Pokey Reese, Matt Moore, Wade Davis, Desmond Jennings, Jeremy Hellickson, Jason Hammel, and Jared Sandberg. NFL quarterback Doug Johnson (1997 P-Rays) and current NBA referee David Guthrie (1995 Princeton Reds) also played professional baseball for Princeton teams. The team is operated on a not-for-profit basis.
Previously known as the Princeton Devil Rays, the P-Rays announced on December 2, 2008 that they would update their name, logo, colors, and uniforms as their parent club had done the previous year.Pulaski Yankees
The Pulaski Yankees are a minor league baseball team based in Pulaski, Virginia, United States. They are an Advanced Rookie League team in the Appalachian League, and became a farm team of the New York Yankees in 2015. The team plays its home games at Calfee Park. They have previously been affiliated with several other major league baseball teams, and lost their Seattle Mariners affiliation after the 2014 season.Richmond Braves
The Richmond Braves were an American minor league baseball club based in Richmond, Virginia, the Triple-A International League affiliate of the Atlanta Braves from 1966 to 2008. Owned by the parent Atlanta club and colloquially referred to as the R-Braves, they played their home games at a stadium called The Diamond on Richmond's Northside built for them in 1985, and before then Parker Field on the same site. The franchise moved to Gwinnett County, Georgia in 2009 to play in the newly built Coolray Field as the Gwinnett Braves.
The R-Braves came to Richmond in 1966; the Milwaukee Braves' move to Atlanta that year displaced their Triple-A club, the Atlanta Crackers, and Richmond's Parker Field had been left open by the previous year's move of the Richmond Virginians, a New York Yankees affiliate that moved in 1965. At the time of the R-Braves' departure to Gwinnett, only the Baltimore Orioles and their Appalachian League affiliate, the Bluefield Orioles, had held a longer affiliation agreement in a single city than Atlanta/Richmond's 43 seasons. The Braves played their final game on September 1, 2008, against their long-time intrastate rivals, the Norfolk Tides. Richmond won, 9–3, in front of a sellout crowd of 12,167. After the game players and alumni threw balls and other keepsakes to fans in the stands, and fans were able to walk onto the field.
In 2010, the Double-A Eastern League's Connecticut Defenders, a San Francisco Giants affiliate (but independently owned), moved to Richmond to play as the Richmond Flying Squirrels.Sports teams in Virginia
Sports teams in Virginia include several professional teams, but no professional major-league teams. Virginia is by far the most populous U.S. state without a major professional sports league franchise playing within its borders, although two of the major-league teams representing Washington, D.C.—the NFL's Washington Redskins and NHL's Washington Capitals—have their practice facilities and operational headquarters in Northern Virginia.