The California League is a Minor League Baseball league which operates throughout California. it is classified at the Class A-Advanced, three steps below Major League Baseball. Most players reach this level in their third or fourth year of professional play.
All of the current teams are playing in stadiums that have been built or extensively renovated since 1990. They also are affiliated with MLB teams located west of the Rockies. League attendance continues to increase each season, with over one million fans attending games per year, part of a general nationwide growth and expansion to smaller towns, cities, and regions below those in the National League or American League with Minor League Baseball at various levels of play in growing popularity in the last few decades. The league is divided into a Northern Division and a Southern Division.
California League logo
|No. of teams||8|
|Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (2018)|
|Most titles||San Jose Giants (11)|
Stockton Ports (11)
There were various attempts in the late 1800s and early 1900s to form a "California League" on the West Coast, considering the distance of the two current major leagues which generally had teams only in the Northeast and were restricted at first until World War I by long distance train travel. The first organized California League lasted from 1887–1889, then another followed in 1891, and 1893, and finally in 1899–1902. After the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, an organization of minor leagues was formed in 1902, (following the "truce" and agreements between the older National League of 1876 and the newly "upstart" American League of 1901), the California League operated outside the NAPBL system as an independent league in 1902 and again from 1907–1909. This led to huge differences in the quality of teams competing with each other. In 1907, the San Francisco team was 3-34, while later in 1908 San Francisco was 9-67 and Oakland was 4-71. Oakland and San Francisco competed in every year of these various state leagues, with San Francisco having two teams during 1887-88.
The current California League was founded in 1941, and included teams in Anaheim, Bakersfield, Fresno, Merced, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, and Stockton. The following year, as a result of World War II, the league dropped to four teams, then ceased and suspended operations altogether, although major league baseball and some minor leagues continued as much as possible with limited availability of players during the war years. It reorganized and came back in 1946, adding teams in Visalia, San Jose, and Ventura by 1947. Further east, Reno, Nevada joined the league in 1955 with the movement of the old Channel Cities Oilers in Santa Barbara and continued as a member for 37 years.
Though nicknames and affiliations shifted, the California League's postwar configuration was largely stable by the late 1950s; four of the six cities in the league in 1960 would still be part of the league 50 years later. The league reached eight clubs in 1966 and would hold that for ten years, briefly dipped to six before wavering between eight and nine clubs in the early eighties, then reached ten in 1986 and held that configuration for thirty-one seasons. From 1996 to 2016, the league had a remarkably stable alignment for Class A baseball, with no teams moving or folding for twenty-one years. After the 2016 season, the Bakersfield Blaze, long dogged by inadequate facilities and unable to negotiate significant repairs, and the High Desert Mavericks, suffering from falling attendance and a lease dispute with the city of Adelanto, were folded; the High-A level replaced them by expanding the Carolina League to ten teams.
|North||Modesto Nuts||Seattle Mariners||Modesto, California||John Thurman Field||4,000|
|San Jose Giants||San Francisco Giants||San Jose, California||Excite Ballpark||4,200|
|Stockton Ports||Oakland Athletics||Stockton, California||Banner Island Ballpark||5,300|
|Visalia Rawhide||Arizona Diamondbacks||Visalia, California||Recreation Park||2,468|
|South||Inland Empire 66ers||Los Angeles Angels||San Bernardino, California||San Manuel Stadium||5,000|
|Lake Elsinore Storm||San Diego Padres||Lake Elsinore, California||Lake Elsinore Diamond||7,866|
|Lancaster JetHawks||Colorado Rockies||Lancaster, California||The Hangar||6,860|
|Rancho Cucamonga Quakes||Los Angeles Dodgers||Rancho Cucamonga, California||LoanMart Field||6,200|
Year by Year list of league champions:
The Los Angeles area, Riverside, San Bernardino, Palm Springs, Yuma (AZ) and Las Vegas (NV) were also major league spring training site cities, as well possessed California League teams on different occasions.
Modesto has hosted a California League team longer than any other city, hosting a team in all but two of the CL's 65 seasons.
Current team Former team
The California League Most Valuable Player Award was established in 1941.
The Bakersfield Blaze was a minor league baseball team in Bakersfield, California, that played in the Class A – Advanced California League. They played their home games at Sam Lynn Ballpark. Opened in 1941, the stadium is well known for facing the setting sun and its shallow 354-foot center field fence, and seats 3,500 fans.
Near the end of the 2008 season, it was rumored that the Blaze would move to the Carolina League after the following season. However, Minor League Baseball president Pat O'Conner announced in February 2009 that they would remain in the California League.The Blaze were sold to local Bakersfield businessmen Gene Voiland and Chad Hathaway just prior to the 2012 season. The new ownership renovated Sam Lynn Ballpark in time for Opening Day and announced in November 2012 that a new ballpark would be ready for the 2014 season. However, financing plans for a new stadium failed to meet the $30 million target and team ownership was reclaimed by former owner D. G. Elmore. As a result, the California League began looking for a new home for the team. However, in August 2016, the California League announced that the Blaze would not be returning for the 2017 season. The team played its final game on September 12, 2016.The Buies Creek Astros replaced the Blaze at the Advanced-A level, however the Buies Creek Astros are not the continuation of the Blaze.California League rosters
Below are the full rosters and coaching staff of the 10 teams of Minor League Baseball's California League.Excite Ballpark
Excite Ballpark, previously known as San Jose Municipal Stadium or Muni Stadium, is a baseball park in San Jose, California. It is the home of the Minor League Baseball San Jose Giants, the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. The team plays in the Northern Division of the California League. The stadium is also home to the San Jose State University Spartans college baseball team. Local high school baseball divisions also use the ballpark as their championship field. The stadium also hosts concerts, weddings, car shows, and many other community events. It has been the home field for the San Jose Owls, San Jose Red Sox, San Jose Jo Sox, San Jose Pirates, San Jose Missions, San Jose Bees, and the San Jose Expos minor league teams.
The facility is located one block from Spartan Stadium, home to the San Jose State Spartans football team. The area across Alma Avenue from Excite is home to the San Jose State practice fields for soccer, baseball, and softball. Additionally part of the stadium's parking lot was converted into an indoor ice area, Solar4America Ice, which is the practice venue for the San Jose Sharks National Hockey League hockey team.Fresno Giants
The Fresno Giants were a minor league baseball team that played in the California League from 1941–1988. The team was based in Fresno, California.High Desert Mavericks
The High Desert Mavericks were an American Minor League Baseball team in Adelanto, California, that played their home games at Heritage Field at Stater Bros. Stadium. They played in the Class A-Advanced California League. The franchise had eight different major league affiliations over its 29 seasons.Inland Empire 66ers
The Inland Empire 66ers are a minor league baseball team in San Bernardino, California. They are the Class A Advanced affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels and play in the California League. The 66ers play home games at San Manuel Stadium.KESP
KESP (970 AM) is an all-sports radio station in Modesto, California, United States. The station serves Modesto, Stockton, Lodi, and surrounding communities of the northern San Joaquin Valley. It is currently owned by Cumulus Media. Its studios are in Stockton, and its transmitter is located in Modesto.
KESP is the flagship station of the Modesto Nuts of the California League (baseball), and the flagship station of Pacific Tigers college basketball team. It is also a member of the Oakland Athletics, San Francisco 49ers, San Jose Sharks, Golden State Warriors, and California Golden Bears radio networks. Most of its daily programming, as the call letters imply, comes from ESPN Radio, until January 2, 2013, when KESP switched to CBS Sports Radio.
KESP gained its current call sign, and format, in the early 2000s. Other call signs used since it came on the air in 1951 were: KBOX (1951–1956), KBEE (1956–1983), KHYV (1983–1988), KOOK (1988–1992(?)/1996(?)), KBUL (1996–1998), and KANM (1998–2000).The station was owned by the McClatchy family, which also owned McClatchy Newspapers, publisher of the Modesto Bee. (The McClatchy Company has since sold the station to Citadel Broadcasting, which merged with Cumulus Media on September 16, 2011.)
In a sports-related note, Kevin McClatchy, a member of the publishing family, owned the Pittsburgh Pirates until the team was sold to Robert Nutting in 2007.Lake Elsinore Diamond
Lake Elsinore Diamond, commonly referred to as Storm Stadium, is a baseball park in Lake Elsinore, California. It is primarily used for baseball and is the home field of the Lake Elsinore Storm minor league baseball team, a part of the California League. The field at the Lake Elsinore Diamond is named the Pete Lehr Field.Lake Elsinore Storm
The Lake Elsinore Storm is a minor league baseball team in Lake Elsinore, California, United States. It is a Class A – Advanced team in the California League, and is a farm team of the San Diego Padres. The Storm plays its home games at Lake Elsinore Diamond (Pete Lehr Field), which opened in 1994; the park seats 7,866 fans.
This team relocated three times and has been traced back to the Redwood Pioneers, then the Palm Springs Angels, and finally the Lake Elsinore Storm. As the Palm Springs Angels and later as the Storm, it had previously been the "high-A" affiliate of the Angels until the end of the 2000 season (along with their former mascot, Hamlet), when it and the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes switched affiliations. Some former members of the Storm later became members of the Angels 2002 World Series championship team.
On May 18, 2007, the Storm set a league record for most lopsided victory, beating the Lancaster JetHawks by a 30–0 score.Since the 2004 opening of Petco Park, the new home field of the Padres, the Storm has played one home game there toward the end of each season, as the second half of a doubleheader following a Padres daytime home game. Usually, its opponent has been the California League farm team of the Padres' same-day opponents.
In 2011, Nate Freiman played for the Storm setting single-season club records with 22 home runs and 111 RBIs.Lancaster JetHawks
The Lancaster JetHawks are a minor league baseball team of the California League located in Lancaster, California. The team is named for the city's association with the aerospace industry and plays its home games at The Hangar. The Lancaster JetHawks are the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. The JetHawks are the only California League team in Los Angeles County.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 Major League Baseball-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 players on the injured 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.Modesto Nuts
The Modesto Nuts are a minor league baseball team in Modesto, California, United States. They are a Class A – Advanced team in the California League and a farm team of the Seattle Mariners. The Modesto Nuts play home games at John Thurman Field. Opened in 1955 and renovated in 1997, the park seats over 5,000 fans (including standing room only). In March 2007, the City of Modesto installed a new video scoreboard and made improvements to the infield playing surface.
The Nuts adopted their current name in 2005, after the team's affiliation with the Oakland Athletics ended. Before then, the team was known as the Modesto Athletics (or A's). The new name was chosen to reflect the several types of nuts that are grown in the region.Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes are a minor league baseball team in Rancho Cucamonga, California, USA. They are a Class A – Advanced team in the California League and a farm team of the Los Angeles Dodgers, their third major league affiliate as the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. The franchise was founded in Lodi, California in 1966, with its home field as the Tony Zupo Field. The team then went through several new names and ownership changes. After changing their name from the Spirit to the Quakes in 1993 and moving to Rancho Cucamonga, the team plays its home games at LoanMart Field, where the team has broken a number of seasonal attendance records for their league. In the 2015 season, the Quakes won their second Cal League Championship in franchise history, sweeping the San Jose Giants for their first crown since 1994. In 2018 they swept Visalia Rawhide to win their third league championshipReno Silver Sox
The Reno Silver Sox were a minor league baseball team that existed on and off from 1947 to 1992. The team name is derived from the nickname of Nevada, the "Silver State". There was another baseball team known as the Reno Silver Sox who played in the Golden Baseball League. From part of the 1955 season to 1992, they played their home games at Moana Stadium. The 1961 Silver Sox were recognized as one of the 100 greatest minor league teams of all time.Sacramento Solons
The Sacramento Solons were a minor league baseball team based in Sacramento, California. They played in the Pacific Coast League during several periods (1903, 1905, 1909–1914, 1918–1960, 1974–1976). The current Sacramento River Cats began play in 2000.San Francisco baseball team (California League)
A number of different minor league baseball teams have played in San Francisco, California from 1878 through the arrival of the Major League San Francisco Giants in 1958. The most notable team was the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League but prior to their formation in 1903 a number of teams operated primarily in the California League and its various predecessors and offshoots, including multiple teams in the same league at various times.San Jose Giants
The San Jose Giants are a minor league baseball team in San Jose, California. They are a Class A - Advanced team in the Northern Division of the California League, and have been a farm team of the San Francisco Giants since 1988 and have played continuously since 1962 under several different names/affiliations. Home games are played at Excite Ballpark.Stockton Ports
The Stockton Ports are a Minor League Baseball team of the California League and the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. They are located in Stockton, California, and are named for the city's seaport. The team plays its home games at Banner Island Ballpark which opened in 2005 and seats over 5,000 people.
The Ports were established in 1941 and have won the California League championship eleven times. They are tied with the San Jose Giants in having the most titles among the league's active franchises.Visalia Rawhide
The Visalia Rawhide are a Class A - Advanced minor league baseball team in Visalia, California affiliated with the major league Arizona Diamondbacks. The Rawhide play in the California League.
The Rawhide have played their home games at Recreation Park since their inception in 1946. The stadium seats approximately 2,700 fans. In 2009, the City of Visalia completed a multimillion-dollar renovation and expansion of Recreation Ballpark supported by a 10-year lease with the ball club, the longest lease in franchise history.
After two years of fan surveys, polls, focus groups, and direction by players, the team chose the name Visalia Rawhide, representing one of the richest agricultural regions in the world and the top dairy-producing area in the country. The name was adopted beginning with the 2009 season. For the previous fourteen seasons the team had been known as the Oaks.