The Midwest League is a Minor League Baseball league, established in 1954 and based in the Midwestern United States. It is a Class A league that plays a full season; its players are typically players in their second or third year of professional play.
The Midwest League began as the Illinois State League (1947–1948), then became the Mississippi–Ohio Valley League (1949–1955). In 1956, the Mississippi–Ohio Valley League was renamed the Midwest League. Today, the league has 16 teams in two divisions. The Lansing Lugnuts and Wisconsin Timber Rattlers franchises jointly have won the most league championships, with nine each.
Midwest League logo
|President||Richard A. Nussbaum II|
|No. of teams||16|
|Bowling Green Hot Rods (2018)|
|Most titles||Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Lansing Lugnuts (9)|
|TV partner(s)||Fox Sports Midwest|
The Midwest League directly evolved from two earlier leagues in the region. In 1947, the Class D Illinois State League (ISL) began operation with six Illinois teams – the Belleville Stags, Centralia Cubs, Marion Indians, Mattoon Indians, Mount Vernon Braves and the West Frankfort Cardinals. In 1949, the ISL changed its name to the Mississippi–Ohio Valley League after Marion moved their franchise to Kentucky and became the Paducah Chiefs. In 1954, the Mississippi-Ohio Valley League expanded, adding teams in Clinton and Dubuque, Iowa. The Mississippi-Ohio Valley League was then renamed Midwest League in 1956.
The original teams in 1956, the first year of Midwest League play, were: Clinton Pirates, Decatur Commodores, Dubuque Packers, Kokomo Dodgers, Lafayette Red Sox, Mattoon Phillies, Michigan City White Caps and the Paris Lakers. Mattoon is the oldest franchise in the MWL, evolving into today's Fort Wayne TinCaps, while Clinton is the oldest MWL locale.
In 1960, the Davenport, Iowa based Quad City Braves joined the league as an expansion team. In 1962, Appleton, Burlington, and Cedar Rapids joined the Midwest League from the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League which folded operations when those franchises switched leagues. All those franchised remain in the league today. In 1963, the Midwest League was designated as a Class A league, after the minor league classification structure was reorganized.
In 1976, the Midwest League contracted from ten teams to eight, as franchises in Danville and Dubuque were eliminated. In 1982, the league expanded from 8 to 12 teams, adding the Beloit Brewers, the Danville Suns, the Madison Muskies, and the Springfield Cardinals. The Peoria Suns relocated from Danville in 1983, and acquired their current name, Peoria Chiefs, the following year. In 1988, the league began splitting its season into two halves and expanded from 12 to 14 teams, with the addition of franchises in South Bend, Indiana, and Rockford, Illinois. During the 1990s several teams changed cities as Major League Baseball placed higher standards on minor league baseball facilities; franchises in smaller cities were sold to new owners who moved those teams to new ballparks in larger cities. Kenosha, Madison, Rockford, Springfield, Waterloo, and Wausau lost teams during this decade while Battle Creek, Dayton, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids (West Michigan), Kane County, and Lansing gained teams.
The 1978 Appleton Foxes are ranked #93 on the Top-100 All Time teams by MiLB.com. Led by future Cy Young Award winner LaMarr Hoyt, the team finished 97-40. Harry Chappas, Ross Baumgarten and Britt Burns were all called up to the parent Chicago White Sox at the conclusin of the MWL season. The 97 wins by the Foxes remains a Midwest League record.
The Fort Wayne TinCaps are the oldest franchise in the league, having begun as the Mattoon Indians in 1947 and playing in Keokuk, Iowa; Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin; and Kenosha, Wisconsin, before moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1993. The Clinton LumberKings have been in one city longer than any Midwest League team, having called Clinton, Iowa, home since 1954.
On September 2, 2008, Minor League Baseball announced that two teams would transfer from the fellow Class A South Atlantic League to the Midwest League: the Lake County Captains (an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians playing in Eastlake, Ohio) and the Bowling Green Hot Rods (an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays playing in Bowling Green, Kentucky).
|Eastern||Bowling Green Hot Rods||Tampa Bay Rays||Bowling Green, Kentucky||Bowling Green Ballpark||4,559|
|Dayton Dragons||Cincinnati Reds||Dayton, Ohio||Fifth Third Field||7,230|
|Fort Wayne TinCaps||San Diego Padres||Fort Wayne, Indiana||Parkview Field||8,100|
|Great Lakes Loons||Los Angeles Dodgers||Midland, Michigan||Dow Diamond||5,200|
|Lake County Captains||Cleveland Indians||Eastlake, Ohio||Classic Park||7,273|
|Lansing Lugnuts||Toronto Blue Jays||Lansing, Michigan||Cooley Law School Stadium||11,000|
|South Bend Cubs||Chicago Cubs||South Bend, Indiana||Four Winds Field at Coveleski Stadium||5,000|
|West Michigan Whitecaps||Detroit Tigers||Comstock Park, Michigan||Fifth Third Ballpark||9,281|
|Western||Beloit Snappers||Oakland Athletics||Beloit, Wisconsin||Harry C. Pohlman Field||3,501|
|Burlington Bees||Los Angeles Angels||Burlington, Iowa||Community Field||3,200|
|Cedar Rapids Kernels||Minnesota Twins||Cedar Rapids, Iowa||Veterans Memorial Stadium||5,300|
|Clinton LumberKings||Miami Marlins||Clinton, Iowa||Ashford University Field||5,000|
|Kane County Cougars||Arizona Diamondbacks||Geneva, Illinois||Northwestern Medicine Field||10,923|
|Peoria Chiefs||St. Louis Cardinals||Peoria, Illinois||Dozer Park||7,377|
|Quad Cities River Bandits||Houston Astros||Davenport, Iowa||Modern Woodmen Park||7,140|
|Wisconsin Timber Rattlers||Milwaukee Brewers||Appleton, Wisconsin||Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium||5,900|
The Beloit Snappers are a Minor League Baseball team of the Midwest League and the Class A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, They are located in Beloit, Wisconsin, and play their home games at Harry C. Pohlman Field, which was built in 1982.
Beloit joined the Midwest League as an expansion franchise in 1982. The club was a Milwaukee Brewers farm team from its inception through 2004. Beloit switched to the Minnesota Twins' farm system for the 2005 season. The organization adopted the Snappers nickname in 1995 after using its parent team's nickname for its first 13 seasons. The name derives from the snapping turtle, because Beloit was formerly known as Turtle Village, and there is still a Turtle Creek and a town of Turtle. All of these are named for a turtle-shaped Indian mound on the campus of Beloit College.
After the Milwaukee Brewers withdrew their affiliation with Beloit due to the lack of a new stadium, efforts were started to build one similar to facilities used by the Rockford RiverHawks or the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. One possible scenario involved construction on a site near Janesville, which could have included renaming the team to reflect a broader Rock County audience. However, no new stadium was built and improvements, including redoing the entire field and repairing the concrete concourse, have been made to the existing site in recent years. After the 2012 season, the city of Beloit appropriated $100,000 in order to completely redo the outfield. The outfield was raised and leveled with the infield and a new sprinkler system was installed.The team is in the process of being sold to a new group of investors who plan to build a new ballpark in downtown Beloit.The 2003 team included two sons of former major league players. Prince Fielder, the son of former American League home run champion Cecil Fielder and Tony Gwynn, Jr., son of Tony Gwynn. Future major leaguer Danny Valencia played for the 2007 team. Another noted major leaguer, Jim Morris of The Rookie fame played for the Beloit Brewers when he came out of college in the 1980s. Other former Snappers players who moved on to major league ball include Greg Vaughn, Geoff Jenkins, Jeff D'Amico, Ron Belliard, and Yovani Gallardo. Minnesota Twins players that have come through include Matt Garza and Kevin Slowey.Bowling Green Hot Rods
The Bowling Green Hot Rods are a Minor League Baseball team of the Midwest League and the Class A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. They are located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and play their home games at Bowling Green Ballpark which opened in 2009. The team is named for the city's connections to the automotive and racing industries such as the National Corvette Museum, Holley Carburetor, Beech Bend Raceway, and the Bowling Green Assembly Plant.Burlington Bees
The Burlington Bees are a Class A minor league baseball team, based in Burlington, Iowa, that is an affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. The franchise was founded in 1889. The Bees have played in the Midwest League since 1962. The team was first known as the "Bees" from 1924 to 1932 and again from 1954 to 1981. The Bees nickname was revived for the 1993 season and remains to this day. Their home since 1947 has been Community Field in Burlington, Iowa. Baseball Hall of Fame members Billy Williams and Paul Molitor played for Burlington.Cedar Rapids Kernels
The Cedar Rapids Kernels are a Class A minor league baseball team based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The team is affiliated with the Minnesota Twins and plays in the Midwest League. The Kernels are owned by Cedar Rapids Ball Club, Inc. (also known as Cedar Rapids Baseball Club, Inc.).Clinton LumberKings
The Clinton LumberKings are a Minor League Baseball team of the Midwest League and the Class A affiliate of the Miami Marlins. They are located in Clinton, Iowa, and play their home games at Ashford University Field.Dayton Dragons
The Dayton Dragons are a Class A minor league baseball team playing in the Midwest League based in Dayton, Ohio. The Dragons are affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds. Their home stadium is Fifth Third Field. In 2011, they broke the record for most consecutive sellouts by a professional sports team, selling out their 815th consecutive game, breaking the record formerly held by the Portland Trail Blazers.The Dragons came to Dayton in 2000. They were previously a franchise based in Rockford, Illinois, and were called the Rockford Expos (1988–1992), Rockford Royals (1993–1994), Rockford Cubbies (1995–1998), and Rockford Reds (1999).Fort Wayne TinCaps
The Fort Wayne TinCaps are a Class A Minor League Baseball team based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, who are affiliated with the San Diego Padres, and play in the Midwest League. They won the franchise's fourth Midwest League Championship, and first in Fort Wayne, in 2009.Great Lakes Loons
The Great Lakes Loons are a Minor League Baseball of the Midwest League and the Class A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. They are located in Midland, Michigan, and play their home games at Dow Diamond, which opened in April 2007.Kane County Cougars
The Kane County Cougars are a Class A Minor League Baseball team, affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks, that plays in the Midwest League. Their home games are played at Northwestern Medicine Field in Geneva, Illinois, about 35 miles (56 km) west of Chicago.Kokomo Dodgers
The Kokomo Dodgers were a minor league baseball team based in Kokomo, Indiana that was a charter member of the Midwest League. They were affiliated with the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers and the franchise operated from 1955 through 1961. Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Orlando Cepeda played for Kokomo.
In 1955, Kokomo replaced the Danville Dans in the Mississippi-Ohio Valley League, playing as the Kokomo Giants, an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. The next season, Kokomo became an initial member of newly formed Midwest League, which grew out of the Mississippi-Ohio Valley League. The other Midwest League charter franchises were: Clinton Pirates, Dubuque Packers, Decatur Commodores, Michigan City White Caps, Paris Lakers, Lafayette Red Sox and Mattoon Phillies. Former Dodger Pete Reiser was the team's manager during the 1956 and 1957 seasons. The team won the Midwest League pennant in 1957, but lost in the playoffs.Lake County Captains
The Lake County Captains are a minor league baseball team in Eastlake, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. The team, a Class A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, plays in the Midwest League.
The Captains joined the Midwest League following the 2009 season in a shuffle caused by the Columbus Catfish's move to Bowling Green, Kentucky for the 2009 season. The move alleviated travel costs and time, as it was the South Atlantic League's northernmost team.
The nearest team (the West Virginia Power in Charleston) is a 256-mile drive from Eastlake.
Prior to the 2003 season, the club was based in Columbus, Georgia and known as the Columbus RedStixx. The Captains play their home games in Classic Park, which has a capacity of 6,157 and opened in 2003 as Eastlake Stadium. The current stadium name is the result of a naming rights arrangement; the sponsor is Classic Automotive Group, a major area chain of auto dealerships. Classic Park hosted the South Atlantic League All-Star Game on June 20, 2006.Lansing Lugnuts
The Lansing Lugnuts are a Class-A minor league baseball team, affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays, that plays in the Midwest League.
The Midwest League came to Lansing, Michigan after owners Tom Dickson and Sherrie Myers moved the team to work with the City for a public-private lease to build a new stadium. Mayor David Hollister, and the City Council worked to attract the owners and build the stadium for downtown economic development. The team began playing in downtown Lansing in 1996. The franchise began as the Lafayette Red Sox in Lafayette, Indiana, in 1955; after two seasons it became the Waterloo Hawks, moving to Waterloo, Iowa, where it stayed for 36 seasons. Before the 1994 season it moved to Springfield, Illinois, but only spent two seasons there before moving to Lansing. The franchise was an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals on two separate occasions in three different cities: as the Waterloo Royals from 1969 through 1976, as the Sultans of Springfield in 1995, and then, upon the team's move to Lansing, from 1996 through 1998. The Lugnuts were then an affiliate of the Chicago Cubs from 1999 through 2004 before joining the Jays' farm system for the 2005 season. In September 2014, the Jays extended their agreement with the Lugnuts through the 2016 season. In October 2016, their player development contract was extended through the 2018 season.The team plays at Cooley Law School Stadium (previously known as Oldsmobile Park and named after the now-defunct General Motors division that was based there), which opened in 1996. The new name comes from a naming rights deal with Thomas M. Cooley Law School, based in Lansing. Cooley Law School Stadium is also the home of Jackson Field, named after Jackson Life Insurance, based in Lansing. The stadium seats over 10,000 fans and is one of the most handicapped accessible stadiums in the country. The franchise national attendance record of 538,326 was set during its inaugural year. They won the Midwest League Championship in 1997 and 2003. The Lugnuts have their own original song which plays immediately after the national anthem for every home game accompanied by their mascot, Big Lug.Midwest League rosters
Below are the full rosters and coaching staff of the 16 teams of Minor League Baseball's Midwest League.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.Peoria Chiefs
The Peoria Chiefs are a Minor League Baseball team of the Midwest League and the Class A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. They are located in Peoria, Illinois, and are named for the Peoria Indian tribe for which the city was named. The team plays its home games at Dozer Park which opened in 2002. The Chiefs previously played at Vonachen Stadium near Bradley University from 1983 through 2001.
The team was established in 1983 as the Peoria Suns.Quad Cities River Bandits
The Quad Cities River Bandits are a Class A minor league baseball team, affiliated with the Houston Astros, that plays in the Midwest League. Its home games are played at Modern Woodmen Park (formerly John O'Donnell Stadium) in Davenport, Iowa, one of the Quad Cities.South Bend Cubs
The South Bend Cubs are a U.S. Class A minor league baseball team, based in South Bend, Indiana, that plays in the Midwest League. Known for more than two decades as the "'Silver Hawks"', they ended their 17-year affiliation with the Arizona Diamondbacks in September 2014, signed a 4-year player development agreement with the Chicago Cubs, and changed their name to the South Bend Cubs.West Michigan Whitecaps
The West Michigan Whitecaps are a Class A Minor League Baseball team, affiliated with the Detroit Tigers, that plays in the Midwest League. Their home games are played in Comstock Park, Michigan, a suburb of Grand Rapids.Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are a minor league baseball team of the Midwest League, and the Class A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. The team is located in Appleton, and are named for the timber rattlesnake, which oddly enough is not indigenous to the area. The team plays its home games at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium, which opened in 1995 and seats 5,170 fans (plus grass seating). The Timber Rattlers have won nine league championships, most recently in 2012. World Series-winning Managers Earl Weaver and Jack McKeon were Managers at Appleton. Baseball Hall of Fame members Pat Gillick, Earl Weaver, and Goose Gossage played for Appleton. Five future Cy Young Award winners and three Most Valuable Player recipients were on Appleton/Wisconsin rosters. The 1978 Appleton Foxes were recognized as one of the 100 greatest minor league teams of all time.