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Why did the American Association fold?

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  • Why did the American Association fold?

    No, not the major league from the 19th century -- the minor league from the 20th century.

    Does anyone know why the American Association was dissolved after the 1997 season? The Triple-A realignment occurred in concert with the 1998 expansion which added the D'backs and Rays (and moved the Brewers to the NL) and which also added two Triple-A expansion teams (Durham and Memphis). While that explains the timing, it doesn't really explain the reason.

    There had been three Triple-A minor leagues since 1969, when the American Association was revived (after it first folded in 1962 due to major league franchise shifts that took away its largest markets). As I understand it, the reason the AA was revived in 1969 was to reduce travel costs, since after 1962 the teams within the eastern International League and the western Pacific Coast League had to travel longer distances to play the former AA teams in the central US. What's confusing is that I've seen travel costs also listed as an explanation for the AA's dissolution in 1997. This doesn't make any sense, since the two surviving leagues both again had farther to travel, just like after 1962 (the PCL in particular, which picked up most of the AA teams after 1997 -- Nashville is pretty far from Vancouver).

    Other contributing factors may have been the desire of the Buffalo Bisons to move from the AA to the IL, where the nearby Rochester and Syracuse teams played, and the (re)institution of the Triple-A World Series, which would have been difficult to do with three leagues instead of two (though the project failed miserably and was suspended after three seasons). However, to me, neither of these reasons seem to justify the Triple-A realignment after 1997.

    As I see it, the most sensible course would have been to simply move Buffalo to the IL, Columbus and Toledo to the AA, and add Durham to the IL and Memphis to the AA. Then each of the three leagues would have had 10 teams, like so:

    International League
    North Division: Buffalo, Ottawa, Pawtucket, Rochester, Syracuse
    South Division: Charlotte, Durham, Norfolk, Richmond, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre

    American Association
    North Division: Columbus, Indianapolis, Iowa, Omaha, Toledo
    South Division: Louisville, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, Oklahoma

    Pacific Coast League
    North Division: Calgary, Edmonton, Salt Lake, Tacoma, Vancouver
    South Division: Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, Fresno, Las Vegas, Tucson

    So can anybody clue me in here?
    *** Submit your personal HOF as your ballot for the Single Ballot BBF Hall of Fame! *** Also: Buck the Fraves!

  • #2
    Doesn't explain things too much, but for what it's worth...


    https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=...ll/Q-fp26w_4vM

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    • #3
      Originally posted by dgarza View Post
      Doesn't explain things too much, but for what it's worth...


      https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=...ll/Q-fp26w_4vM
      Yeah, I did read that article. Like you say, it doesn't really tell you a whole lot beyond how much of a sacrifice the AA supposedly made by disbanding. There was this, though:

      The reward is an easy format for an All-Star Game and one of the biggest payoffs will be the Triple-A World Series, which will take place entirely in Las Vegas, at least for the first three years.

      When Las Vegas time comes, there is certain to be more attention, maybe even a nightly spot on SportsCenter. Now that's progress. ...
      In retrospect, I suppose we can see that this did not pay off as anticipated, which is why it seemed like a weak excuse. While it could be explained as just a failed gamble, I can't help but suspect there were ulterior motives (though I can't imagine what they would be). Any ideas?
      *** Submit your personal HOF as your ballot for the Single Ballot BBF Hall of Fame! *** Also: Buck the Fraves!

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      • #4
        CLASS AAA BASEBALL PLANS REALIGNMENT THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION WILL BE SPLIT BETWEEN THE OTHER TWO EXISTING LEAGUES.
        York Daily Record (PA) - Thursday, July 10, 1997
        Author: SUSAN STOCUM Associated Press
        DES MOINES, Iowa - Triple-A baseball is getting a facelift.


        Owners of the minor league baseball teams, meeting in Des Moines over the all-star break, voted Wednesday to realign from three leagues into two starting with the 1998 season.

        "One of the things that we are going to have to look towards in the future is the anticipation of additional major league expansion," American Association President Branch Rickey said. "If the major leagues expand again, of course, in keeping the one-to-one ratio with the major league, we would have to add Triple-A teams.

        "We found that the three-league process was a very complex one, and we hope that this will help address expansion better if nothing else."

        The vote keeps the teams of the International League and Pacific Coast League together, but splits the American Association between the new leagues - one made up of 14 teams and the other of 16 teams.

        "I think the driving force for most of the members in the American Association was simply the opportunity to play a greater number of opponents," Rickey said.

        The realignment opens up the possibility of a Triple-A world series.

        The new leagues would be:

        A 14-team league comprised of the 10 current members of the International League; Buffalo, Indianapolis and Louisville from the American Association ; and the expansion team in Durham, a member of the Tampa Bay farm system.

        A 16-team league comprised of the 10 current teams of the Pacific Coast League; Iowa, Nashville, New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Omaha from the American Association ; and the expansion team in Memphis, which is not yet aligned with a major league team.

        Rickey said the 14-team league would likely retain the International League name. The name of the 16-team league has yet to be decided.

        The realignment must be approved by the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues and must be reviewed by major league baseball .
        Edition: C9
        Section: B
        Page: 05
        Index Terms: AAA0710
        Record Number: 1997191004
        Copyright (c) 1997 York Daily Record

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        • #5
          MAJOR CHANGES COMING TO TRIPLE-A < WITH NO AMERICAN ASSOCIATION , THERE'LL BE 2 LEAGUES, ALIGNED GEOGRAPHICALLY. \
          Virginian-Pilot, The (Norfolk, VA) - Thursday, July 10, 1997
          Author: RICH RADFORD, STAFF WRITER

          The International League will grow to 14 teams next year following the elimination of the American Association , one of baseball 's three existing Triple-A leagues.

          Officials of the American Association , meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, for the Triple-A All-Star Classic, voted Wednesday to disband after the 1997 season. Two of the teams - Louisville and Indianapolis - are to be absorbed by the International League and the remaining teams are to be added to what currently is the Pacific Coast League.

          ``One of the things that we are going to have to look towards in the future is the anticipation of additional major league expansion,'' American Association president Branch Rickey said. ``If the major leagues expand again, of course, in keeping the one-to-one ratio with the major leagues, we would have to add Triple-A teams.

          ``We found that the three-league process was a very complex one, and we hope that this will help address expansion better if nothing else.''

          While the International League will likely maintain its name, the name of the other league has yet to be determined.

          The International League already was picking up Buffalo from the American Association for the 1998 season, and Durham was coming aboard as it moves from the Class-A ranks to Triple-A, becoming the top farm club of the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

          ``We feel this is a good move for us,'' said Norfolk Tides media relations director Shon Sbarra. ``We'll be able to see a lot of new faces, both on the field and in the stands.

          ``When we had the Triple-A Alliance a few years ago, if we were playing the Iowa Cubs, you'd see Cubs hats all through the stands. It draws different people to the ballpark.''

          The realignment must be approved by the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues and must be reviewed by Major League Baseball .

          If approved, the International League will be split into three divisions. The Tides will be in a four-team division with Richmond, Charlotte and Durham.

          Another four-team division will include Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Toledo and Columbus. The remaining six teams - Pawtucket, Buffalo, Ottawa, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Rochester and Syracuse - will make up the third division.

          A four-team playoff will likely be proposed, with the wildcard berth awarded to the second-place team with the best record. And the realignment will also bring about the prospect of a Triple-A World Series between the league champions.
          Caption: Graphic Realignment at a glance For complete copy, see microfilm

          Edition: FINAL
          Section: SPORTS
          Page: C1
          Record Number: 9707100695
          Copyright (c) 1997 The Virginian-Pilot

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          • #6
            MERGER WILL CHANGE FACE OF PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE - 5 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION TEAMS TO JOIN PCL'S 10, ONE NEW TEAM TO FORM LEAGUE FOR NEXT SEASON
            The News Tribune - Thursday, July 10, 1997
            Author: John Lawrence; The News Tribune

            The Pacific Coast League and members of the American Association will combine next season to form a sprawling new 16-team Class AAA baseball league.

            All they have to do now is figure out what to call it.

            Class AAA franchise owners took the action Wednesday at the annual meeting of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues - read minor leagues - in Des Moines, Iowa, where they gathered for the Class AAA All-Star game.

            The decision requires the formal approval of Mike Moore, president of the National Association , but that is regarded as a formality. The original proposal reportedly came out of Moore's office in St. Petersburg, Fla.

            Five teams from the soon-to-be-defunct American Association , plus an expansion team in Memphis, will join the 10 PCL teams for the 1998 season. The former American Association teams are Iowa, Nashville, New Orleans,

            Oklahoma City and Omaha.

            Memphis will be affiliated with a major league team when the majors expand to 30 teams for 1998. Memphis is the current home of the Class AA Chicks, the Southern League affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.

            It is unclear whether the Mariners will have to find a new Class AA team.

            "The old Memphis Class AA team is moving to Jackson, Tenn.," Mariners farm director Larry Beinfest said. "We only have an agreement through this year. It's not clear whether we will affiliate with Jackson or go somewhere else."

            Three other former American Association teams - Buffalo, Louisville and Indianapolis - plus an expansion team that will play in Durham, N.C., will join the International League to form a 14-team league of three divisions.

            Tacoma Rainiers marketing director Mel Taylor said the franchise, the Class AAA affiliate of the Mariners, voted for the new alignment.

            "The PCL voted 7-3 for the changes," Taylor said. "The American Association voted 7-1."

            PCL members which originally didn't like the deal included Colorado Springs, Vancouver and Calgary, Taylor said. But he said they soon changed their minds.

            "They just hadn't heard about it," he explained.

            The new league will be divided into four divisions. Tacoma will play in Division D with the three Canadian teams, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.

            Taylor said he overcame some initial skepticism about the "Northern Lights" division.

            "I sort of like it," he said. "Now I think it makes sense."

            The schedule for the new league has yet to be approved. But it will apparently remain 144 games. On the table is a plan for teams to play 16 games against the three teams in their own division and eight games against each team from the other three divisions.

            Taylor said the effect on the Rainiers' travel costs are not certain.

            "The preliminary studies indicate it might actually be cheaper," Taylor said. "That's because we have so many games against division rivals and because we'll be flying through some hubs we haven't been able to use before."

            The schedule also would mean Tacoma fans would get to see 12 teams play just one four-game series per season at Cheney Stadium, with Canadian teams visiting twice per season.

            "I think they'll like it," Taylor said. "This way they will get to see a wider variety of players."

            One other intriguing possibility: The top teams in the two megaleagues could be involved in a playoff format that could revive the old "Little World Series."

            "The plan is to have four teams involved in playoffs and the two survivors to face off," Taylor said. "We're trying to figure out whether to make the first round of the playoffs three games or five games. We don't want to play too long into September."

            The league also needs a president.

            PCL president Bill Cutler is retiring. The owners are considering six candidates, including American Association president Branch Rickey III, outgoing Phoenix general manager Greg Pletenik and Dick Balderson, a former Mariners GM who is now vice president of player personnel for the Colorado Rockies.

            * Notes - The Rainiers sent right-hander Alex Pachecho to Memphis and promoted right-handed reliever David Holdridge from the Chicks. Holdridge, a former Anaheim and Vancouver farm hand, was obtained in the off-season as a free agent.

            CHART: The 10-team Pacific Coast League, 10-team International League and the eight-team American Association , plus two expansion franchises, have been realigned into two leagues for the 1998 season.

            PCL/ American Association

            Division A / Division B

            a-Iowa / a-New Orleans

            a-Omaha / a-Oklahoma City

            *-Memphis / Albuquerque

            a-Nashville / Colo. Springs

            Division C / Division D

            Tucson / Calgary

            Fresno** / Edmonton

            Salt Lake City / Tacoma

            Las Vegas / Vancouver

            International League

            Division A / Division B

            Rochester / Toledo

            Syracuse / Columbus

            Ottawa / a-Indianapolis

            Scranton-Wilkes-Barre / a-Louisville

            Pawtucket

            a-Buffalo

            Division C

            Norfolk

            Richmond

            Charlotte

            *-Durham

            a-former American Association team.

            *-Expansion team.

            **-A new team replacing the Phoenix Firebirds.
            Caption: CHART: The 10-team Pacific Coast League, 10-team International League and the eight-team American Association , plus two expansion franchises, have been realigned into two leagues for the 1998 season
            Edition: News Tribune
            Section: Sports
            Page: C3
            Index Terms: Baseball , Pro, Rainiers, Merger/Acquisition
            Record Number: 970710TNT50D9
            Copyright (c) 1997, 2001 The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)

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            • #7
              I see you have a subscription to some online newspaper archives? I kept finding articles of which I could only read the first couple sentences before having to pay.

              "I think the driving force for most of the members in the American Association was simply the opportunity to play a greater number of opponents," Rickey said.
              This I could see as a legitimate reason.

              Thanks for providing the entire articles.
              *** Submit your personal HOF as your ballot for the Single Ballot BBF Hall of Fame! *** Also: Buck the Fraves!

              Comment


              • #8
                (duplicate post)
                Last edited by Nerdlinger; 05-06-2013, 08:56 AM.
                *** Submit your personal HOF as your ballot for the Single Ballot BBF Hall of Fame! *** Also: Buck the Fraves!

                Comment

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