The Pacific Coast League is one the oldest still existing minor leagues. The league was founded in 1903.
Unlike the International League and the American Associaton, the Pacific Coast League ran its own business without the interference of MLB. Until 1958 there was no Major League baseball West of St. Louis, so the league was not affiliated to MLB for a long time.
PCL strongholds were Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Seattle and San Diego. All of these cities were lost because MLB settled there, although Oakland didn’t have a PCL franchise after 1955 (the Athletics only arrived in 1968 when they moved from Kansas City).
For long, the PCL had aspirations to become a third Major League. Despite being one of the three leagues at (what is now) AAA level, the quality of play was rather high. The league produced big name players like Joe DiMaggio (San Francisco Seals), Tony Lazzeri (Salt Lake City Bees), Ted Williams (San Diego Padres) and Bobby Doerr (Hollywood Stars). In 1945 the league voted to become a Major League according to this article in the Milwaukee Journal. PCL players preferred to stay in the Pacific Coast League rather than to play in the Majors Leagues; the salaries that were paid in the PCL were considerably higher.
The Hollywood Stars were a big attraction for the movie stars from the movie studios in the area. The stadium where the Stars played was a dining hotspot on game days.
The PCL was a thriving league until the 1950s when TV started to broadcast MLB games; those broadcasts were the start of the decline of which many minor leagues suffered. The final blow was the move of the Dodgers and the Giants to the West Coast. The PCL lost territory to those MLB teams. The Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley bought the Los Angeles Angels in the1950s from the Wrigley family. When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles the Angels were forced to leave for Spokane, Washington, to become the Spokane Indians. The Dodgers “stole” the LA cap logo of the Angels but changed thecolours.
In 1958 the league adopted AAA status and became an all affiliated league.
In 1997 the PCL adopted five teams from the American Association, which had ceased its activities. A sixth team was added as an expansion team to keep an even number of teams. The new additions were the Iowa Cubs, Nashville Sounds, New Orleans Zephyrs, Oklahoma City 89ers (renamed the Oklahoma RedHawks and later the Oklahoma City RedHawks, now called the Oklahoma City Dodgers), and Omaha Royals (renamed Omaha StormChasers). The new clubs made a division into two conferences necessary: The Pacific Conference and the American Conference. After the move of the Edmonton Trappers to Round Rock in Texas another division was necessary. Each conference now has a North and South division.
Champions of the Pacific Coast League: