Minor League History: American Association

After the original American Association, which was considered a Major League, folded in 1891, it lasted until 1902 before a new league with the same name was founded. Only this time it would be a minor league.

The league started as an outlaw circuit with teams from the Midwest. The charter members were the Kansas City Blues, the Minneapolis Millers, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Indianapolis Indians, the St. Paul Apostles, the Columbus Senators, the Louisville Colonels and the Toledo Mudhens.

In the fifties the league started to suffer from declining attendance as MLB started to expand Westward. The Milwaukee Brewers moved to Toledo to become the Mudhens in 1953. Three years later the team would move on to Wichita to become the Wichita Braves. Eventually the team would end up in Fort Worth in Texas where they adopted the name Cats. After just one season the club merged with the Dallas Rangers in 1960.
The Saint Paul Apostles renamed themselves into Saints in 1915. In 1960 the club moved to Omaha where they became a Dodgers affiliate.
The Kansas City Blues moved to Denver to become the Bears in 1955. The original Toledo Mudhens moved to Charleston to become the Senators. This club would dissolve in 1960. In 1931 the Columbus Senators adopted the name of Red Birds. In 1955 the team moved to Omaha and became the Cardinals. After four years the team disbanded.
In 1959 two teams were added to the league: The Houston Buffaloes and the afore mentioned Dallas Rangers. The Buffaloes would move to Oklahoma in 1961 and would adopt the name 89ers.
Only three teams stayed in their original city from the beginning until the end. The Indianapolis Indians, the Louisville Colonels and the Minneapolis Millers.

After the league couldn’t cope with the small attendance numbers it folded after the 1962 season. The Indianapolis Indians was adopted by the International League, while the Dallas Rangers, Denver Bears and the Oklahoma City 89ers moved to the Pacific Coast League.

Champions of the 1902-1962 American Association

Year League Champion
1902 Indianapolis Indians
1903 St. Paul Saints
1904 St. Paul Saints
1905 Columbus Senators
1906 Columbus Senators
1907 Columbus Senators
1908 Indianapolis Indians
1909 Louisville Colonels
1910 Minneapolis Millers
1911 Minneapolis Millers
1912 Minneapolis Millers
1913 Milwaukee Brewers
1914 Milwaukee Brewers
1915 Minneapolis Millers
1916 Louisville Colonels
1917 Indianapolis Indians
1918 Kansas City Blues
1919 St. Paul Saints
1920 St. Paul Saints
1921 Louisville Colonels
1922 St. Paul Saints
1923 Kansas City Blues
1924 St. Paul Saints
1925 Louisville Colonels
1926 Louisville Colonels
1927 Toledo Mud Hens
1928 Indianapolis Indians
1929 Kansas City Blues
1930 Louisville Colonels
1931 St. Paul Saints
1932 Minneapolis Millers
1933 Columbus Red Birds
1934 Columbus Red Birds
1935 Minneapolis Millers
1936 Milwaukee Brewers
1937 Columbus Red Birds
1938 St. Paul Saints
1939 Kansas City Blues
1940 Kansas City Blues
1941 Columbus Red Birds
1942 Kansas City Blues
1943 Milwaukee Brewers
1944 Milwaukee Brewers
1945 Milwaukee Brewers
1946 Louisville Colonels
1947 Kansas City Blues
1948 Indianapolis Indians
1949 St. Paul Saints
1950 Minneapolis Millers
1951 Milwaukee Brewers
1952 Milwaukee Brewers
1953 Toledo Glass Sox
1954 Louisville Colonels
1955 Minneapolis Millers
1956 Indianapolis Indians
1957 Wichita Braves
1958 Minneapolis Millers
1959 Minneapolis Millers
1960 Denver Bears
1961 Indianapolis Indians
1962 Indianapolis Indians

The second American Association 1969 – 1997

But with the expansion of MLB in 1969 four new AAA teams were needed. A second minor league American Association was started because the travel costs for the two still existing leagues were getting too high, since they both had to cover half of the country. So in 1969, the new American Association started with six teams. Three old AA teams returned: the Indianapolis Indians, the Denver Bears and the Oklahoma City 89ers. The new teams were the Iowa Oaks, the Tulsa Oilers and the Omaha Royals. In 1970 the Wichita Aeros and the Evansvill Triplets were added to the league. Allie Reynolds, the former MLB player with a thirteen year career, became president of the new league, that honored Reynolds by giving the Allie Reynolds award to the best pitcher in the league.
The new American Association was the first league that introduced the designated hitter.

Four teams lasted from the start to the end of the league: The Indianapolis Indians, the Oklahoma City 89ers, the Omaha Royals and the Iowa Oaks, who became the Iowa Cubs in 1982.
The Tulsa Oilers moved to New Orleans to become the Pelicans in 1977. The team lasted only one year as it moved to Springfield RedBirds. The team didn’t last very long in Springfield either as it moved to Louisville after the 1981 season. The nickname remained RedBirds.
The Denver Bears changed their name to Zephyrs in 1984. Eventually the team move to New Orleans in 1993, where they are still located. The Evansville Triplets moved to Nashville in 1985, where they became the the Sounds.

Eventually cheaper travel costs and and expansion of the MLB led to the league folding for the second time. Once again, the teams were divided over the Pacific Coast League and the International League. The Iowa Cubs,Nashville Sounds, New Orleans Zephyrs, Oklahoma City 89ers (renamed the Oklahoma RedHawks and then the Oklahoma City RedHawks), and Omaha Royals moved to the PCL. The Buffalo Bisons, Indianapolis Indians, and Louisville Redbirds became IL members.

The Buffalo Bisons were the last team to win the AA championship and are still in possession of the trophy that came with it.

A few names of Hall of Famers that played in the American Association, show that this was a quality league: Whitey Ford, Bert Blyleven, Willie Mays, Harmon Killebrew, George Brett, Mordecai “three finger” Brown and Carl Yastrzemski.

Champions of the 1969 – 1997 American Association

Year Champion
1969 Omaha Royals
1970 Omaha Royals
1971 Denver Bears
1972 Evansville Triplets
1973 Tulsa Oilers
1974 Tulsa Oilers
1975 Evansville Triplets
1976 Denver Bears
1977 Denver Bears
1978 Omaha Royals
1979 Evansville Triplets
1980 Springfield Redbirds
1981 Denver Bears
1982 Indianapolis Indians
1983 Denver Bears
1984 Louisville Redbirds
1985 Louisville Redbirds
1986 Indianapolis Indians
1987 Indianapolis Indians
1988 Indianapolis Indians
1989 Indianapolis Indians
1990 Omaha Royals
1991 Denver Zephyrs
1992 Oklahoma City 89ers
1993 Iowa Cubs
1994 Indianapolis Indians
1995 Louisville Redbirds
1996 Oklahoma City 89ers
1997 Buffalo Bisons
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