Minor League History: Arkansas-Missouri League

In 1936 the Arkansas State League became the Arkansas-Missouri League.
The league kept operating as a Class D league. During the crisis years in the 1930s only three leagues survived: the Northeast Arkansas League, the Cotton States League and the Arkansas-Missouri League.

The league was a product of the farm system that the St. Louis Cardinals created. The league and the teams were sponsored by the Cardinals, just to develop the players for their MLB team. Most of the time local players played in this league.

When Monett MO joined the league in 1936, there were two teams from Missouri all of a sudden. The league officials voted on February 10, 1936, to rename it the Arkansas-Missouri League. Just like today, clubs had their promotions too. On September 6, Frances “Sonny” Dunlap played the whole game in  right field for the Fayetteville Bears. She is believed to be the first woman that played in professional men baseball. Dunlap was a local female athlete (who played basketball for the Tulsa Stenographers, a woman’s semi-professional team, and tried out for the U.S. Olympic team.

After the 1936 season, Cassville and Bentonville dropped out of the league due to poor attendance and lacking funds.

The 1936 championship series was played between the first half winner Cassville Blues and the second half winner Siloam Springs Travelers. The Travelers won by four games to three. One game ended in a tie.

After Cassville and Bentonville left the league, the league added teams from Neosho, Missouri, and Vinita, Oklahoma, to get six teams again. But even before the season started, the Vinita franchise decided to withdraw because the expected financial support fell through, so the league had to play with only five teams. The league championship went to the Rogers Lions, who beat the Fayetteville Angels 4-1.

The league fielded six teams again in 1938, adding a franchise in Carthage, Missouri. Before the start of the season, Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, the baseball commissioner, created a rule against the St. Louis Cardinals farm system. The ruling, which was intended to break up what Landis saw as a St. Louis regional monopoly on players, as well as a negative interference in local amateur and semi-professional baseball teams and leagues, directly affected the Arkansas-Missouri League. Judge Landis fined several Cardinals farm teams and declared 91 players free agents , including every player on the Monett, Missouri team. Next to the Cardinals other teams started to set up a farm system. The Neosho franchise became a Yankee farm system, while the franchise in Carthage became one of the Pirates. Despite Landis’ regulations, the league went on to play and made it until the end of the season. The championship was won by the Carthage Pirates that beat the Neosho Yankees by 4 games to 1.

The 1939 Fayetteville Angels that won both halfs of the season

In 1939, the league shrunk to four teams as Siloam Springs and Rogers dropped out. Both halfs were won by the Fayetteville  Angels, who were a Brooklyn Dodgers affiliate. But unlike the rules of the league, there still was a championship series played vs the Carthage Pirates, that won the series 4 games to 1.

The 1940 season turned out to be the final season of the league as it folded halfway.  To balance the number of Arkansas teams and Missouri teams, the team from Monett MO was moved to Siloam Springs AR. On June 28, the Fayetteville Angels ceased to exist due to poor attendance. On July 1st an All Star Game was played and that was officially the last game that was played in the Arkansas-Missouri League.

The cities that were represented in the Arkansas-Missouri League were:

Bentonville, AR: Bentonville Mustangs 1936
Carthage, MO: Carthage Pirates 1938-1940
Cassville, MO: Cassville Blues 1936
Fayetteville, AR: Fayetteville Bears 1936,
Fayetteville Angels 1937-1940
Monett, MO: Monett Red Birds 1936-1939
Neosho, MO: Neosho Night Hawks 1937; Neosho Yankees 1938-1940
Rogers, AR: Rogers Lions 1936-1937; Rogers Reds 1938
Siloam Springs, AR: Siloam Springs Travelers 1936-1938; Siloam Springs Cardinals 1940

One Reply to “Minor League History: Arkansas-Missouri League”

  1. The Cotton States League did not play in every year in the 30’s. It folded in July of 1932 and was revived in 1936. The Nebraska State League did survive the 30’s This iteration was started in 1928. In 1937 the Western League collapsed and the NSL took over that name in 1939. It ran from 1928 through 1941.


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