Minor League history: Iron and Oil League

It has been a while since I last wrote about the minor league history. This time I pay attention to the Iron and Oil League. The Iron and Oil League was a minor league at the end of the nineteenth century. It had two runs that lasted (parts of) a season. The first played in 1895, the second in 1898. 

The first Iron and Oil League had teams in New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. The league contained eight teams from Celeron NY, Franklin, New Castle, Oil City, Sharon, Titusville, Warren (all from Pennsylvania), Dennison & Uhrichsville OH and Wheeling WV.  The Sharon team moved to Celeron on July 16 to play the second half of the season there.
The league started as a six-team league but half way the season, Wheeling and Twin Cities came from the Interstate League to join the league for the second half.

The Warren franchise of the 1895 Iron & Oil League (Honus Wagner is in the back row, third from the left)

The Franklin Braves won the 1895 edition of the Iron & Oil League with a half-game lead over the Oil City Oilers and the Warren franchise. Toots Barrett of the Warren franchise won the most starts, 12.  The Iron City Oilers’ John Easton had the best winning percentage with .889 (8-1).

The second edition of the Iron & Oil League started on May 12, 1898. The league sported six teams from Oil City, Warren, Bradford, Meadville, Celeron, and Olean.

Players in the league were played $600 per month.

One of the unique thing of this league was an all black team from Celoron called the Celeron Acme Colored Giants. The team was advertised by its owner, Harry Curtis, a white promoter, as the strongest colored club in America. But in fact, the team was everything but strong. Bad playing and poor patronage were the reason the club disbanded on July 5 and was replaced by an all-white team for the balance of the league. The colored Giants finished with an 8-42 record and none of the players ever appeared on a major black team.
The league was far from stable as the Oil City Oilers moved to Dunkirk-Fredonia on June 18. The final blow for the league was the disbanding of the Olean franchise on July 14, causing the league to fold.

The local newspapers already wrote about the demise of the league on that day as you can read in the article on the right.

Several future big leaguers played in the Iron & Oil League: Honus Wagner, the famed shortstop of the Pittsburgh Pirates played for the Warren franchise in 1895. Jack Glasscock, who had a lengthy Major League career of 17 years, played with the Wheeling Nailers after his final game with the Washington Senators in 1895. Claude Ritchey was a team member of Honus Wagner with the Warren franchise AND with the Pittsburgh Pirates
No stats of the 1895 Iron & Oil league are available for these players.


One Reply to “Minor League history: Iron and Oil League”

  1. I like the article. I have been doing some research for a little while about the 1898 team. Pretty cool that were able to find that article. There were also stints in typical ‘Outlaw’ fashion in 1884, 1885, 1892 and a few others at the the turn of the century. I have every article printed in the Bradford Era about this league and hopefully will have most of the Warren articles eventually. Great read and thanks for posting!


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