In this episode of Minor League History, we pay attention to the Missouri-Iowa-Nebraska-Kansas League or MINK League for short. The league was rather short-lived and lasted for three and a half seasons.
The Class D MINK League started in 1910 and ran until mid-June 1913 before if folded. In the first three seasons, the league contained six teams but in its final season, only four clubs competed.
Auburn, NE: Auburn Athletics 1910-1911; Auburn A’s 1912; Auburn Athletics 1913
Beatrice, NE & Fairbury, NE: Beatrice-Fairbury Milkskimmers 1912
Clarinda, IA: Clarinda Antelopes 1910-1911
Falls City, NE: Falls City Colts 1910-1913
Hiawatha, KS: Hiawatha Athletics 1912
Humboldt, NE: Humboldt Infants 1911-1913
Maryville, MO: Maryville Comets 1910-1911
Nebraska City, NE: Nebraska City Foresters 1910-1913
Shenandoah, IA: Shenandoah Pin Rollers 1910-1911
Only three teams managed to stay alive during the whole run of the league. As a coincidence, these teams all came from Nebraska: Auburn Athletics, Falls City Colts, and the Nebraska City Foresters. Even though the league was named Missouri-Iowa-Nebraska-Kansas League, the four states were never represented at the same time. Missouri and Iowa were represented only in 1910-1911, Kansas was only represented in 1912.
One of the charter members, the Auburn Athletics, played its first season at the fairground of Auburn. A lack of an outfield fence made it possible for fans to sneak in without paying. That problem was solved in the second season when the town built a new grandstand and bleachers with a capacity of over 1,000 and added an outfield fence as well.
The second charter member, Falls City was the inaugural champion in 1910. With a 54-40 record and a 1.5 game lead over the Clarinda Antelopes, the club finished in first place and thus won the league’s championship as the league didn’t use a playoff format.
The third charter member, the Nebraska City Foresters produced an outfielder that made it to the Bigs and had a fifteen-year career in the Majors. Les(lie) Mann played outfield and played for the Boston Braves, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cincinnati Reds, the New York Giants, and the Chicago Cubs. He started his professional career as a seventeen-year-old. After two years with the Foresters, he was moved up to the Seattle Giants of the Northwestern League in 1912. Eventually, he broke into the majors in 1913. During the first season without Mann, 1912, the Foresters won the MINK League championship.
In 1912, the Beatrice-Fairbury Milkskimmers filled the void of the Clarinda Antelopes, that folded after the 1911 seasons. Some of the players from the Antelopes joined the Milkskimmers but in general, the team had to be built from scratch. Only one player batted (a tad) higher than .280 which was one of the reasons the club finished in fifth place, trailing first-place Nebraska Foresters by twenty games.
As artificial light was not a part of baseball yet, some games were called due to darkness. One of those games was the one between the Falls City Colts and the Nebraska City Foresters on June 3rd, 1910. The game lasted seventeen innings and as the game was called due to darkness, neither team had scored a run.
Just like the New York Yankees, the Shenandoah Pin Rollers got their name thanks to newspapers. The Shenandoah franchise didn’t have a name but the local newspaper called the team “Fred Wells’ Pin Rollers” after the manager of the team. In Midwest baseball slang, baseball players were called pin rollers.
The MINK League was rather stable as not many teams folded or moved during the seasons. In 1911, the Maryville Comets moved to Humboldt. Some sources name the Humboldt franchise the Orphans, others call them the Infants. The Infants/Orphans won the 1911 MINK League championship as the team streaked in the first week of August. This put them in first place and they held on to first place to win the championship.
As Sunday games were still an issue in the league, the Falls City Colts moved their Sunday games to Kansas to avoid problems in Nebraska.
Eventually, the Falls City and Nebraska City franchises withdrew from the league on June 17, 1913. This caused the league to fold as well. An inglorious end of a rather stable league.
Nowadays, there is a league that carries the name MINK League as well. It is a collegiate league that sports eight teams in Missouri and one in Iowa.