- This article is about the umbrella organization for minor-league professional baseball in North America. For general information on the minor leagues, see minor league baseball.
Minor League Baseball, formerly the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues and also known in the past as NAPBL, National Baseball Association, and NA, is the organization which oversees the governing and organization of minor league baseball in North America.
The NAPBL formed in 1901 as a reaction to the warfare going on between the National League and the American League. The presidents of the other professional baseball leagues then in existence were concerned that the two "major leagues" and their continuing pirating of players and even whole teams were a threat to the existence of professional baseball in the United States and Canada.
At the time, the National and American Leagues were not seen as "major leagues", but only as leagues which existed in larger cities. Led by Patrick T. Powers, then-president of the Eastern League, the larger minor leagues then in existence banded together to control their own fates.
Powers' idea was that, instead of going head-to-head with the National and American Leagues, the other leagues should set standard rules for officiating, player drafts, contracts, and location of teams. Fourteen leagues (the Eastern League, Western League, New England League, New York State League, Pacific Northwest League, Southern Association, Three-I League, North Carolina League, Connecticut League, Cotton States League, Iowa-South Dakota League, Michigan State League, Missouri Valley League and Texas League) signed the agreement to begin play under the new rules effective with the 1902 season.
Many leagues refused to join, fearing that the creation of the NA was just an attempt at forming another "major" league, and that its rules and territorial limits would interfere with their independence. When that fear failed to materialize, however, more and more leagues joined the NA until, within a few years, it consisted of thirty-five leagues.
Patrick Powers resigned his presidency of the NA in 1909 in order to concentrate on his private business interests. The Association managed to maintain its original purpose for about twenty years, but during the Great Depression, many leagues began to fold, and the Association needed to look for more funding in order to keep minor league baseball going.
This funding came from the same Major League teams which the NA had been created to protect itself from. Starting in 1931, Major League teams began affiliation agreements with minor league teams. Branch Rickey, president of the St. Louis Cardinals, was the architect of the system which exists today, in which most minor league teams are affiliates of Major League teams, supplying the Majors with development of younger players in exchange for financial support from the Major League teams with which they are affiliated.
Because so many professional players went to fight during World War II, the number of teams and leagues decreased even more until the end of the war. From 1945, when there were only twelve leagues left in the NA, there were fifty-nine in 1949. That number has decreased until, today, there are seventeen.
In 1999, the NAPBL formally changed its name to Minor League Baseball.
Minor League Baseball still governs the minor league system, although there are several independent leagues which do not fall under the group's aegis.
Presidents of the NAPBL and Minor League BaseballEdit
- Patrick T. Powers, 1901–1909
- Michael Sexton, 1909–1931
- William Bramham, 1932–1946
- George Trautman, 1947–1963
- Phil Piton, 1964–1971
- Hank Peters, 1972–1975
- Bobby Bragan, 1976–1978
- Johnny Johnson, 1979–1988
- Sal Artiaga, 1988–1991
- Mike Moore, 1991–present
- Professional baseball
- List of sports attendance figures — Minor League Baseball and its leagues in a worldwide context
- MinorLeagueBaseball.Com, the official website of Minor League Baseball
- Article on the formation of the National Baseball Association
- How minor league baseball teams work