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The Western League is a name given to several circuits in American minor league baseball. Its earliest progenitor, which existed from 1885 to 1899, was the predecessor of the American League. During the 20th century, there were four incarnations of the Western League, including a Class D loop that played from 1939-41 and an independent loop (outside of "organized baseball") that began play in 1995. This article, however, concentrates on the two Class A leagues that played from 1900-37 and from 1947-58.
The minor leagues went unclassified through 1901. From 1902 until 1911, Class A was the highest level in the minor leagues. In 1912, a new top tier, Class AA, was created; in 1936, a second tier, Class A1, came into being. In 1946, the Class AA leagues were renamed AAA, and the A1 loops were renamed AA. Thus the Western League - whose clubs were actually located in the Great Plains, Rocky Mountain States, the Upper Midwest and the Upper Southwest - was a top-level minor league until 1911, then two levels below Major League Baseball through 1935, and three steps removed in 1936-37 and when it was revived in 1947 during the post-war minor league baseball boom.
Its longest-serving franchise was located in Des Moines, Iowa, which joined the WL in 1900 and played continuously through 1937, when the league shut down during the Great Depression. Des Moines then rejoined the reborn Western circuit when Colorado Senator Edwin C. Johnson founded it in 1947; this team, a Chicago Cubs affiliate called the Des Moines Bruins, then played for the final 12 years of the league's existence.
Statistics for the Western League have been difficult to come by. Ryan Armbrust is attempting to retrieve and compile the league's individual statistics for players. They will likely be published by SABR sometime in 2007.
Teams in Denver, Colorado; Des Moines, Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska; Pueblo, Colorado; St. Joseph, Missouri; Sioux City, Iowa; all formed and created the new Western League.
|Des Moines Hawkeyes||54-45|
|Sioux City Cornhuskers||49-48|
|St. Joseph Saints||51-58|
The teams in Pueblo and Sioux City folded. New teams in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and St. Paul, Minnesota, formed and joined the League. Teams from Kansas City, Missouri, and Minneapolis, Minnesota moved from the American League.
|Kansas City Blues||79-44|
|St. Paul Saints||69-54|
|St. Joseph Saints||69-58|
|Des Moines Hawkeyes||48-75|
|Colorado Springs Millionaires||45-73|
The Minneapolis and St. Paul teams joined the American Association. New teams in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Peoria, Illinois, formed and joined the League.
|Kansas City Blue Stockings||82-54|
|St. Joseph Saints||71-68|
|Colorado Springs Millionaires||63-75|
|Des Moines Midgets||54-83|
|Colorado Springs Millionaires||76-52|
|Kansas City Blue Stockings||65-61|
|St. Joseph Saints||62-59|
|Des Moines Undertakers||55-76|
The teams in Milwaukee, Kansas City, and Peoria folded. the Sioux City, Iowa team from the Iowa-South Dakota League joined the League.
|Colorado Springs Millionaires||85-58|
|Des Moines Prohibitionists||76-69|
|St. Joseph Saints||53-93|
|Sioux City Soos||45-98|
The Colorado Springs team, with a record of 22-48, moved to Pueblo, Colorado on July 15, where they had a record of 30-44.
|Des Moines Underwriters||95-54|
|Sioux City Packers||80-68|
|Colorado Springs Millionaires/Pueblo Indians||52-92|
|St. Joseph Saints||37-109|
The St. Joseph team moved to the Western Association. A new team in Lincoln, Nebraska, formed and joined the League.
|Des Moines Champions||97-50|
|Sioux City Packers||69-81|
|Des Moines Champs||76-63|
|Sioux City Packers||56-90|
|Sioux City Soos||88-57|
|Des Moines Boosters||54-94|
Teams from Topeka, Kansas, and Wichita, Kansas, joined from the Western Association.
|Des Moines Boosters||93-59|
|Sioux City Soos||94-60|
The Pueblo team folded. A new team in St. Joseph, Missouri, formed and joined the League.
|Sioux City Packers||108-60|
|St. Joseph Drummers||76-91|
|Des Moines Boosters||72-96|
The Wichita team, with a record of 15-9, moved to Pueblo, Colorado on May 22, Their record there was 77-66.
|St. Joseph Drummers||93-72|
|Wichita Jobbers/Pueblo Indians||92-75|
|Sioux City Packers||85-80|
|Des Moines Boosters||49-113|
The Pueblo team moved back to Wichita, Kansas.
|St. Joseph Drummers||94-72|
|Des Moines Boosters||82-80|
|Sioux City Packers||74-85|
Denver defeated the Minneapolis team of the American Association 4 games to 1.
|Des Moines Boosters||93-72|
|St. Joseph Drummers||89-78|
|Sioux City Packers||73-92|
Milwaukee of the American Association defeated Denver 4 games to 2.
Wichita Jobbers renamed Wichita Wolves.
|Sioux City Indians||105-60|
|St. Joseph Drummers||89-75|
|Des Moines Boosters||82-81|
Indianapolis of the American Association defeated Denver 4 games to 2.
|Des Moines Boosters||87-53|
|Sioux City Packers||66-68|
|St. Joseph Drummers||43-94|
The Wichita team, with a record of 58-84, moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado on September 10. Their record there was 2-10.
|Sioux City Indians||79-71|
|Des Moines Boosters||75-75|
|Wichita Wolves/Colorado Springs Millionaires||57-94|
Louisville of the American Association defeated Omaha 4 games to 1.
The Topeka team folded. A new team in Joplin, Missouri formed and joined the League. Colorado Springs moved back to Wichita. St. Joseph, with a record of 34-56, moved to Hutchinson, where their record was 32-24, on July 24. Sioux City moved to St. Joseph on August 5.
|Des Moines Boosters||84-62 (1st half winner)|
|Sioux City Indians/St. Joseph Drummers||80-66|
|St. Joseph Drummers/Hutchinson Wheatshockers||66-80|
|Denver Bears 62-86|
|Wichita Wolves 61-87|
Hutchinson defeated Joplin 3 games to none for the second half title. Des Moines defeated Hutchinson 4 games to 2 for the championship.
The Denver and Lincoln teams folded. New teams in Sioux City, Iowa, and Topeka, Kansas, formed and joined the League. Hutchinson, with a record of 14-19, moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on June 2, where they compiled a record of 19-18. Topeka, with a record of 19-13, moved to Hutchinson, Kansas, where they compiled a record of 18-18, on June 2. The League suspended operations on July 7 due to World War I.
|Topeka Kaw-nees/Hutchinson Salt Packers||37-31|
|Des Moines Boosters||36-31|
|Hutchinson Salt Packers/Oklahoma City Oklahomans|
|St. Joseph Saints||30-38|
|Sioux City Indians||22-42|
The Hutchinson team folded. A new team was formed in Topeka, Kansas, and joined the League.
|St. Joseph Saints||78-57|
|Des Moines Boosters||71-67|
|Oklahoma City Indians||69-69|
|Sioux City Indians||68-72|
Tulsa lead St. Joseph 3 games to 1 in the championship series when the series was cancelled due to bad weather.
|Oklahoma City Indians||82-68|
|St. Joseph Saints||74-80|
|Sioux City Packers||63-88|
|Des Moines Boosters||58-93|
|Oklahoma City Indians||93-75|
|Sioux City Packers||81-83|
|St. Joseph Saints||79-88|
|Des Moines Boosters||71-92|
Joplin moved to the Western Association. A new team formed in Denver, Colorado, and joined the League.
|St. Joseph Saints||98-70|
|Sioux City Packers||86-79|
|Oklahoma City Indians||73-94|
|Des Moines Boosters||61-107|
Tulsa beat Mobile of the Southern Association 4 games to 1, with 1 tie
|Oklahoma City Indians||102-64|
|Des Moines Boosters||87-79|
|St. Joseph Saints||65-101|
|Sioux City Packers||59-105|
|St. Joseph Saints||86-79|
|Oklahoma City Indians||82-86|
|Des Moines Boosters||59-106|
|Des Moines Demons||98-70|
|Oklahoma City Indians||88-76|
|St. Joseph Saints||77-87|
|Des Moines Demons||99-64|
|Oklahoma City Indians||100-66|
|St. Joseph Saints||89-75|
Springfield of the Three-I League led Des Moines 3 games to 1 when the series was cancelled due to bad weather.
St. Joseph moved to the Western Association. A new team in Amarillo, Texas formed and joined.
|Des Moines Demons||82-72|
|Oklahoma City Indians||68-86|
Waco of the Texas League beat Tulsa 3 games to 2, with 1 tie.
Lincoln moved to the Nebraska State League. A new team in Pueblo, Colorado, formed and joined the League.
|Oklahoma City Indians||95-67 (1st half winner)|
|Tulsa Oilers||96-69 (2nd half winner)|
|Pueblo Steel Workers||85-78|
|Des Moines Demons||63-98|
Tulsa beat Oklahoma City 4 games to 1, with 1 tie, for the championship.
Amarillo folded. The Topeka, Kansas team from the Western Association joined.
|Oklahoma City Indians||85-68|
|Des Moines Demons||72-86|
The Tulsa team folded. A new team formed in St. Joseph, Missouri and joined the League.
|Oklahoma City Indians||79-71|
|Des Moines Demons||77-71|
|St. Joseph Saints||53-92|
|Des Moines Demons||94-51 (2nd half winner)|
|Wichita Aviators||92-58 (1st half winner)|
|St. Joseph Saints||79-64|
|Oklahoma City Indians||70-80|
Des Moines beat Wichita 4 games to 2 for the championship.
Topeka moved to the Western Association. The Tulsa team folded.
|Tulsa Oilers||Pittsburgh Pirates||98-48 (1st half winner)|
|Denver Bears||St. Louis Cardinals||83-64|
|Oklahoma City Indians||83-67 (2nd half winner)|
|Des Moines Demons||71-72|
|St. Joseph Saints||72-75|
|Wichita Aviators||Chicago Cubs||63-86|
Oklahoma City beat Tulsa 2 games to 1 for the second half title. Tulsa beat Oklahoma City 4 games to none for the championship.
Denver & Pueblo folded. Oklahoma City and Tulsa moved to the Texas League. The teams from Hutchinson, Kansas and Springfield, Missouri joined from the American Association. New teams in Joplin, Missouri, and Topeka, Kansas, formed and joined the League. Wichita, with a record of 6-13, moved to Muskogee on June 6, keeping the Oilers name, where they had a record of 20-82. Hutchinson, with a record of 25-32, moved on July 7 to Bartlesville, where they had a record of 26-38.
|Des Moines Demons||81-47|
|St. Joseph Saints||77-47 (1st half winner)|
|Springfield Cardinals||St. Louis Cardinals||73-50|
|Topeka Senators||Cincinnati Reds||68-55 (2nd half winner)|
|Joplin Miners||St. Louis Browns||55-69|
|Hutchinson Wheatshockers/Bartlesville Broncos||Detroit Tigers||51-70|
|Wichita Oilers/Muskogee Oilers||26-95|
St. Joseph beat Topeka 4 games to 1. St. Joseph lost to the Davenport team from the Mississippi Valley League 4 games to 2.
Bartlesville, Joplin, Muskogee, and Springfield moved to the Western Association. The teams from Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois joined from the Mississippi Valley League. New teams in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Sioux City, Iowa formed and joined the League.
|Sioux City Cowboys||74-50 (1st half title tie)|
|Davenport Blue Sox||70-53 (2nd half winner)|
|Des Moines Demons||68-56 (1st half title tie)|
|St. Joseph Saints||65-56 (1st half title tie)|
|Topeka Senators||Cincinnati Reds||59-64|
|Rock Island Islanders||58-65|
|Cedar Rapids Raiders||47-73|
St. Joseph beat Sioux City 3 games to 1 in the first round of playoffs. Davenport beat Des Moines by the same number. In the championship, St. Joseph beat Davnport 4 games to 3.
Topeka folded. A new team in Keokuk, Iowa formed and joined the League. Omaha, with a record of 22-15, moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa on June 25, where they had a record of 33-31. Rock Island folded July 17. Council Bluffs folded August 27.
|Davenport Blue Sox||70-46|
|St. Joseph Saints||58-48|
|Des Moines Demons||58-55|
|Sioux City Cowboys||54-52|
|Cedar Rapids Raiders||53-57|
|Omaha Packers/Council Bluffs Rails||55-46|
|Rock Island Islanders||19-46|
Sioux City beat Davenport 3 games to none, and St. Joseph beat Des Moines 3 games to none, in the first round of the playoffs. St. Joseph beat Sioux City 4 games to 3 for the championship.
Keokuk and St. Joseph folded. New teams formed in Omaha, Nebraska, and Waterloo, Iowa, and joined the League. Omaha moved to Rock Island on August 18.
|Davenport Blue Sox||Brooklyn Dodgers||74-52 (1st & 2nd half winner)|
|Cedar Rapids Raiders||St. Louis Cardinals||70-58|
|Des Moines Raiders||64-64|
|Omaha Robin Hoods/Rock Island Rocks||62-64|
|Sioux City Cowboys||61-64|
Rock Island folded July 7.
|Cedar Rapids Raiders||St. Louis Cardinals||78-38 (1st & 2nd half winner)|
|Davenport Blue Sox||Brooklyn Dodgers||57-59|
|Des Moines Demons||St. Louis Browns||57-62|
|Sioux City Cowboys||Detroit Tigers||50-63|
|Rock Island Islanders||20-46|
The Post-World War II League Edit
In addition to Des Moines, the 1947 Western League consisted of teams in Sioux City, Pueblo, Omaha, Denver, and Lincoln. All six clubs were affiliated with major league farm systems. The WL expanded to eight teams in 1950, but the encroachment of televised baseball and major league franchise shifts into former AAA cities hit the league hard. In 1955, the Western League's two strongest franchises, the Denver Bears and the Omaha Cardinals, were admitted to the AAA American Association.
The WL continued for four more seasons before folding in the autumn of 1958. Its last champion, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, attracted only 61,000 fans for the season.
For temas that played in the Western league from 1947 to 1958, see Western League (1947-1958)
- Lloyd Johnson and Miles Wolff, editors. The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 1997 edition. Durham, N.C.: Baseball America.
- Sumner, Benjamin Barrett. Minor League Baseball Standings: All North American Leagues, Through 1999. Jefferson, N.C.:McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0781-6