by Todd Hawley
Tuesday, August 29, 2000
Bill O'Neal in the late 1980s to the early 1990s wrote books detailing the histories of several minor leagues, including the PCL (previously reviewed here), the Texas and Southern Leagues, and these two leagues.
Both books chronicle the histories of each league, devoting chapters to each decade the league was in existence. The International League (which was called several different names over its first 30 years) had teams not only in the U.S., but also Canada (Toronto and Montreal), Cuba (Havana), and even, briefly, Puerto Rico (San Juan).
O'Neal describes the beginnings of a Baltimore player (known then as "Dunnie's Babe") signed by Jack Dunn, the man who later ran one of the league's most successful teams, the Baltimore Orioles (yep, they were a minor league team for years) who later became known simply as Babe Ruth. While Ruth didn't contribute to Dunn's later dynasty, these Orioles teams may possibly have been the greatest minor league dynasty in history.
He also goes on the describe another dynasty, the Newark Bears of the late 1930s to early 1940s, the effects of World War II and television on the league, and the effects of the Castro Revolution on the Havana Sugar Kings of the late 195's. He also discusses how the league fell on hard times in the 1960s, but bounced back with a fervor in the 1980s.
While the American Association didn't have any "dynasty teams" in its history, it did have a number of teams that lasted over 50 years, such the Minneapolis Millers and St. Paul Saints, the Indianapolis Indians, and the Toledo Mud Hens, among others. Like the International League, it had its share of talented players and teams.
Numerous sidebars throughout both books mention anecdotes and famous stories. One of my favorites was the one in the IL book about Fidel Castro, who would attend Havana Sugar Cane games in a special seat while surrounded by numerous solders! There are also chapters in both books devoted to the histories of each league city and the parks that the teams played in.
The books also have illustrations and photos of numerous IL stadiums, players, and diagrams of the players and stats for several pennant-winning teams in both leagues' histories.
If you want to learn about the histories of these two important minor leagues (especially now that the American Association has been disbanded once again), these books provide an excellent resource.
Copyright © 2000 by Todd HawleyLast updated 9/9/00
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