Pacific Coast League

For the high school sports league, see Pacific Coast League (California).
Pacific Coast League

Pacific Coast League logo
Sport Baseball
Founded 1903
No. of teams 16
Country United States
Most recent
El Paso Chihuahuas (2016)
Most titles San Francisco Seals (14)
Classification Triple-A
Official website

The Pacific Coast League (PCL) is a Minor League Baseball league operating in the Western, Midwestern, and Southeastern United States. Along with the International League and the Mexican League, it is one of three leagues playing at the Triple-A level, which is one grade below Major League Baseball. It is officially named the Pacific Coast League of Professional Baseball Clubs, Inc.

The PCL maintains its headquarters in Round Rock, Texas.[1]


The PCL has had a long tradition on the West Coast, with teams such as the Albuquerque Isotopes, Hawaii Islanders, Hollywood Stars, Las Vegas 51s, Los Angeles Angels, Mission Reds (representing San Francisco's Mission District), Oakland Oaks, Phoenix Giants, Portland Beavers, Sacramento Solons, Salt Lake Bees, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Seals, Seattle Rainiers, Spokane Indians, Vancouver Canadians, and Vernon Tigers (later the Tacoma Tigers).[2]

A near-major league

During the first half of the 20th century, the Pacific Coast League developed into one of the premier regional baseball leagues. The cities enfranchised by the other two high-minor leagues, the International League and the American Association, were generally coordinated geographically with the major leagues, but such was not the case with the PCL. With no major league baseball team existing west of St. Louis, the PCL was unrivaled for American west coast baseball. Although it was never recognized as a true major league, its quality of play was considered very high. Drawing from a strong pool of talent in the area, the PCL produced many outstanding players, including such future major-league Hall of Famers as Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Tony Lazzeri, Paul Waner, Earl Averill, Bobby Doerr, Joe Gordon, and Ernie Lombardi. During 1945 the league voted to become a major league.[3]

While many PCL players went on to play in the major leagues, teams in the league were often successful enough that they could offer competitive salaries to avoid being outbid for their players' services. Some players made a career out of the minor leagues. One of the better known was Frank Shellenback, whose Major League pitching career was brief[4] but who compiled a record PCL total of 295 wins against 178 losses.[5] Many former major-league players came to the PCL to finish their careers after their time in the majors had ended.

The mild climate of the West Coast, especially California, allowed the league to play longer seasons, sometimes starting in late February and ending as late as the beginning of December. This allowed players to hone their skills, earn an extra month or two of pay, and reduce the need to find off-season work. The longer playing season also allowed for additional games on the schedule, letting team owners generate more revenue.

Teams sometimes played more than 200 games in a single season. During the 1905 season the San Francisco Seals set the all-time PCL record by playing 230 games.[6] Even just prior to the 1958 reshuffling, the league was playing 170–180 games per season. One consequence of such lengthy seasons was that a number of the all-time minor-league records for season statistical totals are held by players from the PCL.

In 1952, the PCL became the only minor league in history to be given the "Open" classification, a grade above the Triple-A level. This limited the rights of major league clubs to draft players from the PCL, and was considered an act toward the circuit becoming a third major league.

Sudden decline

The shift to the Open classification came just as minor league teams from coast to coast suffered a sharp drop in attendance, primarily due to the availability of major league games on television. The hammer blow to the PCL's major league dreams came in 1958, when the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and the New York Giants moved to San Francisco. As a result, three of the PCL's flagship teams (the Los Angeles Angels, the Hollywood Stars and the San Francisco Seals) were immediately forced to relocate to smaller markets. Additionally, the PCL lost customers to the major league teams which now occupied the same territory. The league never recovered from these blows. The Pacific Coast League reverted to Triple-A classification in 1958, and soon diminished in the public eye to nothing more than another minor league.

Of the cities represented in the PCL in its heyday, only Salt Lake City and Sacramento remain, and even these are represented by different franchises from those that had originally called these cities home. The Oakland Oaks had moved to Canada two years before the arrival of the Giants. The San Diego Padres and Seattle Rainiers were displaced by Major League teams in 1969, but by this time the PCL's decline was already far advanced.

Recent expansion

In 1998, the Pacific Coast League took on five teams from the disbanding American Association, which had operated in the Midwest, and a sixth team was added to the league as an expansion team, thus providing the scheduling convenience of an even number of teams. The league now stretches from Western Washington to Middle Tennessee. Despite its name, the league now has as many teams east of the Mississippi (Memphis, Nashville, and New Orleans) as it does near the Pacific coast (Fresno, Sacramento, and Tacoma).

The league is divided into two conferences, the American Conference and the Pacific Conference; after a realignment for 2005 necessitated by the move of the Edmonton Trappers to Round Rock, Texas, in suburban Austin. Each conference is divided into a Northern Division and a Southern Division. The Trappers' move also ended the league's presence in Canada; as recently as 1999, the league had teams north of the border in Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton, but they left for Sacramento in 2000, Albuquerque in 2003, and Round Rock in 2005 respectively. In 2005, the Pacific Coast League became the first minor league ever to achieve a season attendance of over 7 million. In 2007, league attendance reached an all-time high of 7,420,095.[7]

Designated hitter

All of the non-independent minor leagues have adopted the designated-hitter rule. At the Double-A and Triple-A level, when both teams are National League affiliates, they must have their pitchers bat; otherwise the DH is used. In the Pacific Coast League, as the default rule, pitchers hit when both clubs are NL affiliates, although uniquely in the minor leagues, both NL affiliated clubs may agree to use the DH instead. The reason for this is that as players move up and get closer to reaching the majors, teams prefer to have the rules follow (as closely as possible) those of the major leagues.[8]

Championship and interleague play

At the end of the season, the Northern and Southern Division winners within each conference meet in a best-of-five series to determine conference champions. Then, the American and Pacific Conference winners play a best-of-five series to determine a league champion.

Since 2006 the league champion has played against the International League champion in the Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game, a single game for the Triple-A Championship. Previously, the PCL champion also competed in the Triple-A World Series.

In 1988, the three Triple-A leagues then in existence, the International League, the Pacific Coast League and the American Association, met to play the first Triple-A All-Star Game. One team was made up of All-Stars from American League affiliates and the other of National League affiliates. Beginning in 1998, a team of PCL All-Stars faced off against a team of IL All-Stars.

Current teams

Current team locations:
  American Conference – Northern Division
  American Conference – Southern Division
  Pacific Conference – Northern Division
  Pacific Conference – Southern Division
American Conference
Division Team Founded MLB Affiliation City Stadium Capacity
Northern Colorado Springs Sky Sox 1988 Milwaukee Brewers Colorado Springs, Colorado Security Service Field 8,500
Iowa Cubs 1969 Chicago Cubs Des Moines, Iowa Principal Park 11,500
Oklahoma City Dodgers 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark 13,066
Omaha Storm Chasers 1969 Kansas City Royals Papillion, Nebraska Werner Park 9,023
Southern Memphis Redbirds 1998 St. Louis Cardinals Memphis, Tennessee AutoZone Park 10,000
Nashville Sounds 1978 Oakland Athletics Nashville, Tennessee First Tennessee Park 10,000
New Orleans Baby Cakes 1993 Miami Marlins Metairie, Louisiana Shrine on Airline 10,000
Round Rock Express 1979 Texas Rangers Round Rock, Texas Dell Diamond 11,000
Pacific Conference
Division Team Founded MLB Affiliation City Stadium Capacity
Northern Fresno Grizzlies 1998 Houston Astros Fresno, California Chukchansi Park 12,500
Reno Aces 2009 Arizona Diamondbacks Reno, Nevada Greater Nevada Field 9,013
Sacramento River Cats 1978 San Francisco Giants West Sacramento, California Raley Field 14,014
Tacoma Rainiers 1960 Seattle Mariners Tacoma, Washington Cheney Stadium 6,500
Southern Albuquerque Isotopes 2003 Colorado Rockies Albuquerque, New Mexico Isotopes Park 13,279
El Paso Chihuahuas 2014 San Diego Padres El Paso, Texas Southwest University Park 9,500
Las Vegas 51s 1919 New York Mets Las Vegas, Nevada Cashman Field 9,334
Salt Lake Bees 1994 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Salt Lake City, Utah Smith's Ballpark 15,411

Current team rosters

Teams timeline

Note: Teams in italics are PCL "classic" teams from the league's height in the 1950s.

1The 1917 Portland Beavers ceased operations, and its slot in the PCL was offered to Sacramento.
2The 1905 Tacoma Tigers were moved back to Sacramento in the middle of the 1905 season due to poor play, then were moved again to Fresno the following season.
3The 1907–08 Sacramento Solons played in the California League after returning from Fresno.
4The 1907–18 Seattle Indians played in the Class B Northwest League.

Former American Association teams

Five current league teams were acquired by the PCL following the disbandment of the American Association after the 1997 season.

5The Oklahoma City 89ers were a member of the Pacific Coast League from 1963–1968.
6The Denver Bears were a member of the Pacific Coast League from 1963–1968.

Defunct teams

Presidents of the PCL

  • 1903–1906 Eugene F. Bert
  • 1907–1909 J. Cal Ewing
  • 1910–1911 Judge Thomas F. Graham
  • 1912–1919 Allan T. Baum
  • 1920–1923 William H. McCarthy
  • 1924–1931 Harry A. Williams
  • 1932–1935 Hyland H. Baggerly
  • 1936–1943 Wilbur C. Tuttle
  • 1944–1954 Clarence H. Rowland

Past champions


MVP award

This award began in 1927.[10]

Pitcher of the Year Award

This award began in 2001.[10]

Rookie of the Year Award

This award began in 1998.[10]

Manager of the Year Award

This award began in 1967.[10]

Executive of the Year Award

For winners since the award began in 1974, see footnote[10]

Hall of fame

See also


  2. "History – Pacific Coast League Historical Society". 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  3. "Pacific Coast League Votes to Become a Major League". The Milwaukee Journal. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. AP. 5 December 1945. p. L6. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  4. "Frank Shellenback Statistics and History". 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  5. "Frank Shellenback – BR Bullpen". 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  6. Weiss, William J., ed. (1969). "Records". Pacific Coast League Record Book. Pacific Coast League. p. 30.
  7. "Pacific Coast League: Attendance". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  8. " Frequently Asked Questions". The Official Site of Minor League Baseball. 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  9. "PCL approves Sidewinders sale; Reno gets site." The Arizona Daily Star. 13 July 2007. 4 February 2008.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 Pacific Coast League Award Winners. Pacific Coast League official website. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
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