International League

The International League, the oldest minor league in existence, was founded in 1883 as the Interstate League, either the second or the fourth minor league formed, depending on the definition. It was reorganized as the Eastern League in 1884 and took the name International League in 1913. Usually one of the strongest minor leagues, it has boasted some legendary teams. The Baltimore Orioles of the 1910s and 1920s, owned by Jack Dunn, developed such stars as Babe Ruth (who hit only one HR in his short time in the minors), Lefty GroveMax Bishop, and George Earnshaw. They won seven straight pennants (1919-25) by keeping many of those stars for years after they were ready for the majors. Minor league teams were still mostly independent then, not tightly controlled by major league teams. The late 1930s Newark Bears, referred to as the Yankee B-team featured future stars Joe Gordon and Charlie Keller. Clubs in Toronto and Montreal justified the International name, and it was in Montreal, where Branch Rickey judged that racial prejudice would be less of a problem than in the States, that Jackie Robinson made his organized-baseball debut in 1946.

In 1988 the International League combined with the American Association in the “Triple-A Alliance”, playing interleague games and a postseason series.