Now classified as Triple-A, the Mexican League is regarded in Mexico as the domestic major league. There have actually been six Mexican leagues of note. The first was an outlaw circuit directed by Jorge Pasquel from the late 1930s until 1953. Having major league ambitions, Pasquel stocked his teams with Negro League greats, then raided the U.S. major leagues for additional talent when a player surplus and pay cuts there followed the WWII player shortage. Pasquel’s raids netted 23 ML regulars, most of whom jumped to the Quebec Provincial League in 1948-49, and were reinstated by the majors in June 1949. Struggling financially, Pasquel’s league dissolved in 1953. The northern clubs merged into the Arizona-Texas and Arizona-Mexico leagues of 1953-57. The Mexican League proper was reorganized in 1955 and has operated continuously since.
The Mexican Central League, recognized as Class-A, was formed in 1960, and was joined during the decade by the short-lived Mexican Northern League, Mexican Pacific League, and Mexican Rookie League. All were based on previously existing outlaw circuits. The last three were acknowledged farm leagues for the Mexican League, but the Mexican Central League, while hosting some farm clubs, had aspirations to equal status. The Mexican and Central leagues finally merged into a single 20-team circuit with four divisions in 1979. A players’ strike curtailed the 1980 season, but six clubs broke the strike to play a 40-game schedule. Following numerous bankruptcies, the Mexican League dwindled to 14 teams in two divisions.
Long known as a last stop for over-the-hill major leaguers, the Mexican League has swung back and forth between dead-ball and lively-ball eras. A new lively-ball era commenced in 1984: In 1983 no player hit 20 home runs; in 1986 14 hit more than 30.