|Replaced by||Double-A South|
|Jackson Generals (2019)|
|Most titles||Birmingham Barons (7)|
The Southern League was a Minor League Baseball league that operated in the Southern United States from 1964 to 2020. Along with the Eastern League and Texas League, it was one of three circuits playing at the Double-A level, which is two grades below Major League Baseball. Its headquarters were in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, Georgia. The league was replaced by Double-A South.
The league traced its roots to the original Southern League (1885–1899), the Southern Association (1901–1961), and the original South Atlantic League (1904–1963). The later circuit was renamed the Southern League in 1964, and the league elected to maintain records from that season onward. In its inaugural 1964 season, the Southern League consisted of eight teams from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. In its final season, following contractions, expansions, and relocations, the league consisted of ten teams in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
A league champion was determined at the end of every season. The Birmingham A's/Barons won 7 Southern League titles, the most among all teams in the league, followed by the Jacksonville Suns (6) and the Montgomery Rebels (5).
The original Southern League was formed prior to the 1885 season as an eight-team circuit playing in the Southern United States. It operated at various times as a Class B league.Fraught with financial problems, teams regularly dropped out before the season's end. After being nonoperational in 1891, 1892, and 1897, it disbanded permanently after halting play during the 1899 season.
The Southern Association was formed in 1901 as a Class B circuit operating in nearly the same footprint as the first Southern League. It was elevated to Class A in 1902, Class A1 in 1936, and Double-A in 1946.The Southern Association remained a premier Southern baseball league until Major League Baseball radio and television broadcasts began to undercut attendance in the 1950s. The league disbanded after 1961.
The original South Atlantic League, nicknamed the "SALLY League" and not related to the current South Atlantic League (formerly the Western Carolinas League), was formed in 1904. It operated at Class C until it was elevated to Class B in 1921 and Class A in 1946.A year after the Southern Association's disbandment, the SALLY League took its place at the Double-A level in 1963.
The Double-A SALLY League was reorganized as the Southern League in 1964. It elected to start with a clean slate and not maintain records prior to the 1964 season. The newly minted league wanted to distance itself from the SALLY League's past history in the low minors (Class C was roughly equivalent to an Advanced Rookie league today, while Class B was roughly equivalent to short-season Class A). Additionally, many leagues had contributed to its legacy.In its inaugural campaign, the six-team Southern League consisted of the Asheville Tourists, Birmingham Barons, Charlotte Hornets, Chattanooga Lookouts, Columbus Confederate Yankees, Knoxville Smokies, Lynchburg White Sox, and Macon Peaches. Sam C. Smith, previously president of the SALLY League, served as its president.
From 1967 to 1969, the league was reduced to six teams.It went back to eight clubs in 1970, but dropped to seven in 1971. With an odd number of teams, the Southern League joined forces with the Double-A Texas League as the Dixie Association in 1971. The two leagues played an interlocking schedule with individual league champions determined at the end of the season. Up to this point, the Southern League champions had been simply the regular season pennant winners. For the first time, the top two Southern League teams met in a best-of-three series to determine champions. The Charlotte Hornets defeated the Asheville Tourists, 2–1, and then defeated the Texas League champion Arkansas Travelers, 3–0, to win the Dixie Association championship. The partnership was dissolved after the season.
President Smith died suddenly in April 1971, and Billy Hitchcock became the new president that August. teams. Other improvements under Hitchcock's presidency included stadium refurbishments and efforts to make the league more family-friendly. Attendance figures rose dramatically during his tenure.Hitchcock introduced a number of changes that are still in use today. In 1972, the Southern League was split into two divisions, Eastern and Western. The playoffs, which began in the Dixie Association, were continued and expanded to a best-of-five series. The league also began selecting postseason All-Star teams and issuing awards for the Most Valuable Player, Most Outstanding Pitcher, and Manager of the Year. In 1976, it introduced a split-season format with the schedule divided in half and first and second half champions from each division being crowned. This expanded the playoffs to two rounds with the winners of each half competing for each division's championship and the those winners meeting for the league championship. With the addition of two teams in 1978, the Southern League grew to 10
Jim Bragan became president in 1981 after Hitchcock's retirement. years leading the Southern League, attendance continued to grow as several cities built new ballparks. In 1994, Arnold D. Fielkow succeeded Bragan as president, and Don Mincher took over in 2000. Lori Webb became president in 2012 after Mincher's death that March.Over his 14
The start of the 2020 season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic before ultimately being cancelled on June 30.The league ceased operations before the 2021 season in conjunction with Major League Baseball's reorganization of Minor League Baseball. The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp were selected to move up to the Triple-A classification as members of the Triple-A East. The Jackson Generals were not invited to serve as any team's affiliate, effectively removing them from the Southern League and affiliated baseball. The other eight teams—the Biloxi Shuckers, Birmingham Barons, Chattanooga Lookouts, Mississippi Braves, Montgomery Biscuits, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Rocket City Trash Pandas, and Tennessee Smokies—were placed in the Double-A South.
As of its final season, the Southern League was divided into two divisions, North and South, of five teams each. games scheduled per season. Utilizing a split-season schedule, each half consisted of 70 games. The season typically began during the first or second week of April and concluded in the first week of September on Labor Day.Previously, from 1972 to 2004, the league was split into Eastern and Western divisions. There were no divisions in place from 1964 to 1970. Each club had 140
The Southern League All-Star Game was an annual midsummer game between two teams of the league's players, one made up of All-Stars from North Division teams and the other from South Division teams. First held in 1964,the event predominantly consisted of a single team of the league's All-Stars versus a Major League Baseball team through 1998. The division versus division format was used continuously from 1999 to 2019. No game was held from 1991 to 1995 as the Southern League and the other two Double-A leagues, the Eastern League and Texas League, participated in the Double-A All-Star Game instead.
League membersDixie AssociationOther League active in 2020Other Defunct League
A "^" indicates that team's article redirects to an article of an active team formerly of the Southern League
League champions were determined by different means since the Southern League's formation in 1964.Through 1970, champions were simply the regular season pennant winners. A single-round postseason playoff series to crown a champion was established in 1971 under the Dixie Association. The playoffs continued in 1972 and were expanded to two rounds in 1976.
The Birmingham A's/Barons won 7 Southern League championships, the most among all teams in the league, followed by the Jacksonville Suns (6) and the Montgomery Rebels (5).
Six presidents led the Southern League since its formation:
The Texas League was a Minor League Baseball league which operated in the South Central United States from 1902 to 2020. It was classified as a Double-A league. Despite the league's name, only its five South Division teams were actually based in the state of Texas in its final season; the five North Division teams were located in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. The league maintained its headquarters in Fort Worth.
The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp are a Minor League Baseball team of the Triple-A East and the Triple-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins. They are located in Jacksonville, Florida, and are named for shrimp caught in the area. The team plays their home games at 121 Financial Ballpark, which opened in 2003. They previously played at Sam W. Wolfson Baseball Park from 1962 until the end of the 2002 season.
The Huntsville Stars were a Minor League Baseball team that played in Huntsville, Alabama, from 1985 to 2014. They competed in the Southern League as the Double-A affiliate of Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics from 1985 to 1998 and Milwaukee Brewers from 1999 to 2014. The Stars played their home games at Joe W. Davis Stadium and were named for the space industry with which Huntsville is economically tied.
The Charlotte Knights are a Minor League Baseball team of the Triple-A East and the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. They are located in Charlotte, North Carolina, and play their home games at Truist Field, which opened in 2014 and is located in Uptown Charlotte. The team previously played at Knights Park (1976–1988), Knights Castle (1989), and Knights Stadium (1990–2013).
The Tennessee Smokies are a Minor League Baseball team based in the Knoxville, Tennessee, metropolitan area. The team, which plays in the Double-A South, is the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Smokies Stadium, the team's ballpark, is located in the suburb of Kodak, and seats up to 8,000 fans. The team was based in Knoxville and called the Knoxville Smokies for many years before moving to Kodak and changing its name prior to the 2000 season. The team's nickname refers to the Great Smoky Mountains mountain range which permeates the region; mountains in the chain are often clouded in a hazy mist that may appear as smoke rising from the forest.
The Southern Association was a higher-level minor league in American organized baseball from 1901 through 1961. For most of its existence, the Southern Association was two steps below the Major Leagues; it was graded Class A (1902–1935), Class A1 (1936–1945) and Class AA (1946–1961). Although the SA was known as the Southern League through 1919, today's Double-A Southern League is not descended from the Southern Association; the modern SL came into existence in 1964 as the successor to the original South Atlantic ("Sally") League.
Harry William Walker was an American professional baseball player, coach and manager. Known by the nickname "Harry the Hat", he played as a center fielder in Major League Baseball between 1940 and 1955, most notably as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals with whom he won two world championships and was the 1947 National League batting champion.
The Mobile Bears were an American minor league baseball team based in Mobile, Alabama. The franchise was a member of the old Southern Association, a high-level circuit that folded after the 1961 season. Mobile joined the SA in 1908 as the Sea Gulls, but changed its name to the Bears in 1918, and the nickname stuck. The club played in the Association until July 1931, when it moved to Knoxville, Tennessee. Almost exactly 13 years later, in July 1944, the Bears returned to Mobile when the Knoxville Smokies franchise shifted back from Tennessee.
William Clyde Hitchcock was an American professional baseball infielder, coach, manager and scout. In Major League Baseball (MLB), he was primarily a third baseman, second baseman and shortstop who appeared in 703 games over nine years with five American League teams. After 18 years as a coach, manager, and scout he became an executive in Minor League Baseball, serving as president of the Double-A Southern League from 1971–80. His older brother, Jimmy Hitchcock, played briefly for the 1938 Boston Bees.
Welby Sheldon "Buddy" Bailey is an American professional baseball manager and former Major League coach with 40 years of experience in the game, 30 as a minor league manager. Bailey is currently manager of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans of the Low-A East. He has been a member of the Chicago Cubs' organization since 2006.
The Columbus Mudcats were a Minor League Baseball team that played in the Double-A Southern League from 1969 to 1990. They were located in Columbus, Georgia, and played their home games at Golden Park. Founded as the Columbus White Sox in 1969, they were named for their Major League Baseball affiliate, the Chicago White Sox. They became the Columbus Astros in 1970 upon affiliating with the Houston Astros. The Astros won their lone Southern League championship in 1986. Columbus rebranded as the Mudcats in 1989 for their final two years in Columbus.
James Alton Bragan was an infielder, manager and league president in American minor league baseball, a scout and coach at the Major League level, and a college baseball coach during a 40-plus year career in the game. He was the brother of MLB catcher, shortstop, manager and coach Bobby Bragan, also a minor league president.
The Fort Worth Cats were a minor league baseball team that mostly played in the Texas League from 1888 through 1964. They were affiliated with the Indianapolis Indians in 1933, the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1946 to 1956, and the Chicago Cubs from 1957 to 1958. The team joined the American Association in 1959 and then merged with the Dallas Rangers in 1959 to become the Dallas-Fort Worth Rangers. The teams separated again in 1964 when the Cats rejoined the Texas League, but they merged again the following year and became the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs. The 1920, 1921, 1922, 1924, and 1925 Panthers teams were selected as among the top 100 minor league teams of all time.
The Negro Southern League (NSL) was one of the several Negro baseball leagues created during the time organized baseball was segregated. The NSL was organized as a minor league in 1920 and lasted until 1936. It was considered a major league for the 1932 season and it was also the only organized league to finish its full schedule that season. Prior to the season, several established teams joined the NSL, mainly from the collapsed Negro National League.
The Dixie Association was an interleague partnership between the Texas League (TL) and the Southern League (SL) Double-A leagues of Minor League Baseball in 1971. The two leagues played an interlocking schedule. The partnership was dissolved after the season.
The Southern League Hall of Fame is an American baseball hall of fame which honors players, managers, coaches, umpires, owners, executives, and media personnel of the Southern League of Minor League Baseball for their accomplishments and/or contributions to the league and its teams. The Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 2014. Through the elections for 2020, a total of 45 people have been inducted.
The Southern League All-Star Game was an annual baseball game sanctioned by Minor League Baseball between professional players from the teams of the Double-A Southern League. Each division, North and South, fielded a team composed of players in their respective divisions as voted on by the managers, general managers, and broadcasters from each of the league's eight clubs.
The Memphis Chicks were a Minor League Baseball team that played in the Southern Association from 1901 to 1960. They were located in Memphis, Tennessee, and played their home games at Russwood Park. Known originally as the Memphis Egyptians and Memphis Turtles before becoming the Memphis Chickasaws, often shortened to Chicks, they were charter members of the Southern Association.
The South Atlantic League, nicknamed the SALLY League, was a Minor League Baseball league that operated in the Southern United States intermittently from 1904 to 1963. Initially Class C league, it was elevated to Class B in 1921, Class A in 1946, and Double-A in 1963. The circuit was renamed the Southern League in 1964, and the league elected to maintain a new set of records from that season onward.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Southern League .|