Minor league baseball.

Is baseball the only sport that has a minor league? I can’t find any other. In football, basketball, and others it seems it’s from college directly to the majors or nothing for the players.
Also, do minor league baseball players make any money?


I see I should have been more specific. I meant professional “farm league”, I think it is. Teams associated with major league teams, where players hope to advance to the majors.
A long time ago I knew a kid who played for the Bakersfield Dodgers (or Bears, I don’t recall), an affiliate of the LA team. I don’t know what happened with him.
I had skimmed Munch’s link earlier. I saw mostly amateurs. Maybe I should read more closely.

College football is effectively the NFL’s minor league. There’s also a recent upstart league, the UFL, and there have been other attempts…WLAF, USFL, NFL-Europe, etc.
There are, or at least used to be, minor league hockey and basketball leagues.

Hockey also has a minor league system with the AHL(Triple-A equivalent) and the ECHL(Double-A equivalent).

I had the impression that Canadian Football used to serve as a repository for potential NFL players.
My sports ignorance is surely showing here. :stuck_out_tongue:
I loved playing when I was a kid, but my experience was limited to the likes of “workups” softball, with some girls, even. And volleyball. It was fun. Watching the pros, for me, just wasn’t. I’d rather read a good novel.

Rysto beat me to it. The AHL and ECHL are organized in more or less the same manner as baseball’s organized minor leagues, with the franchises being owned or having agreements by/with NHL clubs that can move players up and down depending on their contractual status.

The system is not quite as extensive as baseball’s multi-level system (for some reason, Anaheim has no AHL affiliate; it would be unheard of now for a baseball team to not have a full minor league system) but the evidence would suggest it doesn’t have to be.

Hockey is totally foreign to me, even though we have the San Jose Sharks within aneasy drive from where I live.
I’n off to breafast, where I’ll read King’s new novel, “Under the Dome”, while Cal’s whooping Stanford. :smiley:

It has to do with how the sports developed.

Football and basketball were primarily college sports. Football was played regularly in college and, prior to 1920, there was no pro football. It actually wasn’t until the 1950s that the pro game started getting more coverage than college.

Basketball was the same, with no pro component until after WWII.

Since in both cases, pro players were hired from college, local fans would root for their local college (or the college they graduated from). Note that Football and Basketball pro leagues were founded when radio was around, but the baseball minor leagues predated that. You could follow a pro football team 100 miles away from you almost from the beginning; that wasn’t possible with baseball.

Baseball was different. Though the first major pro league (the National Association) was founded in 1871, and the National League in 1876, there were pro leagues at all sorts of levels. So every decent sized town had its own pro baseball team, playing in hundreds of leagues. They were later categorized as AAA, AA, A, B, C, and D* (this is similar to European soccer leagues, except there was no relegation). You’d go watch the Localville Slammers as they fought out for the title of the South Pennsyltucky League in Class D.

Teams made their money from gate receipts, advertising, concessions, and selling their players to other teams. Thus if the Slammers had an outstanding pitcher, Joe Hardy, scouts from the Shelbyville Isotopes in Class C might offer to buy Hardy’s contract. Hardy would then start playing for Shelbyville. The process continued until a major league scout bought the contract (you could skip a level if someone thought you were good enough).

This system prevailed until WWII. Just before that, the St. Louis Cardinals, let by Branch Rickey, realized it made more sense for them to buy up these minor league teams and use them for player development. They could concentrate on helping the players read their full potential (if you were just going to sell the player anyway, there was no point in spending a lot of effort teaching him to be better), and move them up without having to negotiate a sale (Lefty Grove didn’t make it into the majors until age 25, despite winning 111 games in five years, because the owner of the Baltimore Orioles** – who he played for – was asking for more money than teams were willing to pay).

It worked out well for the Cardinals (they never finished worse than second from 1941-1949) so other teams began to start similar farm systems. At the same time radio and later TV brought in competition from the majors, so minor league franchises started either failing (though who didn’t fail during the Depression, that is) or selling out to the major league clubs. The number of minor leagues kept dropping until it finally stabilized with about 7 teams for each MLB club, generally in leagues set up so that teams can evaluate prospects.

Some independent leagues have arisen in the past decade, too, as people had a desire to go back to the roots of baseball.

As for hockey, the situation in Canada was much the same as with baseball in the US. The NHL was small, and didn’t have much presence in Canada by WWII. If you wanted to see live hockey, you went to a minor league game. Later, a truncated version of the baseball farm system was set up.

*Around 1960 or so, A, B, C, and D were combined into A. Later, Rookie leagues were added as the minor leagues evolved.
**A double A team at the time.

I asked for that, didn’t I? You guys and your stats. :wink:
But thanks, RealityChuck.