The History And Beginning Of Minor League Baseball

The system known as Minor League Baseball (MiLB) was founded in 1901, when The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues was formed, consisting of 14 leagues and 96 teams. The league was created in response to several independent leagues’ concerns that the “big two” of the American and National Leagues would doom the entire sport with their continuous raiding of independent talent pools.

For its inaugural season in 1902, the NAPBL was divided into four classifications. These were labeled A, B, C and D, to denote the various skill levels of particular players and teams. The system remained intact until 1912, when the double-A classification was added.

The NAPBL expanded to 41 leagues in 1914. By 1918, however, only nine leagues remained. After World War II had ended, the NAPBL grew in popularity, encompassing 448 teams in 59 individual leagues. Today, MiLB is comprised of just 17 leagues.

In 1963, the modern MiLB system was introduced, consisting of six levels (AAA, AA, A-Advanced, A, A-Short Season and Rookie). Though the newly-adopted system was a hard sell to die-hard fans, the change worked. The NAPBL officially changed its name to Minor League Baseball in 1999 and, in 2001, it celebrated its 100th anniversary.

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