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The Sporting News, Vault - A baseball archive of unexpected delight. Along with this first round of expansion came an era of superb pitching that dominated the league for a generation. The earned run averages for pitchers during this era averaged 3. Several changes in the game were believed to account for the resurgence of pitching; the strike zone was expanded in ; managers explored more strategic uses of the relief pitchers; and new glove technology improved defensive play.

At the same time, a new generation of large multipurpose stadiums came into use. These stadiums typically used artificial turf that was harder and faster than natural grass. As a result, new emphasis was placed on speed in the field and on the base paths. Fearing that the dominance of pitching was hurting fan interest in the game, the major league tried to improve hitting by lowering the mound and narrowing the strike zone in In hopes of further increasing offensive play, the American League introduced the designated hitter in The changes did increase offensive output, but pitching still dominated through much of the s.

In new franchises were awarded to Montreal the Expos , the first major league franchise outside the United States and San Diego , California the Padres , bringing the National League to 12 teams.

In the American League in , new franchises in Kansas City, Missouri the Royals , and Seattle, Washington the Pilots , brought that league to 12 teams, and both leagues were divided into Eastern and Western divisions. Play-offs between division winners determined the league pennant winners, who then played in the World Series, which was extended into late October.

California, which had had no major league baseball prior to , had five teams by Of the new franchises, only Seattle failed outright and was moved to Milwaukee, where it became the Brewers moved to the National League in a reorganization. A franchise was again granted to Seattle the Mariners and to Toronto the Blue Jays , bringing the number of American League teams to 14 in In both leagues were reconfigured into East, Central, and West divisions.

The play-off format was changed to include an additional round and a Wild Card the team with the best record among the non-division-winning teams in each league. The play-offs were again expanded in , when a second Wild Card was added to each league.

Under the revised system, the two Wild Card teams play a one-game play-off, with the winner advancing to the best-of-five-games division series. An explosion of offense occurred in the mids and after. In particular, home runs increased dramatically, reaching record-breaking numbers from to and again in the late s. The reasons for the change from dominant pitching to hitting were not entirely clear. Many claimed the ball had been engineered to fly farther; others claimed that continual expansion had diluted the quality of pitching.

The improved off-season conditioning that now often included weight lifting made players stronger and quicker with their bats. The s also saw another generation of new ballparks, many of which featured small dimensions that were more to the liking of power hitters. During the later half of the 20th century, expansion was perceived by baseball executives as both a source of added revenue for clubs large entry fees were charged to new franchises as well as a means of generating new interest in the game.

In , however, concerns over economically underperforming clubs prompted owners to announce plans to eliminate two teams widely believed to be the Minnesota Twins and the since-relocated Montreal Expos.

The minor leagues formed an association in to deal with the problems resulting from the lack of agreement on contract ownership, salaries, territoriality, and other issues. The current structure was created when the major leagues reached their agreement in , and the minor leagues became a training ground for prospective major league players and a refuge for older players. In Branch Rickey , then manager of the St.

Other major league clubs followed suit, developing their own farm clubs that were tied into the minors. In the minor leagues were tremendously popular: The minor leagues at that time were divided into six classifications, graded according to the level of playing skills: Attendance eroded soon thereafter when the major leagues began broadcasting and televising their games into minor league attendance areas.

By the early s, after the American and National leagues had annexed 10 choice minor league territories, the number of minor league teams had been greatly reduced, and only 17 leagues remained. Attendance had dropped, and the minor league clubs generally looked to the major league parent clubs for heavy subsidization.

The purpose of the minor leagues had evolved from mainly providing local entertainment to developing major league talent. This situation improved in the early s. As ticket prices for major league games escalated, attendance at less expensive minor league games rose apace. Further, development of new stadiums and renovation of existing facilities created more interest in minor league baseball.

By attendance at minor league games had reached more than The minor league franchises successfully concentrated on drawing families to their parks with both games and promotional entertainment.

From the beginning of organized professional baseball, the owners had controlled the game, players, managers, and umpires. The players had begun to organize as early as , when a group of New York Giants formed the National Brotherhood of Base Ball Players, a benevolent and protective association. Under the leadership of John Montgomery Ward, who had a law degree and was a player for the Giants, the Brotherhood grew rapidly as a secret organization. Rebuffed in attempts to negotiate with league owners, the Brotherhood in formed the short-lived Players League.

During the National League—American League war of —03, the Protective Association of Professional Baseball Players got National League players to switch to the other league, but with the peace treaty the association died. It was organized after the suspension of Ty Cobb for punching a fan.

Later a threatened strike was settled the day before it was to begin. After a Supreme Court decision reaffirmed a decision stating that baseball was not a business that was subject to antitrust rules, baseball felt assured that its legal and economic foundation was firm. This foundation is primarily based on the Reserve Rule , or Reserve Clause, an agreement among major league teams, dating from , whereby the rights of each team to the services of its players are observed by other teams; i.

The original number of 5 such players was increased to 11 in and ultimately included a whole team roster. The recourse the court failed to provide was in substance achieved by the Major League Baseball Players Association —founded in but largely ineffectual until , when it hired as executive director Marvin Miller , a former labour-union official who also had been active in government in labour-management relations.

In a new suit was brought in federal court contesting the Reserve Clause. The plaintiff was Curt Flood , star outfielder of the St. Louis Cardinals, and the defendants were the commissioner, the two major league presidents, and the major league clubs. Flood claimed that, in trading him to the Philadelphia Phillies without his knowledge or approval, the Cardinals had violated the antitrust laws.

He refused to report to the Phillies and sat out the season. The court found against Flood, who appealed, and in the U. Supreme Court reaffirmed the and decisions exempting baseball from the antitrust laws, but it called on Congress to correct through legislation any inequities. Meanwhile, Flood had signed for the season with Washington on the understanding that he would not be sold or traded without his permission. He quit in midseason, however. In baseball had its first general strike , lasting 13 days and causing the cancellation of 86 regular-season games and delaying the divisional play-offs and World Series by 10 days.

The players asked for and ultimately got an addition to the pension fund. These were unprecedented victories for the players, but their greatest triumph came prior to the season. Pitchers Andy Messersmith of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Dave McNally of the Montreal Expos played the entire season without signing a contract ; their contracts had expired but were automatically renewed by their clubs.

Miller had been waiting for such a test case. Arbitrator Peter Seitz found for the players. This decision substantively demolished the Reserve Rule. Stunned, the owners appealed but without success.

Negotiations followed, however, and the union agreed to a modification of the Reserve Rule: The ruling allowed eligible players who refused to sign their contracts to choose free agency in Twenty-four players took immediate advantage of this new opportunity and went on the open market. Frantic bidding by the clubs followed.

Bill Campbell, a relief pitcher with the Minnesota Twins, was the first free agent to make a new connection. The free agency procedure was the principal issue when the players struck for 50 days at the height of the season June 12—July 31 , forcing the cancellation of games. Once again the players won.

The union contended that such compensation would impede movement, forcing the signing club, in effect, to pay twice: Under certain conditions relating to the quality of the player, however, the team that lost the free agent could draft a player from among those assigned to a compensation pool by their teams, and it could select an amateur draft choice from the signing team.

Fan interest continued to rise, and major league attendance records were broken six times in the —91 seasons. The major source of revenue, however, was television. The negotiations that followed were inconclusive, and on August 12 the players went on strike, shutting down all major league play for the remainder of the season.

The owners again acted unilaterally in February , eliminating salary arbitration, free agent bidding, and anticollusion provisions.

Again the NLRB responded, seeking an injunction that would force ownership to operate under the old contract until a new agreement could be reached with the union. The —95 strike lasted days, erased games from the season, from the season , forced the first cancellation of the World Series since , disrupted the economies of cities and states, and disappointed millions of fans—all without reaching a resolution.

As a result, there was an unprecedented decline in attendance during the season. Attendance improved by , but player compensation had soared; the average salary paid to a player had risen dramatically.

But while the average player salary increased sharply, the median player salary had not, meaning that the salaries paid to superstars of the game increased at a much greater rate than those of ordinary players. When the first professional league was formed four years later, it had no written rule barring black players, but it was tacitly understood that they were not welcome. The colour line was not consistently enforced, though, during the early years of professionalism.

At least 60 black players performed in the minor leagues during the late 19th century—mostly in all-black clubs. In two African Americans played in a recognized major league, the American Association. The number of black players in professional leagues peaked in when Fleet Walker, second baseman Bud Fowler, pitcher George Stovey, pitcher Robert Higgins, and Frank Grant, a second baseman who was probably the best black player of the 19th century, were on rosters of clubs in the International League, one rung below the majors.

At least 15 other black players were in lesser professional leagues. Although they suffered harassment and discrimination off the field, they were grudgingly accepted by most of their teammates and opponents. There were other disturbing signs of exclusion for black players in Louis Browns , American Association champions, refused to play an exhibition game against the all-black Cuban Giants. We will cheerfully play against white people at any time.

The Ohio State League also wrestled inconclusively with the colour question. It was becoming clear that the colour bar was gradually being raised. Black players were in the minor leagues for the next few years, but their numbers declined steadily. The last black players in the recognized minor leagues during 19th century were the Acme Colored Giants, who represented Celoron, New York, in the Iron and Oil Leagues in As the 20th century dawned, separation of the races was becoming the rule, especially in the South.

Supreme Court had written segregation into national law in in Plessy v. Ferguson , which approved separate schools for black and white children. In the South , state laws and local ordinances placed limits on the use of public facilities by African Americans and forbade athletic competition between blacks and whites.

In the North , African Americans were not usually segregated by law, but local custom dictated second-class citizenship for them. Nevertheless, the idea of black players in the major and minor leagues was not yet unthinkable. In John J. McGraw , manager of the Baltimore Orioles in the new American League, tried to sign a black second baseman named Charlie Grant by saying that he was a Native American named Tokohama, a member of the Cherokee tribe.

The effort failed when rivals correctly identified Grant instead as a member of the Chicago Columbia Giants, a black team. Increasingly, black players who wanted to play professionally had to join all-black teams. Several swarthy players in the big leagues were widely assumed to be black, although they claimed to be white Latin Americans. No admitted black men played in the white leagues at the time.

With the growing base of potential fans in the North, top-quality black teams appeared in the Northeast and Midwest. These teams vied for the mythical "colored championship of the world" and also played white semipro and college teams.

During the week they played white clubs in nearby towns. Major league teams often played black teams during spring training trips to Cuba and sometimes had postseason games against black clubs in the United States. In , for example, the Chicago Cubs won three close games in a series with the Leland Giants.

In , eastern black teams won four of eight games against big league teams, including a five-hit shutout of the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies by Smokey Joe Williams of the Lincoln Giants.

In the late s Commissioner Landis forbade big league clubs from competing in toto in the off-season. Partisans of black baseball believed it was because black teams often beat the major leaguers.

In the Midwest a few teams barnstormed all season long. The Kansas City Kansas Giants, for example, were on the road all summer, traveling mostly by railroad. Their opponents were white semipro teams throughout the Midwestern states and southern Canada.

Although a black face was a novelty in the small towns, the players remembered that by and large they had little trouble finding food and lodging in the rural areas. In the s a Negro World Series was begun and was held annually until the Negro leagues failed in the s.

After World War II, attendance at Negro league games declined as outstanding players were lost to formerly all-white teams. For more in-depth information on this topic, see Negro league s. Several major league teams either discussed or attempted the racial integration of professional baseball in the s.

The interest in integration in the s was sparked by several factors—the increasing economic and political influence of urban blacks, the success of black ballplayers in exhibition games with major leaguers, and especially the participation of African Americans in World War II.

The hypocrisy of fighting fascism abroad while tolerating segregation at home was difficult to ignore. Though he had made several public declarations that there was no colour barrier in baseball, during his tenure Landis prevented any attempts at signing black players. In Jackie Robinson became the first black player in the modern major leagues. His arrival was the result of careful planning by Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey , who began researching the idea of signing a black player and scouting for the right individual when he joined the Dodgers in In a meeting with Robinson in , Rickey badgered the player for several hours about the abuse and hostility he would receive from players and fans and warned him that he must not retaliate.

Robinson agreed and spent the season with the Dodgers minor league franchise in Montreal in preparation for playing in the big leagues. Robinson, who was named Most Valuable Player in the National League after his third year, was followed into the major leagues immediately by Larry Doby and in by Paige. Despite the successes of Robinson, Doby, and Paige, full integration of the major leagues came about slowly and was not completed until when Elijah Green joined the Boston Red Sox.

The impact of black players on the field was significant. They brought over from the Negro leagues an aggressive style of play that combined power hitting with daring on the base paths. Black players soon established themselves as major league stars. In the s, membership in the Hall was opened to the bygone stars of the Negro leagues. By that time acceptance of black players was commonplace. However, inclusion of minorities in coaching and administrative positions was virtually nonexistent.

In Gene Baker became the first African American to manage a minor league team, and in the mids there were only two African American coaches in the major leagues. In the Cleveland Indians made Frank Robinson the first black field manager in major league history.

However, opportunities for minorities in managerial positions were rare, and their representation in leadership positions remains an issue. Women have played organized baseball since the s. Students at the all-female Vassar College formed baseball teams as early as An Ohio woman, Alta Weiss, pitched for the otherwise all-male semiprofessional Vermilion Independents in Jackie Mitchell became the first female professional baseball player when she signed a contract with the minor league Chattanooga Lookouts in The league management, however, was concerned that the players appear feminine to the fans, and rules encouraging the wearing of lipstick and long hair and banning the wearing of trousers off the field were promulgated.

These female players were eventually recognized with an exhibit at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in While women have participated in professional baseball for more than a century, their impact on the game has been limited. After the divorce of amateur baseball in the United States from its professional counterpart in , the amateur game continued to thrive on vacant lots in towns and cities and on pastures in the countryside.

Becoming popular internationally, amateur baseball traveled to Latin America and Asia. Further, play by U. The organization, headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, has hosted a Baseball World Cup since As would be expected, baseball is one of the more important amateur sports in the United States.

The first national amateur baseball program was the American Legion Junior League, founded in and later called the American Legion Baseball League, with an upper age limit of 19 years for players. The American Amateur Baseball Congress founded conducts programs for youths age 8 to 19 and adults in seven divisions. By the late s Little League founded , originally for boys 8 to 12 years old, had about 2,, players in its baseball program and , in its softball program in countries.

Little League has added leagues for children as young as age 5 Tee Ball, in which the ball is batted from a stationary pedestal and for youths as old as age 18 Big League. In girls were admitted into Little League play; boys and girls play together in the baseball program, but the softball program is divided by gender.

By more than colleges fielded baseball teams under the NCAA. From the organization has conducted the College World Series, held since in Omaha, Nebraska. Baseball was first played in the United States in the s but soon after became an international sport. The game was introduced in Cuba in when students returned home from the United States with a bat and ball. Baseball took hold and in fact became part of the Cuban identity in the independence struggle against Spain in the last quarter of the 19th century.

Cubans helped spread the game throughout the Caribbean region. Two Cuban brothers brought baseball to the Dominican Republic in the s, and Cubans, along with local nationals who had studied in the United States, introduced baseball to Venezuela in and to Puerto Rico in Cuban refugees from the independence struggle, along with railroad workers and U.

Today baseball remains the most important sport in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela and is among the most popular sports in Puerto Rico. Football soccer remains the dominant sport in Mexico but is challenged by baseball in certain regions of the country; baseball is also an important sport in Central America. In the final decades of the 20th century, players from Latin American countries and Puerto Rico became an increasingly dominant force in major league baseball in the United States.

Latin Americans in Major League Baseball. Games are played between October and January, with the winners of the four leagues meeting in the Caribbean Series each February.

In Mexico there is also a summer league affiliated with Minor League Baseball the governing body of minor league baseball in the United States that has been given Triple A status. Professional baseball leagues existed in Cuba see also Cuban League from until , when the Cuban government abolished the professional game. With all the Cuban talent now at the amateur level, the Cubans began to dominate international amateur competition, winning the first gold medals given in baseball at the Olympic Games in Barcelona Baseball was introduced in Japan in the s.

It quickly gained popularity and by the end of the century had become a national sport. A professional league was organized in , and the two current leagues, the Central and the Pacific, began to operate in see also Japanese baseball leagues.

The most famous Japanese professional player is Oh Sadaharu , who hit home runs while playing for the Yomiuri Giants between and Barry Bonds , the leading home-run hitter in U. While the Japanese leagues have long imported players from the United States, only recently have Japanese players begun to play in the major leagues in the United States.

In pitcher Hideo Nomo became the first Japanese citizen to join a U. Nomo won National League Rookie of the Year honours for his performance with the Los Angeles Dodgers in , became a hero in Japan, and drew the attention of the American public to the quality of Japanese baseball.