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History: | Overview | Predecessors | 1947-59 | 1960-69 | 1970-79 | 1980-89 | 1990-99 | 2000-09 | Cities | Spring |

Midwest League History

MWL Predecessors

Before the Midwest League, there was the Mississippi-Ohio Valley League. It lasted from 1949 to 1955. The MWL is its direct successor, and counts M-OV records as its own.

Before the M-OV, there was the Illinois State League. It was born in 1947. The MWL counts these records, too.

Before the ISL, there was The War. What was before the war?

No league, and many leagues. Above all others, there was the Three-I League.

Major Change

MWL Fan's Guide

The Illinois State League

The Illinois State League's founding towns had almost no history in organized baseball. Mattoon had a Kitty League team in 1906, and played in the Eastern Illinois League the next two summers. Centralia had an EIL team in 1907, too. Mt. Vernon had a 1910 Southern Illinois League franchise.

That's it. They made their new league from new cloth. The ISL's new season made more baseball history than all these predecessor teams together.

But the new league changed. It expanded. Teams failed. Teams moved. Most of the new cities had histories in other leagues; many towns had played in several. Here are the most important threads.

Significant Predecessor Leagues

Central Association

The Central Association lived from 1908 to 1917, then was briefly reborn in the late forties. Burlington and Keokuk played most of those seasons; Clinton, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Quincy, Rockford, and Waterloo played some. Hannibal, Moline, and Rock Island had CA teams, too.

Central League

The Central League played most years from 1903 to 1934, and returned from 1948 to 1951. Fort Wayne and Grand Rapids were usually active in this league; other MWL cities were Dayton, Lansing, Peoria, and South Bend.

Southern Michigan League
Southern Michigan Association

The Southern Michigan League was formed in 1906, changed its name to the Southern Michigan Association in 1910, and lasted through the 1915 season. Battle Creek was a member for the whole period, as were Lansing, Bay City, and Saginaw for most of those years. South Bend was represented for 2 years.

Wisconsin State League

The Wisconsin State League had a brief run from 1905 to 1907, then was active most years from 1940 to 1953. Appleton, Wausau, and Wisconsin Rapids were usually members. Beloit and Madison each joined for one year.

Mississippi Valley League

The Mississippi Valley League's term was 1922 to 1933, and many of our towns had teams for most of those years. Long-term members included Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Moline, Rock Island, and Waterloo. Davenport, Keokuk, Peoria, Quincy, and Springfield also had MVL teams.

The Three-I League

The Three-I League's three eyes were Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana. The league was born in 1901. Although there were brief interruptions, it continued until 1961. While it flourished, it was the Class B big brother to first the Central Association, then the Mississippi Valley League, and finally the MWL, all of which were Class D leagues during its reign. Here's the Three-I's MWL-city roll call:

  • Appleton, 1958-1961
  • Burlington, 1952-1961
  • Cedar Rapids, 1901-09, 1920-21, 1938-42, 1950-61
  • Clinton, 1907-08, 1937-41
  • Danville, 1910-14, 1922-32, 1946-50
  • Davenport, 1901-06, 1909-16, 1946-52, 1957-58
  • Decatur, 1901-09, 1911-15, 1922-32, 1935, 1937-42, 1946-50
  • Dubuque, 1903-15
  • Fort Wayne, 1935
  • Hannibal, 1916-17
  • Keokuk, 1952-57
  • Madison, 1940-42
  • Moline, 1914-17, 1919-23, 1937-41
  • Peoria, 1905-17, 1919-32, 1935, 1937, 1953-57
  • Quincy, 1911-17, 1925-32, 1946-56
  • Rock Island, 1901-11, 1916-17, 1920-21
  • Rockford, 1901-04, 1915-17, 1919-23
  • Springfield, 1903-14, 1925-32, 1935, 1938-42, 1946-49
  • Waterloo, 1910-11, 1938-42, 1946-56


I've counted Moline and Rock Island as Quad Cities teams, even though 1) the River Bandits play in Davenport, and 2) Davenport sometimes played against the other QC towns in these leagues. Had the Bandits moved to Moline, or Bettendorf, I'd likely have reconsidered this decision.

I've treated Michigan's Tri-Cities--Midland, Bay City, and Saginaw--much the same way I treated the Quad Cities.

Geneva (Kane County) isn't listed here, because the Cougars are Geneva's first team. Kane County cities Aurora and Elgin both participated in the Bi-State League's only season, 1915.

This summary originated as the February 27, 1999, Midwest League Tidbit on the Midwest League Mailing List.


The Midwest League plays Single-A, professional baseball in America's agricultural and industrial heartland. 16 teams play a 140 game schedule which begins in early April and ends Labor Day weekend.

This website is a private project and has no official relation with or sanction from the Midwest League or Minor League Baseball.
The opinions expressed on this page are mine, and are worth about that.

Copyright © 1996-2010 Joel Dinda
Some Rights Reserved.