Southern Association

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The Southern Association was a higher-level minor league in organized baseball from 1902 through 1961. From 1936 - as an A1 and then a Class AA league - the Southern Association was two steps below the major leagues.

Organized in 1901 at Birmingham's Morris Hotel, the Association took the place of the former Southern League which had dissolved in 1889. It played its first season in 1902. Though it once had as many as twelve members, the Association operated primarily as an eight-team loop. Seven teams; the Atlanta Crackers, Birmingham Barons, Chattanooga Lookouts, Little Rock Travelers, Memphis Chicks, Nashville Vols, and New Orleans Pelicans, remained with the Association throughout its tenure. The Knoxville Smokies, Mobile Bears, and Shreveport Sports were among the most prominent eighth members.

After Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1946 with the Montreal Royals of the International League, the Southern Association held fast to the "Jim Crow" segregation laws of the time and never permitted an African-American to play in the circuit.

A boycott led by civil rights leaders and the encroachment of television contributed to the Association's demise in 1961. The Atlanta club moved up to the AAA International League in 1962, with Little Rock following suit (as the Arkansas Travelers) in 1963. After a one-year hiatus, Nashville and Chattanooga joined the South Atlantic League in 1963; Birmingham and Mobile fielded teams in the new Southern League, and Memphis entered the Texas League later during the 1960s.

The current AA Southern League is not descended directly from the Southern Association. Instead it came into existence in 1964 as the successor to the original South Atlantic League.