Southern League of Professional Baseball
The Southern League of Professional Baseball was a professional baseball league active in the Southern United States from from 1964 to 2020. It was replaced in 2021 by the "Double-A South" division of Major League Baseball's Professional Development League. The Birmingham Barons were members of the league for most of the team's history. The league was headquartered on Main Street in downtown Trussville from 1979 through 1994.
The league traces its history back to 1885, when Henry Grady of the Atlanta Constitution organized a Southern League of Professional Baseball Clubs' with teams from Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus and Macon in Georgia, as well as Birmingham in Alabama and Chattanooga, Memphis and Nashville in Tennessee. The organization did not survive Grady's death in 1889, but was reorganized in 1892, with John McQueen's Barons winning the first pennant of the revived league. Organization remained loose, however, with unreliable transportation and no provisions for make-up games. By 1897, the League had again faded away.
In 1900, a meeting was held in Birmingham to organize the Southern Association, with traveling secretaries assigned to each club to coordinate travel and personnel issues. The league began play in the Spring of 1901 with the Atlanta Crackers, Birmingham Barons, Little Rock Travelers, Memphis Chickasaws, Mobile Bears, Nashville Volunteers, and New Orleans Pelicans. The association came apart in 1963.
Several former Southern Association members joined up with teams from the former South Atlantic League to form a new Southern League in 1964. The Barons were joined by the Asheville Tourists, Charlotte Hornets, Chattanooga Lookouts, Columbus Confederate Yankees, Knoxville Smokies, Lynchburg White Sox, and Macon Peaches for the inaugural season.
In 1971, with just seven teams, the Southern League formed a one-year partnership with the Texas League for interleague play and a 3-game post-season series to crown a Dixie Association champion. That title was claimed by the Charlotte Hornets over the Arkansas Travelers.
From 1972 to 2004 the league was divided into eastern and western divisions. After that year it switched to northern and southern divisions.
The Southern League was headquartered on Main Street in downtown Trussville from 1979 through 1994. In its later years, the league was headquartered in Marietta, Georgia and consisted of ten AA baseball clubs across the Southeast.
- Ashville Tourists, 1964–1966, 1968–1975
- Birmingham Barons / Birmingham A's, 1964–1965, 1967–1975, 1981–2020
- Charlotte Hornets, 1964–1972
- Chattanooga Lookouts, 1964–1965, 1976–2020
- Columbus Confederate Yankees, 1964–1966
- Knoxville Smokies / Tennessee Smokies, 1964–1967, 1972–2020
- Macon Peaches, 1964, 1966–1967
- Lynchburg White Sox, 1963–1965
- Evansville White Sox, 1966–1968
- Columbus White Sox / Columbus Astros / Columbus Mudcats / Carolina Mudcats, 1969–2011
- Pensacola Blue Wahoos, 2012–2020
- Montgomery Rebels, 1965–1980
- Mobile A's, 1966
- Savannah Senators / Savannah Indians / Savannah Braves, 1968–1983
- Greenville Braves, 1984–2004
- Mississippi Braves, 2005–2020
- Jacksonville Suns / Jacksonville Expos / Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, 1970–2020
- Mobile White Sox, 1970
- Orlando Twins / Orlando SunRays / Orlando Cubs / Orlando Rays, 1973–2003
- Montgomery Biscuits, 2004–2020
- Charlotte O's / Charlotte Knights, 1976–1992
- Memphis Chicks, 1978–1997
- West Tenn Diamond Jaxx / Jackson Generals, 1998–2020
- Nashville Sounds, 1978–1984
- Huntsville Stars, 1985–2014
- Biloxi Shuckers, 2015–2020
- Nashville Xpress, 1993–1994
- Port City Roosters, 1995–1996
- Mobile BayBears, 1997–2019
- Rocket City Trash Pandas, 2020
- Henry Grady, 1885–1889
- Sam C. Smith, 1964–April 1971
- Billy Hitchcock, April 1971–1980
- Jimmy Bragan, 1981–1994
- Arnold Fielkow, 1994–2000
- Don Mincher, 2000–March 2012
- Lori Webb, March 2012–2021
- Martin, Wayne. (July 10, 1995) "New SL chief says transition has been smooth." The Birmingham News
- Barra, Allen (2010) Rickwood Field: A Century in America's Oldest Ballpark. New York: W. W. Norton & Company ISBN 9780393069334
- Gattis, Paul (February 12, 2021) "Trash Pandas, Barons, Biscuits join revamped minor league baseball system." The Birmingham News
- Southern League at baseball-reference.com