MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HAS CHANGED
A couple of weeks ago we talked about how Major League Baseball has changed. Today we’ll discuss how Minor League Baseball has changed.
Several years ago there were 40 to 50 minor leagues. Now there are 14 with 5 independents that choose not to be a part of the National Association. The lower minors had classifications of D, C, and B. If a person advanced there wasn’t any question about a better league. Now with an A classification for the lower minors some leagues are called higher (better) but have the same classification.
Most leagues were 6 or 8 teams, hardly any divisions and each team played all teams the same number of games. Minor Leagues always started May 1 and ended Labor Day. Now they start April 7 and everybody complains about the weather.
A normal roster was 18 players. Eight position players, an extra catcher, infielder, outfielder, and seven pitchers. Normal rosters have 25 players with some pitchers lucky to get 80 innings during a whole season. Outfielders were expected to play all positions as well as infielders. Catchers were expected to sometimes play third base and right field. Pitchers would hit and sometimes pinch hit. In 1955 Hannibal, Missouri (MOV) finished the season on the road with a roster of 14.
Half of the managers played Major League Baseball and the other half were playing managers. Non-playing managers many times pitched batting practice. It appeared that managers had direction of their teams; who played where, who pitched and when.
The ball parks had bleacher type stands and the lights weren’t too good. The teams hardly ever played in million dollar ballparks and an attendance of 1,000 to 1,500 was good.
Many nine inning games were played in less than two hours and doubleheaders (two seven inning games) total time less than 3 1/2 hours. Actually seven innings is illegal. Rules state that baseball game duration is nine innings. Seven inning games are played because of a gentleman’s agreement.
Extra promotions like fireworks were only seen on the Fourth of July. Some promotions involved players trying to catch a greased pig, cow milking contest, and players trying to throw a baseball into a basket at second base. Max Patkin (Crown Prince of Minor League Baseball) did however pack a good crowd.
The business office had one secretary and many times the Business Manager was part time owning a business in the town.
Well we could go on-and-on. I’m not saying Minor League Baseball is better now. I’m only saying it is different. That ‘s The Way I Saw It.
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