Carolina League logo
|No. of teams||10|
Down East Wood Ducks &|
Lynchburg Hillcats (2017)
|Most titles||Winston-Salem Dash (11)|
Fox Sports Carolinas
The organization that later became the Carolina League formed in 1945, just as World War II was ending, and consisted of only two teams based in southern Virginia and six from North Carolina. Historically, however, as many as 12 teams in a given year have competed in the Carolina League. Today, the league consists of 10 teams in a region stretching from Delaware to South Carolina, and is divided into a Northern Division and a Southern Division.
The league was officially announced on October 29, 1944 after an organizational meeting at Durham, North Carolina. The league was a successor to the Bi-State League that existed before World War II. The league began play in 1945 with eight teams based in Burlington, Durham, Greensboro, Leaksville, Raleigh, Winston-Salem (all from North Carolina), along with Danville and Martinsville from Virginia.
A few of the many Carolina League players who have gone on to star in the Major Leagues are: Johnny Bench (Peninsula, 1966), Wade Boggs (Winston-Salem, 1977), Barry Bonds (Prince William, 1985), Rod Carew (Wilson, 1966), Dock Ellis (Kinston, 1965), Dwight Evans (Winston-Salem, 1971), Dwight Gooden (Lynchburg, 1983), Zack Greinke (Wilmington, 2003), Andruw Jones (Durham, 1996), Chipper Jones (Durham, 1992), Willie McCovey (Danville, 1956), Joe Morgan (Durham, 1963), Dave Parker (Salem, 1972), Tony Pérez (Rocky Mount, 1962), Andy Pettitte (Prince William, 1993), Jorge Posada (Prince William, 1993), Darryl Strawberry (Lynchburg, 1981), Bernie Williams (Prince William, 1988), and Carl Yastrzemski (Raleigh, 1959).
Director and screenwriter Ron Shelton's 1988 film Bull Durham, starring Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins, and Susan Sarandon, depicted a fictionalized account of the Durham Bulls, at that time a Carolina League team (they have since become a Class AAA team in the International League). Before he began making films, Shelton had a five-year minor league career in the Baltimore Orioles' organization, which included a stint in the Carolina League.
On August 22, 2016, it was announced that the Carolina League would add two expansion teams for the 2017 season to fill two vacant spots at the High-A level previously occupied by the California League's Bakersfield Blaze and High Desert Mavericks franchises, which ceased operations at the end of the 2016 season. The Down East Wood Ducks play in Kinston, North Carolina, as an affiliate of the Texas Rangers. The Buies Creek Astros play in Buies Creek, North Carolina, in 2017 and 2018, until a new stadium in nearby Fayetteville is built for the 2019 season.
Current team rosters
All-time teams (1945–present)
- "Personnel and Staff". Carolina League. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
- Barrier, Smith (November 2, 1944). "Wilson Heads Carolina Loop: Seven Franchises Awarded to N.C. Cities, Another to Danville, Va.". The Sporting News.
- Glaser, Kyle. "Carolina League To Add Two Franchises In 2017". BaseballAmerica.com. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
- "2013 Carolina League Media Guide and Record Book". p. 4.
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