Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League

Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League
Sport Baseball
Founded 1901
Ceased 1961
No. of teams 31 Cities
Country USA
Most titles 8 Evansville Braves/ Bees/ Hubs (1957, 1956, 1954, 1952, 1949, 1941, 1938, 1930)
Classification D (1901) B (1902–1961)
Official website Most cities today: Midwest League Official Website

The Illinois-Indiana–Iowa League was a minor league baseball organization that operated for the better part of 60 years, mostly in those three states. The league began play in 1901 and disbanded after the 1961 season. It was popularly known as the Three–I League and also sometimes jokingly as the Three-Eye League.

History

The Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League was founded in 1901 with Rock Island, IL native Michael H. Sexton serving as President. Eight charter members began play in 1901: the Bloomington Blues, Cedar Rapids Rabbitts, Davenport River Rats, Decatur Commodores, Evansville River Rats and Rock Island Islanders, Rockford Red Sox and Terre Haute Hottentots.[1] Bloomington, Illinois, Decatur, Illinois and Terre Haute, Indiana had left the Central League to join expansion teams in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Davenport, Iowa, Evansville, Indiana, Rockford, Illinois, and Rock Island, Illinois and form the Class D league. Two expansion teams, Davenport and Evansville, chose "River Rats" as their team name.[2] For the second season, 1902, the league became Class B, a classification it retained for the next 59 seasons of league operation.[3]

The Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League was inactive during some years of World War I (1918), the Great Depression (1933-1934, 1936) and World War II (1943-1945), similar to many minor leagues that were forced to suspend operations or disband during those severe times.[2][4]

As with many minor leagues, especially at the lower classifications, league membership fluctuated a great deal over its six decades. Overall, the league hosted teams in 31 cities during its existence.[5] At various times it had teams in such medium-sized cities as Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Bloomington, Decatur, Danville, Peoria, Springfield, Evansville and Terre Haute. It was a Class B league in the old classification system that ran from Class D up to Class Triple-A.

The 1955 Keokuk Kernels are ranked #30 in the Top-100 All Time teams by MiLB.com.[6] The Kernels finished with a 92-34 record and were led by Russ Nixon and Mudcat Grant.[6]

Since 1956 its territory had largely been supplanted by the Midwest League, which began in 1947 as the Class D Illinois State League. After 1956 there were no Illinois or Indiana teams in the league. The final 1961 Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League franchises were the Fox Cities Foxes, Burlington Bees, Topeka Reds, Lincoln Chiefs, Cedar Rapids Braves and Des Moines Demons.[7] In 1962, Appleton (Fox Cities), Burlington, and Cedar Rapids joined the Midwest League and the Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League folded operations when those franchises switched leagues.[8]

The league's unique name made it a convenient reference point for any mention of the minor leagues. Casey Stengel made the following comment in later life, evidently still feeling stung from having been traded by the New York Giants to the Boston Braves in the 1923–1924 off-season, despite having hit 2 game-winning home runs in the World Series: "It's lucky I didn't hit 3 home runs in three games, or McGraw would have traded me to the 3-I League!"

Three-I Most Valuable Player(s)

Ball parks

Year By Year 1901-1932

1901Terre Haute won the title behind the impressive pitching of Mordecai Brown, future Chicago Cubs mound star.

Team NameRecord
Terre Haute Hottentots72-39
Bloomington Blues68-44
Cedar Rapids Rabbits67-45
Rockford Red Sox57-55
Davenport River Rats51-61
Evansville River Rats47-65
Rock Island Islanders45-66
Decatur Commodores40-72

1902

Rockford Red Sox74-52
Terre Haute Hottentots70-53
Cedar Rapids Rabbits64-55
Rock Island Islanders58-61
Davenport River Rats59-63
Evansville River Rats57-67
Decatur Commodores55-69
Bloomington Blues54-71

1903 Evansville and Terre Haute joined the Central League. New teams in Dubuque, Iowa and Joliet, Illinois formed. Joliet, with a record of 14-19, moved to Springfield, Illinois on June 12, where they had a record of 28-61.

Bloomington Bloomers72-47
Decatur Commodores67-51
Davenport River Rats65-53
Rock Island Islanders64-54
Cedar Rapids Rabbits60-60
Rockford Red Sox58-60
Dubuque Shamrocks49-72
Joliet Standards/Springfield Foot Trackers42-80

1904

Springfield Hustlers72-48
Cedar Rapids Rabbits70-52
Dubuque Shamrocks69-54
Bloomington Bloomers60-61
Decatur Commodores59-62
Rock Island Islanders57-65
Davenport River Rats52-69
Rockford Red Sox48-76

1905 The Rockford team folded, and a new team in Peoria, Illinois formed.

Dubuque Shamrocks70-53
Rock Island Islanders68-55
Springfield Senators64-58
Decatur Commodores63-58
Cedar Rapids Rabbits63-61
Bloomington Bloomers60-65
Davenport Riversides56-67
Peoria Distillers48-75

After the season ended, Cedar Rapids lost to the Burlington, Iowa team from the Iowa State League 4 games to 3.

1906

Cedar Rapids Rabbits79-43
Peoria Distillers74-48
Dubuque Dubs64-55
Springfield Senators64-56
Rock Island Islanders58-66
Decatur Commodores48-67
Bloomington Bloomers51-74
Davenport Knickerbockers45-74

1907

The Davenport team folded. The team from Clinton, Iowa joined after leaving the Iowa State League.

Rock Island Islanders86-46
Decatur Commodores80-47
Springfield Senators81-50
Peoria Distillers77-52
Cedar Rapids Rabbits72-61
Clinton Infants53-78
Bloomington Bloomers51-79
Dubuque Dubs22-109

1908

Springfield Senators82-54
Decatur Commodores77-59
Cedar Rapids Rabbits69-63
Peoria Distillers77-52
Dubuque Dubs67-69
Bloomington Bloomers64-73
Rock Island Islanders59-76
Clinton Adults55-78

1909 The Clinton team folded. A new team in Davenport, Iowa formed.

Rock Island Islanders90-48
Springfield Senators81-53
Davenport Prodigals77-59
Burlington Bloomers70-67
Peoria Distillers69-67
Dubuque Dubs64-71
Decatur Commodores63-73
Cedar Rapids Rabbits31-107

1910 After the previous disappointing season, Cedar Rapids folded. The Decatur team moved to the Northern Association. The team from Waterloo, Iowa left the Central Association to join here. A new team from Danville, Illinois formed and joined the league as well.

Springfield Senators88-48
Rock Island Islanders81-56
Peoria Distillers75-64
Waterloo Boosters72-67
Bloomington Bloomers60-76
Dubuque Dubs60-79
Davenport Prodigals59-80
Danville Speakers57-82

1911 The team from Bloomington folded. The Quincy, Illinois team from the Central Association joined the league. The Springfield team, with a 12-4 record, moved to Decatur, Illinois on May 31, where their record was 57-56.

Peoria Distillers76-59
Springfield Senators/Decatur Nomads69-60
Quincy Infants71-63
Danville Speakers69-62
Davenport Prodigals69-69
Dubuque Hustlers67-70
Waterloo Boosters59-76
Rock Island Islanders58-79

1912 The teams from Rock Island and Waterloo folded. New teams from Springfield, Illinois and Bloomington, Indiana joined the league.

Springfield Senators90-44
Davenport Prodigals75-60
Decatur Commodores69-67
Quincy Old Soldiers67-70
Dubuque Dubs65-73
Danville Speakers63-71
Bloomington Bloomers58-78
Peoria Distillers56-80

1913

Quincy Gems79-60
Dubuque Dubs74-62
Davenport Blue Sox68-66
Danville Speakers69-68
Decatur Commodores67-68
Springfield Watchmakers66-70
Bloomington Bloomers64-71
Peoria Distillers57-79

1914 The Danville team, with a record of 26-53, moved to Moline, Illinois on July 14, where their record was 20-33.

Davenport Blue Sox83-52
Peoria Distillers81-56
Springfield Watchmakers72-60
Decatur Commodores72-64
Dubuque Dubs64-69
Quincy Gems61-71
Bloomington Bloomers56-77
Danville Speakers/Moline Plowboys46-86

1915 The Springfield team folded. A new team in Rockford, Illinois formed. Dubuque moved to Freeport, Illinois during the season. The Decatur team folded on August 10. The league adopted a playoff system in which the team with the best record in the first half of the season would play the team with the best record in the second half of the season.

Moline Plowboys75-51 (2nd half winner)
Davenport Blue Sox76-52 (1st half winner)
Rockford Wakes72-58
Quincy Gems62-56
Peoria Distillers68-63
Dubuque Dubs/Freeport Comeons48-76
Bloomington Bloomers48-76
Decatur Commodores37-57

Moline beat Davenport 4 games to 2 for the title.

1916 The Freeport team folded. New teams in Hannibal, Missouri and Rock Island, Illinois formed and joined the league. The playoff system was apparently dropped.

Peoria Distillers84-50
Hannibal Mules79-57
Bloomington Bloomers76-56
Rockford Wakes67-66
Moline Plowboys59-76
Rock Island Islanders57-76
Quincy Gems57-77
Davenport Blue Sox56-77

1917 The Davenport team folded. A new team in Alton, Illinois formed and joined the league.

Peoria Distillers43-23
Rockford Rox39-21
Hannibal Mules39-27
Rock Island Islanders36-26
Quincy Gems27-38
Moline Plowboys27-38
Bloomington Bloomers25-37
Alton Blues18-44

1918 The league suspended operations because of World War I.

1919 The teams in Alton, Hannibal, Quincy, and Rock Island folded. New teams in Evansville, Indiana and Terre Haute, Indiana formed and joined the league.

Bloomington Bloomers80-41
Peoria Tractors68-54
Evansville Black Sox63-58
Rockford Rox63-60
Terre Haute Browns50-70
Moline Plowboys40-81

1920 New teams in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Rock Island, Illinois formed and joined the league. Evansville changed their names to the "Evas".

Bloomington Bloomers82-57
Evansville Evas80-56
Rockford Rox70-70
Moline Plowboys69-70
Cedar Rapids Rabbits68-69
Peoria Tractors67-71
Terre Haute Browns58-77
Rock Island Islanders57-81

1921

Moline Plowboys78-55
Rockford Rox72-64
Terre Haute Tots70-65
Peoria Tractors70-69
Evansville Evas67-69
Bloomington Bloomers65-69
Cedar Rapids Rabbits62-72
Rock Island Islanders57-78

1922 The teams in Cedar Rapids and Rock Island moved to the Mississippi Valley League. New teams in Danville and Decatur formed and joines the league.

Terre Haute Tots85-51
Decatur Commodores78-58
Peoria Tractors76-60
Evansville Evas76-64
Rockford Rox74-65
Bloomington Bloomers63-75
Danville Veterans50-87
Moline Plowboys49-89

1923

Decatur Commodores81-54
Rockford Rox76-63
Terre Haute Tots71-60
Bloomington Bloomers72-64
Evansville Evas72-65
Peoria Tractors71-65
Danville Veterans55-81
Moline Plowboys45-91

1924 The Rockford team folded. The Moline team moved to the Mississippi Valley League.

Terre Haute Tots75-62
Evansville Little Evas75-64
Bloomington Bloomers71-64
Peoria Tractors71-66
Danville Veterans59-75
Decatur Commodores58-78

1925 New teams in Quincy and Springfield formed and joined the league.

Peoria Tractors89-48
Terre Haute Tots81-54
Evansville Pocketeers72-63
Danville Veterans69-66
Decatur Commodores62-73
Bloomington Bloomers56-74
Springfield Senators56-79
Quincy Red Birds54-82

1926

Springfield Senators77-59
Peoria Tractors75-62
Terre Haute Tots73-61
Danville Veterans72-65
Evansville Hubs72-66
Decatur Commodores69-67
Quincy Red Birds62-75
Bloomington Bloomers43-88

Springfield played Bay City of the Michigan State League and won 4 games to none. They were leading against Des Moines of the Western League 3 games to 1 when the series was canceled due to cold weather.

1927

Danville Veterans86-50
Peoria Tractors87-51
Springfield Senators72-66
Terre Haute Tots70-66
Decatur Commodores62-70
Quincy Red Birds63-75
Bloomington Bloomers55-83
Evansville Hubs50-84

1928 The league returned to the playoff format in which the team with the best record in the first half of the season played the team with the best records in the second half of the season for the title.

Decatur Commodores81-49 (2nd half winner)
Terre Haute Tots75-59 (1st half winner)
Danville Veterans69-57
Peoria Tractors69-66
Evansville Hubs62-68
Bloomington Bloomers61-69
Springfield Senators60-79
Quincy Indians50-85

Decatur beat Terre Haute for the title 4 games to 1, with 1 tie.

1929 Two teams with the nickname "Tractors" played in the league this season.

Quincy Indians82-56
Decatur Commodores81-57
Evansville Hubs79-57
Terre Haute Tots72-66
Bloomington Bloomers70-70
Peoria Tractors61-76
Springfield Tractors59-77
Danville Veterans46-91

Quincy played Canton of the Central League after the season ended and lost 4 games to 2.

1930 The league returned to the best record in the 1st half vs. best record in the 2nd half playoff system.

Evansville Hubs79-55 (2nd half winner)
Quincy Indians78-58
Decatur Commodores77-59
Danville Veterans71-67 (1st half winner)
Springfield Senators62-70
Peoria Tractors57-77
Bloomington Cubs57-78
Terre Haute Tots53-76

Danville defeated Evansville 4 games to 2 for the title. Danville went on to play Springfield of the Central League and lead 3 games to 2 when the series was cancelled because of poor attendance.

1931

Springfield Senators72-45 (1st half winner)
Quincy Indians67-49 (2nd half winner)
Evansville Hubs67-58
Decatur Commodores64-57
Bloomington Cubs58-61
Terre Haute Tots55-68
Peoria Tractors51-68
Danville Veterans44-72

Quincy beat Springfield 4 games to 2 for the championship.

1932 The teams in Bloomington and Evansville folded before the season, and the Springfield and Decatur teams folded on July 12.

Team NameAffiliationRecord
Terre Haute Tots42-27 (1st half winner)
Peoria Tractors20-38 (2nd half winner)
Quincy IndiansCleveland Indians38-31
Danville VeteransSt. Louis Cardinals29-39
Springfield Senators32-37
Decatur Commodores24-43

The Terre Haute, Peoria, Quincy, and Danville teams all folded on July 15, as did the league itself. The league was restarted in 1935, 1937–1942, and 1946–1961.

All former teams (1901–1961)

Alton, Illinois

  • Alton Blues, 1917

Bloomington, Illinois
* Bloomington Bengals, 1937
* Bloomington Bloomers, 1903–1910, 1912–1917,
1919–1929, 1935, 1938–1939
* Bloomington Cubs, 1930–1931
* Bloomington Blues, 1901–1902
Burlington, Iowa
* Burlington Bees, 1954–1961
* Burlington Flints, 1952–1953
Little Falls, Wisconsin
*Little Falls Braves, 1914–1953
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
*Cedar Rapids Braves, 1958–1961
*Cedar Rapids Indians, 1950–1954
*Cedar Rapids Raiders, 1938–1942, 1957
*Cedar Rapids Rabbits, 1901–1909, 1920–1921
Clinton, Iowa
*Clinton Giants, 1939–1941
*Clinton Infants, 1907–1908
*Clinton Owls, 1937–1938
Danville, Illinois
Danville Dodgers, 1946–1950
Danville Speakers, 1910–1914
Danville Veterans, 1922–1932
Davenport, Iowa
*Davenport Blue Sox, 1913–1916
*Davenport Cubs, 1946–1947
*Davenport DavSox, 1957–1958
*Davenport Knickerbockers, 1906
*Davenport Pirates, 1948–1949
*Davenport Prodigals, 1909–1912
*Davenport Quads, 1950
*Davenport River Rats, 1901–1904
*Davenport Riversides, 1905
*Davenport Tigers, 1951–1952
Decatur, Illinois
*Decatur Commies, 1948
*Decatur Commodores, 1901–1909, 1912–1915, 1922–1932,
1935, 1937–1942, 1946–1947, 1950
*Decatur Cubs, 1949
*Decatur Nomads, 1911


Des Moines, Iowa
*Des Moines Demons, 1959–1961
Dubuque, Iowa
*Dubuque Shamrocks, 1903–1905
*Dubuque Dubs, 1906–1910, 1912–1915
*Dubuque Hustlers, 1911
Evansville, Indiana
*Evansville Bees, 1938–1942
*Evansville Braves, 1946–1957
*Evansville Evas, 1919–1923
*Evansville Little Evas, 1924
*Evansville Hubs, 1926–1931
*Evansville Pocketeers, 1925
*Evansville River Rats, 1901–1902
Fort Wayne, Indiana
*Fort Wayne Chiefs, 1935
Appleton, Wisconsin
*Fox Cities Foxes, 1959–1961
Freeport, Illinois
*Freeport Comeons, 1915
Green Bay, Wisconsin
*Green Bay Bluejays, 1958–1959
*Green Bay Dodgers, 1960
Hannibal, Missouri
*Hannibal Mules, 1916–1917
Joliet, Illinois
*Joliet Standards, 1903
Keokuk, Iowa
*Keokuk Kernels, 1952–1957
Lincoln, Nebraska
*Lincoln Chiefs, 1959–1961
Madison, Wisconsin
*Madison Blues, 1923–1942
Moline, Illinois
*Moline Plowboys, 1914–1917, 1919–1923, 1937–1941
Peoria, Illinois
*Peoria Chiefs, 1953–1957
*Peoria Distillers, 1905–1917
*Peoria Reds, 1937
*Peoria Tractors, 1919–1932, 1935


Quincy, Illinois
*Quincy Gems, 1913–1917, 1946–1956
*Quincy Indians, 1928–1932
*Quincy Infants, 1911
*Quincy Old Soldiers, 1912
*Quincy Red Birds, 1925–1927
Rochester, Minnesota
*Rochester A's, 1958
Rock Island, Illinois
*Rock Island Islanders, 1901–1911, 1916–1917, 1921
Rockford, Illinois
*Rockford Red Sox, 1901–1904
*Rockford Rox, 1917, 1919–1923
*Rockford Wakes, 1915–1916
Sioux City, Iowa
*Sioux City Soos, 1959–1960
Springfield, Illinois
*Springfield Browns, 1938–1942, 1946–1949
*Springfield Foot Trackers, 1903
*Springfield Hustlers, 1904
*Springfield Senators, 1905–1912, 1925–1932, 1935
*Springfield Watchmakers, 1913–1914
Terre Haute, Indiana
*Terre Haute Browns, 1919–1920
*Terre Haute Hottentots, 1901–1902
*Terre Haute Phillies, 1946–1954
*Terre Haute Tigers, 1955–1956
*Terre Haute Tots, 1921–1932, 1935, 1937
Topeka, Kansas
*Topeka Hawks, 1959
*Topeka Reds, 1960–1961
Waterloo, Iowa
*Waterloo Boosters, 1910–1911
*Waterloo Hawks, 1940–1942, 1947
*Waterloo Red Hawks, 1938–1939
*Waterloo White Hawks, 1946, 1948–1956
Winona, Minnesota
*Winona A's, 1958

Triple-I ballpark photos: http://www.digitalballparks.com/TripleI.html

References

  • Sumner, Benjamin Barrett. Minor League Baseball Standings:All North American Leagues, Through 1999. Jefferson, N.C.:McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0781-6
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