Appalachian League
PresidentDan Moushon[1]
No. of teams9
CountryUnited States
Most recent
Johnson City Doughboys (2023)
Most titlesBluefield Blue Jays (14)

The Appalachian League is a collegiate summer baseball league that operates in the Appalachian regions of Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Designed for rising freshmen and sophomores using wooden bats, its season runs from June through August. The league is part of Major League Baseball and USA Baseball's Prospect Development Pipeline.

Between 1911 and 2020, the Appalachian League operated as part of Minor League Baseball and various of its teams were low-level affiliates of Major League Baseball franchises. It operated as a Class D league during four stints through 1962, then was classified as an Rookie Advanced league from 1963 to 2020.


The original Appalachian League existed only for four seasons from 1911 to 1914 and was classified as a Class D circuit.[2] All teams were independent with no Major League Baseball (MLB) affiliation. It consisted of the Asheville Moonshiners, Bristol Boosters, Cleveland Counts, Johnson City Soldiers, Knoxville Appalachians, and Morristown Jobbers in its inaugural season.[3] After a six-year absence, the league reorganized for five seasons from 1921 to 1925, and, as before, it consisted entirely of independent teams at the Class D level.[2] Following an 11-year period of inactivity, the third iteration of the Class D Appalachian League ran from 1937 to 1955.[2] The league went dormant in 1956, but was revived in 1957.[4]

Along with a reorganization of Minor League Baseball in 1963, the Appalachian League was classified as a Rookie-level league.[4] In its final years as an MLB-affiliated league, the Appalachian League was one of two "Rookie Advanced" minor leagues along with the Pioneer League. As such, it occupied the second-lowest rung in the minor league ladder. Although classified as a Rookie league, the level of play was slightly higher than that of the two "complex" Rookie leagues, the Gulf Coast League and Arizona League. Unlike the complex leagues, Appalachian League teams charged admission and sold concessions. It was almost exclusively the first fully professional league in which many players competed; most of the players had just been signed out of high school and were further along in their development than players in the "complex" leagues. It was a short-season league that competed from late June (when major league teams signed players whom they selected in the amateur draft) to early September.

It continued to operate as a Rookie Advanced league through 2020, with the start of the 2020 season postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic before ultimately being cancelled.[5][6] Thus, 2019 was the Appalachian League's last season of operation within Minor League Baseball, with the Johnson City Cardinals winning the league championship. Entering the 2021 Major League Baseball season, MLB stated that 29 of its 30 teams had players who had played in the Appalachian League when it was part of Minor League Baseball, with a total of 139 such players on Opening Day rosters.[7][a]

In conjunction with a contraction of Minor League Baseball in 2021, the Appalachian League was converted to a collegiate summer baseball league designed for rising freshmen and sophomores.[8] The reconfigured league become a part of Major League Baseball's Prospect Development Pipeline, a collaboration between MLB and USA Baseball. It is scheduled to play a 54-game regular season and continue to host an annual All-Star Game. Each of the league's 10 cities will continue to host teams in the new configuration of the Appalachian League.[9]

Current teams

Division Team City Stadium Capacity
East Bluefield Ridge Runners Bluefield, West Virginia Bowen Field at Peters Park 3,000
Burlington Sock Puppets Burlington, North Carolina Burlington Athletic Stadium 3,500
Danville Otterbots Danville, Virginia American Legion Post 325 Field 2,588
Pulaski River Turtles Pulaski, Virginia Motor Mile Field at Calfee Park 3,200
Tri-State Baseball Huntington, West Virginia Jack Cook Field 3,500
West Bristol State Liners Bristol, Tennessee Whitetop Creek Park 2,000
Elizabethton River Riders Elizabethton, Tennessee Northeast Community Credit Union Ballpark 2,000
Greeneville Flyboys Greeneville, Tennessee Pioneer Park 4,000
Johnson City Doughboys Johnson City, Tennessee TVA Credit Union Ballpark 3,800
Kingsport Axmen Kingsport, Tennessee Hunter Wright Stadium 2,500

Teams timeline





From 2021


Main article: List of Appalachian League champions

League champions have been determined by different means since the Appalachian League's formation in 1911. Before 1984, the champions were usually the league pennant winners. With only a few early exceptions, champions since 1984 have been the winner of postseason playoffs.[10]

Hall of Fame

Main article: Appalachian League Hall of Fame

The league established a hall of fame in 2019; through 2022 elections, 46 people have been inducted. [11] Members of the 2021 Hall of Fame induction class included Orlando Cepeda, Dotty Cox, Mahlon Luttrell, Joe Mauer, Ron Necciai, and Jimmy Rollins. CC Sabathia and Jim Leyland were the two members of the 2022 induction class.

See also


  1. ^ With 26 active players on each MLB roster, the Appalachian League alumni represented 17.8% (139 of 780) of active players in MLB.


  1. ^ 2019 Appalachian League Media Guide
  2. ^ a b c "Appalachian League (1911 to 1955)". Stats Crew. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  3. ^ "Minor League Baseball: the Appalachian League (Advanced-Rookie Classification)". Archived from the original on 31 July 2014. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Appalachian League (1957 to 2019)". Stats Crew. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  5. ^ "A Message From Pat O'Conner". Minor League Baseball. March 13, 2020. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  6. ^ "2020 Minor League Baseball Season Shelved". Minor League Baseball. June 30, 2020. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  7. ^ "One hundred and thirty-nine Appalachian League alumni on MLB Opening Day rosters". USA Baseball. April 19, 2021. Retrieved May 29, 2021.
  8. ^ Cooper, J.J. (September 25, 2020). "Appalachian League To Operate As Summer Wood-Bat League". Baseball America. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  9. ^ "MLB, USA Baseball Announce New Format for Appalachian League". Major League Baseball. September 29, 2020. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  10. ^ "Standings". 2017 Appalachian League Media Guide and Record Book. Minor League Baseball. pp. 39–61. Archived from the original on May 10, 2018. Retrieved August 11, 2017.
  11. ^ "Hall of Fame". Appalachian League. Major League Baseball. Retrieved September 30, 2020.