The International Association of Professional Base Ball Players was the name for two separate Canadian-American baseball leagues that operated from 1877 through 1880 and also from 1888 until 1890. Some baseball historians consider the International Association the first minor league; others point out that the league was conceived as a rival to the National League, now thought of as the sole major league of the era.
In 1877, the International Association featured teams based in:
The Association's by-laws and constitution required member teams to pay $10 to join the league (plus an additional $15 to compete for the championship) and fan admission was set at 25 cents. Visiting teams were guaranteed $75, plus half of the gate receipts when they exceeded that amount ($75).
Pitcher Candy Cummings was the first president of the International Association, while also a player for the Lynn Live Oaks of Massachusetts in 1877.
Jimmy Williams of Columbus served as the league's first Secretary.
London's star pitcher, Fred Goldsmith had a 14-4 record in 193 innings pitched with 3 shutouts, during International Association play in 1877.
In 1878, the league lost two teams - Guelph and Columbus - however, it added the Binghamton Crickets, Hornellsville Hornells and Syracuse Stars. The cities of Buffalo, New York, Hartford, Connecticut, Lowell, Massachusetts, New Bedford, Massachusetts, New Haven, Connecticut, Springfield, Massachusetts and Worcester, Massachusetts also had representatives. Buffalo finished in first place.
In 1878 Bud Fowler, pitching for the Lynn, Massachusetts, club, became the first known African-American player in organized baseball.
The Buffalo Bisons, winners of the 1878 pennant, and the Syracuse Stars seriously hurt the International Association's chances at major league status when they joined the rival National League for the 1879 season. At the same time the London Tecumsehs dropped out of the league, causing it to be renamed the National Association for the 1879 season. Under that name it played through the 1880 season before dissolving.
The following teams played in the next incarnation of the league, which existed from 1888 until 1890: Albany Governors (1890), Buffalo Bisons (1888–90), Detroit Wolverines (1889–90), Hamilton Mountaineers (1888, 1890), Hamilton Hams (1889), London Tecumsehs (1888–90), Montreal Canadiens (1890), Grand Rapids Shamrocks (1890), Rochester Jingoes (1888–89), Saginaw-Bay City Hyphens (1890), Syracuse Stars (1888–89), Toledo Black Pirates (1889), Toronto Canucks (1888–90) and Troy Trojans (1888). In 1888, Syracuse finished in first place. Detroit finished in first place in 1889 and 1890.
In 1888, outfielder Patsy Donovan of the Tecumsehs led the league in batting with a batting average of either .359 (according to the Donovan family web site) or .398 (according to the London Tecumsehs' official scorer C. J. Moorehead in a 1903 copy of The London Advertiser), had 201 hits, scored 103 runs and stole 80 bases. His second season with the Tecumsehs was less successful due to a leg injury. Donovan went on to an outstanding career in Major League Baseball, even playing a significant role in scouting Babe Ruth.