|No. of teams||20|
|Durham Bulls (2022)|
|Most titles||Rochester Red Wings (19)|
|TV partner(s)||MiLB.TV, MLB Network, and local sports networks|
The International League (IL) is a Minor League Baseball league that operates in the United States. Along with the Pacific Coast League, it is one of two leagues playing at the Triple-A level, which is one grade below Major League Baseball (MLB).
The league traces its roots to 1884, while the modern IL began in 1912. Following MLB's reorganization of the minor leagues in 2021, it operated as the Triple-A East for one season before switching back to its previous moniker in 2022. It is so named because throughout its history the International League had teams in Canada and Cuba as well as those in the United States. Since 2008, however, all of its teams have been based in the US. The IL's 20 teams are located in 14 states stretching from Papillion, Nebraska, to Worcester, Massachusetts, and from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Jacksonville, Florida.
A league champion is determined at the end of each season. The Rochester Red Wings have won 19 International League titles, the most in the league's history, followed by the Columbus Clippers (11) and the Baltimore Orioles, original Buffalo Bisons, and Toronto Maple Leafs (10). During the era of the Governors' Cup playoffs from 1933 to 2020, the most cup titles were won by Columbus (11), followed by Rochester (10) and the Syracuse Mets (8).
The International League was created from the mergers of member teams from three precursor leagues: the Eastern League of 1884, which was itself a re-organization of the Interstate Association of 1883; the New York State League, formed in 1885; and the Ontario League, also organized in 1885. The New York State League and Ontario League merged in 1886 to form the International League, and in 1887 the Eastern League was absorbed to create a ten-club league. Also in 1887, the International League passed a resolution barring African Americans from playing in the league. The league collapsed soon afterwards, when the northern teams claimed that it was too onerous to travel to the south and formed the International Association.
The "International League" name was first used in 1886, but did not become the longterm name of the league until 1912. The league ultimately cited 1884 as the year of its foundation, through the following lineage:
The International League was also affected by the effort to establish the Federal League as a new third major league from 1914 to 1915, with franchises being added and dropped and new ballparks built. In 1954, a franchise was awarded to Havana, Cuba, but due to political upheaval in that country it had to be moved—to Jersey City, New Jersey—in the middle of the 1960 season. Another foray into the Caribbean failed when the newly created team in San Juan, Puerto Rico, added in 1961, had to be moved to Charleston, West Virginia, in mid-season.
In June 1971, an IL all-star team beat the New York Yankees, 15–13, in an exhibition game at Silver Stadium in Rochester, New York, before a crowd of 11,001—notable players on the all-star squad included Don Baylor, Carlton Fisk, and Bobby Grich. In August 1983, another team of IL all-stars were defeated by the Cleveland Indians, 8–6, in 11 innings before 11,032 fans at Franklin County Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
The International League and the American Association, another Triple-A league that operated in the Midwest, voted in 1988 to play interleague games as part of the Triple-A Alliance. The league also split into two divisions that year. The interleague concept ended in 1992, but the two league divisions remained.
In 1998, the International League reorganized into three divisions with the addition of four new teams—the Buffalo Bisons, Indianapolis Indians, and Louisville Redbirds joined from the disbanded American Association, while the Durham Bulls joined from the Class A Carolina League.
The start of the 2020 season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic before ultimately being cancelled on June 30. Prior to the 2021 season, Major League Baseball (MLB) assumed control of Minor League Baseball in a move to increase player salaries, modernize facility standards, and reduce travel through better geographical alignment. As part of this reorganization, the International League was expanded to 20 teams and temporarily renamed the "Triple-A East" for the 2021 season. Of these 20 teams, 14 were existing members of the International League, four were the easternmost teams from the Pacific Coast League, one was promoted from the Double-A Southern League, and one moved from the independent American Association of Professional Baseball. Following MLB's acquisition of the rights to the names of the historical minor leagues, the Triple-A East was renamed the International League effective with the 2022 season.
The International League is divided into the East Division and the West Division, each consisting of 10 teams. As of the 2022 season, all teams play a 150-game schedule, beginning in early April and concluding in late September.
As of the 2023 season, the regular season is split into two halves. After the completion of the season, the winners of each half meet in a best-of-three series to determine a league champion. From 1933 to 2019, the three division champions and a wild card team squared off in series playoffs to determine a champion, with the winner awarded the Governors' Cup, the league's championship trophy. Following the cancelled 2020 season, rather than hold playoffs for its championship, the 2021 title was awarded to the team with the best regular-season record. In 2022, the two division champions met in a single game to determine a league champion.
In further postseason play, the IL champion meets the Pacific Coast League's champion in the Triple-A National Championship Game, a single game to determine an overall champion of Triple-A baseball, which has been held annually since 2006, excluding 2020 and 2021. Previously, the IL champion also competed in the Triple-A World Series (1983, 1998–2000), Junior World Series (1919), and other sporadic postseason competitions throughout the league's history.
Other interleague play occurred during the Triple-A All-Star Game. Traditionally, the game had taken place on the day after the mid-summer Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The game was meant to mark a symbolic halfway-point in the season (though not the mathematical halfway-point which, for most seasons, is usually one month prior). During the All-Star break, no regular-season games were scheduled for two days before the All-Star Game itself.
|Division||Team||Founded||MLB Affiliation||Affiliated Since||City||Stadium||Capacity|
|East||Buffalo Bisons||1979||Toronto Blue Jays||2013||Buffalo, New York||Sahlen Field||16,600|
|Charlotte Knights||1976||Chicago White Sox||1999||Charlotte, North Carolina||Truist Field||10,200|
|Durham Bulls||1902||Tampa Bay Rays||1998||Durham, North Carolina||Durham Bulls Athletic Park||10,000|
|Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp||1962||Miami Marlins||2021||Jacksonville, Florida||121 Financial Ballpark||11,000|
|Lehigh Valley IronPigs||2008||Philadelphia Phillies||2007||Allentown, Pennsylvania||Coca-Cola Park||10,100|
|Norfolk Tides||1961||Baltimore Orioles||2007||Norfolk, Virginia||Harbor Park||11,856|
|Rochester Red Wings||1899||Washington Nationals||2021||Rochester, New York||Innovative Field||10,840|
|Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders||1989||New York Yankees||2007||Moosic, Pennsylvania||PNC Field||10,000|
|Syracuse Mets||1934||New York Mets||2019||Syracuse, New York||NBT Bank Stadium||10,815|
|Worcester Red Sox||2021||Boston Red Sox||2021||Worcester, Massachusetts||Polar Park||9,508|
|West||Columbus Clippers||1977||Cleveland Guardians||2009||Columbus, Ohio||Huntington Park||10,100|
|Gwinnett Stripers||2009||Atlanta Braves||2009||Lawrenceville, Georgia||Coolray Field||10,427|
|Indianapolis Indians||1902||Pittsburgh Pirates||2005||Indianapolis, Indiana||Victory Field||13,750|
|Iowa Cubs||1969||Chicago Cubs||1981||Des Moines, Iowa||Principal Park||11,500|
|Louisville Bats||1982||Cincinnati Reds||2000||Louisville, Kentucky||Louisville Slugger Field||13,131|
|Memphis Redbirds||1998||St. Louis Cardinals||1998||Memphis, Tennessee||AutoZone Park||10,000|
|Nashville Sounds||1978||Milwaukee Brewers||2021||Nashville, Tennessee||First Horizon Park||10,000|
|Omaha Storm Chasers||1969||Kansas City Royals||1969||Papillion, Nebraska||Werner Park||9,023|
|St. Paul Saints||1993||Minnesota Twins||2021||Saint Paul, Minnesota||CHS Field||7,210|
|Toledo Mud Hens||1965||Detroit Tigers||1987||Toledo, Ohio||Fifth Third Field||10,300|
Further information: List of International League teams
These teams were either charter members of the IL in 1912 or were added as expansion teams thereafter.
Three current teams joined the IL in 1998 from the American Association, which disbanded after the 1997 season. Indianapolis had previously played in the IL in 1963.
Four current teams were placed in the IL from the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 2021.
One current team was placed in the IL from the Double-A Southern League in 2021.
One current team was placed in the IL from the independent American Association of Professional Baseball in 2021.
Main article: List of International League champions
The International League has crowned a league champion each season since 1884. Through 1932, champions were the regular-season pennant winners—the team with the best win–loss record at the conclusion of the regular season. From 1933 to 2020, postseason playoffs were held to determine champions. Participants from 1933 to 1987 were usually the four teams with the highest winning percentage. From 1988 to 2020, the four qualifiers were the division winners and one or two wild card teams. The winner of each season's championship playoffs was awarded the Governors' Cup. These playoffs and the Governors' Cup trophy were discontinued in 2021. The 2021 winner was the team with the best regular-season record, and the 2022 championship was decided via a single game between the winners of the East and West Divisions.
Active International League teams appear in bold.
|Rochester Red Wings (Rochester Bronchos/Hustlers)||19||10||1899, 1901, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1939, 1952, 1955, 1956, 1964, 1971, 1974, 1988, 1990, 1997|
|Columbus Clippers||11||11||1979, 1980, 1981, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1996, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2019|
|Baltimore Orioles||10||2||1908, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1944, 1950|
|Buffalo Bisons (1886–1970)||4||1891, 1904, 1906, 1915, 1916, 1927, 1933, 1936, 1957, 1961|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||4||1902, 1907, 1912, 1917, 1918, 1926, 1934, 1960, 1965, 1966|
|Durham Bulls||8||6||2002, 2003, 2009, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2021, 2022|
|Montreal Royals||7||1898, 1941, 1946, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1953, 1958|
|Syracuse Mets (Syracuse Chiefs)||8||1935, 1942, 1943, 1947, 1954, 1969, 1970, 1976|
|Newark Bears||5||4||1932, 1937, 1938, 1940, 1945|
|Norfolk Tides (Tidewater Tides)||5||1972, 1975, 1982, 1983, 1985|
|Providence Grays (Providence Clamdiggers)||0||1894, 1896, 1900, 1905, 1914|
|Richmond Braves||5||1978, 1986, 1989, 1994, 2007|
|Pawtucket Red Sox||4||4||1973, 1984, 2012, 2014|
|Syracuse Stars||3||0||1885, 1888, 1897|
|Toledo Mud Hens||3||1967, 2005, 2006|
|Buffalo Bisons (1979–present)||2||2||1998, 2004|
|Charlotte Knights||2||1993, 1999|
|Detroit Wolverines||0||1889, 1890|
|Indianapolis Indians||2||1963, 2000|
|Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees)||2||2008, 2016|
|Havana Sugar Kings||1||1959|
|Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Jacksonville Suns)||1||1968|
|Jersey City Skeeters||0||1903|
|Louisville Bats (Louisville RiverBats)||1||2001|
The IL recognizes outstanding players and team personnel annually near the end of each season.
Main article: International League Most Valuable Player Award
The Most Valuable Player Award, first awarded in 1932, is given to honor the best player in the league.
Main article: International League Pitcher of the Year Award
The Pitcher of the Year Award, first awarded in 1953 and known as the Most Valuable Pitcher Award, serves to recognize the league's best pitcher. Pitchers were eligible to win the award from 1932 to 1952 as no award was designated solely for pitchers.
Main article: International League Top MLB Prospect Award
The Top MLB Prospect Award, created in 1950 as the Rookie of the Year Award, is given to the best player with no prior IL experience.
Main article: International League Manager of the Year Award
The Manager of the Year Award, started in 1967, is given to the league's top manager.
The Executive of the Year Award, first awarded in 1964, honored team executives who contributed to the success of the league.
The Spirit of the International League Award, first awarded in 2010, honored team executives who exhibited dedication to creating and maintaining positive fan experiences when visiting IL games.
Main article: International League Hall of Fame
The International League Hall of Fame was established in 1947 to honor league players, managers, and executives who have made significant contributions to the league. The Hall of Fame inducted its first class of nine men in 1947. A plaque was unveiled at the IL's New York City offices located in the Ruppert Building at 535 Fifth Avenue. Today, the plaque has no permanent home, but exists as a traveling display that visits a number of the league's ballparks each season. The Hall became dormant after 1963, but was revived in 2007. New members are elected before the start of each season.