Triple-A National Championship Game
Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game logo.png
FrequencyAnnual
Location(s)Varies (see prose)
InauguratedSeptember 19, 2006
(AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States)
Most recentSeptember 17, 2019
(AutoZone Park, Memphis, Tennessee, United States)
Next eventOctober 2, 2022
(Las Vegas Ballpark, Summerlin, Nevada, United States)
ParticipantsLeague champions of the two Triple-A baseball leagues
Organized byMinor League Baseball

The Triple-A National Championship Game is a single baseball game between the league champions of the two affiliated Triple-A leagues of Minor League Baseball (MiLB)—the International League (IL) and Pacific Coast League (PCL)—to determine an overall champion of the classification. With the exceptions of 2020 and 2021, the game has been held at the end of each season since 2006.

The event was originally known as the Bricktown Showdown from 2006 to 2008, when it was held annually at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It was renamed in 2009, but continued to be held in Oklahoma City. Since 2011, it has been held in a different Triple-A city each year. The 2020 game was cancelled along with the entire minor league season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which contributed to the lack of a 2021 championship game. In 2022, the game will be the culmination of a three-day event called the Triple-A Triple Championship Weekend, in which league champions of the IL and PCL will be determined on the first two days, and the Triple-A National Champion will be decided on the third.

The Sacramento River Cats have won three championships, more than any other team. The Durham Bulls, Columbus Clippers, and Omaha Storm Chasers have each won two championships. Five other teams have won one championship each. Nine titles have been won by PCL teams, while the IL has won five titles.

History

Previous postseason series

Periodically from 1904 to 1975, the champions from the top-classification leagues of Minor League Baseball met in the postseason to determine a champion amongst them. The Little World Series (1904–1931) and Junior World Series (1932–1975) usually consisted of a best-of-seven (or eight) series modeled on the World Series of Major League Baseball. Most often, it was held between the champions of the International League (IL) and the American Association (AA). A one-time Triple-A World Series was held in 1983 as a round-robin tournament featuring the champions of the AA, IL, and Pacific Coast League (PCL). The AA and IL champions met in the Triple-A Classic, a best-of-seven series played from 1988 to 1991 in conjunction with the Triple-A Alliance. From 1998 to 2000, the Triple-A World Series was revived as a best-of-five championship series between the IL and PCL champions.[1] The Triple-A World Series was discontinued because of poor attendance.[2]

Bricktown Showdown (2006–2008)

AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was the site of the first five championship games (2006–2010).
AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was the site of the first five championship games (2006–2010).

In 2006, Triple-A Baseball announced the creation of a single championship game between the league champions of the International League and Pacific Coast League to determine an overall champion of the classification. The game, called the Bricktown Showdown, was to be played at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, home of the PCL's Oklahoma RedHawks, following each league's postseason playoffs to determine their league champions. In addition to serving as the pinnacle of the Triple-A and MiLB season, the leagues sought for the championship game to develop and prosper like the Triple-A All-Star Game did since its creation in 1988.[3]

The first Bricktown Showdown was played on September 19, 2006, between the IL-champion Toledo Mud Hens and the PCL-champion Tucson Sidewinders. In front of an announced paid attendance of 12,572 people and a national television audience watching on ESPN2, Tucson defeated Toledo, 5–2.[4] Tucson left fielder Scott Hairston won the game's first Most Valuable Player Award after going 2-for-4 at the plate with 1 run batted in.[4] The game was approved only as a one-time meeting by Major League Baseball,[3] but subsequent meetings were planned for 2007 and 2008 following the success of the initial event.[5] The next two editions, however, experienced successively lower attendances (11,124 in 2007 and 8,213 in 2008).[4]

Triple-A National Championship Game (2009–present)

The Bricktown Showdown was rebranded as the Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game in 2009, and later to simply the Triple-A National Championship Game, to increase the event's national appeal and to emphasize its significance as a championship game.[6] It continued to be held in Oklahoma City, but as attendance continued to diminish (6,777 in 2009 and 7,525 in 2010), the 2010 Triple-A championship would be the last to be decided at Bricktown Park.[4]

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders celebrating on the field after winning the 2016 Triple-A Championship
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders celebrating on the field after winning the 2016 Triple-A Championship

Since 2011, the game has been held in a different Triple-A city each year. The first city to host under this new format was Albuquerque, New Mexico, home of the PCL's Albuquerque Isotopes, who played at Isotopes Park.[7] The 2012 edition was held at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, North Carolina, home to the IL's Durham Bulls.[4] It continued to alternate host sites thereafter, similar to the Triple-A All-Star Game, but with two consecutive years of PCL hosts followed by two years of IL hosts.[4] No host city has ever had its team qualify for the championship game.[4]

The start of the 2020 season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic before ultimately being cancelled on June 30.[8][9] This resulted in the cancellation of the 2020 game, which had been slated for Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin, Nevada, home of the PCL's Las Vegas Aviators.[10] In conjunction with Major League Baseball's restructuring of Minor League Baseball in 2021, the IL and PCL disbanded, and Triple-A teams were reorganized into the Triple-A East and Triple-A West.[11] Opening Day for the 2021 season was postponed for nearly a month to temporarily eliminate commercial air travel and give players the opportunity to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the season started.[12] The schedule did not include a postseason for league championship playoffs or the Triple-A National Championship Game.[13] Instead, 10 games that had been postponed from the start of the season were reinserted into the schedule as a postseason tournament called the Triple-A Final Stretch, in which all 30 Triple-A clubs competed for the highest winning percentage.[14]

In 2022, the Triple-A East and West were renamed the International League and Pacific Coast League, respectively, and they carried on the history of those leagues prior to reorganization.[15] The 2022 game will be the culmination of a three-day event called the Triple-A Triple Championship Weekend, in which league champions of the IL and PCL will be determined on the first two days, and the Triple-A National Champion will be crowned on the last. On September 30, the two division winners from the PCL will compete for their league championship. The two IL division winners will do the same on October 1. The league champions determined on those days will compete for the Triple-A National Championship on October 2. The event will be held at Summerlin's Las Vegas Ballpark.[16]

Structure

The game itself consists of a single nine-inning game to determine a champion. The only championship game to go beyond the prescribed nine innings has been the 2009 contest, which went to eleven innings.[4] From 2006 to 2016, the league that won the Triple-A All-Star Game earned the distinction of having its team designated as the home team.[3] This changed in 2017, when home team status began being awarded to the team from the hosting league.[17] Designated hitters bat in place of pitchers.

The game is umpired by a four-man crew, with one umpire behind home plate and the others covering each base. Two of the umpires work in the IL, while two work in the PCL. Positions rotate each year, such that IL umpires are assigned to home plate and second base in odd years, and PCL umpires man those positions in even years.[18]

Results

Key
home team Indicates home team
Results
Date Winning team (MLB affiliation) League Score Losing team (MLB affiliation) League Ballpark (league) Attendance Ref.
September 19, 2006 Tucson Sidewinders (ARI) PCL 5–2 Toledo Mud Henshome team (DET) IL AT&T Bricktown Ballpark (PCL) 12,572 [19]
September 18, 2007 Sacramento River Cats (OAK) PCL 7–1 Richmond Braveshome team (ATL) IL AT&T Bricktown Ballpark (PCL) 11,124 [20]
September 16, 2008 Sacramento River Catshome team (OAK) PCL 4–1 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (NYY) IL AT&T Bricktown Ballpark (PCL) 8,213 [21]
September 22, 2009 Durham Bullshome team (TBR) IL 5–4 (11 inn.) Memphis Redbirds (STL) PCL AT&T Bricktown Ballpark (PCL) 6,777 [22]
September 21, 2010 Columbus Clippershome team (CLE) IL 12–6 Tacoma Rainiers (SEA) PCL AT&T Bricktown Ballpark (PCL) 7,525 [23]
September 20, 2011 Columbus Clippershome team (CLE) IL 8–3 Omaha Storm Chasers (KCR) PCL Isotopes Park (PCL) 9,569 [24]
September 18, 2012 Reno Aceshome team (ARI) PCL 10–3 Pawtucket Red Sox (BOS) IL Durham Bulls Athletic Park (IL) 8,601 [25]
September 17, 2013 Omaha Storm Chasers (KCR) PCL 2–1 Durham Bullshome team (TBR) IL Coca-Cola Park (IL) 9,602 [26]
September 16, 2014 Omaha Storm Chasers (KCR) PCL 4–2 Pawtucket Red Soxhome team (BOS) IL BB&T Ballpark (IL) 8,886 [27]
September 22, 2015 Fresno Grizzlies (HOU) PCL 7–0 Columbus Clippershome team (CLE) IL Southwest University Park (PCL) 9,332 [28]
September 20, 2016 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRidershome team (NYY) IL 3–1 El Paso Chihuahuas (SDP) PCL AutoZone Park (PCL) 9,471 [29]
September 19, 2017 Durham Bullshome team (TBR) IL 5–3 Memphis Redbirds (STL) PCL PNC Field (IL) 9,383 [30]
September 18, 2018 Memphis Redbirds (STL) PCL 14–4 Durham Bullshome team (TBR) IL Huntington Park (IL) 9,183 [31]
September 17, 2019 Sacramento River Catshome team (SFG) PCL 4–0 Columbus Clippers (CLE) IL AutoZone Park (PCL) 9,123 [32]
September 22, 2020 Cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic[9] Las Vegas Ballpark (PCL) [10]
2021 Not held [16]

Future games

Date City Ballpark (league) Ref.
October 2, 2022 Summerlin, Nevada Las Vegas Ballpark (PCL) [16]

Most Valuable Player Award

Center fielder A. J. Pollock of the Reno Aces was selected as the game's MVP in 2012.
Center fielder A. J. Pollock of the Reno Aces was selected as the game's MVP in 2012.

One player from the winning team is recognized for their outstanding play in the game and is given the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award.[4]

Year Player Team (MLB affiliation) League Position Ref.
2006 Scott Hairston Tucson Sidewinders (ARI) PCL Left fielder [19]
2007 Lou Merloni Sacramento River Cats (OAK) PCL Third baseman [20]
2008 Chris Gissell Sacramento River Cats (OAK) PCL Relief pitcher [21]
2009 Jeremy Hellickson Durham Bulls (TBR) IL Starting pitcher [22]
2010 Jerad Head Columbus Clippers (CLE) IL Left fielder [23]
2011 Joe Martinez Columbus Clippers (CLE) IL Starting pitcher [24]
2012 A. J. Pollock Reno Aces (ARI) PCL Center fielder [25]
2013 Chris Dwyer Omaha Storm Chasers (KCR) PCL Starting pitcher [26]
2014 Brett Hayes Omaha Storm Chasers (KCR) PCL Catcher [27]
2015 Chris Devenski Fresno Grizzlies (HOU) PCL Starting pitcher [28]
2016 Chris Parmelee Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (NYY) IL First baseman [29]
2017 Kean Wong Durham Bulls (TBR) IL Second baseman [33]
2018 Alex Mejia Memphis Redbirds (STL) PCL First baseman [34]
2019 Caleb Baragar Sacramento River Cats (SFG) PCL Starting pitcher [35]
2020 None selected (Game cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic) [9]
2021 None selected (Game not held) [16]

Appearances by team

Active Triple-A teams appear in bold.

Apps. Team League Wins Losses Win % Most recent
win
Most recent
appearance
4 Columbus Clippers IL 2 2 .500 2011 2019
Durham Bulls IL 2 2 .500 2017 2018
3 Sacramento River Cats PCL 3 0 1.000 2019 2019
Omaha Storm Chasers PCL 2 1 .667 2014 2014
Memphis Redbirds PCL 1 2 .333 2018 2018
2 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders Yankees) IL 1 1 .500 2016 2016
Pawtucket Red Sox IL 0 2 .000 2014
1 Fresno Grizzlies PCL 1 0 1.000 2015 2015
Reno Aces PCL 1 0 1.000 2012 2012
Tucson Sidewinders PCL 1 0 1.000 2006 2006
El Paso Chihuahuas PCL 0 1 .000 2016
Richmond Braves IL 0 1 .000 2007
Tacoma Rainiers PCL 0 1 .000 2010
Toledo Mud Hens IL 0 1 .000 2006

Broadcasts

The event has been televised nationally every year. It aired on ESPN2 from 2006 to 2009 and on NBC Sports Network (formerly known as Versus) from 2010 to 2018.[4] Fox Sports became the broadcaster in 2019.[36]

See also

References

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  2. ^ Gault, Earl (May 5, 1984). "Knights Have Impressive Turnaround". The Herald. Rock Hill. p. 3D – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ a b c "Bricktown Showdown To Determine Triple-A Baseball Champion" (PDF). Triple-A Baseball. July 12, 2006. Archived from the original on September 20, 2020. Retrieved June 13, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game Results". Triple-A Baseball. Archived from the original on August 12, 2020. Retrieved June 13, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  5. ^ "Triple-A Baseball Championship Game To Remain in Oklahoma City for 2007 and 2008" (PDF). Triple-A Baseball. January 11, 2007. Archived from the original on October 9, 2007. Retrieved June 13, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  6. ^ "Triple-A Championship Game Renamed". Pacific Coast League. Minor League Baseball. August 7, 2009. Retrieved June 12, 2022.
  7. ^ Hill, Benjamin (February 8, 2011). "Isotopes to Host Triple-A Championship". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  8. ^ "A Message From Pat O'Conner". Minor League Baseball. March 13, 2020. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c "2020 Minor League Baseball Season Shelved". Minor League Baseball. June 30, 2020. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  10. ^ a b "Las Vegas Ballpark to Host 2020 Triple-A National Championship Game". Ballpark Digest. August 19, 2019. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  11. ^ Mayo, Jonathan (February 12, 2021). "MLB Announces New Minors Teams, Leagues". Major League Baseball. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  12. ^ Harrigan, Thomas (March 2, 2021). "Triple-A Start Delayed; Alternate Sites to Return". Major League Baseball. Archived from the original on May 5, 2021. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  13. ^ Reichard, Kevin (February 18, 2021). "2021 MiLB Schedules Released". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
  14. ^ "MiLB Announces 'Triple-A Final Stretch' for 2021". Minor League Baseball. July 14, 2021. Archived from the original on July 16, 2021. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  15. ^ "Historical League Names to Return in 2022". Minor League Baseball. March 16, 2022. Archived from the original on March 25, 2022. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  16. ^ a b c d "Las Vegas to Host Inaugural Triple-A Triple Championship Weekend". Minor League Baseball. May 3, 2022. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  17. ^ "2017 Governors' Cup Playoffs Preview" (PDF). Minor League Baseball. August 11, 2017. p. 4. Archived from the original on August 12, 2017. Retrieved June 14, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
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  19. ^ a b "Tucson Sidewinders 5, Toledo Mud Hens 2" (PDF). Triple-A Baseball. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  20. ^ a b "Sacramento River Cats (85-60) 7, Richmond Braves (77-65) 1" (PDF). Triple-A Baseball. Archived from the original on November 30, 2020. Retrieved August 17, 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  21. ^ a b "Sacramento River Cats (84-61) 4, Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees (88-57) 1" (PDF). Triple-A Baseball. Archived from the original on November 30, 2020. Retrieved August 17, 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  22. ^ a b "Durham Bulls (84-61) 5, Memphis Redbirds (77-68) 4" (PDF). Triple-A Baseball. Archived from the original on January 19, 2021. Retrieved August 17, 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  23. ^ a b "Tacoma Rainiers (74-70) 6, Columbus Clippers (80-65) 12" (PDF). Triple-A Baseball. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  24. ^ a b "Columbus Clippers (89-56) 8, Omaha Storm Chasers (79-64) 3" (PDF). Triple-A Baseball. Archived from the original on May 2, 2021. Retrieved August 17, 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  25. ^ a b "Pawtucket Red Sox (79-66) 3, Reno Aces (82-63) 10" (PDF). Triple-A Baseball. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  26. ^ a b "Omaha Storm Chasers (71-74) 2, Durham Bulls (87-58) 1" (PDF). Triple-A Baseball. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  27. ^ a b "Omaha Storm Chasers (77-67) 4, Pawtucket Red Sox (79-66) 2" (PDF). Triple-A Baseball. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 23, 2015.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  28. ^ a b "Fresno Grizzlies (85-59) 7, Columbus Clippers (83-62) 0" (PDF). Triple-A Baseball. Archived from the original on May 1, 2021. Retrieved July 12, 2017.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  29. ^ a b "Chihuahuas 1, RailRiders 3 (Final Score) on Gameday". Minor League Baseball. September 20, 2016. Retrieved June 14, 2022.
  30. ^ "Redbirds 3, Bulls 5 (Final Score) on Gameday". Minor League Baseball. September 19, 2017. Retrieved June 14, 2022.
  31. ^ "Redbirds 14, Bulls 4 (Final Score) on Gameday". Minor League Baseball. September 18, 2018. Retrieved June 14, 2022.
  32. ^ "Clippers 0, River Cats 4 (Final Score) on Gameday". Minor League Baseball. September 17, 2019. Retrieved June 14, 2022.
  33. ^ Wiseman, Steve (September 19, 2017). "Durham Bulls Win Triple-A National Championship". The Herald-Sun. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  34. ^ Rosenbaum, Mike (September 19, 2018). "Memphis slugs its way to first Triple-A title". MLB.com. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  35. ^ Heneghan, Kelsie (September 18, 2019). "Stingy Baragar, Cats take Triple-A crown". MiLB.com. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
  36. ^ "FOX Sports Becomes TV Home of Triple-A National Championship Game". Ballpark Digest. Sports Reference. May 3, 2019. Retrieved June 14, 2022.