The Difference Thirty Years Makes In Minor League Baseball

I don’t know of a more succinct way of expressing how minor league baseball has changed in the past 30 years than this:

In 1986, the teams in the AA Eastern League were the Cubs, Indians, Phillies, Pirates, Red Sox, Reds, Tigers and Yankees.

1987 ProCards Vermont Reds Joe Oliver

1987 ProCards Vermont Reds Joe Oliver

For 2016, the teams in the Eastern League are the BaySox, Curve, Fightin’ Phils, Fisher Cats, Flying Squirrels, RubberDucks, Sea Dogs, SeaWolves, Senators, Thunder, Yard Goats…………………. and Mets.

2013 Topps Heritage Minor League Joe Panik

2013 Topps Heritage Minor League Joe Panik

Just to put the final nail in the coffin, the Binghamton Mets’ new ownership recently announced that the team would have a new name in 2017.


I’d intended to keep this post brief, but it seemed a little too light in content, so here are two more minor league cards from back in the day…

1987 ProCards Reading Phillies Todd Frohwirth

1987 ProCards Reading Phillies Todd Frohwirth

1991 Classic Best Pedro Martinez

1991 Classic Best Pedro Martinez

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6 thoughts on “The Difference Thirty Years Makes In Minor League Baseball

  1. The world continues to change and so does baseball. Thirty years ago was a different baseball landscape than today. Back then, Major League teams kept their affiliates for many years and did not change cities (and team names) every three years or so as they seem to do now. As a result, the Reading Phillies name, for example, STAYED the ‘Phillies’ for many years. Add to that the promotion mindedness of minor league baseball that has had to morph and change in order to make a profit and stay in business despite an ever-tougher economy. Teams that adopt a more locally appealing name makes great sense to me. The more fun the name, the easier it is to promote and sell team logo merchandise. Again, a revenue stream that minor league teams depend on to maintain their balance sheet. Change is great in baseball — so long as they do NOT implement the Designated Hitter in the National League!!

    • A lot of people in Reading were very upset when their team went from Phillies to Fightin’ Phils. I don’t know if that’s still the case, or if those fans have been won over to any degree. I’m sure there are a vocal (or at least grumbling) minority to liked it better the old way (and I can sympathize with that viewpoint).

      Aside from marketing the team locally, an appealling name and logo can result in significant merchandise sales outside of the team’s market, something you wouldn’t get with the Pittsfield Cubs or Nashua Pirates. Having a unique team name also makes life a lot easier when the affiliations change, so the teams don’t have to explain that “Yes, we are the Hooterville Rockies this year, but we’re the same team that was the Hooterville Astros the previous four years, we just have a different organization supplying the players”.

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