The New England League was a mid-level league in American minor league baseball that played intermittently in five of the six New England states (Vermont excepted) between 1886 and 1949. After 1901, it existed in the shadow of two Major League Baseball clubs in Boston and alongside stronger, higher-classification leagues.

New England League
FormerlyEastern New England League (1885)
SportMinor League Baseball
Founded1885; 139 years ago (1885)
First season1886; 138 years ago (1886)
Ceased1949; 75 years ago (1949)
CountryUnited States
Most titles6 Lowell Tigers

In 1946, the NEL, the International League and the Canadian–American League – which all included farm teams of the Brooklyn Dodgers – were the first 20th century leagues (other than the Negro leagues) to permit African-Americans to play. The following season, Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby would integrate the major leagues.

Early history edit

In 1877 a non–classified league first called the "New England League" played with the Fall River Casscades, Lowell Ladies Men, Lynn Live Oaks, Manchester Reds and Rhode Islands as members.[1]

The New England League was next called the Eastern New England League beginning play in 1885 with five teams in Massachusetts and Maine. The five teams, playing an 80 game season were, Lawrence, Haverhill, Biddleford/Newburyport, Portland and Brockton, with Lawrence winning the 1885 championship. The league continued play and shortened its name after the 1885 season.[2][3][4][5]

The newly named "New England League" played its first game in 1886, with the same five Eastern New England League clubs in Massachusetts and Maine, plus the addition of the Boston Blues as the sixth team. The first New England League champion was the Portland club. The league was inactive in 1889–1890, then resumed play from 1891 to 1915 (with the exception of 1900) under the presidency of Tim Murnane, the Boston Globe sportswriter. When the minor leagues were assigned classifications in 1902, the NEL was graded Class B, at that time two levels below major league status, equivalent to Class AA today.[6][7]

Disruption caused by the outlaw Federal League and the coming of World War I caused the loop to reorganize in 1916 as the Eastern League, ending the NEL's most long-lived period of operation. The league attempted to revive in 1919, then closed down in early August. Seven years later, the NEL returned in 1926 with eight clubs in the region's mill towns, but the Great Depression devastated the minor leagues, and the NEL was no exception: it disbanded June 22, 1930. A 1933 revival was followed the next season by a name change to the Northeastern League – and another shutdown that would last through the 1940 baseball season.

Semi–pro league edit

The New England League was revived in May 1941 as a semi–pro league with eight franchises. Many players were in the military assigned to nearby bases, including some major league players (often playing under an assumed name). Football Hall of Famer, Major League umpire and NBA coach Hank Soar sometimes played for Pawtucket. Pawtucket's best pitcher in 1945 was once and future major league pitcher Randy Gumpert, pitching under the alias "Ralph Wilson".[citation needed]

The teams in 1941 were the New Bedford Whalers (which relocated to Cranston, Rhode Island on July 31), Pawtucket Slaters, Lynn Frasers, Worcester Nortons, Woonsocket Marquettes, Quincy Shipbuilders, Fall River, and Manchester (New Hampshire) Dexters. Pawtucket won the championship.

1942 saw seven teams take the field but one, the Fitchburg Blue Sox, dropped out early in the season. Pawtucket, Lynn, Manchester, Worcester, Quincy and Woonsocket all returned and Pawtucket again won the championship in October when the best-of-7 series against Manchester was halted after five games due to poor weather. In the middle of the championship series the Slaters hosted a game against the Boston Red Sox in front of over 9,000 fans.

Pawtucket played their first game at the new Pawtucket Stadium (present-day McCoy Stadium) on July 5 against Lynn with over 6,000 fans in attendance.

By 1943, with the war, the League operated with just four teams. Pawtucket, Woonsocket and Quincy were back, joined by the Providence Frigates of Cranston.

Providence, which defeated Pawtucket for the championship in 1943, changed ballparks in 1944, moving from Cranston Stadium to Municipal Stadium in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Joining them were Pawtucket, Lynn, Woonsocket and Quincy. Lynn bested Pawtucket 3 games to 2 for the 1944 championship.

In 1945, Cranston returned to the fold joining Pawtucket and Lynn, the return of the Worcester Nortons and two new teams: the New London Diesels and the Lawrence, Massachusetts based Lawrence Millionaires. The Cranston Firesafes defeated Pawtucket for the championship, 4 games to 1.

From 1941 to 1945 the member teams regularly played exhibition matches against teams from other leagues. Major league teams, Negro league teams, famous barnstorming teams and military teams all found their way into New England League ballparks. For example, Pawtucket, with once and future major league players such as Danny MacFayden, Bob Whitcher, Ted Olson and Ed Murphy, hosted the Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Braves, New York Black Yankees, and in other years teams such as the Havana All-Stars, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Boston Colored Giants, House of David and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Return to professional status edit

In 1946 with the postwar baseball boom, the New England League was restored to an "affiliated" eight–team Class B level circuit, but only half the teams had ties to a major league organization. Four of the six 1945 teams made the crossover: the Pawtucket Slaters (Boston Braves), Lynn Red Sox (Boston Red Sox), Cranston Chiefs (independent) and Lawrence Millionaires (independent). They were joined by the Manchester Giants (New York Giants), Nashua Dodgers (Brooklyn Dodgers) and two other independent teams: the Portland Gulls and Fall River Indians. Its most notable member, the Nashua Dodgers, was a Brooklyn farm club where, in 1946, African-American players and future Dodger greats Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella made their debuts as part of the handful of men who broke the baseball color line. The players succeeded on the field and were very complimentary in remarks about their Nashua experience in later years.

In 1947 the Cranston Chiefs had a working agreement with the Cincinnati Reds, and the Fall River Indians had the same arrangement with the Chicago White Sox. The still independent Lawrence Millionaires cancelled their home game against Pawtucket on July 14 and became the Lowell "Stars" the following day playing in Pawtucket, wearing the uniforms of a popular semi-pro team of the same name. A name-the-team contest never panned out, and the press began calling the team the Lowell Orphans; after August 18 they became a "road" team. Following the 1947 season the franchise was moved to Springfield as a farm team of the Chicago Cubs, and the Springfield Cubs became the only New England League team to survive the 1949 season, as one of the Cubs' two Class AAA team from 1950–1953. Dewacasino168 the most trusted england league match join us now before it's too late.

Nashua was the most successful member of the postwar league, winning three consecutive playoff championships from 1946-48. But by the middle of 1949, it became clear that the New England League was not viable. The league began the season with eight teams, but the Providence Grays dropped out on June 20. In mid-July the New York Yankees announced they were withdrawing their support of the Manchester team, forcing the franchise to suspend operations. The unaffiliated teams in Lynn and Fall River then also announced they were suspending operations, and on July 20, 1949, the New England League closed out their "first half" with Nashua in first place, followed in order by the other surviving teams: Pawtucket, Portland and Springfield. The "second half" season of 38 games resumed with the four remaining teams and concluded with Pawtucket in first place, followed by Portland, Springfield and Nashua. Both halves combined shows Pawtucket as the best team some 10½ games above second-place Nashua. The Brooklyn Dodgers refused to allow Nashua to participate in any playoffs, wanting to pull the plug on the Nashua operation immediately, thus giving the Portland team a first-round bye in the playoffs, which saw Springfield defeat Pawtucket, 2 games to 0, then Portland taking Springfield in seven games. The league's final regular-season champ was the Pawtucket Slaters, a farm club of the Boston Braves, but the Portland Pilots, a Phillies affiliate, won the playoffs, thus bookending the championship earned by the Maine city's entry in the NEL's maiden season 63 years earlier.

List of teams edit

[8][9]

Standings & statistics edit

1886 to 1888 edit

1886 New England League - schedule
President: Jacob C. Morse

Team standings W L PCT GB Managers
Portland 66 36 .647 - Harry Spence
Haverhill 59 38 .608 4.5 Frank Selee / Fred Doe /
John Irwin
Newburyport Clamdiggers / Lynn 53 52 .505 14.5 Dan Shannon / Ed Flanagan /
Fred Doe
Brockton 45 56 .455 20.5 Bill McGunnigle / Jim Cudworth
Lawrence 42 55 .433 21.5 Frank Cox
Boston Blues 35 63 .357 29.0 Tim Murnane / Walt Burnham

Newburyport (35-34) moved to Lynn August 14.

Player statistics
Player Team Stat Tot Player Team Stat Tot
Tom McCarthy Brockton BA .330 Tom Lovett Newburyport/Lynn W 32
Bobby Wheelock Portland Runs 93 Tom Lovett Newburyport/Lynn SO 300
Sam LaRocque Newburyport/Lynn Hits 134 Tom Lovett Newburyport/Lynn ERA 1.27
Guerdon Whiteley Newburyport/Lynn HR 11 Tom Lovett Newburyport/Lynn Pct .756; 31-10
Ted Scheffler Portland HR 11 Tug Wilson Newburyport/Lynn HR 11
Mike Slattery Haverhill SB 63


1887 New England League - schedule
President: Jacob C. Morse

Team Standings W L PCT GB Managers
Lowell Browns 71 33 .683 - Bill McGunnigle
Portland 68 36 .654 3.0 Harry Spence
Boston Blues / Haverhill 47 36 .566 13.5 Walt Burnham
Manchester Farmers 55 46 .545 14.5 Frank Leonard
Lawrence / Salem 45 50 .473 21.5 Pat Pettee / Henry Putnam
Lynn Lions 40 64 .384 31.0 George Brackett / Henry Murphy
Haverhill 15 41 .268 NA Arthur Williams / Fred Doe
Salem Fairies 10 45 .181 NA Wallace Fessenden / Ed Flanagan /
Frank Murphy

Salem disbanded July 9; Haverhill disbanded July 11; Boston (35-18) moved to Haverhill July 11; Lawrence (29-34) moved to Salem July 26.

Player statistics
Player Team Stat Tot Player Team Stat Tot
Hugh Duffy Salem/Lowell BA .470 Henry Burns Lowell W 32
Wyman Andrus Portland Runs 165 Henry Burns Lowell SO 137
Wyman Andrus Portland Hits 233 Jim Devlin Lynn ERA 1.84
Ed Kennedy Lowell HR 15 Henry Burns Lowell Pct .780; 32-9
Gil Hatfield Portland SB 141


1888 New England League - schedule
President: Edward Chesney

Team standings W L PCT GB Managers
Lowell Chippies 51 36 .573 - Jim Cudworth
Worcester Grays 48 40 .545 3.5 Walt Burnham
Manchester Maroons 47 50 .485 9.0 Jim Clinton / Herbert Clough
Lynn Lions 37 26 .587 NA George Brackett
Salem Witches 36 34 .514 NA Wallace Fessenden
Portsmouth Lillies 12 20 .375 NA Frank Leonard
Portland 2 18 .200 NA Henry Myers / David Mahoney

Portland disbanded June 9 and was replaced by Portsmouth July 20; Lynn disbanded July 20; Salem disbanded August 3.

Player statistics
Player Team Stat Tot Player Team Stat Tot
Ted Scheffler Manchester BA .375 Alex Ferson Lynn/Manchester W 25
Ted Scheffler Manchester Runs 107 Alex Ferson Lynn/Manchester ERA 1.10
Ed Kennedy Lowell Hits 121 Alex Ferson Lynn/Manchester Pct .781; 25-7
Mark Polhemus Lowell HR 14 Henry Burns Lowell SO 224

[8]

Baseball Hall of Fame alumni edit

References edit

  1. ^ "1877 New England League". Baseball-Reference.com.
  2. ^ "Baseball - Digital Commonwealth". www.digitalcommonwealth.org.
  3. ^ Bevis, Charlie (2007). The New England League: A Baseball History, 1885-1949. ISBN 978-0786431595.
  4. ^ "1885 Eastern New England League (ENEL) on StatsCrew.com". www.statscrew.com.
  5. ^ "Eastern New England League (Independent) Encyclopedia and History". Baseball-Reference.com.
  6. ^ "1886 New England League (NEL) on StatsCrew.com". www.statscrew.com.
  7. ^ "New England League (B) Encyclopedia and History". Baseball-Reference.com.
  8. ^ a b Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball – Lloyd Johnson, Miles Wolff. Publisher: Baseball America, 1993. Softcover, 420pp. ISBN 0-963-718-91-6
  9. ^ Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball

References edit

  • Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, editors: The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, 1997.
  • Roper, Scott C., and Roper, Stephanie Abbot. "'We're Going to Give All We Have for this Grand Little Town': Baseball Integration and the 1946 Nashua Dodgers." Historical New Hampshire 53:1/2 (Spring/Summer 1998) 3-19.
  • Tygiel, Jules. Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and his Legacy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.