The Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League was a Minor League Baseball organization that operated for the better part of 60 years, mostly in those three states. The league began play in 1901 and disbanded after the 1961 season. It was popularly known as the Three–I League and sometimes jokingly as the Three-Eye League.
|No. of teams||31 Cities|
|Most titles||8 Evansville Braves/ Bees/ Hubs (1957, 1956, 1954, 1952, 1949, 1941, 1938, 1930)|
|Classification||D (1901) B (1902–1961)|
The Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League was founded in 1901 with Rock Island, Illinois native Michael H. Sexton serving as President. Eight charter members began play in 1901: the Bloomington Blues, Cedar Rapids Rabbitts, Davenport River Rats, Decatur Commodores, Evansville River Rats, Rock Island Islanders, Rockford Red Sox and Terre Haute Hottentots. Bloomington, Illinois, Decatur, Illinois and Terre Haute, Indiana had left the Central League to join expansion teams in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Davenport, Iowa, Evansville, Indiana, Rockford, Illinois, and Rock Island, Illinois and form the Class D league. Two expansion teams, Davenport and Evansville, chose "River Rats" as their team name. For the second season, 1902, the league became Class B, a classification it retained for the next 59 seasons of league operation.
The Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League was inactive during some years of World War I (1918), the Great Depression (1933–1934, 1936) and World War II (1943–1945), similar to many minor leagues that were forced to suspend operations or disband during those severe times.
As with many minor leagues, especially at the lower classifications, league membership fluctuated a great deal over its six decades. Overall, the league hosted teams in 31 cities during its existence. At various times it had teams in such medium-sized cities as Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Bloomington, Decatur, Danville, Peoria, Springfield, Evansville and Terre Haute. It was a Class B league in the old classification system that ran from Class D up to Class Triple-A.
Since 1956 its territory had largely been supplanted by the Midwest League, which began in 1947 as the Class D Illinois State League. After 1956 there were no Illinois or Indiana teams in the league. The final 1961 Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League franchises were the Fox Cities Foxes, Burlington Bees, Topeka Reds, Lincoln Chiefs, Cedar Rapids Braves and Des Moines Demons. In 1962, Appleton (Fox Cities), Burlington, and Cedar Rapids joined the Midwest League and the Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League folded operations when those franchises switched leagues.
The league's unique name made it a convenient reference point for any mention of the minor leagues. Casey Stengel made the following comment in later life, evidently still feeling stung from having been traded by the New York Giants to the Boston Braves in the 1923–1924 off-season, despite having hit 2 game-winning home runs in the World Series: "It's lucky I didn't hit 3 home runs in three games, or McGraw would have traded me to the 3-I League!"
Three-I Most Valuable PlayersEdit
- 1961 Tommy Harper, Topeka Reds (Cincinnati Reds), 15-year MLB player; All-Star
- 1960 Pete Ward, Fox Cities Foxes (Baltimore Orioles), 9-year MLB career
- 1959 Cal Emery Des Moines Demons (Philadelphia Phillies), Successful Minor League Manager
- 1958 Frank Howard, Green Bay Bluejays (Los Angeles Dodgers), 16-year MLB player; 4-time All-Star
- 1957 Don Nichols Peoria Chiefs; led league in wins (20) and ERA (2.09)
- 1956 Don Nottebart, Evansville Braves (Milwaukee Braves), Threw first no-hitter in Astrodome; gave up Willie Mays' 500th home run
- 1955 Johnny Romano, Waterloo White Hawks (Chicago White Sox), 10-year MLB player; 2-time All-Star
- 1954 unknown
- 1953 unknown
- 1952 unknown
Year By Year (1901–1932)Edit
1901 Terre Haute won the title behind the impressive pitching of Mordecai Brown, future Chicago Cubs mound star.
|Terre Haute Hottentots||72–39|
|Cedar Rapids Rabbits||67–45|
|Rockford Red Sox||57–55|
|Davenport River Rats||51–61|
|Evansville River Rats||47–65|
|Rock Island Islanders||45–66|
|Rockford Red Sox||74–52|
|Terre Haute Hottentots||70–53|
|Cedar Rapids Rabbits||64–55|
|Rock Island Islanders||58–61|
|Davenport River Rats||59–63|
|Evansville River Rats||57–67|
1903 Evansville and Terre Haute joined the Central League. New teams in Dubuque, Iowa and Joliet, Illinois formed. Joliet, with a record of 14–19, moved to Springfield, Illinois on June 12, where they had a record of 28–61.
|Davenport River Rats||65–53|
|Rock Island Islanders||64–54|
|Cedar Rapids Rabbits||60–60|
|Rockford Red Sox||58–60|
|Joliet Standards/Springfield Foot Trackers||42–80|
|Cedar Rapids Rabbits||70–52|
|Rock Island Islanders||57–65|
|Davenport River Rats||52–69|
|Rockford Red Sox||48–76|
1905 The Rockford team folded, and a new team in Peoria, Illinois formed.
|Rock Island Islanders||68–55|
|Cedar Rapids Rabbits||63–61|
|Cedar Rapids Rabbits||79–43|
|Rock Island Islanders||58–66|
|Rock Island Islanders||86–46|
|Cedar Rapids Rabbits||72–61|
|Cedar Rapids Rabbits||69–63|
|Rock Island Islanders||59–76|
1909 The Clinton team folded. A new team in Davenport, Iowa formed.
|Rock Island Islanders||90–48|
|Cedar Rapids Rabbits||31–107|
1910 After the previous disappointing season, Cedar Rapids folded. The Decatur team moved to the Northern Association. The team from Waterloo, Iowa left the Central Association to join here. A new team from Danville, Illinois formed and joined the league as well.
|Rock Island Islanders||81–56|
1911 The team from Bloomington folded. The Quincy, Illinois team from the Central Association joined the league. The Springfield team, with a 12–4 record, moved to Decatur, Illinois on May 31, where their record was 57–56.
|Springfield Senators/Decatur Nomads||69–60|
|Rock Island Islanders||58–79|
|Quincy Old Soldiers||67–70|
|Davenport Blue Sox||68–66|
1914 The Danville team, with a record of 26–53, moved to Moline, Illinois on July 14, where their record was 20–33.
|Davenport Blue Sox||83–52|
|Danville Speakers/Moline Plowboys||46–86|
1915 The Springfield team folded. A new team in Rockford, Illinois formed. Dubuque moved to Freeport, Illinois during the season. The Decatur team folded on August 10. The league adopted a playoff system in which the team with the best record in the first half of the season would play the team with the best record in the second half of the season.
|Moline Plowboys||75–51 (2nd half winner)|
|Davenport Blue Sox||76–52 (1st half winner)|
|Dubuque Dubs/Freeport Comeons||48–76|
Moline beat Davenport 4 games to 2 for the title.
|Rock Island Islanders||57–76|
|Davenport Blue Sox||56–77|
1917 The Davenport team folded. A new team in Alton, Illinois formed and joined the league.
|Rock Island Islanders||36–26|
1918 The league suspended operations because of World War I.
|Evansville Black Sox||63–58|
|Terre Haute Browns||50–70|
|Cedar Rapids Rabbits||68–69|
|Terre Haute Browns||58–77|
|Rock Island Islanders||57–81|
|Terre Haute Tots||70–65|
|Cedar Rapids Rabbits||62–72|
|Rock Island Islanders||57–78|
1922 The teams in Cedar Rapids and Rock Island moved to the Mississippi Valley League. New teams in Danville and Decatur formed and joined the league.
|Terre Haute Tots||85–51|
|Terre Haute Tots||71–60|
1924 The Rockford team folded. The Moline team moved to the Mississippi Valley League.
|Terre Haute Tots||75–62|
|Evansville Little Evas||75–64|
1925 New teams in Quincy and Springfield formed and joined the league.
|Terre Haute Tots||81–54|
|Quincy Red Birds||54–82|
|Terre Haute Tots||73–61|
|Quincy Red Birds||62–75|
Springfield played Bay City of the Michigan State League and won 4 games to none. They were leading against Des Moines of the Western League 3 games to 1 when the series was canceled due to cold weather.
|Terre Haute Tots||70–66|
|Quincy Red Birds||63–75|
1928 The league returned to the playoff format in which the team with the best record in the first half of the season played the team with the best records in the second half of the season for the title.
|Decatur Commodores||81–49 (2nd half winner)|
|Terre Haute Tots||75–59 (1st half winner)|
Decatur beat Terre Haute for the title 4 games to 1, with 1 tie.
1929 Two teams with the nickname "Tractors" played in the league this season.
|Terre Haute Tots||72–66|
Quincy played Canton of the Central League after the season ended and lost 4 games to 2.
1930 The league returned to the best record in the 1st half vs. best record in the 2nd half playoff system.
|Evansville Hubs||79–55 (2nd half winner)|
|Danville Veterans||71–67 (1st half winner)|
|Terre Haute Tots||53–76|
Danville defeated Evansville 4 games to 2 for the title. Danville went on to play Springfield of the Central League and lead 3 games to 2 when the series was cancelled because of poor attendance.
|Springfield Senators||72–45 (1st half winner)|
|Quincy Indians||67–49 (2nd half winner)|
|Terre Haute Tots||55–68|
Quincy beat Springfield 4 games to 2 for the championship.
1932 The teams in Bloomington and Evansville folded before the season, and the Springfield and Decatur teams folded on July 12.
|Terre Haute Tots||42–27 (1st half winner)|
|Peoria Tractors||20–38 (2nd half winner)|
|Quincy Indians||Cleveland Indians||38–31|
|Danville Veterans||St. Louis Cardinals||29–39|
The Terre Haute, Peoria, Quincy, and Danville teams all folded on July 15, as did the league itself. The league was restarted in 1935, 1937–1942, and 1946–1961.
All former teams (1901–1961)Edit
- "1901 Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
- "Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League (D) Encyclopedia and History - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
- "Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League (B) Encyclopedia and History - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
- "Register League Encyclopedia - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
- Batterson, Steve. "Era comes to close for Q-C minor league baseball". qctimes.com.
- "Top 100 Teams - MiLB.com History - The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". MiLB.com.
- "1961 Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
- "Midwest League (A) Encyclopedia and History - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
- "Three-I Loop MVP to Ward". News-Record. Neenah. September 3, 1960. p. 5 – via Newspapers.com.