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In 1946, a new major league forms as a rival/companion to the existing major league. The new league breaks the 70-year-old color barrier; the established circuit, bowing to pressure, soon follows suit. After some mildly antagonistic jockeying the two leagues are operating in cooperation with one another, with a common draft and an interleague postseason championship.

So, two leagues; one established, and the other brand new. Both leagues are fictional leagues with fictional teams and players, but they draw some parallels from MLB history. It may be viewed as an alternate history “inspired” by real-life baseball, with further “inspiration” from another, less likely source…

Historical Inspiration

A quasi-parallel from professional football

From 1946-1949 the National Football League had a challenger called the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). Conceived by its founders as a “companion” league to the NFL (an “American League” to the NFL’s “National League”), the AAFC initiated some significant innovations, most notably 1) the rejection of the unwritten rule prohibiting African-Americans from playing and 2) coast-to-coast placement of teams, made feasible by the availability of air travel.

The league was moderately successful. AAFC teams in New York and Los Angeles actually outdrew their NFL competition in those cities, and some teams in cities with no NFL representative, like Buffalo, Cleveland, and San Francisco also drew well. Other teams struggled, however, and as competition for talent caused player salaries to escalate in both leagues, it became difficult even for the most successful teams to flourish financially.

Both leagues sought an end to the inter-league conflict, and the final agreement was for the AAFC to disband but for three of its teams—Cleveland, San Francisco, and Baltimore—to join a newly-realigned NFL.

Meanwhile, in the summertime…

Major League Baseball was still far more popular than professional football in 1946, but MLB, presented with opportunities to move forward, was dragging its feet. African-Americans were barred from playing. The teams were concentrated in the East, leaving lucrative markets west of the Mississippi untapped. Most teams had to compete with another team in the same city, some in markets that had for years struggled to adequately support more than one team. Baseball was ready to realign and expand. It began to do so, but at a snail’s pace; relocations didn’t start until 1952, and there was no expansion until 1961. Both could easily have started earlier and accelerated faster.

“Our” History

NBL—The “Senior Circuit”

The Commissioner created a fictional major league in OOTP, the “National Baseball League”. The structure was loosely on the historical Major League Baseball, slightly simplified. I began simming in 1876, the same year that the real National League started. The league began in the same cities that made up the original membership of the National League but it went through different (and fewer) changes.

The NBL achieved stability in the 1890’s, after which all of its franchises stayed put for decades. By 1893 it was a 12-team league with two divisions and an annual post-season championship. That year, and for many years hence, the league consisted of:

Western Division Eastern Division
Chicago Traders Baltimore Lords
Cincinnati Packers Boston Terriers
Cleveland Bobcats Brooklyn Bluebirds
Detroit Wolverines Buffalo Beavers
Pittsburgh Industrials New York Knickerbockers
St. Louis Explorers Philadelphia Quakers

This league’s structure was somewhat more akin to the NFL of the 1930’s/1940’s/1950’s than to the Major League Baseball of the first half of the 20th Century. There was one league instead of two, with fewer teams and no two teams competing in the same city (or at least no two teams starting in the same city; Brooklyn was not part of New York City before 1898).

AABC—The “Junior Circuit”

I simmed that league up through the 1945 season, and then a new competitor emerged: the All-America Baseball Conference. This eight-team league placed teams in six markets that weren’t served by the established major league, plus a team in New York and a team in Chicago (because “major leagues” rarely ignore New York and Chicago) .The new league consists of:

Western Division Eastern Division
Houston Drillers Chicago Hawks
Los Angeles Pobladores Montreal Habitants
San Francisco Seagulls New York Empires
Seattle Emeralds Toronto Hurons

The Future

Expansion/realignment: Real leagues sometimes remain static for awhile, but eventually, something always changes. Since this is supposed to resemble a real league, we will undergo changes too.

What has already happened: Three years after we began play with human managers, we agreed to commence with realignment; in 1949 Baltimore and Boston moved from the NBL East to the AABC East, Chicago (Hawks) moved from the AABC East to the AABC West, and Pittsburgh moved from the NBL West to the NBL East. This resulted in two ten-team leagues each comprised of two five-team divisions. The AABC changed its name to the American Baseball League (ABL) in 1950.

In 1955 Buffalo relocated to Dallas (and the NBL West), and the NBL added two expansion franchises: Kansas City (West) and Washington (East). Cleveland switched from the NBL West to the NBL East.

In 1956 each league added a new expansion team: Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul) in the ABL West, Milwaukee in the NBL West; additionally, Detroit switched from the NBL West to the ABL East. This configuration will remain static for the next eleven years.

What will happen next:

The ABL will have been somewhat more Western-based than the NBL; in 1966 there will be further expansion/realignment will seek to balance out the geographical distributions of the two leagues. San Diego and a second Los Angeles franchise will give the NBL a Pacific Coast presence. The NBL will add another Western team in Denver, while the ABL will add a team in Atlanta. Lastly, Dallas will move to the ABL.

When all that is done the division alignment will be as follows:


That will bring us up to 28 teams, more than they had in real life until 1993. No expansions are planned after that, but if we make it into the ’80’s or ’90’s, who knows?

As for team names, we like to limit the scope to names that have a real-life “feel”, and are partial to names that have some geographic significance. The following are suggested names for the expansion and/or relocated franchises:

Atlanta: Peaches, Thrashers, Oaks
Denver: Burros, Zephyrs, Bighorns
Los Angeles: Blockbusters, Stars
San Diego: Missions, Captains

Interested in taking a team, or just want to ask a question or comment on something? E-mail me!