Baseball was still in its infancy at the time that the Central Inter- State League saw the light. The league started in 1888 and lasted for three seasons even though it didn’t finish the first season. In the first season it was considered an independent league.
Bloomington, IL: Bloomington Blues 1888
Burlington, IA: Burlington Babies 1889; Burlington Hawkeyes 1890
Crawfordsville, IN: Crawfordsville 1888
Danville, IL: Danville Browns 1888
Davenport, IA: Davenport 1888-89
Decatur, IL: Decatur 1888
Dubuque, IA: Dubuque 1888
Evansville, IN: Evansville Hoosiers 1889-90
Galesburg, IL: Galesburg 1890
Indianapolis, IN: Indianapolis 1890
Lafayette, IN: Lafayette 1888
Peoria, IL: Peoria Reds 1888; Peoria Canaries 1889-90
Quincy, IL: Quincy Ravens 1889-90
Rockford, IL: Rockford 1888
Springfield, IL: Springfield Senators 1889
Terre Haute, IN: Terre Haute 1888, 1890
The league started as an eight team league but in an age in which automobiles were far from common, the distances between cities was hard to overcome which led to high travel costs. Eventually Rockford, Danville, Lafayette and Dubuque disbanded, which led to the downfall of the league. On July 27 the league disbanded. One of the most known players in this league (according to several sources) was Bud Fowler, allegedly the first black player in professional baseball. Fowler played the half season that the league existed for the Crawfordsville/Terre Haute franchise as he played second base. Local newspapers were very positive about his play: “Bud Fowler is playing a great game at second…little gets by him…he is predicted to be one of the best of the league at his position.”
One of the best pitchers in that first year was Hall of Famer Clark Griffith, who played for the Bloomington franchise. Most notable feat about Griffith is that he averaged to strike out more than twelve hitters per game.
In 1889, the league made a fresh start, with six teams this time. Once again Davenport was one of the cities that had a team in the league. Like the previous season, Davenport fielded a strong team. Despite the discouraging developments in the previous season, the league started with a challenging 120 game schedule. Davenport sported a 59-46 record into September. But then a road trip to the second place Quincy Ravens and the third place Springfield Senators was scheduled. The Davenport team had made complaints about the quality of the umpires before and was convinced that the games would be stolen from them, when playing in those two cities. Instead of going on the road trip, the club disbanded.
In the final season of the league (1890) only one team disbanded. After a 6-22 record the Galesburg franchise moved to Indianapolis, where it folded after 54 games. The Evansville Hoosiers won the pennant by a four game lead over the second place Burlington Hawkeyes.
Later there would be more leagues with the name of the Central Inter-State League (1896-1897 and 1912 as a class D league). In the final year of the 1888-1890 Central Inter-State League, the league was also called the Western League. The 1912 edition was also called the Central International League.