Minor League history: Georgia State League

The Georgia State League had various versions of which the first started in 1906. The next version started in 1914 but changed the name to Florida-Alabama-Georgia League in 1915 when teams from Alabama and Florida were added. This version of the Georgia State League was a continuation of the Empire State League of 1913. 
The next edition of the Georgia State League started in 1920 and lasted for two years. 
The final edition was also the edition that ran for the longest time. It started in 1948 and folded in 1956. It was one of those leagues that started in the golden era of minor league baseball and died as a result of the emergence of television and airconditioning.
All editions of the Georgia State League were rated Class D. 

1906 cities represented:

Albany, GA: Albany
Americus, GA: Americus Pallbearers
Brunswick, GA: Brunswick
Columbus, GA: Columbus River Snipes
Cordele, GA: Cordele
Valdosta, GA: Valdosta Stars
Waycross, GA: Waycross Machinists

The first edition of the Georgia State League started on May 3, 1906 and sported six teams of which the Columbus River Snipes moved to Brunswick during the season. After two franchises, Valdosta and Americus, disbanded in early July, the league folded as well. But even though the league folded a play off series was played. The Waycross Machinists beat the Brunswick (former Columbus) franchise 3-1. Financial problems were the reason for the demise of the league.

1914 cities represented:

Americus, GA: Americus Muckalees
Brunswick, GA: Brunswick Pilots
Cordele, GA: Cordele Ramblers
Thomasville, GA: Thomasville Hornets
Valdosta, GA: Valdosta Millionaires
Waycross, GA: Waycross Grasshoppers

After the Empire State League changed its name into Georgia State League after the 1913 season, the next edition of the GSL was a fact. The 1914 season was played without any problem. The Cordele Ramblers finished on top of the league after the regular season with a 57-44 record thanks to the fine performances of Bill Bankston and Walt Brouthers. Bankston led the league in three categories: Batting Average (.359), Hits (144) and homeruns (31). Especially the latter is pretty remarkable because 1914 was in the midst of the dead ball era. Brouthers led the league in runs with 87. Despite the fact that the Ramblers had the best overall record at the end of the season, the championship play offs were played between the Americus Muckalees and the Thomasville Hornets. The Ramblers had won the first half of the season and the Hornets won the second half. The Hornets were no match for Americus as the lost the series 4-0. The next year, the Americus franchise would be moved to Gainesville in Florida, during the season. Since a team from Dothan in Alabama was added to the league already, the league changed its name into Florida-Alabama-Georgia League.
Bill Bankston had an extensive minor league career and had a cup of tea with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1915. In eleven MLB games he collected just five hits in thirty-six at bats. He played a big part of his career at AA (AAA nowadays) but in the fall of his career he played for class B and class C teams.

1920 – 1921 cities represented:

Carrollton, GA: Carrollton 1920-1921
Cedartown, GA: Cedartown Cedars 1920-1921
Griffin, GA: Griffin 1920-1921
LaGrange, GA: LaGrange 1920-1921
Lindale, GA: Lindale Pepperells 1920-1921
Rome, GA: Rome 1920-1921

With the third edition of the Georgia State League, the league moved its terrain from the south of Georgia to the northwest part of the state.
In the first year of this edition, no play offs were played and the Carrolton franchise finished on top of the league with a 53-39 record with a two game lead over runner up Rome. In 1921 a championship series was played between the first half and second half winners LaGrange and Lindale, which was won by LaGrange with four games to one.

Ike Boone with the Brooklyn Dodgers

Despite having the league’s batting champ on their roster in the two years of existence, the Cedartown Cedars finished in fourth place. In 1920, Ike Boone led the league in four offensive categories: Batting Average (.403), Hits (117), Runs (63) and Homeruns (10).
The next year Ollie Tucker led in the same categories: .434, 146, 76, 22.
Despite the lesser numbers in the Georgia State League, Ike Boone was the better player of the two. Where Tucker played parts of two seasons in the Bigs with the Senators and the Indians, Boon had an extensive career in which he played (parts of) eight sesaons in the Majors (New York Giants, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and the Brooklyn Dodgers). For the biggest part of his career Boone played at AA (AAA nowadays) in the International League and the Pacific Coast League.

The final edition of the Georgia State League was the most succesfull run as well. The league started in 1948 and lasted for nine years through the 1956 season.

1948-1956 cities represented:

Baxley, GA: Baxley Red Sox 1948
Baxley, GA & Hazlehurst, GA: Baxley-Hazlehurst Red Socks 1949; Baxley-Hazlehurst Red Sox 1950; Hazlehurst-Baxley Red Sox 1951; Hazlehurst-Baxley Cardinals 1952-1955; Hazlehurst-Baxley Tigers 1956
Douglas, GA: Douglas Rebels 1948; Douglas Trojans 1949-1955; Douglas Reds 1956
Dublin, GA: Dublin Green Sox 1949-1952; Dublin Irish 1953-1956
Eastman, GA: Eastman Dodgers 1948-1953
Fitzgerald, GA: Fitzgerald Pioneers 1948-1952, moved to Georgia-Florida League 1953-1954
Jesup, GA: Jesup Bees 1950-1953
Sandersville, GA: Sandersville Wacos 1953-1954; Sandersville Giants 1955-1956
Sparta, GA: Sparta Saints 1948-1949
Statesboro, GA: Statesboro Pilots 1952-1955
Thomson, GA: Thomson Orioles 1956
Tifton, GA: Tifton Blue Sox 1949-1950, moved to Georgia-Florida League 1951-1953
Vidalia, GA: Vidalia Indians 1952-1956
Vidalia, GA & Lyons, GA: Vidalia-Lyons Twins 1948-1950

1951 GSL champions, Dublin Green Sox

The latest edition of he Georgia State League started in 1948, the heyday of minor league baseball. The league started as a six team circuit but expanded to eight in 1949. In the nine years of existence the league expanded to eight and shrunk to six teams several times.
Each club was allowed a roster of 16 or 17 players (this changed a couple of times in the nine years of existence), not more than 4 veterans, not more than 9 limited service, and not less than 4 rookies. This player limit was effective 20 days after the opening of season and 20 days before close of season.

Champions of the Georgia State League 1948 – 1956:

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor Johnny Van derMeer1948  Fitzgerald Pioneers
1949  Tifton Blue Sox
1950  Eastman Dodgers
1951  Dublin Green Sox
1952  Vidalia Indians
1953  Hazlehurst –  Baxley
1954  Vidalia Indians
1955  Douglas Trojans
1956  Douglas Reds

One famed name that participated in the Georgia State League as a manager was Johnny Vander Meer. The former Major Leaguer managed the Douglas Reds, farm team of the Cincinnati Reds, the team where Vander Meer played almost his entire MLB career for and for whom he pitched back-to-back no-hitters in 1938. The second no-hitter was during the first night game ever played at Ebbets Field.

Willie McCovey started his professional career in the Afbeeldingsresultaat voor Willie McCoveyGeorgia State League in 1955 with the Sandersville Giants, then a farm team of the reigning world champions, the New York Gians. McCovey led the league in runs with 113.

The fourth edition of the Georgia State League was a stable one. In the nine years that the league existed, only one team withdrew during the season. In 1955 the Statesboro Pilots withdrew on July 1.

After the 1956 season, the league would dissolve due to deteriorating attendance numbers. The Georgia State League was another league that could not compete with television.


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