The Greatest Minor League

A History of the Pacific Coast League, 1903–1957


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About the Book

In 1903, a small league in California defied Organized Baseball by adding teams in Portland and Seattle to become the strongest minor league of the twentieth century. Calling itself the Pacific Coast League, this outlaw association frequently outdrew its major league counterparts and continued to challenge the authority of Organized Baseball until the majors expanded into California in 1958.
The Pacific Coast League introduced the world to Joe, Vince and Dom DiMaggio, Paul and Lloyd Waner, Ted Williams, Tony Lazzeri, Lefty O’Doul, Mickey Cochrane, Bobby Doerr, and many other baseball stars, all of whom originally signed with PCL teams. This thorough history of the Pacific Coast League chronicles its foremost personalities, governance, and contentious relationship with the majors, proving that the history of the game involves far more than the happenings in the American and National leagues.

About the Author(s)

Dennis Snelling is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and the Pacific Coast League Historical Society. He is a three-time finalist for the Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year, including for The Greatest Minor League. He lives in Rocklin, California. (Visit

Bibliographic Details

Dennis Snelling
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 380
Bibliographic Info: 49 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019 [2012]
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7827-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8803-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

1. Before the PCL: From the Gold Rush to 1900      5
2. 1901 to 1905: The Pacific Coast League Is Born      15
3. 1906 to 1909: Things Get Shaken Up      31
4. 1910 to 1914: The McCredie Era      41
5. 1915 to 1916: An Oasis in the Desert      59
6. 1917 to 1919: A Southern California Rivalry      73
7. 1920 to 1921: Lying Tigers and Bees, Oh My!      83
8. 1922 to 1924: The Battle of Avalon      95
9. 1925 to 1928: Murder, Mayhem and Manslaughter, Inc.      109
10. 1929 to 1932: Let There Be Lights!      128
11. 1933 to 1935: Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio      143
12. 1936 to 1937: Bill Lane Leaves Hollywood and Finds a Star      160
13. 1938 to 1941: A New Wizard for the Emerald City      173
14. 1942 to 1945: Gashouse Baseball and the Miracle of ’42      191
15. 1946 to 1948: Lefty, Casey and the Nine Old Men      207
16. 1949 to 1951: The Golden Boy and the Natural      224
17. 1952 to 1954: Hooray for Hollywood      245
18. 1955 to 1957: Stout Steve and the PCL’s Last Great Team      265
19. Endings and Beginnings      284

Appendix      295

League Champions; Highest Batting Average, Season; Most Home Runs, Season;
Most Home Runs, Career; Most RBIs, Season; Longest Hitting Streaks; Most Wins, Pitcher, Season;
Most Wins, Pitcher, Career; No- Hitters; Unassisted Triple Plays; Most Wins, Manager, Career;
Replaced Managers; Spring Training Sites

Chapter Notes      309
Sources and Bibliography      359
Index      363

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Finalist, Casey Award—Spitball
  • “Impressive…definitive work on the Pacific Coast League…a welcome addition”—Booklist
  • “Snelling’s work is a grand and comprehensive history of the entire league over its glory years…highly worthy contribution to this rich legacy”—Nine
  • “There have been a few histories of the PCL written over the years, but Snelling’s work is by far the best. It will be the standard PCL reference for years to come. Player biographies…are excellent. Kudos to Dennis for writing such an interesting book. We highly recommend it”—Pacific Coast League Potpourri
  • “The definitive book on Pacific League baseball”—At Home
  • “This is as informative and fun a league history as one could ever hope to read. Snelling covers the Pacific Coast League from its halting, turn-of-the-century beginnings to its long run as a de facto ‘third Major League’ to its protracted turf battle with Major League Baseball as that entity set its sights on westward expansion…. After reading this book, it’s hard to argue with Snelling’s assertion that the PCL truly was the Minors’ ‘greatest league.’”—Benjamin Hill of
  • “I think the title of this book is deceiving. This is not a history of the Pacific Coast League (PCL). This book is almost surely the definitive history of the Pacific Coast League.”—SABR Deadball Era Committee Newsletter