The Appalachian League was born in 1911 with teams in Asheville, N.C.; Bristol, Va.; Cleveland, Tenn.; Johnson City, Tenn.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Morristown, Tenn. That first version of the league lasted just four years, with the league disbanding in the middle of the 1914 season when Morristown and Middlesboro, Ky., folded on June 17.
The league reformed in 1921 with six teams: Bristol; Cleveland; Greenville, Tenn.; Johnson City; Kingsport, Tenn.; and Knoxville. That incarnation of the league managed five seasons, before again closing up shop midway through 1925.
In 1937, the league was restarted with teams in Elizabethton, Tenn.; Johnson City; Newport, Tenn.; and Pennington Gap, Va. During World War II, while most other minor leagues ceased operations, the Appalachian League played on. It continued right up until 1955. That year legendary minor league slugger Leo "Muscle" Shoals led the league with 33 homers and 134 RBIs in a 126-game season for Kingsport. It was the fifth Appalachian League home run title for Shoals, who had also led in 1939, 1946, 1947 and 1951.
The modern Appalachian League began in 1957, its first year as a short-season league. Six teams played that year, in Bluefield, W.Va.; Johnson City; Kingsport; Pulaski, Va.; Salem, Va.; and Wytheville, Va. Bluefield has been in the league continuously ever since and has been affiliated with the Orioles since 1958. That's the longest current affiliation of any minor league team in baseball.