About the Top 100 TeamsAs part of the 100th anniversary celebration, Minor League Baseball presented an exciting series of stories for fans. Bill Weiss and Marshall Wright, two veteran chroniclers of our great game, researched and rated the best Minor League teams of the century.
The top 100 teams project was born in the back of a moving van in 1998, when one of the authors, Wright, suggested the idea to Howe Sportsdata president, Jay Virshbo, when both were helping a colleague move. Encouraged by Virshbo, help was enlisted from a long-time baseball historian, Bill Weiss, who agreed to co-author the project.
The first step was the difficult task of actually selecting the 100 best Minor League teams of the 20th century. To serve as a guideline for the daunting chore, a formula was used to evaluate the teams. First, ratings were given to each league, a task made more difficult by the variety of classifications used by the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (Minor League Baseball) over the past 100 years.
After all the leagues had been given one of five ratings, 100 points for AAA or its earlier equivalent down to 20 points for Class D, attention was given to the individual teams. The two measuring sticks used were: (1) winning percentage, which told how a particular team dominated its league, and (2) amount of wins, which told how a team did over the long run. Literally adding the three ratings: (1) league strength, (2) team winning percentage; and (3) team wins, a static list of the best teams was compiled.
After the tangible evidence was examined, intangibles were taken into consideration in finalizing the top 100. War-time teams were downgraded because they played in watered down circuits. Half of the second-place clubs were dropped altogether, while the remaining runner-up teams were pushed down simply because they didn't win the flag. Conversely, some teams were pushed up because of a significant achievement, large margin of victory or by reputation.
When completed, the top 100 list represented teams from coast to coast as well as Canada and Mexico. Cities and towns from all sizes fielded top ranked teams, some locales more than once. Every decade in the 20th century is represented in the list. All in all, the list of the top 100 Minor League clubs of the 20th century has something for everyone.
Bill Weiss is a native of Chicago. He entered professional baseball in Abilene, TX, in 1948 as official statistician for the Class D Longhorn League and box office manager for the Abilene Blue Sox of the West Texas - New Mexico League. He Moved to San Francisco in 1949 as statistician for the California and Far West Leagues. He has been associated with the California League ever since, currently as league secretary, writer, in season, of the weekly California League Newsletter and editor of the league record book. After moving to nearby San Mateo, he became statistician for the Pacific Coast League in 1950. In ensuing years, became statistician for many other leagues. He prepared "sketch books" (player biographies and career records) for several leagues and major league organizations for many years. He was president of the Peninsula Winter League (San Francisco Bay Area) during its existence, 1959-84, a league which was sponsored by some major league clubs and aided young players in the early years of their careers, including Hall-of-Famers Willie Stargell and Joe Morgan.
In December 1988, he sold the business to, and became executive vice president of, Howe Sportsdata. Bill wrote a "Baseball Anecdotes" column for Baseball America for nine years. In addition to the California League, at present he is a historical consultant for SportsTicker; official historian of the Pacific Coast League; and editor of Northwest and Pioneer League record books. A member of the Society of American Baseball Research since 1971, he lives in San Mateo, CA, with his wife of 46 years, Faye, who has always assisted in his work.
Also a native of Chicago, but raised in California, Marshall Wright has been an employee of Howe Sportsdata (now SportsTicker), the official statisticians of the Minor Leagues, since 1994. He has written several books on baseball history including: 19th Century Baseball (McFarland, 1996), The American Association (McFarland, 1997), The International League (McFarland, 1998) and The National Association (McFarland, 2000). He won The Sporting News - SABR Baseball Research Award in 1998 for the International League book. A graduate of the Bill Kinnamon Umpire School (1980) and a member of the Society of American Baseball Research since 1987, he lives in Quincy, MA with his wife, Jane, and son, Denny.