In 1979 a fourth Triple-A league started up business, joining the International League, Pacific Coast League and then-still-existing American Association. It was called the Inter-American League. It had no big league affiliations, but it was sanctioned by Major League Baseball.
Former big leaguers like Tom House, Mike Cuellar and Cito Gaston all played for Inter-American League teams which included one American team (the Miami Amigos) and five franchises based in the Caribbean: San Juan, Puerto Rico; Caracas, Venezuela; Maracaibo, Venezuela; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and Panama City, Panama. It was the brainchild of Bobby Maduro, who worked as an assistant to MLB commissioner Bowie Kuhn. The plan was to play a 130-game schedule stretched over five months.
It didn’t last. Today, Bruce Markusen of The Hardball Times has a great article on it, detailing the good, the bad and the ugly of the IAL.
It’s quite a story. One team had a nice new tarp but didn’t know how to put it on the field. Another team forgot to send in box scores to the league office, so they couldn’t keep track of the stats. One team had a blank scoreboard sometimes because they only had one scoreboard operator and sometimes he worked nights. Many pitchers got special permission to only show up on days they pitched because they had day jobs selling shoes and stuff.
Obviously, the league folded. But Markusen’s story breathes new life into a long gone, quite weird little corner of baseball history. Go read it.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.