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Continental League

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For the independent Continental League that started play in 2007, click here

The Continental League was a proposed league that had its beginnings in 1958. As a response to the moves by the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles and the New York Giants to San Francisco, William Shea proposed a new league to bring a second team to New York.

Shea was backed by Branch Rickey, the legendary executive, who had resigned as president of the Pittsburgh Pirates to become president of the league.

On July 27, 1959, the The Continental League of Professional Baseball Clubs was announced. The five founding cities were New York, Houston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Toronto, and Denver. Shea announced the league would begin its first season in April, 1961. Each of the five founders deposited $50,000 in the league treasury and pledged to have $1,500,000 available. Joan Payson was involved in the New York franchise, Jack Kent Cooke in the Toronto franchise, and Bob Howsam in the Denver franchise. Rickey was named president of the league August 18. Atlanta was added to the loop December 8, two weeks later Dalas-Ft. Worth was awarded a franchise. Buffalo was given the 8th spot in January 1960.

The Continental League presaged several major league expansions as clubs would eventually be added in Houston, Toronto, and Denver. Clubs would also move to Minneapolis, Dallas, and Atlanta by 1972.

On July 18, 1960, the National League agreed to expand to 10 teams. With a franchise for New York secured, the Continental League abandoned their plans on August 2, 1960.

[edit] Further Reading

  • Michael Shapiro: Bottom of the Ninth: Branch Rickey, Casey Stengel and daring scheme to save baseball from itself, Times Books, Macmillan, New York, NY, 2009.
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