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Bradenton in the Florida State League

1892Class: NoneOverall: 4 teams - Jacksonville, Ocala, St. Augustine, TampaAttendance: n/a
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1919Class: DOverall: Bartow Polkers, Bradenton Growers, Lakeland Highlanders, Orlando Caps, Sanford Celeryfeds, Tampa Smokers
Growers manager was James Moore
18 y/o Grover Cleveland "Lefty" Stewart moved to Bradenton from Sparta, TN to pitch for Growers. Signed by Indians. Was among the first FSL player to sign with a MLB team.
Attendance: n/a
1920Class: DBartow Polkers, Bradenton Growers, Daytona Beach Islanders, Lakeland Highlanders, Orlando Caps, Sanford Celeryfeds, St. Petersburg Saints, Tampa SmokersAttendance: n/a
1921Class: DDaytona Beach Islanders, Jacksonville Scouts, Lakeland Highlanders, Orlando Tigers, St. Petersburg Saints, Tampa Smokers (Growers did not play)Attendance: n/a
1922Class: DDaytona Beach Islanders, Jacksonville Scouts, Lakeland Highlanders, Orlando Tigers, St. Petersburg Saints, Tampa Smokers (Growers did not play)
(Commercial radio established in Florida)
Attendance: n/a
1923Class: DBradenton, Daytona Beach Islanders, Lakeland Highlanders, Orlando Bulldogs, St. Petersburg Saints, Tampa Smokers
Growers played at Machechnie opened in 1923 for St. Louis Cardinals
17 y/o Bradenton born RHP Hank Johnson joins Growers team and goes 2-0. Appears in 10 games. No errors. Plays 12 years in majors Starting with Yankees in 1925 and ending with Reds in 1939 (not in MLB 1937 & 1938) Yankees, Red Sox, Athletics and Reds. Hank Johnson was born on Monday, May 21, 1906, in Bradenton, Florida. Johnson was 18 years old when he broke into the big leagues on April 17, 1925, with the New York Yankees
Attendance: n/a
1924Class: CBradenton Growers, Daytona Beach Islanders/Clearwater Pelicans, Lakeland Highlanders, Orlando Bulldogs, St. Petersburg Saints, Tampa Smokers.
Hank Johnson goes 10-8 in 25 games with 193 innings pitched for almost 8 innings per game
Attendance: n/a
1925Class: DLakeland Highlanders, Sanford Celeryfeds, St. Petersburg Saints, Tampa Smokers
(Growers did not play.)
Attendance: n/a
1926Class: DBradenton Growers, Fort Myers Palms, Lakeland Highlanders, Orlando Colts, Sanford Celeryfeds, Sarasota Gulls, St. Petersburg Saints, Tampa SmokersAttendance: n/a
1927Class: DMiami Hustlers, Orlando Colts, Sanford Celeryfeds, Sarasota Tarpons, St. Petersburg Saints, Tampa Smokers (Growers did not play)Attendance: n/a
1928Class: DDaytona Beach Islanders, Fort Lauderdale Tarpons/St. Petersburg Saints, Miami Hustlers, Orlando Colts, Sanford Celeryfeds, West Palm Beach Sheriffs
(Growers did not play)
Branch Rickey (Brooklyn Dodgers owner who signed Jackie Robinson) establishes first farm team in the minor leagues. All other teams soon follow lead (1929) and dramatically change the character of previously unaffiliated minor leagues.
Attendance: n/a

League suspended until 1935
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The Florida State League is a Class A-Advanced Minor League Baseball league operating in the state of Florida. Class A is the middle of five classifications of minor leagues (AAA, AA, A, Short-Season A and Rookie) that are affiliated with Major League Baseball teams. Most players in the Florida State League do not reach that level until their third or fourth year of professional play.

The majority of teams in the league play in the spring training facility of the Major League Baseball teams with which they are affiliated (for example, Tampa for the Yankees' affiliate, Port St. Lucie for the Mets' affiliate, Lakeland for the Tigers' affiliate, Clearwater for the Phillies' affiliate, etc.).

Although the level of play is high, attendance tends to be lower than in other minor leagues, typically in the range of 500-1,000 per game.

The league originated in 1919 with teams in Bartow, Florida, Bradenton, Florida, Lakeland, Florida, Orlando, Florida, Sanford, Florida and Tampa, Florida. The league closed down in 1928 and resumed play in 1936. It has continued uninterrupted, except for a four-year (1942-1945) suspension during World War II.

Class D league until after 1962 season.

The league was realigned following the 2008 season, and is currently divided into two divisions: North and South. The twelve member teams play a 140 game schedule with 70 games at home and 70 games on the road (20 against geographically closest division opponent, 18 against each of the other four division teams, 8 against each of the six non-division opponents). The six team divisions play a split season with the first half ending in June and the second half ending in September.

Four teams participate in the play-offs. Winners of both halves within each Division play each other in a best of three game series for the Division Championships. If there is a repeat Division winner, a wild card team will qualify for the play-offs. The Division Champions will move on to the League Championship Series and play a best-of-five game series.

In 2009, The Pittsburgh Pirates purchased the Cincinati Reds FSL franchise and moved it to Bradenton. This as yet unnamed franchise will play starting in 2010 at McKechnie Stadium. McKechnie Stadium history link.

OLD FSL Champions

* 1919 Sanford Celeryfeds and Orlando Caps (co-champions)

* 1920 Tampa Smokers

* 1921 Orlando Tigers

* 1922 St. Petersburg Saints

* 1923 Orlando Bulldogs

* 1924 Lakeland Highlanders

* 1925 Tampa Smokers

* 1926 Sanford Celeryfeds

* 1927 Orlando Colts

* 1928-35 Not in operation

Stock Market Crash 1929

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Minor League Baseball in the Roaring Twenties
by Pat Doyle (Minor League Baseball History, A Look Back)

The 1920's, in the opinion of many, were baseball's golden era. During those years, few other sports competed for headlines or the entertainment dollar. Every city and hamlet had a semi-pro team, and most had several. At a time when television and the computer were unknown, knicker-donned youth played whatever variations of the game that the number of players and available space accommodated.

Professionally, the decade began with the dead ball and ended with a rabbit. In the majors, the disastrous impact of the Black Sox scandal gave way to the idolization of Babe Ruth. The fatal beaning of a player brought about the elimination of illegal pitches and grass-stained baseballs. And sixteen teams attracted the best athletes of the day playing in the largest stadiums in the land.

The growth that sprouted at the major league level was at least equaled in the minors. The number of leagues, teams, and players nearly doubled between 1919 and 1929. In addition, the nature of minor league baseball was beginning to change. The traditional model of independent minor league teams was being challenged by Branch Rickey and his concept of establishing a farm system which would feed the major league franchise. By 1929, three other teams had secured affiliations and by the end of the following decade this novelty would be the rule rather than the exception.

For promising players, farm systems were a benefit, as they provided for a quicker road to the big leagues. The major league teams also profited, as their rookies would be trained in a uniform approach to the game. For the fans, however, the new way would signal the end of minor league dynasties and long-term superstars. The great teams of the high minors - the Baltimore Orioles, San Francisco Seals, and Fort Worth Panthers - would give way to a higher turnover of personnel and increased parity. Among those leagues, only the Pacific Coast League would resist major league ownership or affiliations for two more decades.

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The single-year and multi-season minor league records of years past are unlikely to be met or surpassed by today's players. Promising players now advance quickly through their organizations, with multiple promotions during a single season not uncommon. Those who level off and become 'career' minor leaguers bounce from one team to another and rarely stay in one town long enough to break records of longer than the single-game variety. Despite that reality, fans continue to flock to the local ballpark and cheer their heroes to victory and, on occasion, to extraordinary accomplishments.

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The off-season Bradenton Explorers of the Senior Professional Baseball Association also played here in 1989 and 1990.[9] The Pirates Rookie Level minor League affiliate Gulf Coast Pirates, formerly the Bradenton Pirates, play their games at the Pirates training facility in Bradenton's Pirate City complex.

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