Triple-A Nicknames When SABR Was Born

This article was written by Francis Kinlaw

This article was published in The National Pastime: Major Research on the Minor Leagues (2022)

When Bob Davids met friends in ’71
A unique and small organization was formed;
Over years the number of members did grow,
And to large conventions they swarmed.

The majors then had 24 teams …
The minors’ top level a trio of leagues;
Recalling all American Association, Pacific Coast, and International clubs
Requires thought, good memory, and expertise.

Two teams called Indians, in less sensitive times,
Played in Indianapolis and Spokane;
While the 89ers, Royals, Oilers, and Aeros
Settled in a regional span.

There were Cubs and Bears, and Beavers and Braves,
Even some Emeralds and Oaks,
Toros and Tides, Charlies and Chiefs,
And Islanders that seldom got soaked.

There were Angels, featuring no Red Wings,
And Giants residing in Phoenix;
Colonels from Louisville played against Whips,
With the Colonels landing more licks!

Triplets and Mud Hens complete this verse,
Though no phrase cleverly links the pair;
So let’s proceed to matching nicknames and cities—
Read on and the answers are there.


FRANCIS KINLAW has contributed to 20 SABR convention publications and has attended 25 SABR national conventions. A member of SABR since 1983, he resides in Greensboro, North Carolina, and writes extensively about the history of baseball, football, and college basketball.

Class AAA teams (1971)

Indianapolis Indians (Reds), Spokane Indians (Dodgers), Oklahoma City 89ers (Astros), Omaha Royals (Kansas City Royals), Tulsa Oilers (Cardinals), Wichita Aeros (Cleveland Indians), Tacoma Cubs (Chicago Cubs), Denver Bears (Senators), Portland Beavers (Twins), Richmond Braves (Atlanta Braves), Eugene Emeralds (Phillies), Iowa Oaks (Athletics), Tucson Toros (White Sox), Tidewater Tides (Mets), Charleston Charlies (Pirates), Syracuse Chiefs (Yankees), Hawaii Islanders (Padres), Salt Lake City Angels (California Angels), Rochester Red Wings (Orioles), Phoenix Giants (San Francisco Giants), Louisville Colonels (Red Sox), Winnipeg Whips (Expos), Evansville Triplets (Brewers), Toledo Mud Hens (Tigers)