Markusen: The short, wild life of the Inter-American League

From SABR member Bruce Markusen at The Hardball Times on July 8, 2014:

The summer of 1979 may have been 35 years ago, but it feels more like 15. It was the first summer that I can remember in which I did not attend Badger Camp, a highly structured camp that ran from June through August. Instead, my parents let me stay home for the summer, which gave me plenty of free time to myself.

When the Yankees fell out of contention quickly that summer, I turned my baseball attention to The Sporting News. My father had a subscription that pretty much guaranteed the arrival of the latest issue each Friday. We went to Jones Beach often that summer; each time I loaded up on the most recent issues of The Sporting News and took them with me. When I wasn’t jumping the waves, I’d spend much of the afternoon stretched out on the beach reading those old periodicals. And within those pages, I became fascinated with a new minor league known as the Inter-American League.

The Sporting News featured extensive minor league coverage back then, at a time when it was still known as the “Bible of Baseball.” At least every other week, it included a full recap of news and notes about the Inter-American League. In the days before the Internet, there was simply no other regular source for finding out the latest happenings in my favorite new league.

The Inter-American League was the brainchild of Roberto “Bobby” Maduro, the owner of the defunct minor league Havana Sugar Kings and an assistant to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. Given the presence of only 18 minor leagues at the time, Maduro felt there was a crying need for another to provide a stage for would-be major leaguers. Furthermore, Maduro had long envisioned a league featuring both American-based and Caribbean-based teams that would help bridge the gap between baseball in the United States and in Latin America. “Somebody had to do it,” Maduro told The Sporting News, “and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

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Originally published: July 8, 2014. Last Updated: July 8, 2014.