The Midwest Collegiate League will be rebranded as the Northern League, effective October 28, 2021.
With so many changes occurring in organized baseball during the past 12 months, we feel it’s time to
shed our collegiate name classification and broaden our identity. The 21st Century Northern League will
continue as an unaffiliated pre-professional baseball league. Additionally, we will expand our talent pool
by attracting players who have a wider level of playing experience in the game.
In December of 2020, Major League Baseball took over and reorganized the Minor League system,
effectively eliminating 43 franchises and 1,200 affiliated player jobs. The entire MiLB Rookie Leagues and
Short-Season Class-A Affiliated leagues were eliminated as part of this consolidation. With the annual
MLB Draft reduced to 20 rounds from 45 due to this contraction, it creates a more difficult path into the
affiliated minor leagues for amateur baseball players. Furthermore, it will take longer for undrafted
players to fulfill their dreams of reaching the Major Leagues with so few playing opportunities available.
However, these players need somewhere where they can continue to develop their skills and find their
way either into or back into affiliated professional baseball. That is why we will be expanding playing
opportunities to these players to continue with their skill development. The Northern League will be
looking to recruit the best Collegiate, Post-Collegiate and Limited-Service players available.
The Northern League owns a rich history of developing Major League and Hall of Fame players over the
last century that needs to be kept alive in the collective memories of baseball fans. This includes HOF
players Hank Aaron, Orlando Cepeda, Lou Brock, Gaylord Perry and Jim Palmer, as well as other greats
such as Roger Marris and Don Larsen, to name a few who began their MLB career path in the league.
The Northern League is a symbol of our past greatness as a sport; it celebrates America’s honored
pastime with its hollowed place in baseball history.
There were many baseball leagues that used the Northern League name throughout the 20th century.
Beginning with its birth in 1902, the first Northern League was a Class D league centered in the Dakotas
and Canada and operated between 1902-1906. Then came the mergers with the Northern-Copper
League in 1906 and another Class D League in 1908, which lasted one season. In 1913-1916, it was a C
League, then in 1917 returned to being a D League before ceasing operations due to World War I. The
longest-lasting Northern League ran from 1933 to 1971 with a break due to World War II. From 1963-
1971, it was reclassified as a Class A League with the last major reorganization of the Minor League
system by Major League Baseball. Then, after a 22-year hiatus, it reemerged in 1993 as an Independent
baseball league revived by Miles Wolff with six franchises in the upper Midwest. That version of the
Northern League ceased operations in 2010.
The 21st Century Northern League will maintain a small geographic footprint, just like the Cactus League,
where 15 Major League Baseball clubs are concentrated around the City and Suburbs of Phoenix,
Arizona. We intend for the core of the Northern League’s footprint to emanate from Northern Indiana
outward to Illinois and Michigan. The key to our success is to minimize expenses for our owners while
developing affordable family fun experiences at our ballparks for the enjoyment of fans. Long and
arduous summer travel is an unnecessary expense for our clubs at this level of play. We can keep the
footprint tight and create natural rivalries that are close so fans can travel to see their teams play in
cities and towns that are in close proximity to each other. www.thenorthernleague.com