About the Redux

About the Redux

The Premise

Ambitious and forward-thinking Pacific Coast League owners, determined to achieve the prestige and financial rewards associated with “big league” status, elevate their circuit’s level of play by infusing its ranks with major league-quality black players beginning in 1921. Before the decade has ended, the National and American Leagues’ owners have recognized the PCL as a third major league, instituted a three-league post season championship, and have begun integrating their own clubs.

Historical perspective

The PCL’s status and reputation before 1958

For most of its history the PCL was generally considered the highest level of competition after the major leagues. To baseball fans on the West Coast in the pre-TV era, it was “the” league. At various times during its history the league had major league aspirations, and by the early 1950’s serious steps were being taken to accomplish this. Hard to say whether it was bound to happen or exactly what form it would have taken, but the point became moot when the Giants and Dodgers moved west and claimed the PCL’s two largest cities.

Integrated baseball on the West Coast

There was an integrated professional baseball league in California from 1910 to 1946. The California Winter League did not have integrated teams, but for most of its run there were all-black teams which played against all-white teams. Many of the game’s biggest names—Major League stars, PCL stars, and Negro League stars—played against each other in this league annually for decades.

Rewriting history, beginning in 1921

Cooperation with MLB

Historically, upstart leagues have attempted to attain major league status by means of all-out warfare: placing teams in existing major league markets and raiding the rosters of existing major league teams. Most of these efforts failed after a year or two, the exceptions being the American Association (1882-1891) and of course the American League (1901-).

In our alternate history, the PCL takes a different approach. Seeking to impress rather than antagonize the established major leagues, the prospective West Coast major respects MLB’s existing markets and contracts.

The PCL also abandons its 180-200 game schedule and adopts the 154-game standard MLB schedule hoping to enable a post-season championship tournament with the NL and AL champions.

The major difference between the PCL and its Eastern rivals beginning in 1921 is that one league is open to black players, while the other two maintain a de facto Jim Crow policy.


Obviously, just as there were Major League players in 1947 who objected to playing on the same team as black players, there would have been players with the same objections in 1921; probably in greater numbers, and probably with greater pig-headedness.

On the other hand, integrated baseball was already a reality in California by 1921; many of the players who participated in the California Winter League would have been the same ones playing in an integrated PCL, if there had been such a thing. Of course, there’s a difference between white players agreeing to play against black players, and white players agreeing to play with black players. Would the play-or-go-home directive that worked in 1947 have been effective in 1921 if someone had the conviction to initiate and enforce it? We’ll never know. But that’s the premise we’re going with.


With the exception of Los Angeles and San Francisco, the PCL cities were not major league-sized cities in 1921. Los Angeles, in fact, had only recently overtaken San Francisco as the West’s largest city, and was still smaller than Pittsburgh (that was 1921; the population of Los Angeles would more than double by the end of the decade). So we’re looking at smaller cities, smaller ballparks. To put it in terms a modern fan could relate to, the PCL in 1921 had one team in a small major league city (San Francisco), two teams sharing another small major league city (Los Angeles), three teams in triple-A cities (Seattle, Portland, Oakland), and two teams in cities that were at best double-A (Salt Lake City, Sacramento).

These teams (like virtually all minor league teams at the time) survived in part by developing star players and selling them to major league teams. That was the reality then, and it would have continued to be the reality even in a PCL that had been granted major league status. Not that the PCL teams would have been alone in this amongst major league franchises: the practice of down-and-out MLB teams compensating for low gate receipts by selling players to more prosperous clubs had long since been established.

How it works in OOTP

We aren’t using OOTP’s financial system, and the draft has to be conducted outside of OOTP.

  • Each team has a limited number of “slots” to hold Negro League players, PCL players who went to MLB in real life, and PCL players who went to other minor league teams in real life. The intent of this is twofold: 1) it prevents any one team from getting too strong, and 2) it prevents the league itself from becoming too superstar-heavy. The goal is for the league’s overall quality of competition to improve slowly over the course of several seasons until it becomes equal (or close to equal) to that of MLB. I want to ensure that the bulk of the players playing in the league are players who actually played in the PCL. Most players who had long PCL careers in real life should be starting, not sitting on the bench. Of course, it is inevitable that some players who were starters in the PCL won’t be starters in this league, but within reason, GMs should attempt to ensure that that will be the exception rather than the rule.

  • The league started out with the actual 1921 PCL rosters. There was a limited supplemental draft (a very limited one) that brought in a handful of Negro League players. Black players will continue to filter in over the years, but the largest number of them will come in during the first three years. With few, if any, exceptions, they will tend to be the best players in the league.

  • Players who played in the PCL in real life make their PCL debuts with the appropriate teams. In general, they stay with those teams for the same period they stayed with them in real life, but GMs have the ability to keep some of them longer. The limits set on this will generally result in a lot of players moving around from one PCL team to another, which was in fact something that did happen a lot historically. It will also result in a lot of players going to MLB from the PCL, which simulates the need for PCL teams to occasionally sell off players to stay solvent. The best players in the PCL, however, will tend to stay in the PCL, which was not what happened historically, and simulates the PCL’s emergence as a true major league determined to compete with the AL and NL, at least in terms of on-field excellence.