Once upon a time, before free agency changed everything, towns the size of Miami in the 40’s (9,000 or so) rated their own minor league baseball teams. Back in the day, teams had hundreds of players signed to contracts in minor league tiers that stretched from AAA (the top) to class D (the bottom).
Miami was no exception. 1910 newspapers give accounts of the Miami Indians, but it’s not clear that they were a professional team at that time. In 1921, the Miami Indians were a class D team in the Southwestern League. The Indians disbanded at season’s end the following year.
In 1946, the Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri League was formed. The KOM League was a collection of D-class teams. The Brooklyn Dodgers announced that the Miami Blues would be their affiliate.
The team was seeking talent in the spring, signing local players, including miner Lefty Loyd, who pitched for Eagle-Picher’s amateur team. He had a wicked left-handed hook. Sadly, it wasn’t to be, Loyd had left the area. Owner Ted Vernon mailed him a contract, but it was never accepted.
The opening home game was on April 30, 1946. Here’s an advertisement from Mac’s Cafe suggesting that the establishment would be an appropriate spot to meet after the game.
Here are the final 1946 records of the participating teams:
|Topeka, Kansas Owls
|St. Louis Browns
|St. Louis Cardinals
The next year, the team was renamed the Owls. That’s because of a dispute between the Dodgers and Ted Vernon. According to Wikipedia:
Brooklyn assigned a few players to Miami that (1946) season but the team was actually run by Ted Vernon of Amarillo, Texas. When it was discovered that the Miami Baseball Club Inc. had turned the reigns of the operation of the club to Mr. Vernon, W. G. Bramham, the President of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, sent a very stern letter to the Miami baseball officials that the rules had been violated in this matter. The next year the Dodgers moved their franchise to Ponca City, Oklahoma and Mr. Vernon returned to Amarillo.
And Miami ended up a farm team to a farm team. They became the Miami Owls, contracted to the Topeka Owls, who were themselves a class C team. Despite their apparent low status, they actually won the league championship in 1947!
In 1949, the Owls lost a tight game thanks largely to the power of the Independence Yanks’ Mickey Mantle.
The league kept going, and in 1950, the Owls became the Eagles, an independent team. But the end was near. After the 1952 season, the KOM League, and all of its teams, folded.
Nowadays, with team payrolls averaging many millions of dollars, minor league towns tend to be much higher populated for the few franchises available. Classes B, C, and D are extinct. But Miami can boast of not only having a professional team, they were also champions of their league.