The Ianoian I-League, officially known as Ianoian League but commonly known as The I-League or I-League, is a professional baseball league in Ianoia. At the top of the Ianoian baseball league system, I-League is Ianoia’s primary baseball competition.
The first season began play in 1900 with 10 member clubs: Athletic Ivychurch, Blenkinsopp Town, Byfleet, Chatteris Town, Donyatt-Burstwick, Juniors, McCutchen City, Oldstead Irish, Tyrant-Ilford and Ulcombe United.
Teams have always played each other 6 times over two 3-game series (three games at home, three games away) during a season, which are played from Friday to Sunday between the months of April and September. The team that has won the most games during a season is declared the Champion.
Traditionally, the bottom-placed teams at the end of the season is relegated to the Nationwide League 1, the second tier of professional baseball in the country.
When Albert Spalding’s team of All-Stars and the Chicago Club toured Ianoia in the summer of 1889, baseball clubs quickly popped up throughout the country, joining the Ianoian Baseball Association (IBA) which formed in 1890 by a group of clubs wanting to agree on one set of rules for any exhibition games. Teams regularly held round-robin tournaments between each other during holiday periods but with the game being strictly amateur, visiting teams were sometimes forced to use local players to field a team.
By the mid 1890s, a significant number of Ianoian players participated in Koanian, and later, Günsovölkan baseball teams. Payments to players had been made legal in the Koana Islands by 1895 and professional baseballers were paid decent salaries, which attracted many Ianoian players northwards to ply their trade in Koana Islands. In Ianoia the game remained, in theory anyway, an amateur game, with Spartans of Martletwy at the forefront, winning numerous exhibition games and mini tournaments against Koanian teams from 1892 to 1896. Ianoian clubs stopped travelling to Koana Islands altogether in 1897 due to their hostility towards professionalism, which also exacerbated the issue of talented players moving to Koana Islands and Günsovölk.
By 1898 the enormous success and subsequent growth of the Super Ligan and Baseball Meisterschaft in Koana Islands and Günsovölk respectively prompted many calls for a nationalised competition by numerous clubs around Ianoia but pushed the hardest by McCutchen City owner Addison Eliot. Further growth in the popularity of baseball led to the formation of the Ianoian League, organised and run under the umbrella of the IBA in November 1899.
The creation of the I-League was not without controversy, however, as it posed the question of whether baseball should be an amateur or professional sport. McCutchen City, Athletic Ivychurch, and the other founding members of the league embraced professionalism as a way to maximize the growth of the sport, while several other clubs—most prominently Spartans of Martletwy, which was at the time the premier Ianoian club—opposed the professionalisation of what they believed should be an inherently amateur pursuit. The forces of professionalism prevailed, as professional baseball allowed baseball clubs to reap enormous economic rewards. Games between McCutchen City and Athletic Ivychurch at the end of the 1900’s routinely drew $1,000 per game, an enormous figure at the time, and these financial dividends proved to be critical to the clubs’ fortunes.
1900 to 1910
In 1904, the league changed to the Durand Rules, in keeping with the formation of the South Indian Ocean Baseball Association. The first official drawn game was on Friday the 8th of April between Ulcombe United and Chatteris United on Opening Day. Chatteris United scored three runs in the bottom of the 9th to draw 3-3.
By 1905, the original 10 member clubs agreed to expand the league to 12 teams for the 1906 baseball season following growing unrest at the inequality of the Championship from the top and bottom teams with Blenkinsopp Town clinching their third straight title and observing the success of Günsovölk’s Baseball Meisterschaft expanding to 16. A vote was successfully passed in October at the Annual Owners Meeting to expand the competition by 2 to 12 teams following deliberation throughout November. Racing Welford and Sporting Cuckney were formally given places in the I-League to begin play the following year. Keeping in line with other competitions within the Southern Union, the bottom-placed team will be put up for a re-election process to ensure competitiveness moving forward.
Donyatt-Burstwick became the first team to be voted out of the league in 1906, replaced by Spartans of Martletwy. The Sharks had failed to finish higher than 8th in the previous 6 seasons, with other teams citing their lack of competitiveness on the field as a reason to remove them.
|1900||Athletic Ivychurch||Oldstead Irish|
|1901||Oldstead Irish||Athletic Ivychurch|
|1902||Athletic Ivychurch (2)||Blenkinsopp Town|
|1904||Blenkinsopp Town (2)||Tyrant-Ilford (2)|
|1905||Blenkinsopp Town (3)||Tyrant-Ilford (3)|
|1906||Blenkinsopp Town (4)||McCutchen City|
|1907||McCutchen City||Blenkinsopp Town (2)|
|1908||Blenkinsopp Town (5)||McCutchen City (2)|
|1909||McCutchen City (2)||Tyrant-Ilford (4)|
|1910||McCutchen City (3)||Ulcombe United|