Northwoods League

Northwoods League
Northwoods League
Northwoods League logo
Sport Baseball
Founded 1994
No. of teams 17
Country(ies)  United States
Most recent champion(s) Eau Claire Express
Most titles Rochester Honkers (5)
Official website

The Northwoods League is a collegiate summer baseball league comprising teams of the top college players from North America and beyond. All players in the league must have NCAA eligibility remaining in order to participate. Players are not paid so as to maintain their college eligibility.

Teams are run similar to a professional minor league team, providing players an opportunity to play under the same conditions using wooden bats and minor league specification baseballs. Teams play 70 games scheduled over a 76-day season running from early June to mid-August. The season itself is broken into two halves, with the winners of each half in each of the two divisions meeting first in a playoff to determine a divisional champion; the divisional champions then meet in a playoff for the league championship.

The Northwoods League has more teams, draws more fans and plays more games than any other Summer Collegiate Baseball League.[1] Many of the teams in the league play in ballparks formerly occupied by professional clubs from the Midwest League, Prairie League and the Northern League. The wooden bat circuit allows communities deemed too small for pro ball to continue to enjoy high quality, competitive baseball during the summer months. The League has had 277 of its alumni taken in the last two Major League Baseball Amateur Drafts including three first round selections in 2009 and the fourth selection overall.

The teams are located in the Northwoods region of the Upper Midwestern United States and Southern Canada, mostly in the U.S. states of Minnesota (with 7 teams) and Wisconsin (with 7 teams), also with one team each in Iowa, Michigan and Ontario.


Teams for the 2011 season

North Division
Team Venue Location
Alexandria Beetles Knute Nelson Memorial Park Alexandria, Minnesota
Brainerd Lakes Area Lunkers Mills Field Brainerd, Minnesota
Duluth Huskies Wade Stadium Duluth, Minnesota
Mankato MoonDogs Franklin Rogers Park Mankato, Minnesota
Rochester Honkers Mayo Field Rochester, Minnesota
St. Cloud River Bats Joe Faber Field St. Cloud, Minnesota
Thunder Bay Border Cats Port Arthur Stadium Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
Willmar Stingers Bill Taunton Stadium Willmar, Minnesota
South Division
Team Venue Location
Battle Creek Bombers C.O. Brown Stadium Battle Creek, Michigan
Eau Claire Express Carson Park Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Green Bay Bullfrogs Joannes Stadium Green Bay, Wisconsin
La Crosse Loggers Copeland Park La Crosse, Wisconsin
Lakeshore Chinooks Kapco Park Mequon, Wisconsin
Madison Mallards Warner Park Madison, Wisconsin
Waterloo Bucks Riverfront Stadium Waterloo, Iowa
Wisconsin Woodchucks Athletic Park Wausau, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Rapids Rafters Witter Field Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin

(note that Lakeshore is an expansion team for the 2012 season)

League champions

  • 2011: Battle Creek Bombers
  • 2010: Eau Claire Express
  • 2009: Rochester Honkers[2]
  • 2008: Thunder Bay Border Cats
  • 2007: St. Cloud River Bats
  • 2006: Rochester Honkers
  • 2005: Thunder Bay Border Cats
  • 2004: Madison Mallards
  • 2003: Wisconsin Woodchucks
  • 2002: Waterloo Bucks
  • 2001: Wisconsin Woodchucks
  • 2000: St. Cloud River Bats
  • 1999: Rochester Honkers
  • 1998: St. Cloud Rivers Bats
  • 1997: Rochester Honkers
  • 1996: Waterloo Bucks
  • 1995: Kenosha Kroakers
  • 1994: Rochester Honkers

Notable Northwoods League alumni

Major leaguers


The Northwoods League, in addition to being a developmental league for players and coaches, is also a developmental league for umpires. The concentrated game schedule, travel, and Minor League-like game conditions give NWL umpires a pre-professional experience. Since the League's inaugural season in 1994, 44 of its former umpires have furthered their careers in affiliated professional baseball.

The League recruits its umpires from the two umpire schools whose curricula have been approved by the Professional Baseball Umpire Corps. (PBUC): Jim Evans' Academy of Professional Baseball Umpiring and Harry Wendelstedt School for Umpires. The umpires ultimately chosen are usually among the top school graduates who were then selected to the pre-season, PBUC sponsored Umpire Evaluation Course.

The NWL employs seven two-man crews during the regular season, a six-man crew during the mid-season All-Star game, and six umpires for both the divisional playoffs and championship series. Umpires are salaried and are provided hotel accommodations, meals and travel.


  1. ^ Willmar, MN Joins Northwoods League at, URL accessed October 18, 2009. Archived 10/18/09
  2. ^ Kitzman, Shane (August 17, 2009). "Honkers beat La Crosse for fifth championship". Rochester Post-Bulletin. Retrieved August 18, 2009. 

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