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Previous Domestic Leagues and Competitions

First Claxton Shield

1934: When Norrie Claxton (1880-1951) donated a trophy to be awarded to the State winning the annual Australian Championships. Claxton, first president of the South Australian Baseball League, in 1913 originally intended the team which won the trophy for 3 successive years to become the permanent holder. After South Australia won the first 3 years of competition involving presentation of the trophy, all States agreed that it become a permanent competition trophy and named it the Claxton Shield Competition.

After 53 successful years of Claxton Shield competition, the ABF decided in 1988 to form a National Competition under the banner of the AUSTRALIAN BASEBALL LEAGUE. The League initially consisted of eight teams from around Australia. It was the next step in establishing Baseball as a major sport throughout the country.

Claxton Shield National Championship Winners: 1934 - 1988

Year Winners Venue Host
1934
South Australia
Adelaide, SA
1935
South Australia
Melbourne, VIC
1936
South Australia
Sydney, NSW
1937
New South Wales
Adelaide, SA
1938
New South Wales
Perth, WA
1939
New South Wales
Melbourne, VIC
1940-45
Series suspended due to World War II
1946
New South Wales
Sydney, NSW
1947
Victoria
Adelaide, SA
1948
Victoria
Perth, WA
1949
Victoria
Melbourne, VIC
1950
New South Wales
Sydney, NSW
1951
New South Wales
Adelaide, SA
1952
Western Australia
Perth, WA
1953
New South Wales
Brisbane, QLD
1954
Victoria
VIC
1955
New South Wales
Sydney, NSW
1956
Victoria
Adelaide, SA
1957
South Australia
Perth, WA
1958
Victoria
Brisbane, QLD
1959
South Australia
Melbourne, VIC
1960
South Australia
Sydney, NSW
1961
South Australia
SA
1962
Victoria
Perth, WA
1963
New South Wales
Brisbane, QLD
1964
South Australia
Melbourne, VIC
1965
Victoria
Sydney, NSW
1966
South Australia
SA
1967
South Australia
Perth, WA
1968
Victoria
Brisbane, QLD
1969
South Australia
Melbourne, VIC
1970
South Australia
Sydney, NSW
1971
South Australia
Adelaide, SA
1972
Victoria
Brisbane, QLD
1973
Victoria
Perth, WA
1974
Victoria
VIC
1975
Western Australia
Sydney, NSW
1976
South Australia
Adelaide, SA
1977
Western Australia
Perth, WA
1978
Western Australia
Brisbane, QLD
1979
Western Australia
Melbourne, VIC
1980
South Australia
Sydney, NSW
1981
Victoria
Adelaide, SA
1982
Queensland
Sydney, NSW
1983
Queensland
Perth, WA
1984
Victoria
Brisbane, QLD
1985
Western Australia
Home and Away
1986
Victoria
Home and Away
1987
Queensland
Home and Away
1988
New South Wales
Home and Away
Historic switch of seasons

Summer and winter baseball was played in Melbourne in the 1920s and Sydney from 1913 until the end of World War II, when baseball across Australia became mainly winter only, except for summer night baseball at Norwood Oval in Adelaide in the 1950s and at Oriole Stadium in Sydney from 1969. During the late 1960s, some states switched to summer day baseball.

When the NSW League decided to play summer-only day baseball in 1973, a breakaway Sydney Winter League formed to continue playing in winter, while most NSW country centres continued in the winter. The VBA in Melbourne switched to summer-only in mid-1970. Since 1974 Sydney baseball is now indeed an all year round sport.

In 1973, baseball, which until then was mainly a winter sport, switched to summertime. The move was intended to provide spectators with more comfortable weather conditions and to avoid clashes with overseas seasons.

Baseball's premier season now falls in the summer months of October - March. However, a very strong winter competition not only continues to exist but flourishes.

Original Australian Baseball League

As the next stage in the development of baseball in Australia, the Australian Baseball Federation established the first Australian Baseball League (ABL) in 1989.

The ABL was "licensed" by the Australian Baseball Federation to conduct a "senior national baseball competition to determine a ranking of excellence amongst competing clubs".

Each team had representation on the ABL's Board of Directors along with representation from the Australian Baseball Federation, the largest equity holder in the League.

The League commenced its competition on the 27th October 1989, in Perth at Parry Field between the Perth Heat and Adelaide Giants. Since that time, the eight teams from around Australia slugged it out in a 42-game competition for the rights to be declared National Champions. The season was extended to 48 games in 1991/92 and to 56 games in 1993/94.

The ABL as a competition was recognised and sanctioned by bodies such as the International Baseball Association, the Australian Baseball Federation, the Japan Amateur Baseball Association and Major League Baseball in the US. It developed a strong relationship with the USA Major League teams by way of player participation in the League with ABL clubs forming affiliations with big-league clubs in America.

The League was an outstanding success with spectator attendances jumping from an average of only 1,500 in 1989 to an average of nearly 4,000 in 1993/94. Some games attracted over 10,000 spectators.

The games were played at home grounds and away with the majority of these fixtures being held at night.

International exhibition matches augmented the matches, the first of which was the exciting clash between Australia and Japan in January 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993.

In its ten years of operation the Australian Baseball League was a competitive and (at times) a promotional success and provided a platform for developing elite players. However, ultimately the league was not viable financially.

Australian Baseball League National Championships Winners:1989-99
1989/90
Waverly Reds
Add venue where played
1990/91
Perth Heat
1991/92
Daikyo Dolphins
1992/93
Melbourne Monarchs
1993/94
Brisbane Bandits
1994/95
Waverly Reds
1995/96
Sydney Blues
1996/97
Perth Heat
1997/98
Melbourne Reds
1998/99
Gold Coast Cougars
International Baseball League Australia

Following the collapse of the ABL there were no (previous) owners or joint venture partners in the states prepared to put up enough capital to place a state team in a "touring" national league competition. The cost of accommodation and airfares are major disincentives.

Continuation of a national league in its previous format was and is simply unsustainable.

Australian Baseball took a quantum leap forward on Christmas Eve 1998 when, in a tri-part arrangement, the Australian Baseball League, the Australian Baseball Federation and Nilcorp Pty Ltd signed a Heads of Agreement that effectively handed the reins of national league baseball in Australia over to David Nilsson (the International Baseball League Australia).

Whilst retaining many of the strengths of its predecessor, the IBLA implemented sweeping changes in an effort to re-establish and grow the sport beyond its then-current boundaries. Of highest priority amongst the changes was the recognition of the need for an integrated approach to marketing the game, and the potential inclusion of international teams into the competition.

IBLA Claxton Shield Winners: 1999-2001
1999/2000
Western Heelers
2000/2001
Not contested

The inaugural 2000-2001 IBLA season concluded on Sunday, 21 January 2001, with the Internationals winning a closely fought final against the Australian team (2 - 1 final score). The quality of the game was testament to the high standard teams maintained throughout the entire season. The result likewise was reward for the Internationals whom over the later part of the season established themselves as the premier team.

Whilst individual performances and team standings were important, the overall development of players (on and off the playing field) was by far the primary objective with results in this area extremely satisfactory.

Seventeen (17) MLB organizations, one (1) Korean professional organization and three (3) Taiwanese professionals combined with amateur players from the Australian and Taiwanese Baseball Federations to participate in the League (a total of 141 players from ten different countries).


IBLA Development League Champions
2000/2001
Internationals

After the IBLA disbanded, the Claxton Shield's national title competition continued between states in the 2000s until the dawn of the new Australian Baseball League in 2010/11.

Claxton Shield National Championship Winners: 2002-2009

Year Winners Venue Host
2001/02
Victoria Aces
Melbourne, MBP
2002/03
Queensland Rams
Sydney, BOP
2003/04
NSW Patriots
Sydney, BOP
2004/05
NSW Patriots
Sydney, BOP
2005/06
Queensland Rams
Sydney, BOP
2006/07
Victoria Aces
Perth, Baseball Park
2007/08
Western Australia
Sydney, BOP
2008/09
Western Australia
Perth, Baseball Park
2009/10
Victoria Aces
Melbourne, La Trobe University