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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: 1934-88
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
Year Team
1989/90 Waverly Reds
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 were 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
Year Team
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
Year Team
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: 2002-09
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