The Western Tri-State League was a short-lived professional baseball league that operated in the early 20th century. It spanned three states: Oregon, Idaho, and Washington,  from 1912 to 1914.

Formation and Structure of the  Western Tri-State League

The league was founded in 1912 and classified as a Class D league by the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues. It initially consisted of four teams: the Boise Irrigators (Boise, Idaho), the La Grande Pippins (La Grande, Oregon), the Pendleton Buckaroos (Pendleton, Oregon), and the Walla Walla Bears (Walla Walla, Washington).


1912 Season

The league’s season saw the Pendleton Buckaroos as champions with a .622 winning percentage. This season also produced four players who would go on to play in Major League Baseball (MLB), including Carl Mays and Bob Smith from the Boise Irrigators.

League Expansion and  The Contraction 

In 1913, the league expanded to include six teams, adding the Baker City Golddiggers (Baker City, Oregon) and the North Yakima Braves (Yakima, Washington). However, financial difficulties soon forced the league to drop the Baker City and Pendleton teams. The season was split into two halves, with the Walla Walla Bears winning the first half and the Boise Irrigators winning the second half.

Walla Walla Bears in 1913 Photo: Spalding Baseball Guide
Walla Walla Bears in 1913
Photo: Spalding Baseball Guide

Final Season 

Before the 1914 season, the Boise Irrigators left for the Union Association, leading to further restructuring. Despite early optimism and record-breaking attendance, financial issues persisted. The Pendleton Buckaroos won the final league title. By the end of the year, the league disbanded due to financial instability and poor relations among team owners.

League Legacy

The Western Tri-State League may have been short-lived, but it played a crucial role in the development of baseball in the Pacific Northwest. It provided a platform for several players who would later achieve success in the MLB and remains a notable part of the region’s sports history.

Though the Western Tri-State League only lasted for three years, its impact on minor league baseball and the communities it served was significant. Its story is a testament to the challenges and excitement of early 20th-century baseball.

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Gallery Credit: Wood

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