Fans watch baseball in Des Moines.

The 50th season of Triple-A baseball in Des Moines begins this afternoon when the Iowa Cubs host the Oklahoma City Dodgers in a Pacific Coast League doubleheader. The franchise debuted in 1969 as the Iowa Oaks in the American Association and an affiliate of the Oakland A’s.

“It is pretty unusual to have a franchise at the minor league level maintain one or two names as long as we have done that”, said Iowa Cubs President/General Manager Sam Bernabe. “Certainly the 50 years of triple A baseball since 1969 has stood the test of time.”

The early years saw the Oaks become an affiliate of the White Sox and there was even one season with the Houston Astros before becoming affiliated with the Chicago Cubs in 1981. Bernabe says it was a perfect fit for a market that studies show favors the Cubs by a two-to-one margin over any major league club. The other development that helped establish the longterm success of the franchise was the opening of Principal Park in 1992.

“We have arguably one of the best minor league ballparks America and it is in the best location of any city in America and the Cub affiliation builds it even stronger”, added Bernabe. “This is one of the premier franchises in all of minor league baseball.”