The Evangeline League was a minor league baseball league that ran in southern and central Louisiana from 1934-1957.

The league, which had it’s name taken from Evangeline, the epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, began as a 6-team class D league in 1934, and then expanded to 8 teams the next season, before shutting down for two seasons following the 1943 season due to World War II.

After resuming play in 1946, the Evangeline League remained a class D league, before being promoted to the class C level in 1949.

The league remained in operation until 1957, when two of the six remaining teams dropped out, suspending play that season with no champion being named.

The Evangeline League, which featured a betting scandal back in 1946, featured teams in cities such as Lafayette, Abbeville, Crowley, Opelousas, Rayne, Jeanerette, and Lake Charles.

Despite the stability of the league, the only franchise they lasted all 21 seasons was the Alexandria Aces, while New Iberia had a franchise every season, with the exception of the final one.

Because of the close proximity of the franchises, a number of heated rivalries developed, with crowds that would certainly quality as raucous, getting into it with umpires, players, managers, and one another.

It was an immensely popular league for over two decades, with some franchises actually outdrawing some Major League Baseball franchises, in terms of attendance.

All summer long we’ll be going back in time and look back at the Evangeline League, which was commonly referred to as the “Pepper Sauce League”, “Hot Sauce League”, or “Tabasco Circuit”.

Yesterday, we took a look back at the 1952 season.

Today, the 1953 season.

The Evangeline League played with only six franchises for the 1953 season, as the Abbeville Athletics and the Houma Indians failed to return.

Another change saw the New Iberia franchise changing its nickname from the Pelicans to the Cardinals.

The Thibodaux Giants defeated the Lafayette Bulls, four-games-to-one, in the finals, marking the first title for Thibodaux.

The Crowley Millers finished with the most wins (84) during the regular season for a second-straight year, followed by Thibodaux (71), the Baton Rouge Red Sticks (69), Lafayette and the Alexandria Aces (each with 68), and New Iberia (52).

Thibodaux's Marco Iacavello, a right-handed hitting outfielder, was the league’s leading hitter in 1953, batting a .347, eight percentage points in front of Crowley's Juan Izaguirre.

Izaguirre accumulated 187 hits, tops in the league, including 36 doubles.

Crowley's Conklyn Meriwether led the league in homers for a second-consecutive season, bashing 42, 12 more than his nearest competitor, while also driving in a league high 134 runs.

Crowley left-hander Marv Holleman led the league in wins (24), while Lafayette's Earl Caldwell paced the league in ERA. (2.07).

Lafayette defeated Crowley in the first round of the playoffs, while Thibodaux eliminated Baton Rouge, as the two teams advanced to the finals.

Crowley led the league in attendance for a second-consecutive season, drawing 100,239 fans.

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