Looking Back: Jeff Weaver First NWL Alum to Make MLB Debut


On April 14, 1999 Jeff Weaver pitched in his first Major League game with the Detroit Tigers. In doing so he became the first Northwoods League alum to debut in Major League Baseball and was the fastest Tigers draft pick to make it to the big leagues. Weaver would go on to compile 104 wins and 1,214 strikeouts over an eleven-year career that included an appearance in the 2006 World Series. Weaver pitched for the Dubuque Mud Puppies during the 1995 season while attending Fresno State. The Mud Puppies would move from Dubuque to St. Cloud after the 1996 season and become the St. Cloud River Bats. Following his summer in Dubuque, Weaver would go on to represent the United States and win the Bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Weaver was the first of 190 former NWL alums to make it to the Majors. The St. Cloud River Bats who became the St. Cloud Rox in 2012 have put 24 former players into MLB with the Wausau/Wisconsin Woodchucks coming in a close second with 18.

Over the last three seasons the League has seen a record number of former players debuting in MLB. In 2015, 23 former players debuted followed by 19 in 2016 and 23 in 2017. Since the 2015 season at least one NWL alum has debuted in MLB during each month of the Major League Baseball season.


Clip from St. Cloud Times, June 2001, recounting NWL Alum in the major leagues


Battle Creek Enquirer, April 15, 1999


Visit our 25th Season Celebration page to read about other memorable moments previously released.