The idea for the Great West League was born in 2014 out of a need for top-quality baseball and affordable family entertainment in cities and towns currently underserved. The league officially opened for business later that year, announcing that teams would be located in California and Oregon, with play beginning with the 2016 season. Former West Coast League president Ken Wilson was named the first president of the Great West League. Lodi and Chico, California became the first two locations for member teams.
One year later, in 2015, the Portland Pickles became the third member team in Portland, OR. The Marysville Gold Sox announced they were joining the Great West League in August of that same year. Then in September, a team was awarded to Sacramento, California and the Medford Rogues joined the league, moving from the West Coast League.
The league began play in 2016 with six teams, five of which played a 57-game schedule. The Sacramento Stealth was a travel team, playing a 45-game schedule. The Medford Rogues won the regular season, while the Chico Heat took the Championship Series from the Rogues to become the first Great West League Champion. The Chico Heat led the league in attendance, drawing over 50,000 fans and averaging 1,656 per game, while the Portland Pickles drew just less than 50,000, averaging 1,561 per game, second best in the league. A total of 191,629 fans attended GWL games in 2016, an average of 1,176 per game.
Following the 2016 season it was announced that the Lincoln (CA) Potters would join the league for the 2017 season, along with the Yuba City (CA) Bears. At the same time, it was announced that the Lodi Crushers and Sacramento Stealth would not particiapte in 2017. That kept the league at six teams, with the league moving to a 60-game balanced schedule for the 2017 season.
The 2017 season was a huge success for the league. The Medford Rogues won the regular season for the second straight season, but this season also won the Championship Series, downing the Chico Heat. The Portland Pickles drew over 50,000 fans to lead the league in attendance, while the league bested 200,000 in attendance for the first time, including post-season action.
The Portland Pickles left the league following the 2017 season to join the West Coast League, while the Yuba City Bears ceased operating. The Marysville Gold Sox went back to an earlier name - Yuba Sutter Gold Sox. The Klamath Falls Gems and the San Francisco Seals joined the GWL for the 2018 season. The Gems were originally in the West Coast League and most recently played in the Golden State Collegiate League, while the Seals had most recently been an independent team. The league remained at six teams and maintained a 60-game balanced schedule for the 2018 season.
The Great West League is one of the premier summer collegiate wood bat leagues in North America, poviding a professional, minor league-like atmosphere for top college players seeking professional baseball careers. The league also provides affordable family entertainment, enriching its member communities in California and Oregon.