Independent baseball is an ever changing world of teams and leagues, and this year is no different. The 2013 season will see a lot of changes in the independent leagues starting with one league folding after playing only two seasons.
North American League
The NAL is no more. After just two seasons of play, the league has dissolved.
The league saw a lot of issues last season as the management group walked away before the season. The league had formed when three other leagues combined including the Golden Baseball League, the United Baseball League, and the Northern League.
Last year the league was split into two divisions that didn’t even play one another for the championship.
So what will happen to the teams in 2013? Most likely the Texas teams will go back under the United Baseball League brand. Most of the teams will be back with the addition of new ones. The travel team in McAllen will likely be gone and replaced by a team in either Tyler, Del Rio, or Brownsville. If a travel team is needed, it will likely not be out of the McAllen/Edinburg area again.
The Northern Division of the NAL consisted of teams from California and Hawaii. The teams will be re-branded as the Pacific West League or perhaps the Pacific Baseball Association. They will likely keep the team in San Rafael and add a third team in Hawaii. Two more teams in California could be added with one being a travel team perhaps. The most interesting thing is the inter-league games that could be played with indy league teams from Japan.
The Atlantic League
This is one league that seems to have it together, at least for now. The league will be back with the same 8 teams, but look for more expansion into the Texas/Louisiana area in the future for a possible division in that area.
The American Association
The AA will be back in 2013 with the same 15 team lineup with the same inter-league play with the Can-Am League. However, the league isn’t without its problems as well. El Paso will be going AAA next year, so the Diablos will need to find a new home or dissolve. It is also rumored that Amarillo is having financial issues.
The Can-Am League will continue in 2013 with five teams. However, the league will feature a new team. The new team will be the second team in Quebec as the Trois-Rivieres Aigles. They will replace the Worcester Tornadoes who had their team charter revoked by the league at the end of the 2012 season. Look for the league to add a sixth team in the future.
The oldest running independent league in the US is the Frontier League. The league started in 1993.
The league will feature pretty much the same lineup as last season. It will include a traveling team in the Frontier Greys to fill out the 14 team league.
There is also rumor of possible trouble in the coming years with one of the Illinois teams, and its possible a team or two could drop out in the next few years. Then again that’s just typical independent league baseball.
The Pecos League
The Pecos League is looking to start the season with 10 teams in 2013, but its possible they drop two teams before the season even starts. The league is young and I see it expanding too rapidly before getting a foothold in the areas where they are already. There is a lot of expansion into small areas with little or no revenue stream. If the league continues in this direction, look for it to go the way of the old Continental League.
One sign that the league isn’t spending money, quite possibly because it doesn’t have any, is the league is using clipart images for their primary logo.
The Freedom League
The League will be back for 2013 and will expand to six teams. The league is rumored to be in financial trouble as they look to stay afloat in 2013. It is possible they will also include inter-league play with the Pacific West League.
American West Baseball League
The new league on the block is the AWBL. The league consists of four teams right now with one being a travel team. The league is seemingly full of old Golden Baseball League teams and locations. But the league seems to have a lot of issues.
The North County Cannons will play at Cal State San Marcos, but there aren’t any lights there. So temporary lights will have to be added or games will be played during the day. Other teams are rumored to be in debt and/or have huge leases hanging over them like a noose.
One plus for them is that two-time World Series champion Edgar Renteria invested in the league to acquire an ownership stake and control of the Fullerton territory.
There is some talk here that the league won’t even get off the ground in 2013 and might have to push back another year, if it ever gets off the ground.
So there you have it, a round up of the (potential) nine independent baseball league around the US. The league maps are always changing, and this is only scratching the surface.
Eric Bynum is Managing Editor here at BaseballdeWorld. He spent three years as an ESL teacher in South Korea, and is now working on his master's degree in history with a focus on baseball and WWII. He has played and/or written about baseball for the past 30 years and is an avid Atlanta Braves fan.