Tag Archive | "Independent Leagues"

Pecos League to Partner with Amtrak for 2015 Season


Joe Anton, who writes quite a bit about independent baseball over at Baseball Essential, has reported that the Pecos League will be sending its players to games this season via Amtrak.

The Southwest Chief train of Amtrak runs from Chicago to Los Angeles passing through several stops for the Pecos League teams including Lamy, NM; Las Vegas, NM; Trinidad, CO; and Garden City, KS.

The Pecos League has taken a lot of flack over the low pay, and sometimes no pay, of its players over the course of its four year existence. Some immediate feedback was that the players would have to pay their own way. However, that was quickly put to rest by a member of the league. There were many players who have openly complained about not getting gas money to travel in their own cars to games in the past.

If done correctly, this could be a win-win for both the league and Amtrak. But we have all seen how independent leagues have ruined good things in the past. Hopefully, the Pecos League will not follow suit here.

You can read Anton’s article here.

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Where Are They Now? Our 2012 Top 10 Independent Baseball League Managers


In 2012 we named what we thought was the Top 10 Independent Baseball Managers. We thought this year we would take a look at where they are now. Who moved up? Who moved down? And who retired?

#10 Steve Brook

Starting with our #10 we take a look at Steve Brook of the River City Rascals. Brook took over in River City in 2010 and immediately led the Rascals to its first Frontier League title. In 2011 he led the Rascals to the most wins in franchise history (68) and a return to the championship where they would fall. Since we profiled Brook before the 2012 season the Rascals fell to 4th place in the division. A third place finish in 2013 was followed by a division title in 2014. Brook led the team back to the championship series after winning 61 games. Brook returns in 2015 for his sixth season.

#9 Chris Paterson

Paterson was named the #9 manager in independent baseball in 2012, but he might be rising even higher. He was just named the manager of the American Association Sioux Falls Canaries. Since 2012 Paterson has added a new league and title to his resume. After managing the White Sands Pupfish in 2012, Paterson moved up to the United League Baseball managing the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings where he won the league title in 2014. Paterson faces a huge task of rebuilding the Canaries after their worst season in franchise history, but he has shown he is capable of doing just that.

#8 Phil Warren

Warren has been at the helm of the Gateway Grizzlies for the past eight seasons. Immediately after we ranked Warren #8 he led the Grizzlies to a Frontier League West Division crown. They would lose in the first round of the playoffs, but the 57 wins were the second best in franchise history. The winning has continued in 2013 and 2014 with a second and third place finish in the West Division. Both seasons the team won 50 or more games.

#7 Eddie Dennis

Dennis was the manager of the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings in 2012, his last season as a manager. He led the WhiteWings to a 51-44 record and a third place finish in the North American League. After being out of baseball in 2013, Dennis became the hitting coach for the Williamsport Crosscutters of the New York Penn League. The Crosscutters are the Class A short season team of the Philadelphia Phillies.

#6 Andy Etchebarren

Echebarren retired after the 2012 season after leading the York Revolution to the playoffs for the third straight season. The former MLB’er changed the culture to a winning one in York taking a last place team to two straight titles in 2010 and 2011.

#5 Doug Simunic

Simunic has won over 1,000 games in independent baseball, mostly with the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks of the American Association. In 21 years at the helm, he has had only two losing seasons but both have come in the past four seasons including 2014. Last summer the two-year extension on his contract was exercised keeping him in Fargo through 2017. Simunic has been the only manager that the Redhawks have known winning thirteen division and five league titles over that time.

#4 Patrick Scalabrini

Scalabrini entered the 2012 season after winning titles in his first two seasons in Quebec. He has since guided the Capitales to two more titles winning four in a row (in his first four seasons) in the Can-Am League. The team fell off a bit in 2014 finishing with its first losing season under Scalabrini and failing to make the playoffs. He will look to right the ship and return the Capiales to their winning tradition.

#3 Sparky Lyle

Entering the 2012 season Lyle led the Somerset Patriots to a winning record in 12 of his 14 years. Unfortunately year number fifteen, which would be his last, finished with a losing record as well. Overall Lyle finished his managing career (all with Somerset) with a record of 1024-913 for a .529 winning percentage. Lyle led the franchise to eight division and five league titles.

#2 Doc Edwards

Edwards has been in professional baseball nearly 60 years. He has managed at the Major League level, in the affiliated minor leagues, and for the past nine years with the San Angelo Colts. The Colts have suffered in recent years finishing under .500 the past two seasons. It remains to be seen if Edwards will manage in 2015. Not because he isn’t wanting to, but the entire San Angelo Colts and ULB are in jeopardy of being extinct next season. The Colts filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last season in hopes of saving the stadium.

#1 Ricky VanAsselberg

Vanasselberg has been winning wherever he has wound up. Prior to 2012 he won the American Association championship with Grand Prairie in 2011 and another AA championship in 2010 with the Shreveport-Bossier Captains. These weren’t his only wins though. In 2006 and 2007 he won back-to-back United League championships with the Alexandria Aces.

Since 2011 Vanasselberg has qualified for the playoffs only once with the Air Hogs losing in the first round in 2013. However, in December he was named as the new manager for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League. Definitely a jump up in competition but it will put Vanasselberg in his most challenging position, rebuilding. The Bluefish have finished with three straight losing seasons including a 47-93 season a year ago.

So in review, two managers have retired, one might be on his way out if his team folds, two moved up in the ranks of independent baseball, one moved to an affiliated team as a hitting coach, and four are still at it with the same teams.

You can go back and view our Top 10 from 2012 here:

Independent Baseball League Managers Top 10 – 1-5

Independent Baseball League Managers Top 10 – 6-10

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Independent: Sioux Falls Canaries Name Chris Paterson Manager for 2015


The Sioux Falls Canaries of the independent American Association have made Chris Paterson their new manager for the 2015 season. Paterson is coming off a championship with the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings from the United League Baseball in 2014. This was not his first championship. He also won the inaugural Pecos League championship with the Roswell Invaders in 2011.

Paterson began his coaching career in 2010 with the Desert Valley Mountain Lions of the defunct Continental Baseball League where he was named manager of the year. He has also managed in the California Winter League, Arizona Winter League, Pecos Spring League, and the Texas Winter League. He also serves as a scout for the Miami Marlins. In 2012, we named Paterson the #9 manager on our top 10 list of independent managers.

The Canaries are coming off a rough season in which they finished the year with a 33-67 record. The Canaries had the worst record in the league finishing 30 games behind first place Winnipeg in the North Division.

Paterson was nice enough to stop and take a moment to let us know how he feels about the new challenge of the step up in competition and the rebuilding effort he faces in Sioux Falls:

I am very excited to get this opportunity to manage in the American Association with Sioux falls. I’ve always regarded the AA as the top Indy league and best run one. I look forward to the challenges that it comes with and hope some of my prior successes in baseball can translate in the association. I’m very grateful to the general manager and assistant general managers in Sioux Falls as well as the ownership for putting their faith in me to lead this rebuilding process for the Canaries. We are in probably what is the toughest division in all of Indy ball with three well respected clubs and very successful managers. I look forward to working hard and making this transition

The three teams Paterson mentioned are the Winnipeg Goldeyes (nine division and two league championships), the St. Paul Saints (four division and league championships), and the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks (thirteen division and five league championships). These three teams are also three of the top four teams in attendance in 2014 in the American Association while Sioux Falls ranked eighth.

The Canaries decided not to renew former manager Steve Shirley shortly after the end of the 2014 season. Shirley was the longest tenured manager in team history, but the team has failed to reach the playoffs since 2010. Paterson will look to bring the Canaries back to their former days. The franchise has one AA title in 2008.

Paterson with the WhiteWings

Paterson with the WhiteWings

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Looking Forward to 2015 at Baseball de World


With 2014 coming to a close, we thought this would be a good time to look back at the world of baseball and discuss some of the major events and championships that took place. Over the next week or two we will be recapping all of the major leagues from around the world. So in case you missed it, and we did as well for some because of how busy 2014 was, stay tuned and check out what happened around the world.

In 2015 we hope to bring a few more things to the site including more writing on independent baseball leagues throughout the USA. These leagues have garnered my attention more and more over the past few years. They not only interest me in the ways they handle themselves on the field (see article on Pecos League commissioner charging field with chair) but off the field and how the leagues actually survive is very interesting to say the least.

In addition to covering some of the independent leagues, we hope to bring you some new and interesting ideas like the top independent managing prospects. With managers being picked up from independent leagues into affiliated ball, we thought we would look at a few of the manager prospects in the game right now. So stay tuned for that and other new ideas on independent ball.

In addition we plan to bring you more reviews on books, documentaries, movies, and other sites as well. We are apart of a huge baseball blogosphere and we want to help spread some of the great writing that is going on. For one, Dan Glickman over at the Hall of Very Good wrote about the best baseball links of 2014. There is a lot of great writing here from some of the top writers in the sport. I have read many of the articles throughout the year but some of the I missed so I will be going back through them in the next week and I recommend you do the same.

I dropped the ball in 2014 due to my schedule becoming so crazy but most of that is behind me now and I hope to continue bringing you updates from around the world in 2015.

I would also like to have your opinions and ideas on what you would like to see. I have tossed around the idea of a podcast with others joining me to discuss baseball from around the world. I’ve also tossed around the idea of starting a vlog and doing some video. Those are on hold right now until I can get back into the swing of regular updates. I am putting together a schedule of when I will update what leagues in order to bring some regularity to the site and hopefully more interaction with you the readers.

With all of that being said, Happy New Year! Here is hoping your favorite teams continue, or start, a winning tradition in 2015!

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Minors: Will the Osos be back in Raton in 2015


The Pecos League has been in existence since 2011 and some teams have bounced around from city to city. The Raton Osos started out as the Ruidoso Osos in the league’s inaugural season of 2011.  A year later the Ruidoso team was gone. The Osos were reborn in 2013 in Raton. Over the next two seasons they went a combined  36-92. Earlier this year an interesting article was posted to the website of KRTN Radio out of Raton and included parts from the city’s parks and recreation director.

This article gives a little insight into how some independent league teams are run and the hardships that they can come across. It does not appear, and it is still up in the air, that the Osos will return to Raton. It will be interesting to see where the team moves next or if some sort of agreement can be made to keep the team in Raton.

You can read the article by clicking the link below.

Osos Saga Continues

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Minors: United League Announces All ULB Team for 2014


The United League Baseball recently announced the All ULB Team for the 2014 season. The 2014 ULB Champion Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings led the team with 10 selections.

 

 

 

 

Position Players

Position          Player                     Team                                BA     HR      RBI

Catcher           Mario Mercedes     Brownsville Charros       .315      4         26

1st Base           Matt Chavez           San Angelo Colts            .369      5         30

2nd Base          Jason Merjano        RGV Whitewings            .283      0         19

Short Stop       Roger Bernal          Rio Grande Valley          .301      1         35

3rd Base           Ryan Lashley         Ft. Worth Cats                 .369      6         45

Designated      Chris Grossman     San Angelo Colts            .339       5         48

Outfielder        Jacob Fabry           Rio Grande Valley          .322       0         28

Outfielder        Oscar Garcia          Ft. Worth Cats               .290        2         41

Outfielder        Justin Reed             San Angelo Colts          .292        2         37

UTILITY:

Outfield           JJ Muse                   San Angelo Colts         .305         3         36

Catcher           Dan Coury               Brownsville Charros    .268         11       38

Infield             Chad Kruse              Ft. Worth Cats             .333         0         28

Starting Rotation:

Player                      Team                      Win  Loss  ERA

Ryan Bonnot           RGV Whitewings    5       3        4.48

Celson Polanco       RGV Whitewings    6       2        2.12

Brad Orosey            Rio Grande Valley  6       4        2.05

Trent Montgomery  Ft. Worth Cats        6       5        4.81

Jeremy Gooding      Ft. Worth Cats        2       2        1.64

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Independent Baseball: Niagara New Team for Can-Am League in 2015


The Niagara Professional Baseball Group has been given provisional approval to field a team in the Can-Am League for the 2015 season. They will join the current four team league giving them another Canadian team to go with Quebec and Trois-Rivieres. The league will be six teams as Niagara and Ottawa will both be joining the league next season. Niagara has announced they are also looking for a team name and are looking for help from the public. A name the team contest has been announced via the club’s website. If you have an idea on what the team could be called for its inaugural season you can email or tweet your ideas to the team. The winner will receive some great prizes including a pair of season tickets. Contest ends August 1st. The club has also announced tryouts for September 20th. The tryout is open to anyone interested. It will take place from 2-6pm with pitchers and catchers reporting from 2-4pm and positional players from 4-6pm. Cost of the tryout is $60 per player. You can find the player tryout form and a link for payment here on their website. The club will play its home games at Welland Sports Complex which was built in 1989. The Welland Pirates played there from 1989 to 1994 as apart of the New York-Penn League. For more information on the tryout you can contact Colin at 647-608-8163 or via email at ccumminsATniagaraprobaseball.com

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Is the IBL Shutting Down the Season Already?


It is not an easy task to run a start up business. We see it everyday when different businesses in every town in America go under. It’s even harder to start a professional baseball league. Without the backing of Major League Baseball teams fight for fans on budgets that are razor thin. There have been more unsuccessful leagues over the years than successful ones. However, that doesn’t mean it is not possible to build a product that the fans will enjoy and keep coming back to. There are a few leagues that do just that and this year there was one more taking the plunge to try and add their name to that list, the Independent Baseball League. The IBL is a bit different in many regards. First of all, they play in small towns in Ohio and Michigan. We wrote about it kicking off its inaugural season just two months ago with this post. Secondly, the league does not play every day like many others. Instead the league, of only four teams, plays weekend games similar to how the leagues are set up in many places in Europe. The teams typically play single games Friday, a double header on Saturday, and a single game Sunday. That is all. However, today there was some news that the IBL would be closing up shop after just 12 games for each team. Then the post was removed from the league’s Facebook feed shortly after. You can see a screenshot below. IBL Post

I contacted someone within the IBL but was given no indication of the league shutting its doors or continuing to play. So this may be something that they are teetering on the edge with and have not fully decided. Most of the team websites are fairly up to date. However, the league website itself is not and appears to have some sort of error on it, although that has been there for as long as I can remember.

(H/T to Dan Malley for the screenshot)

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Independent Baseball League Teams with the Most Titles


In my continuing infatuation with independent baseball, I decided to take a look at the most successful teams in independent baseball. There are many ways in which you can determine success, but here I am looking at success in terms of championships.

Now you can argue that some championships are bigger than others, but a championship is a championship. All of these teams won their league title and a few even won in several different leagues over the years. There have been so many different leagues over the years and teams come and go. With that in mind I am only looking at teams that won more than two titles. There are quite a few with a single title, including many teams that no longer exist. There are even many teams with two titles, but over two really seems to limit the teams almost to a top 10.

So let’s take a look at the teams with three titles.

Teams with Three Titles

Fort Worth Cats – The Cats have a long history of baseball in Fort Worth dating back to the first half of the 20th century. The team was revived in 2001 in the independent All-American Association. The league folded after a year and the Cat joined the Central Baseball League winning their first championship in 2005. A year later the team joined the American Association where it would continue its dominance winning the title in its first two years in the league, 2006 and 2007. The Cats have not won a title since, but did reach the championship series of the United League Baseball, their current league, in 2013.

Gary SouthShore RailCats – The RailCats started play in the Northern League in 2002. The RailCats quickly built themselves into a powerhouse reaching the Northern League championship five straight seasons (2005-2009). They would win only two of those five (2005, 2007). After the Northern League folded after the 2010 season, the RailCats joined the American Association where they continue to play today. The RailCats are the current defending American Association champions after having defeated the Wichita Wingnuts in four games in 2013.

Long Island Ducks – The Ducks are one of independent baseball’s most famous teams and with it they have three titles. They are the two-time defending champions of the Atlantic League after defeating the Somerset Patriots in five games in 2013. Added to their titles in 2012 and 2013, the Ducks won their first title in 2004.

Windy City Thunderbolts – The Thunderbolts have played in the Frontier League since 1999. The team won back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008 in the Frontier League. The first title in franchise history came under another name, the Cook County Cheetahs. The Cheetahs played in the Heartland League where they defeated the Tennessee Tomahawks in the championship.

Teams with Four Titles

St. Paul Saints – Arguably the most popular independent baseball team of all-time, the Saints helped build the Northern League. The Saints won the first Northern League title in 1993 and then came back in 1995 and 1996 to claim two more titles. The team didn’t win another one until 2004 just a couple of years before they would jump ship to the American Association where they continue playing today.

New Jersey Jackals – The Jackals began play in 1998 and quickly won the Northeast League title. The following season the Northeast League and the Northern League combined. The Jackals claimed their second title in 2001 defeating the Winnipeg Goldeyes to win their first Northern League title. They would repeat again defeating Winnipeg in 2002. The Northeast League decided to split from the Northern League in 2003. The following year the Jackals would win their fourth and final title claiming the 2004 Northeast League title. Today the Jackals play in the Can-Am League.

Amarillo Dillas – The Dillas existed as a team from 1994 to 2010 playing in different leagues. In 1999 as a part of the defunct Texas-Louisiana League, the Dillas win their first title. After a few league changes the Dillas would put together a powerhouse in the United League Baseball winning three titles in a row from 2008-2010. The team, due to financial difficulties, would disband after the 2010 season.

Teams with Five Titles

Somerset Patriots – Arguably the most successful team due to the league they play in, the Patriots are the five-time champions of the Atlantic League. The Patriots started play in 1998 winning their first title in the leagues fourth years of existence in 2001. This was after losing in the championship the previous two seasons. The Patriots would win again in 2003, 2005, and back-to-back titles in 2008-2009. The team has made the championship nine times, including 2013.

Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks – The Redhawks could also be argued as the most successful team having won five Northern League titles. Their first title came in 1998 just a few years after the Northern League began. A few years later they would pick up their second title in 2003, then again in 2006. The Redhawks would finish out the Northern League (folded after 2010) strong winning the last two titles in 2009 and 2010. They have won 13 division titles including the last two in the American Association where they play today. In their 18 years of existence, the Redhawks have failed to make the playoffs only two times.

Alexandria Aces – The Aces are the franchise with the most titles that no longer exists. The Aces played from 1994-2013. In that span they played in five different leagues including a few seasons in a collegiate league. Their first title came in 1997 in the Texas-Louisiana League. They would win again in 1998 and then turned their sites to the United League Baseball. They would win two straight ULB titles in 2006 and 2007. The final franchise title came in 2009 as a member of the Continental Baseball League.

Teams with Six Titles

Quebec Capitales – The Capitales play in the Canadian-American League where they have dominated. The Northeast League was renamed in 2004 creating the Can-Am League where the Capitales have won six titles since. The team began play in 1999 as a part of the Northern League. Since 2000 the Capitales have made the playoffs 12 times winning 6 titles. They are the five-time defending Can-Am League champions having defeated the New Jersey Jackals in the last three Can-Am League championships.

Perhaps these numbers will change after the 2014 season with nine of the eleven teams still playing.

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Independent Baseball League Stadium Ratings Part 2


We are back with Part 2 of our ratings. This time we take a look at the American Association, United League Baseball, and Pecos League. Not all of the stadiums for these leagues are available via StadiumJourney.com, so we are basing it on what we do have.

There are a few other leagues we did not factor into our ratings. First of all, the Freedom Pro League plays at some of the Arizona Spring Training fields so we did not rank them. The newly formed Independent Baseball League had no stadiums rated via Stadium Journey. It looks as thought they are playing at municipal and local high school fields and if they were in the rankings, they would probably be last based on some of the photos I have seen.

All of the ratings come from StadiumJourney.com. The ratings take into account different aspects including atmosphere, food, and even bang for your buck. Click on any team name to view the Stadium Journey rating for each one, see some stadium photos, and see why each has the rating it does.

American Association – The AA is located throughout the US from Texas to Minnesota. It is one of the more established leauges, but there are rumors a few teams may bolt next year due to travel costs.

Amarillo Sox (3.6) – The Sox play at Amarillo National Bank Sox Stadium. The stadium is old (opened in 1949) and has featured teams in many different leagues over the years. It seems the stadium gets a higher score due to some great fans and good value.

Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks (3.3) – The Redhawks play at Newman Outdoor Field which is also home to the North Dakota State Bison. The stadium opened in 1996 and is better known as “The Nest”.

Gary SouthShore RailCats (3.1) – The RailCats play at U.S. Steel Yard. It holds 6,000 people and opened in 2002.

Grand Prairie AirHogs (3.0) – The AirHogs play at Quick Trip Park which opened in 2008. With a capacity of just over 5,400, this is a nice place to catch a game. Afterwards you can walk on over to Lone Star Park and bet on the horses if you wish.

Kansas City T-Bones (3.7) – The T-Bones play at Community America Park which opened in 2003. With a capacity of over 6,500 it is one of the bigger stadiums in the league but not the biggest.

Lincoln Saltdogs (4.0) – The Saltdogs play at Haymarket Park which is also home to the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The park was built in 2001 and holds 8,500 fans which is the biggest stadium in the AA.

Sioux City Explorers (3.3) – The Explorers play at Lewis & Clark Park which opened in 1993. The Explorers were one of the Northern League teams when the league was reborn in 1993. The stadium has a capacity of over 3,600.

Sioux Falls Canaries (2.9) – The Canaries, formerly known as the Pheasants, play at Sioux Falls Stadium. The stadium was built in 1941 but was renovated as recently as 2000. It holds 4,500 people and is known as the “Birdcage”.

St. Paul Saints (4.0) – The Saints play at Midway Stadium which was built in 1982. It holds a little over 6,300 and is known more for what goes on on the field than the actual stadium.

Winnipeg Goldeyes (4.0) – The Goldeyes play at Shaw Park and is the only team in the AA from Canada. The team has played in Winnipeg since 1994 but only at Shaw Park since 1999. The stadium holds almost 7,500

Average score (two stadiums have not been reviewed) 3.49

Can-Am League – The Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball sits now as just a four team league. The league has two teams in each the US and Canada.

New Jersey Jackals (3.1) – The Jackals play at Yogi Berra Stadium which was built in 1998. With a capacity of just over 3,700, the stadium has seen the Jackals compete in three different leagues.

Rockland Boulders (3.3) – The Boulders play at Provident Bank Park which was built in 2011. The new stadium holds 4,500 people.

Average score (two stadiums have not been reviewed) 3.2

United League Baseball – The ULB is located in Texas with four teams and three stadiums (one travel team). A few of the teams are well established including one that plays on historic grounds.

Ft. Worth Cats (3.0) – The Cats play at historic La Grave Field. It has been rebuilt but on the same spot where many historic figures have played in the past. The stadium is nice, but nothing spectacular, sitting just outside of downtown Ft. Worth.

San Angelo Colts (3.0) - The Colts play at Foster Field which is also home to the Angelo State Rams. Built in 2000 it seats 4,200 and features Triple-A lighting. It is a bit more state of the art than some of the other ULB stadiums.

Rio Grande Valley White Wings (2.3) - The White Wings play at Harlingen Field. It is an older park that has undergone numerous renovations but doesn’t really add anything extra to the equation.

Edinburg Roadrunners (2.4) – This stadium is no longer used in the ULB but was in the past when the Roadrunners played at Edinburg Stadium.

Average score (without defunct stadium/team) 2.76

Pecos League – The Pecos League started in 2010 and features teams in the Southwest of the US in parts of New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado. Most of the parks are city fields and not built specifically for professional baseball.

Trinidad Triggers (2.6) - The Triggers might be most famous for their show on Fox Sports 1 that shows the team in the low minors. They play at Central Park that was built in 1960 and holds 887.

Las Cruces Vaqueros (2.3) – The team and field are no longer used by the Pecos League.

Average score (without defunct stadium/team) 2.6

Final Rankings:

1. Atlantic League 3.65
2. Frontier League 3.53
3. American Association 3.49
4. Can-Am League 3.2
5. United League Baseball 2.76
6. Pecos League 2.6
*Independent Baseball League and Freedom Pro League not rated

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the ratings?

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Independent Baseball League Stadium Ratings Part 1


Independent baseball leagues often get overlooked when fans are looking to spend their  money. However, sometimes they are a great deal and ,depending on the league, there are some really nice stadiums that fans can see. I have been fascinated with indy leagues since reading a few books on them. So I thought we could look at some of the indy league stadiums and see which league has the best ones to visit.

All of the ratings come from StadiumJourney.com. The ratings take into account different aspects including atmosphere, food, and even bang for your buck. Click on any team name to view the Stadium Journey rating for each one, see some stadium photos, and see why each has the rating it does.

Atlantic League – The Atlantic League is generally regarded as the best indy league based on the former MLB talent that the leagues higher salaries tends to bring in. They also have some of the finest stadiums in independent baseball.

Lancaster Barnstormers (3.4) – The Barnstormers play at Clipper Magazine Stadium which was built in 2005. The capacity is 6,000

Bridgeport Bluefish (2.9) – The Bluefish play at The Ballpark at Harbor Park which opened in 1998. It is one of the older stadiums and has the lowest rating among the Atlantic League teams. It has a capacity of 5,300.

Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (3.9) - The Blue Crabs play at Regency Furniture Stadium built in 2008. The stadium holds 4,200 sitting not too far outside of Washington D.C.

Camden Riversharks (4.0) – The Riversharks play at Campbell’s Field. The stadium opened in 2001 since the team’s inception.  It holds just over 6,400.

Long Island Ducks (4.0) – The Ducks, one of the more famous indy teams coming off back-to-back championships, play at Bethpage Ballpark. The park opened in 2000 and holds just over 6,000 people.

Sugar Land Skeeters (4.1) - The Skeeters, one of the newest indy teams, play at Constellation Field. The stadium opened in 2012 and holds 7.500 fans. It also stands as the league’s best ballpark.

York Revolution (3.3) – The Revolution play at Santander Stadium which was built in 2007. The stadium features a retro manual scoreboard and seats 5,200.

Average score (no score for the Somerset Patriots) 3.65

Frontier League – Based out of the Midwest, the Frontier League features fourteen teams and thirteen stadiums (one travel team). The league formed in 1993.

Evansville Otters (4.1) – The Otters play at Bosse Field that opened in 1915. It is the third oldest stadium still in regular use behind Fenway and Wrigley. It was also home to the 1991 movie A League of Their Own.

Florence Freedom (3.9) – The Freedom play at UCMC Stadium. It opened in 2004 and holds 4,500 people.

Lake Erie Crushers (3.1) – The Crushers play at All Pro Freight Stadium which opened in 2009. A newer stadium it holds 5,000.

Southern Illinois Miners (3.6) – The Miners play at Rent One Park. Located in tiny Marion, population 17,000, the stadium was built in 2007 and can hold nearly half of the city with a capacity of 7,000.

Traverse City Beach Bums (3.7) - The Beach Bums play at Wuerful Park which opened in 2006. With one of the best looking entrances, it looks like a beach house, the stadium holds just over 4,600.

Washington Wild Things (3.4) - The Wild Things play at CONSOL Energy Park built in 2002. The stadium hold 5,000.

Gateway Grizzlies (4.0) – The Grizzlies play at GCS Ballpark just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. The park holds 6,000 fans and routinely they place high in the attendance standings.

Joliet Slammers (3.3) – The Slammers play at Silver Cross Field. The stadium opened in 2002 and holds around 6,000 people.

Normal CornBelters (3.3) – The CornBelters play at The Corn Crib. The stadium opened in 2010 and its seems everything there is corn themed. It holds 7,000 fans.

River City Rascals (3.9) – The Rascals play at T.R. Hughes Ballpark which opened in 1999. With a capacity at just over 3,600, the stadium has seen some interesting events including a home run derby between Albert Pujols and Shaquille O’Neal.

Rockford Aviators (3.1) – The Aviators play at Aviators Stadium which opened in 2006. It holds just over 4,200 fans.

Schaumburg Boomers (3.3) – The Boomers play at Boomers Stadium that was built in 1999. The stadium holds a little over 7,300.

Windy City Thunderbolts (3.3) – The Thunderbolts play at Standard Bank Stadium. Built in 1999, it holds a little more than 3,100.

Average score 3.53

Part 2 will be posted tomorrow and will include a few more leagues including the American Association, United League Baseball, and the Pecos League.

What do you think? Do you agree with these ratings? What is your favorite independent league stadium?

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The IBL is the New Independent Baseball League in Town


There is a new league in town, independent league that is. The newly formed Independent Baseball League or IBL for short. Play starts this summer with teams located in Ohio and Michigan.

The IBL kicks off the 2014 season joining a laundry list of other independent leagues throughout the country. The IBL will start with four teams. The locations include Tiffin, Ohio; Marion, Ohio; Adrian, Michigan, and a traveling Ohio team. The league hopes to expand in 2015 into three divisions, but we will have to wait and see how successful it can be.

The area is no stranger to professional baseball. Marion, Ohio was once the home of the Marion Red Sox of the old Ohio-Indiana League in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Baseball extends back to the turn of the century with teams playing in the Ohio State League and other leagues dating back to 1900.

The innagural teams in the IBL will be the Tiffin Saints, Shovel City Crawlers (based in Marion), and two other teams to be named. The league will start play in June with each team playing a 36 game season.

It should be interesting to see if the league can survive like other recent start ups including the Pecos League, which is in its fourth season in the southeast.

For more information about the IBL or its teams, visit the league website at IBL-Baseball.com or check them out on Facebook.

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Bill “Spaceman” Lee to Play All Nine Positions in Game with San Rafael Pacifics


Bill “Spaceman” Lee is back at it again. The former MLB pitcher with the Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos who is known for being outspoken and at times with some “different” ideas will pitch once again for the San Rafael Pacifics.

Last season Lee broke his own record as the oldest man to win a professional game. He set the record in 2010 at the age of 63. Then last season at the age of 65 he threw a complete game win for San Rafael.

This year he is going to once again play nine innings, but in a different style. Lee will attempt to play all nine positions in Wednesday nights game finishing out on the mound.

Lee says it is a tribute to former Major Leaguers Bert Campaneris and Cesar Tovar. Campaneris did the feat in 1965 with the Athletics during the team’s 103-loss season. Tovar completed the feat two years late while playing with the Twins.

Lee was the designated hitter in last nights game going 2-for-4 with a RBI.

The Pacifics play in the Pacific Associaton, an independent baseball league.

Photo: San Rafael Pacifics

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Minors: United League Holds League Wide Tryouts May 11th and 12th


The United League will kick off its season at the end of the month, however there is still time to find a spot on a roster.

There will be a league wide tryout this weekend on Saturday May 11 and Sunday May 12. It will take place at La Grave Field in Ft. Worth, Texas, home of the Ft. Worth Cats.

All league managers will be present with roster sports available for all teams. This is a great way to get exposure and find a spot on one of the teams final roster.

Included in the managers will be the Ft. Worth Cats Jim Essian, a former manager in the Chicago Cubs organization. Ozzie Canseco will also be in attendance as the manager of the Edinburg Roadrunners, and Chris Paterson, who was named to our Top 10 Independent League Managers in 2012, will manage the Rio Grande Valley White Wings.

The registration fee is $150 per player. Registration will start at 8am with the tryouts getting going at 9am.

The 2013 United League season will start May 23rd as Ft. Worth, Rio Grande Valley, and the newest team Alexandria will host their season opener.

For more information, please contact Ron Mondragon at (817) 726-0248 and via Email at rod.mondragon@fwcats.com

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Texas Summer League Announced


With the success of the Texas Winter League, the United League has decided to start the Texas Summer League this July.

The league will give players an opportunity to develop their skills and get instruction from professional independent managers and coaches. So if you are looking to break into the professional ranks and maybe you were overlooked or you just graduated from college, this could be the perfect place for you to get noticed.

The league will run from July 15 to August 7 and at the end of the league the top 5 or 10 players will be selected and placed on a professional team for the final two weeks of the season. All games will take place in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

This is a great way to get started in professional baseball.

For more information visit Texas Summer League

The Texas Summer League is the only league-sponsored summer developmental baseball league. This allows the league to assure the players drafted that they will be added to one of the United League rosters.

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Minors: Rio Grande Valley White Wings Announce New Manager


The Rio Grande Valley White Wings have announced the hiring of manager Chris Paterson for the 2013 United League season.

Paterson has spent the past three seasons managing in the Pecos and Continental Baseball Leagues garnering a pair of manager of the year awards in two different leagues. In 2011, Paterson led the Roswell Invaders to the inaugural Pecos League title. He has also managed in the Arizona Winter League, the California Winter League, the Pecos Spring League, and recently the Texas Winter League.

Paterson played his collegiate years at North Dakota State University where he threw five innings of a combined no-hitter against Creighton in 2008. After graduating, Chris played in several independent leagues before taking his talents overseas.

Overseas Chris played in professional leagues in Germany, Italy, France, and Australia where he maintains many contacts.

While managing, Paterson has also served as a scout for the Tampa Bay Rays and now the Miami Marlins.

Last year, we named Chris to our Top 10 Independent League Managers. He came in at #9 and was one of the youngest managers in the game.

Paterson and the White Wings kick off the season on May 23rd at home against the San Angelo Colts.

White Wings Press Release

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Minors: Ozzie Canseco to Manage Edinburg Roadrunners of ULB


The Edinburg Roadrunners of the United League Baseball have announced its manager for the 2013 season in Ozzie Canseco.

Ozzie Canseco is a former Major League Baseball player with the Oakland Athletics and the St. Louis Cardinals. In addition, he has played professional in Japan and Korea.

Canseco was drafted in 1983 in the second round by the New York Yankees as a pitcher. He would transition to a fielder and make it to the big league in 1990 with Oakland.

In 2000, at age 35, Canseco set the Atlantic League home run record when he clubbed 48 for the Newark Bears.

The Roadrunners will look to defend their 2012 championship starting May 23rd against the Ft. Worth Cats. Edinburg will play an 80-game schedule against five other ULB teams including the Cats, Rio Grand Valley White Wings, San Angelo Colts, Alexandria Aces, and Texas Thunder.

You can find more information about the Roadrunners by visiting www.RoadRunnerBall.com.

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Minors: Rio Grand Valley White Wings Holding Tryout in California


Want to play professional baseball? Here is your chance.

The Rio Grand Valley White Wings of the United Baseball League (formally the North American League) will be hosting a tryout.

The tryout will take place in San Bernardino, California on Sunday April 28th at 10 am. Players can check in at 9 am.

Professional coaches, along with MLB and independent leagues scouts, will be on hand looking to sign players for the 2013 season.

Players will run the 60, take batting practice, throw from the field, and take ground balls and fly balls. Pitchers will throw live and be put on the radar gun.

Selected players may be asked to stay for additional stuff. Players should also bring their own equipment.

Cost is $60 and can be paid at the time of registration. Players will also be asked to sign a liability waiver.

Location:
La Sierra University
4500 Riverwalk Pkwy, Riverside, CA 92505

The United Baseball League will feature six teams in the 2013 season playing in Texas and Louisiana. You can find out more information about the tryouts on Facebook where you can ask questions if needed.

Or you can email the White Wings manager Chris Paterson at ChrisPaterson12@usa.com

Updated: Date and Location changed

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Book Review: Slouching Toward Fargo


Originally posted on BaseballJourneyman.com

On the cover it claims it is “A Two-Year Saga of Sinners and St. Paul Saints at the Bottom of the Bush Leagues with Bill Murray, Darryl Strawberry, Dakota Sadie and Me”. The book is Slouching Toward Fargo by Neal Karlen, and I enjoyed every bit of the book except the “Me” part.

The book is about the St. Paul Saints of the Northern League mostly during the 1996 and 1997 seasons. The team, and league, were still in its infancy and full of interesting people on and off the field.

How the book started it seems was that writer Neal Karlen was sent by Rolling Stone to do a piece on Bill Murray who was part owner in the club. He was there to do a hatchet job on Murray and as fate would have it on Darryl Strawberry as well.

Over the course of the first year Karlen has some interesting run ins with Murray, Strawberry, as well as others. These stories are entertaining, but I got a little tired of hearing how Karlen was there to do the hatchet job.

The characters of St. Paul were amazing. You have the great Bill Murray who in my book is one of the funniest men of all time. You have Darryl Strawberry who is there trying to make his way back to the Major Leagues by showing that he is now a good guy. Then you have Mike Veeck the president and co-owner of the Saints who had been blackballed from Major League Baseball for things that happened years ago. Not to mention there is an outfielder with no legs, a pig that delivered baseballs, a blind announcer, the first woman player and a nun who gives massages at games.

It’s a cast of characters that would make any story interesting, and Karlen does a good job of writing about this. But what I didn’t like is how Karlen kept inserting himself in the story. As a reader I want to read about the Saints, not how the writer was burned out and didn’t love baseball anymore.

With that being said, the book is still very good. The people of this town and team make this book. Everywhere you turn there seems to be someone just as interesting as the last. You get a taste of what life is like in the lowest of the low minor leagues where people are working and playing for the love of the game.

Mike Veeck’s “Fun is Good” motto really shows through in the writing and you can imagine the fun that people had at the games. And even though the book was written about a time that is now more than 15 years ago, it’s still a great read.

The ballplayers, former MLB guys and career minor leaguers alike, are interesting, funny, and you even finding yourself rooting for some of them even though all this happened nearly two decades ago. There are just a lot of likable people that you will be looking up on Google and Baseball Reference to see how they performed after the time of the book.

So get past the part of the writer inserting himself a little too much into the story, in my opinion, and give this a read because it’s definitely worth it. It’s been out for some time so you should be able to find a cheap used paperback copy somewhere.

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Minors: Pacific Association Announces New Franchise in Vallejo


The Indy League merry-go-round continues as the Pacific Association has announced a new franchise to replace the league’s travel team.

The Vallejo Admirals will take the place of the traveling Sonoma County Grapes. The new team will play at Wilson Park which will receive a facelift.

The team is owned by Redwood Sports and Entertainment, which also owns the San Rafael Pacifics and the Sonoma County Grapes. The group will look for a permanent home for the Grapes for the 2014 season in hopes of having a six team league.

The Pacific Association was formed this offseason after the North American Baseball League folded. The teams that make up the PA were the Northern Division of the NABL in 2012.

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AWBL: Independent League to Expand into Las Cruces for 2013


In the ever changing and exciting world of independent baseball, the American West Baseball League (AWBL) has announced its plans to expand into Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Las Cruces had an independent league team in the Pecos League the past few seasons in the Vaqueros. However, this winter the Pecos League announced it would pull the team out of Las Cruces with the impending AAA team headed to El Paso which is just a short drive away.

The thought behind the move was that the small independent league team couldn’t compete with the AAA team with advertisers thus making the team economically unviable.

The AWBL has already seen some turmoil before playing its first game. The league was slated to have four teams, but before the first pitch was thrown the Yuma franchise pulled out of the league.

One team slated to play in the league will play at a local university where the field has no lights. There was to be a winter program in Yuma, but the league canceled it “due to lack of interest”.

So what does a league do with more problems than teams? Create a franchise two states over when travel is a huge part of the expenses of independent teams. It just doesn’t seem to make much sense. Then again I don’t run a league.

It remains to be seen if the league will actually get off the ground in 2013 or hold off due to internal issues for the 2014 season. No matter what happens, its been interesting so far, and should continue to be so.

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Minor Leagues: Pecos League Drops to Eight Teams for 2013 Season


As we predicted in December, the Pecos League has dropped two teams prior to the start of the 2013 season.

The league had hoped to start the new season with 10 teams, but instead will be going with 8.

The Pecos Bills will be dropped from the league with the possibility of them coming back for the 2014 season. The league was relying on Reeves County to move forward with plans to move lights at Martinez Field, but they did not more forward on a motion for the lights.

The county might approve the motion in February, but that is too late for the league who will start their spring training in early May.

Another issue was that of the oil boom that is going on in the area that is taking up all of the housing. It was brought into question where the league would house players with the housing shortage that is occurring with the oilfield boom.

With Pecos dropping out for 2013, the league will also drop the Carlsbad Bats who were slated to be a travel team for the 2013 season.

Ryan Parent was slated to manage in Pecos. He has since accepted an open coaching position with the Trinidad Triggers. The Triggers and Bills will be merging rosters with 30 players from the two teams becoming free agents.

In addition, Taos will move to the Southern Division to even out the schedule with each division having four teams apiece.

Everyone involved is still hopeful that the Bills will be back for the 2014 season including Pecos League Commissioner Andrew Dunn.

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Minor Leagues: Abilene Prairie Dogs Out in 2013


The Abilene Prairie Dogs will not return to the field for the 2013 season.

The team played the 2012 season in the North American Baseball League’s United Division.

The team played at McMurry University where alcohol was not allowed to be sold at games. This put added strain on the team’s finances and without an agreement in place to build a new stadium, the team decided to cease operations for the 2013 season.

League officials have stated that there is a possibility the team will return for the 2014 season. This will give the league and city time to perhaps work out an agreement for a new home for the Prairie Dogs.

It is still up in the air what will become of the old North American Baseball League. The northern division of the 2012 league split off to for m the Pacific Association. The United Division will likely remain under the NABL name or go back to the United Baseball League name it was under before its merger.

With Abilene out in 2013, the league options are still unclear. The league might start a new franchise in either Brownsville, Tyler, or Del Rio but nothing has been stated publicly.

The league is running the Texas Winter League which starts in a few days, and I would suspect more announcements in the coming days about team locations for the 2013 season.

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Minor Leagues: Yuma Desert Rats Pull Out of American West Baseball League for 2013


The American West Baseball League had a setback this week as the Yuma Desert Rats elected to pull themselves out of the league.

Yuma was going to be apart of the inaugural American West Baseball League season in 2013. The league was slated to have four teams including Yuma, Fullerton, San Diego, and Orange County.

The league is rumored to be full of potential issues including one stadium with no lights, and others in financial problems.

It is still uncertain if the league will move forward for 2013 or postpone a year to get some of the issues resolved.

Here is the press release issued by Yuma:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Part 1/1 January 24, 2013

Yuma Desert Rats Withdraw from American West Baseball League

YUMA, ARIZONA – Tim Ferguson, owner of the Yuma Desert Rats announced today that the team has elected to immediately remove themselves from the American West Baseball league. The Desert Rats were set to be part of the inaugural season of the AWBL a four-team independent minor league with teams in Fullerton, San Diego, Orange County, and Yuma. Desert Rats Owner and President Tim Ferguson said, “It is with a heavy heart that we announce the Yuma Desert Rats will not be playing in the AWBL this season. We believe it is in the best interest of our fans, the City of Yuma, our corporate partners and sponsors to take some time to explore the best way that we can add value to the Yuma community through the game of baseball.”

While minor league baseball is at an all time high in attendance across the nation, hopes are high that the team will be able to continue to grow its fan base, build its corporate partnerships and community outreach programs while continuing to rebuild a foundation for professional baseball in Yuma. “There have been tremendous strides made towards bringing professional baseball back to Yuma. With more time to prepare, we feel that we will be able to sell a significant number of season tickets which will in turn attract even more community partners and sponsors. It also allows us to solidify our position within the local youth and amateur baseball programs in Yuma. We also think it will give us the proper time to find a suitable successor league which will provide the stability to create several much-needed business and support functions at the team level” added Ferguson. Because of a non-disclosure agreement, Ferguson is not able to release any other details regarding his decision to withdraw from the AWBL.

The team ownership went on to state “we would like to thank the community for welcoming myself and my family to Yuma. We remain committed to bringing baseball back in the very near future. We thank our staff, city officials and player participants in the AWBL league tryout for their hard work and dedication. I would also like to thank the many individuals who have helped me navigate this very difficult decision. We look to continue with you all as we look towards a strong and prosperous future within the game of baseball”. Said Ferguson.

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