Allentown Ambassadors

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Allentown Ambassadors
AmbassadorsLogo.PNG
Founded 1997
Ballpark Bicentennial Park
Based in Allentown, Pennsylvania
Team Colors black, red, blue
League Northeast League
Team Trainer
General manager
Owner Peter Karoly

The Allentown Ambassadors were an independent baseball team that competed in the Northeast League and the Northern League from 1997 until 2003. They played their home games at Allentown, Pennsylvania's Bicentennial Park.

History[edit]

The Ambassadors joined the Northeast League in 1997. The League had started in 1995 as a six team league, with all teams being based in the State of New York. In the second season of play, the league expanded into the New England Region, and in 1997, it expanded to an eight-team league. Allentown was granted a franchise, replacing the Rhode Island Tiger Sharks. The Northeast League now boasted teams from Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine. The Ambassadors got off to a good start as a franchise as they finished their inaugural season with a 39-43 record, and led the league in most offensive categories. The Ambassadors also had a very successful season in terms of attendance, finishing 3rd in the league in that category.

In 1998, the team continued to improve, sporting an impressive 52-32 record but losing in the first round of the playoffs to New Jersey. They led the league in attendance with an impressive 122,000 fans on the season, an average of about 2,900 fans per game. In 1999, the league merged with the very successful Northern League to form the Northern League-East. The Ambassadors won the regular season title with a record of 47-39 but would lose in the playoffs.

In 2000, the Ambassadors started to slip in terms of play on the field as their record fell to 42-43 and they missed the playoffs. Also, attendance started to slip as other teams in the league all started seeing increases in attendance. 2001 was another tough year for Allentown, once again in terms of attendance and also their record fell to 43-47, which was last in the South Division. In 2002, things took a drastic turn for the worse. The Ambassadors finished a miserable 26-64 on the season, 36½ games out of first place. They were also at the bottom of the league in attendance, averaging only about 1,700 fans per contest, which would have been very competitive in the early years of the league, but not at the present time.

By 2003, the team only made minimal strides in terms of their on-field play. They once again finished last in their division with a 32-58 record, 20½ games out of first. However, their biggest loss was in the attendance category. Once again, most league teams were averaging over 150,000 fans per season, but Allentown saw only about 40,000 fans for the year, or 888 fans per game. The attendance numbers were the 4th worst in all of independent baseball.[1]

After the 2003 season, team owner Peter Karoly announced that he was folding the team as the Ambassadors filed for bankruptcy. The roster, for the most part, was dispersed through all the teams in the league, and whatever was left (with the addition of a few free agents) became part of a traveling team known as The Aces. The Aces played one season before the league replaced them with the Worcester Tornadoes.

Grammy Award winning recording artist John Mayer performed at the park during the Ambassadors final season. Mayer's concert represented the most attended event in the venue's history.

In April 2008, professional baseball returned to Allentown, when the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the AAA-level Philadelphia Phillies team, began play at Coca-Cola Park, a new, 10,000-capacity stadium.

Karoly died in a plane crash in 2007.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.digitalballparks.com/CanAm/Allentown7.html
  2. ^ In Loving Memory - Peter Karoly