Futures Collegiate Baseball League
|Current season, competition or edition:
2013 FCBL season
|Motto||Who will be the first?|
|No. of teams||10|
|Most recent champion(s)||Worcester Bravehearts|
The Futures League is a wood-bat league. Its regular season schedule calls for 56 games per team (28 home and 28 away games).
FCBL ballplayers are unpaid collegiate athletes who join the league to gain experience and exposure to Major League Baseball scouts. The FCBL mission is to prepare young men for the rigors of playing professional baseball. Five teams play in ballparks formerly occupied by professional clubs.
The league accepts players who were on college baseball rosters during the preceding spring season. League rules require that at least 15 of the 30 players on a roster have a local connection, either having attended high school in New England or currently attending college in New England.
The Futures League was co-developed by:
- Drew Weber, who owns the Single A Lowell Spinners and developed and owned the Double A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, and
- Chris Carminucci, whose Carminucci Sports Group at the time operated the Brockton Rox of the independent Can-Am League.
The Carminucci Sports Group sought to place an NECBL franchise on the island of Martha's Vineyard and the Spinners hoped to do the same in Nashua, N.H. The NECBL declined to expand, so the organizations formed a separate league. The FCBL aimed to use professional baseball operators with proven histories, whereas other summer collegiate leagues were mostly run by volunteers.
The league started play in the 2011 season. Martha's Vineyard, Nashua, Seacoast, and Torrington were the charter franchises. The Championship paired the top two franchises in a best-of-three series. Nashua (27-16) won the regular season and defeated Torrington (25-17) for the Championship.
Expansion in 2012
For the 2012 season, the FCBL expanded from four to nine teams. The league expanded into the Leominster/Fitchburg, Massachusetts area with the addition of the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs. In addition, the FCBL induced the North Shore and Old Orchard Beach franchises to jump from the NECBL, as well as the Pittsfield and Brockton franchises of the professional, independent Can-Am League to convert to the collegiate format.
The Pittsfield franchise was operated by majority owner Marvin Goldklang and the Goldklang Group, which owns and operates four other minor-league baseball teams. The move by the Brockton franchise was described as a one-year "hiatus" from professional baseball, but it continued in 2013.
An all-star game was played, pitting selected players from the four charter teams against the five new teams.
The post-season was also revamped to involve four of the nine teams. The winners of two best-of-three division series (#4 plays #1, #3 plays #2) competed in a best-of-three championship series. Nashua repeated as FCBL Champion.
The 2013 season was played with the same nine franchises as in 2012. The playoffs were expanded to include the top 6 teams of the 9. The teams finishing first and second got a first-round bye, with the remaining playoff teams to play a new initial round consisting of a single game.
Earlier, there had been boilerplate text on a league press release that "The FCBL is planning and negotiating with other locations for further expansion in the 2013 season." Speculation had centered on Worcester, Massachusetts, where the Worcester Tornadoes had lost its affiliation with the Can-Am League. A Tornadoes creditor, John Creedon Jr., was in discussions with the College of the Holy Cross to secure a lease for Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field.
The all-star game was structured as Massachusetts versus "New England" (the four non-Massachusetts teams).
The regular season was extended by two days (to August 9 and 10) in view of the season's many rain-outs. The games scheduled for these days sometimes were not against opponents that were due to complete a rained-out game. The one-game play-in games occurred on the afternoon of August 11 — not at the site of the higher-seeded team, but at the site of the winner's opponent in the next round, which began the same evening. This next round, a best-of-three series, was slated for alternating sites, though in neither case was the third game necessary. The final round reverted to the prior year's rule, in which the higher-seeded team (in this case, Martha's Vineyard) had the option of hosting the first game or any remaining games. Martha's Vineyard elected to open the series in Nashua, on August 14, and won the series at home the next day.
On September 20, 2013, John Creedon Jr., who prior to the 2013 season had discussed bringing baseball back to the city of Worcester, announced that he would indeed operate the league's tenth franchise at Fitton Field starting in 2014, and unveiled the Bravehearts on December 2, 2013.
The league split into an East and West division of five teams each. The All-Star Game assembled teams comprising the best players of each division; on July 24, the West beat the East, 4-1. The regular season expanded to 56 games, with each team playing 28 home games and 28 road games. No team actually played 56 games, as rain-outs occurring late in the season were not made up. The 2014 FCBL playoffs were conducted as in 2013, except that the rules gave the winner of each division the bye in round one, and guaranteed that, of the next four teams with the best overall records, the higher-seeded team would host the one-game play-in.
The two division winners, Worcester (West) and Martha's Vineyard (East), won their semifinal series and met in the best-of-three final series. Worcester swept the series to become the 2014 champions.
Chris Hall, the former general manager of the independent Nashua Pride and American Defenders of New Hampshire (which became the Pittsfield Colonials of the Can-Am League), is the FCBL’s first commissioner. Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer Bob Stanley is on the League's Board of Directors and is the President of the Seacoast Mavericks. Cecil Fielder and Pete Incaviglia are advisory board members for the Torrington Titans.
|Futures Collegiate Baseball League|
|West||Nashua Silver Knights||2011||Nashua, New Hampshire||Holman Stadium|
|Pittsfield Suns||2012||Pittsfield, Massachusetts||Wahconah Park|
|Torrington Titans||2011||Torrington, Connecticut||Fuessenich Park|
|Wachusett Dirt Dawgs||2012||Leominster, Massachusetts||Doyle Field|
|Worcester Bravehearts||2014||Worcester, Massachusetts||Fitton Field|
|East||Brockton Rox||2012||Brockton, Massachusetts||Campanelli Stadium|
|Martha's Vineyard Sharks||2011||Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts||Vineyard Baseball Park|
|North Shore Navigators||2012||Lynn, Massachusetts||Fraser Field|
|Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide||2012||Old Orchard Beach, Maine||The Ball Park|
|Seacoast Mavericks||2011||Portsmouth, New Hampshire||Leary Field|
- 2011: Nashua Silver Knights
- 2012: Nashua Silver Knights
- 2013: Martha's Vineyard Sharks
- 2014: Worcester Bravehearts
- Collegiate Baseball League includes Nashua team
- Summer collegiate baseball team coming to Seacoast
- Tom King (2011-12-31). "Baseball’s return to Holman tops local stories of 2011". Nashua Telegraph.
- "Futures League Announces 2012 Schedule". FCBL. 2012-02-29.
- FCBL contact page (See Playoff Format.)
- "David Adam selected as Manager of the Seacoast Mavericks Collegiate Baseball Team". FCBL. 2012-01-07.
- "What's 'future' of summer baseball in Worcester?". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. 2012-11-01.
- Walter Bird Jr. (2013-09-30). "Summer baseball will be played in Worcester in 2014". Worcester Magazine.
- "Dirt Dawgs will open season on June 4 at Doyle". Sentinel and Enterprise. 2013-12-01. Retrieved 2013-12-02.
- "2014 Playoffs Rules". FCBL. Retrieved 2014-08-16.
- Keenan, Corey (August 15, 2014). "Worcester Bravehearts win FCBL title". Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Massachusetts). Retrieved 2014-08-16.