North American Women's Baseball League
The North American Women's Baseball League (NAWBL) is an amateur league based around Boston, Massachusetts. (The official title includes "Northeast Division," but there are no other divisions.) The NAWBL plays games scheduled for seven innings, using NCAA rules, including base-stealing and taking leads off bases. Lineup rules allow liberal substitutions and unlimited re-entry into games, and all players must get some playing time in each game. The season runs from June through August. Robin Wallace is the organizer and Executive Director, and Al Melanson is the Commissioner.
Players vary in age from high-school freshman to early forties. Some travel from as far as Connecticut or central New Hampshire. Several current players have made boys' or men's teams at school. The league is competitive but friendly; arguments with umpires and with opponents are unheard-of. Selected players organize outside the regulation season and enter tournaments; they have competed throughout the United States and in Canada, the Dominican Republic, and Japan.
Quality of play is variable, as the league exists not just for good players who have no other outlet to play baseball but to train new players. Ground outs are executed crisply and double plays are routine. Base running is excellent, and is often drilled during the year. But a team may have an outfielder who doesn't know where a fly ball will land. Teammates know to coach her into position. Four errors a game is a typical number, and they occur in bunches. Starting pitching is increasingly a specialty rather than a shared duty, and several players have become dominant as starters. Control is intermittent and a NAWBL rule adopted in 2008 requires a pitcher who issues five walks in an inning to be replaced.
The squads, named Outlaws (red/black), Ravens (gold/navy), Saints (green—inactive in 2008), and Seahawks (turquoise) are chosen at the start of the year for parity. Trades between teams during a season almost never happen. The teams are run by the league; although some attract their own fans and chart-keepers, they don't promote themselves separately. The league does a minimum of self-promotion. Depending on the availability of facilities, they play day and evening games, with lights, the scoreboard, and an announcer.
The NAWBL began under Nick Lopardo, owner of the North Shore Spirit of the independent Can-Am League. The NAWBL operated from 2003 through 2005 within the Spirit organization and played its games on Spirit off-days at Fraser Field in Lynn, Massachusetts. The NAWBL all-stars were known as the Lady Spirit. In 2006 and 2007, the NAWBL was based at Holman Stadium in Nashua, New Hampshire, with the financial backing of John Stabile, owner of the Nashua Pride, also of the Can-Am League. The all-stars traveled as the Pride Pioneers.
In 2008, the NAWBL was funded by player dues and conducted a three-team season independent of any professional club. It moved back to Fraser Field, and played some games at World Series Park in Saugus, Massachusetts. In 2009, only a single game was played; on June 28 at Fraser Field, the Ravens led the Saints, 8-0, after four innings and held on to win, 11-10. The league has played no games since then, and websites at
nawbl.org are both inoperative.
The predecessor New England Women's Baseball League was a player-run and -funded organization that played at many fields in the metro Boston area.
More information may be found about women's baseball at: