Atlantic League of Professional Baseball
|No. of teams||8|
|Most recent champion(s)||Lancaster Barnstormers (2nd Title)|
|Most titles||Somerset Patriots (5)|
The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball is a professional, independent baseball organization located primarily in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, especially the greater metropolitan areas of the Northeast megalopolis. It operates in cities not served by Major or Minor League Baseball teams and is not affiliated with either. The Atlantic League requires cities to have the market for a 4,000 to 7,500-seat ballpark and for the facility to be maintained at or above AAA standards. When Atlantic League professionals are signed by MLB clubs, they usually start in their Double-A or Triple-A affiliates.
In 1998, the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball played its inaugural season, with teams in Somerset, Newark, and Atlantic City, New Jersey; Nashua, New Hampshire; Newburgh, New York; and Bridgeport, Connecticut. The creation of the league was the result of the New York Mets' objection to Frank Boulton's proposal to move the former Albany-Colonie Yankees because of its territorial rights to the region. Boulton, a Long Island native, decided to create a new league that would have a higher salary cap for its players and a longer season than most of the other independent baseball organizations. He modeled the Atlantic League after the older Pacific Coast League, with facilities that exceed AAA-level standards. Boulton also emphasized signing players of Major League Baseball experience for all Atlantic League teams, raising the level of play above other independent leagues.
In 2010, the league announced that it would be expanding to Sugar Land, Texas and adding its first franchise not located in an Atlantic coast state. The Sugar Land Skeeters began play in 2012. In 2010, amid financial struggles, the Newark Bears moved from the Atlantic League to the Can-Am League, leaving the Bridgeport Bluefish and Somerset Patriots as the only teams remaining from the league's inaugural season. In the summer of 2013, then-ALPB President Frank Boulton announced that he would be resigning so that he could devote more time to operating the Long Island Ducks. He was replaced by longtime high-ranking Major League Baseball executive Rick White. In 2014, the league announced further expansion. The Virginia Beach Neptunes would begin play at Wheeler Field when construction on the ballpark is completed in 2016. On July 8, 2015, the Atlantic League began using Rawlings baseballs with red and blue seams, virtually unused in the sport since the American League swapped the blue in their seams for red in 1934.
The Atlantic League is generally regarded as the most successful and highest level of baseball among independent leagues. Many notable former and future Major League ballplayers including Roger Clemens, Rickey Henderson, Scott Kazmir, Dontrelle Willis, Juan González, John Rocker and José Canseco have played in the league and several have coached, including Gary Carter, Tommy John, Bud Harrelson and Sparky Lyle. The Atlantic League has consistently posted higher per game and per season attendance numbers than rival independent circuits including the American Association, Can-Am League, Frontier League and United League. In 2015, the Atlantic League experienced a watershed moment for independent baseball when it signed a formal agreement with Major League Baseball which put into writing the rules which the ALPB would follow in selling its players' contracts to MLB clubs and their affiliates. This marked the first time that MLB, which has enjoyed a U.S. Supreme Court-granted antitrust exemption since 1922, had made any formal agreement with or acknowledgment of a independent baseball league. The league also established a minor league partnership with the North Country Baseball League, allowing players from that league to be called up to Atlantic League rosters.
|Lancaster Barnstormers||Lancaster, Pennsylvania||Clipper Magazine Stadium||2005|
|Southern Maryland Blue Crabs||Waldorf, Maryland||Regency Furniture Stadium||2008|
|Sugar Land Skeeters||Sugar Land, Texas||Constellation Field||2012|
|York Revolution||York, Pennsylvania||Santander Stadium||2007|
|Bridgeport Bluefish||Bridgeport, Connecticut||The Ballpark at Harbor Yard||1998|
|Camden Riversharks||Camden, New Jersey||Campbell's Field||2001|
|Long Island Ducks||Central Islip, New York||Bethpage Ballpark||2000|
|Somerset Patriots||Bridgewater, New Jersey||TD Bank Ballpark||1998|
|Virginia Beach Neptunes||Virginia Beach, Virginia||Wheeler Field||2016|
League members Moved to another league Team announced to join league
|Aberdeen Arsenal||Bel Air, Maryland||Thomas Run Park||1,000||2000||Replaced by the Aberdeen IronBirds (Orioles Class-A affiliate).|
|Atlantic City Surf||Atlantic City, New Jersey||The Sandcastle||5,500||1998–2006||Moved to Can-Am League, folded prior to the 2009 season.|
|Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds||Quakertown, Pennsylvania||Memorial Park||800||1999–2001||Formerly the Newburgh Black Diamonds (1998). Became the first Pennsylvania Road Warriors.|
|Nashua Pride||Nashua, New Hampshire||Holman Stadium||4,375||1998–2005||Moved to Can-Am League, later relocated to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, folded at the end of the 2011 season.|
|Newark Bears||Newark, New Jersey||Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium||6,200||1998–2010||Moved to Can-Am League, folded prior to the 2014 season.|
|Newburgh Black Diamonds||Newburgh, New York||Delano-Hitch Stadium||3,100||1998||Became the Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds (1999–2002), which became the first Pennsylvania Road Warriors (2002–2004).|
|Pennsylvania Road Warriors||Pennsylvania||2002–2004||Formerly the Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds (1999–2002), which had been the Newburgh Black Diamonds (1998). Dissolved by league to make way for the Lancaster Barnstormers.|
|Road Warriors||2006–2007, 2011||Dissolved by league to make way for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, reformed in 2011 after the loss of Newark Bears, dissolved again to make way for the Sugar Land Skeeters.|
Atlantic League Championship Series
- "Atlantic League Market Requirements". Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. Archived from the original on 2 May 2006. Retrieved May 6, 2006.
- Walk, John (18 May 2012). Ian Thomas earns first affiliated contract. Published by The York Dispatch.
- Reichard, Kevin (May 17, 2010). "Atlantic League to expand to Sugar Land". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Reichard, Kevin (October 6, 2010). "It’s official: Bears to Can-Am Association". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Merrill, Everett (February 5, 2014). "Atlantic League’s New President Wants To Innovate". Baseball America (TEN: The Enthusiast Network). Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Smith, Richard (July 22, 2014). "The Atlantic League Welcomes The Virginia Beach Neptunes". Stadium Journey. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Fagan, Ryan (June 30, 2015). "Atlantic League set to introduce red, white and blue baseballs". Sporting News. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Fehrman, Craig (May 9, 2012). "Down And Out In Baseball's Indie Leagues; Or, What Made Tommy John Want To Rake The Infield?". Deadspin (Gawker Media). Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- "Creation of developmental indy league announced". Ballgamers. June 28, 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Knight, Graham. "Independent Leagues 2014 Attendance". BaseballPilgrimages.com. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Recihard, Kevin (September 16, 2013). "2013 Independent Attendance by League". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Reichard, Kevin (September 24, 2012). "2012 Independent Attendance by League". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Reichard, Kevin (September 19, 2011). "2011 Independent Average Attendance by League". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Cooper, J.J. (May 15, 2015). "MLB, Atlantic League Sign Player Transfer Agreement". Baseball America (TEN: The Enthusiast Network). Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Bakan, Josh (July 25, 2015). Newts' three-week run in Newburgh lacked financing and foresight. Times Herald-Record. Retrieved August 2, 2015. “Baseball-wise, the league intends to develop players to hopefully make the Atlantic League, an independent organization.”
- Bridgeport Bluefish
- Camden Riversharks
- Lancaster Barnstormers
- Long Island Ducks
- Somerset Patriots
- Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
- Sugar Land Skeeters
- Virginia Beach Neptunes
- York Revolution