Atlantic League of Professional Baseball

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For previous leagues named "Atlantic League", see Atlantic League (1896–1900) and Atlantic League (1914).
Atlantic League of Professional Baseball
Atlantic League of Professional Baseball logo.svg
Sport Baseball
Founded 1998
No. of teams 8
Country USA
Most recent
champion(s)
Somerset Patriots (2015)
Most titles Somerset Patriots (6)
Official website atlanticleague.com

The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball is a professional, independent baseball league located primarily in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, especially the greater metropolitan areas of the Northeast megalopolis, with one team located in Texas.

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.[1] When Atlantic League professionals are signed by MLB clubs, they usually start in their Double-A or Triple-A affiliates.[2]

History[edit]

In 1998, the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball played its inaugural season, with teams in Bridgewater, 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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]

On September 1, 2015, the Atlantic League announced conditional approval for an expansion team or a relocated team to play in New Britain, Connecticut for the 2016 season.[7][8][9][10] On October 21, 2015, the Camden Riversharks announced they would cease operations immediately due to the inability to reach an agreement on lease terms with the owner of Campbell's Field, the Camden County Improvement Authority.[11] The team became the New Britain Bees for the 2016 season.[12] On May 29, 2016, Jennie Finch was the guest manager for the league's Bridgeport Bluefish, thus becoming the first woman to manage a professional baseball team.[13]

The Atlantic League is generally regarded as the most successful and highest level of baseball among independent leagues.[14][15] 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 other independent circuits including the American Association, Can-Am League, and Frontier League.[16][17][18][19] 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 an independent baseball league.[20]

Current franchises[edit]

Team City/Area Stadium First Season
Freedom Division
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 PeoplesBank Park 2007
Liberty Division
Bridgeport Bluefish Bridgeport, Connecticut The Ballpark at Harbor Yard 1998
Long Island Ducks Central Islip, New York Bethpage Ballpark 2000
New Britain Bees New Britain, Connecticut New Britain Stadium 2016
Somerset Patriots Bridgewater, New Jersey TD Bank Ballpark 1998
Atlantic League team map

League timeline[edit]

New Britain Bees Sugar Land Skeeters Southern Maryland Blue Crabs York Revolution Lancaster Barnstormers Camden Riversharks Long Island Ducks Aberdeen Arsenal Somerset Patriots Pennsylvania Road Warriors Pennsylvania Road Warriors Newburgh Black Diamonds Newark Bears Nashua Pride Bridgeport Bluefish Atlantic City Surf

League members Moved to another league

Former teams[edit]

Team City Stadium Capacity Seasons History
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.
Camden Riversharks Camden, New Jersey Campbell's Field 6,425 2001–2015 Replaced by the New Britain Bees
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.

Championship series[edit]

Year Winner Runner-up Result Championship Series MVP
1998 Atlantic City Surf Bridgeport Bluefish 3-1 Chris Eddy
1999 Bridgeport Bluefish Somerset Patriots 3-0 Duane Singleton
2000 Nashua Pride Somerset Patriots 3-0 D.J. Boston
2001 Somerset Patriots Newark Bears 3-2 Robert Dodd
2002 Newark Bears Bridgeport Bluefish 3-0 Jimmy Hurst
2003 Somerset Patriots Nashua Pride 3-2 Jeff Nettles
2004 Long Island Ducks Camden Riversharks 3-0 Justin Davies
2005 Somerset Patriots Nashua Pride 3-0 Mark DiFelice
2006 Lancaster Barnstormers Bridgeport Bluefish 3-0 Jeremy Todd
2007 Newark Bears Somerset Patriots 3-1 Jose Herrera
2008 Somerset Patriots Camden Riversharks 3-1 Brandon Larson
2009 Somerset Patriots Southern Maryland Blue Crabs 3-1 Jeff Nettles
2010 York Revolution Bridgeport Bluefish 3-0 Ramon Castro
2011 York Revolution Long Island Ducks 3-1 Vince Harrison
2012 Long Island Ducks Lancaster Barnstormers 3-2 Dan Lyons
2013 Long Island Ducks Somerset Patriots 3-2 John Brownell
2014 Lancaster Barnstormers Sugar Land Skeeters 3-0 Gabe Jacobo
2015 Somerset Patriots Southern Maryland Blue Crabs 3-1 Roy Merritt

All-Star games[edit]

Year Location Stadium Winner Score
1998 Atlantic City, New Jersey The Sandcastle Atlantic City 6–4
1999 Bridgeport, Connecticut The Ballpark at Harbor Yard South 8–3
2000 Bridgewater, New Jersey Commerce Bank Ballpark North 2–0
2001 Newark, New Jersey Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium North 10–0
2002 Central Islip, New York Citibank Park South 4–1
2003 Nashua, New Hampshire Holman Stadium South 2–1
2004 Camden, New Jersey Campbell's Field North 10–8
2005 Atlantic City, New Jersey The Sandcastle North 9–6
2006 Bridgeport, Connecticut The Ballpark at Harbor Yard North 4–1
2007 Lancaster, Pennsylvania Clipper Magazine Stadium North 8–6
2008 Bridgewater, New Jersey Commerce Bank Ballpark Freedom 8–6
2009 Newark, New Jersey Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium Liberty 7–5
2010 Central Islip, New York Suffolk County Sports Park Liberty 7–1
2011 York, Pennsylvania PeoplesBank Park Freedom 7–0
2012 Camden, New Jersey Campbell's Field Freedom 9–5
2013 Waldorf, Maryland Regency Furniture Stadium Freedom 2–1
2014 Sugar Land, Texas Constellation Field Sugar Land 5–3
2015 Bridgeport, Connecticut The Ballpark at Harbor Yard Freedom 5–1
2016 Lancaster, Pennsylvania Clipper Magazine Stadium  TBD  

League records[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Atlantic League Market Requirements". Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. Archived from the original on May 2, 2006. Retrieved May 6, 2006. 
  2. ^ Walk, John (May 18, 2012). "Ian Thomas earns first affiliated contract". The York Dispatch. 
  3. ^ Reichard, Kevin (May 17, 2010). "Atlantic League to expand to Sugar Land". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved July 11, 2015. 
  4. ^ Reichard, Kevin (October 6, 2010). "It's official: Bears to Can-Am Association". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved July 11, 2015. 
  5. ^ Merrill, Everett (February 5, 2014). "Atlantic League's New President Wants To Innovate". Baseball America. TEN: The Enthusiast Network. Retrieved July 11, 2015. 
  6. ^ Fagan, Ryan (June 30, 2015). "Atlantic League set to introduce red, white and blue baseballs". Sporting News. Retrieved July 11, 2015. 
  7. ^ "New Britain gains Atlantic League OK". Record-Journal. September 1, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Baseball Will Likely Return to New Britain Next Season". NBC Connecticut. September 1, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Conditional Deal For Baseball In New Britain In 2016". CBS Connecticut. September 1, 2015. 
  10. ^ "New Britain Conditionally Approved to Begin Atlantic League Play in 2016". Atlantic League Professional Baseball: Newswire. September 1, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Riversharks Baseball Ceases Operation; Team Not Offered New Lease". Atlantic League Professional Baseball: Newswire. October 22, 2015. 
  12. ^ Stacom, Don (October 22, 2015). "Atlantic League Baseball: Camden Is Out, New Britain Is In". Hartford Courant. Retrieved October 23, 2015. 
  13. ^ Eisenberg, Matt (May 29, 2016). "Guest manager Jennie Finch leads Bridgeport Bluefish to win". Espn.go.com. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  14. ^ 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 July 11, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Creation of developmental indy league announced". Ballgamers. June 28, 2013. Retrieved July 11, 2015. 
  16. ^ Knight, Graham. "Independent Leagues 2014 Attendance". BaseballPilgrimages.com. Retrieved July 11, 2015. 
  17. ^ Recihard, Kevin (September 16, 2013). "2013 Independent Attendance by League". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved July 11, 2015. 
  18. ^ Reichard, Kevin (September 24, 2012). "2012 Independent Attendance by League". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved July 11, 2015. 
  19. ^ Reichard, Kevin (September 19, 2011). "2011 Independent Average Attendance by League". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved July 11, 2015. 
  20. ^ Cooper, J.J. (May 15, 2015). "MLB, Atlantic League Sign Player Transfer Agreement". Baseball America. TEN: The Enthusiast Network. Retrieved July 11, 2015. 

External links[edit]