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For previous leagues named "Atlantic League", see Atlantic League (1896–1900) and Atlantic League (1914).
Atlantic League of Professional Baseball
150px
SportBaseball
Founded1998
No. of teams8
Country(ies)United States
Most recent champion(s)Sugar Land Skeeters (2018)
Most titlesSomerset Patriots (6)
Official websiteatlanticleague<wbr/>.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. League offices are located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The Atlantic League operates in cities not served by Major League Baseball (MLB) or Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams and is not affiliated with either; most of its teams are within suburbs and exurbs too close to other teams in the organized baseball system to have minor league franchises of their own. 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 Triple-A standards.[1] When Atlantic League professionals are signed by MLB clubs, they usually start in their Double-A or Triple-A affiliates.[2] The league uses a pitch clock and limits the time between innings in an effort to speed up the game.[3] In 2019, the Atlantic League began a three-year partnership with Major League Baseball allowing MLB to implement changes to Atlantic League playing rules, in order to observe the effects of potential future rule changes and equipment.[4]

HistoryEdit

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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8]

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.[9][10][11][12] 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.[13] The team was replaced by the New Britain Bees for the 2016 season.[14] 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.[15]

Shortly before the conclusion of the 2017 season, the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut voted to not continue with professional baseball in the city and announced plans to convert The Ballpark at Harbor Yard into a music amphitheater; the Bridgeport Bluefish announced plans to relocate to High Point, North Carolina in 2019 when the construction of a new multipurpose facility in High Point is completed.[16] League officials announced the return of the Pennsylvania Road Warriors, an all road game team, to keep the league at an even eight teams while the Bluefish go inactive for the 2018 season.[17]

The Atlantic League is generally regarded as the most successful and highest level of baseball among independent leagues.[18][19] Two former Atlantic League players have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame: Tim Raines and Rickey Henderson. Other notable former and future Major League ballplayers who have played in the league include Roger Clemens, Scott Kazmir, Dontrelle Willis, Juan González, Rich Hill, John Rocker and José Canseco, and several others have coached or managed, including Gary Carter, Tommy John, Bud Harrelson, Gary Gaetti 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.[20][21][22][23]

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.[24]

2019 experimental rulesEdit

In March 2019, the Atlantic League and Major League Baseball reached agreement to test multiple rule changes during the 2019 Atlantic League season:[25]

  • Use of a radar tracking system to assist umpires in calling balls and strikes
  • Reducing the time between half innings by 20 seconds, from 2 minutes 5 seconds to 1:45
  • Requiring pitchers to face at least three batters
    • Exceptions: side is retired, or injury
  • Banning mound visits
    • Exceptions: pitching change, or for medical issues
  • Restricting infield shifts
    • Two infielders must be positioned on each side of second base
  • Increasing the size of bases from 15 inches (38 cm) to 18 inches (46 cm)
  • Moving the pitching rubber on the pitcher's mound back 24 inches (61 cm)
    • This change would have taken effect in the second half of the season

In April 2019, implementation of two of the changes was delayed:[26]

  • The tracking system for calling balls and strikes "will be implemented gradually over the course of the 2019 season"
  • Moving the pitching rubber back will not occur until the second half of the 2020 Atlantic League season

The tracking system for calling balls and strikes was introduced at the league's all-star game on July 10.[27] In addition to rule changes noted above, additional changes being implemented for the second half of the league's 2019 season are:[28]

  • Pitchers required to step off rubber to attempt pickoff
  • One foul bunt permitted with two strikes
  • Batters may "steal" first base
    • "Any pitched ball not caught by the catcher shall be subject to the same baserunning rules for the batter as an uncaught third strike, with the exception of the first base occupied with less than two out exclusion."
  • "Check swings" more batter-friendly
    • "In making his ruling, the base umpire should determine whether the batter’s wrists 'rolled over' during an attempt to strike at the ball and, if not, call the pitch a ball."

TeamsEdit

Current franchisesEdit

Division Team First Season City/Area Stadium Capacity
Freedom
Lancaster Barnstormers 2005 Lancaster, Pennsylvania Clipper Magazine Stadium 6,000
Southern Maryland Blue Crabs 2008 Waldorf, Maryland Regency Furniture Stadium 4,200
Sugar Land Skeeters 2012 Sugar Land, Texas Constellation Field 7,500
York Revolution 2007 York, Pennsylvania PeoplesBank Park 5,200
Liberty
High Point Rockers 2019[29] High Point, North Carolina BB&T Point[30][31] 5,000
Long Island Ducks 2000 Central Islip, New York Bethpage Ballpark 6,002
New Britain Bees 2016 New Britain, Connecticut New Britain Stadium 6,146
Somerset Patriots 1998 Bridgewater, New Jersey TD Bank Ballpark 6,100

Team mapEdit

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League timelineEdit

High Point RockersNew Britain BeesSugar Land SkeetersSouthern Maryland Blue CrabsYork RevolutionLancaster BarnstormersCamden RiversharksLong Island DucksAberdeen ArsenalSomerset PatriotsPennsylvania Road WarriorsPennsylvania Road WarriorsNewburgh Black DiamondsNewark BearsNashua PrideBridgeport BluefishAtlantic City Surf

League members Moved to another league

Former teamsEdit

Team City Stadium Seasons History
Aberdeen Arsenal Bel Air, Maryland Thomas Run Park 2000 Replaced by the Aberdeen IronBirds (Orioles Class-A affiliate).
Atlantic City Surf Atlantic City, New Jersey The Sandcastle 1998–2006 Moved to Can-Am League, folded prior to the 2009 season.
Bridgeport Bluefish Bridgeport, Connecticut The Ballpark at Harbor Yard 1998–2017 Folded when they lost the lease on their ballpark; replaced by the High Point Rockers.
Camden Riversharks Camden, New Jersey Campbell's Field 2001–2015 Replaced by the New Britain Bees
Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds Quakertown, Pennsylvania Memorial Park 1999–2001 Formerly the Newburgh Black Diamonds (1998). Became the first Pennsylvania Road Warriors.
Nashua Pride Nashua, New Hampshire Holman Stadium 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 1998–2010 Moved to Can-Am League, folded prior to the 2014 season.
Newburgh Black Diamonds Newburgh, New York Delano-Hitch Stadium 1998 Became the Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds (1999–2001), which became the first Pennsylvania Road Warriors (2002–2004).

Championship seriesEdit

The championship series is played as a best-of-five. Numbers in parenthesis denote the number of championships won by a team to that point, when more than one.

Year Winner Runner-up Result Championship Series MVP
1998Atlantic City SurfBridgeport Bluefish3–1Chris Eddy
1999Bridgeport BluefishSomerset Patriots3–0Duane Singleton
2000Nashua PrideSomerset Patriots3–0D.J. Boston
2001Somerset PatriotsNewark Bears3–2Robert Dodd
2002Newark BearsBridgeport Bluefish3–0Jimmy Hurst
2003Somerset Patriots (2)Nashua Pride3–2Jeff Nettles
2004Long Island DucksCamden Riversharks3–0Justin Davies
2005Somerset Patriots (3)Nashua Pride3–0Mark DiFelice
2006Lancaster BarnstormersBridgeport Bluefish3–0Jeremy Todd
2007Newark Bears (2)Somerset Patriots3–1José Herrera
2008Somerset Patriots (4)Camden Riversharks3–1Brandon Larson
2009Somerset Patriots (5)Southern Maryland Blue Crabs3–1Jeff Nettles
2010York RevolutionBridgeport Bluefish3–0Ramón Castro
2011York Revolution (2)Long Island Ducks3–1Vince Harrison
2012Long Island Ducks (2)Lancaster Barnstormers3–2Dan Lyons
2013Long Island Ducks (3)Somerset Patriots3–2John Brownell
2014Lancaster Barnstormers (2)Sugar Land Skeeters3–0Gabe Jacobo
2015Somerset Patriots (6)Southern Maryland Blue Crabs3–1Roy Merritt
2016Sugar Land SkeetersLong Island Ducks3–0Juan Martinez
2017York Revolution (3)Long Island Ducks3–0Telvin Nash / Chase Huchingson
2018Sugar Land Skeeters (2)Long Island Ducks3–2James Russell

All-Star gamesEdit

Year Location Stadium Winner Score
1998Atlantic City, New JerseyThe SandcastleAtlantic City6–4
1999Bridgeport, ConnecticutThe Ballpark at Harbor YardSouth8–3
2000Bridgewater, New JerseyCommerce Bank BallparkNorth2–0
2001Newark, New JerseyBears & Eagles Riverfront StadiumNorth10–0
2002Central Islip, New YorkCitibank ParkSouth4–1
2003Nashua, New HampshireHolman StadiumSouth2–1
2004Camden, New JerseyCampbell's FieldNorth10–8
2005Atlantic City, New JerseyThe SandcastleNorth9–6
2006Bridgeport, ConnecticutThe Ballpark at Harbor YardNorth4–1
2007Lancaster, PennsylvaniaClipper Magazine StadiumNorth8–6
2008Bridgewater, New JerseyCommerce Bank BallparkFreedom8–6
2009Newark, New JerseyBears & Eagles Riverfront StadiumLiberty7–5
2010Central Islip, New YorkSuffolk County Sports ParkLiberty7–1
2011York, PennsylvaniaPeoplesBank ParkFreedom7–0
2012Camden, New JerseyCampbell's FieldFreedom9–5
2013Waldorf, MarylandRegency Furniture StadiumFreedom2–1
2014Sugar Land, TexasConstellation FieldSugar Land5–3
2015Bridgeport, ConnecticutThe Ballpark at Harbor YardFreedom5–1
2016Lancaster, PennsylvaniaClipper Magazine StadiumFreedom3–1
2017Bridgewater, New JerseyTD Bank BallparkFreedom10–3
2018Central Islip, New YorkBethpage BallparkLiberty4–3
2019York, PennsylvaniaPeoplesBank ParkFreedom3–3dagger

dagger Freedom Division won the 2019 game in a "homer-off" after the teams were tied at the end of nine innings.[1]

League recordsEdit

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See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

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  • [http:// Official website]

Template:Atlantic League Template:Atlantic League stadiums

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