Independent baseball league

An independent baseball league is a professional baseball organization in the United States or Canada that is not overseen by Major League Baseball and is outside the Minor League Baseball clubs affiliated to it.

The Northern League and Frontier League both started play in 1993, and the Northern League's success paved the way for other independent leagues like the Texas-Louisiana League and Northeast League. The Atlantic League has had more marquee players than any other independent league, including Jose Canseco, Mat Latos, Steve Lombardozzi Jr., Francisco Rodríguez, Chien-Ming Wang, Roger Clemens, Rich Hill, Scott Kazmir, Juan González, John Rocker, and Dontrelle Willis. Two former Atlantic League players are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Tim Raines and Rickey Henderson. Gary Carter, another Hall of Famer, managed in the league. The Atlantic League has had many notable managers and coaches, including Wally Backman, Frank Viola, Tommy John, Sparky Lyle, and Bud Harrelson. The Northern League alumni include Leon "Bull" Durham, J. D. Drew, and Darryl Strawberry.

Independent leagues have flourished in northeastern states, where dense populations can often support multiple franchises. Because they are not subject to the territorial limitations imposed on affiliated minor-league teams, independent clubs can relocate as close to affiliated teams (and one another) as they choose to. For example, the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, cannot have an affiliated team because of its proximity to the Harrisburg Senators and Reading Fightin Phils, leaving the Atlantic League to place a team—the Lancaster Barnstormers—to fill the void. Another example is the greater New York City metropolitan area, where there are many independent teams: the Long Island Ducks, Staten Island FerryHawks, New Jersey Jackals, New York Boulders, and Sussex County Miners.

Current leagues

Affiliation League First season Teams Geographical area
MLB Partner
Atlantic League of Professional Baseball 1998 10 Mid-Atlantic, Southeast
American Association of Professional Baseball 2006 12 Midwest, Manitoba, Texas
Frontier League 1993 16 Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Ontario, Quebec
Pioneer League 1939 10 Northern Mountain States
Independent United Shore Professional Baseball League 2016 4 Michigan
Empire Professional Baseball League 2016 4 Upstate New York
Pecos League 2011 16 California, Kansas, Southwest, Southern Mountain States
Victoria Independent Baseball League 2022 4 Texas

Map of independent league teams

Blue Crabs
Honey Hunters
Train Robbers
Snow Sox
Scuba Divers
Victoria Thunder
Spring Armadillos
Austin Bullies
Independent Baseball teams
  American Association
  Atlantic League
  Frontier League
  Pioneer League
  Pecos League
  Empire League
  United Shore League (4 teams play in one stadium)
  Victoria Independent Baseball League

Defunct leagues

League First season Last season Geographical area
All-American Association 2001 2001 Southern United States
Arizona–Mexico League 2003 2003 Arizona, Mexico
Atlantic Coast League 1995 1995 Southeastern United States
Big South League 1996 1997 Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee
Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball 2005 2019 Northeast, Quebec, Ontario
Canadian Baseball League 2003 2003 Canada
Carolina League 1936 1938 North Carolina's Piedmont region
Central Baseball League 1994 2005 Southern United States
Continental Baseball League 2007 2010 Southwestern United States
Empire State League 1987 1987 New York
Freedom Pro Baseball League 2012 2013 Arizona
Golden Baseball League 2005 2010 Hawaii, Western United States, Western Canada, Mexico
Golden State League 1995 1995 California
Great Central League 1994 1994 Upper Midwest
Heartland League 1996 1998 Midwestern United States, Northeastern United States, Southeastern United States
Inter-American League 1978 1979 United States, Dominican Republic, Panama, Puerto Rico, Venezuela
Mid-America League 1995 1995 Midwestern United States
Mount Rainier Professional Baseball League 2015 2015 Washington, Oregon, Montana
North Atlantic League 1995 1996 Northeastern United States, Canada
North American League 2011 2012 Western United States, Texas, Illinois, Canada
North Central League 1994 1995 Upper Midwest, Canada
North Country Baseball League 2015 2015 New York, Maine
Northeast League 1995 2004 Northeastern United States, Canada
Northern League 1993 2010 Upper Midwest, Kansas, Canada
Pacific Association 2013 2019 California
Prairie League 1995 1997 Upper Midwest, Canada
South Coast League 2007 2007 Southeastern United States
Southeastern League 2002 2003 Southeastern United States
Southwest Baseball League 1995 1997 Southwestern United States
Thoroughbred Baseball League 2017 2017 Kentucky
United League Baseball 2006 2014 Texas
Western Baseball League 1995 2002 Pacific States

See also


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