Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Atlantic League (1998-Today)

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Atlantic League of Professional BaseballThe Atlantic League of Professional Baseball is an independent baseball league that played in first season in 1998. As independents, Atlantic League teams have no parent club affiliations with Major League organizations and are responsible for 100% of their own operating costs. Unlike many of the other leagues that popped up during the independent baseball boom of the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the Atlantic League boasted deeply experienced minor league owners. League executives also successfully lobbied for the construction of high quality publicly-financed stadia in many cities.

Six franchises began play in 1998 representing the states of Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York. By 2001, the Atlantic League successfully secured new ballparks in Atlantic City, Bridgeport, Camden, Long Island, Newark and Somerset County, New Jersey. During these same early years, stalled stadium projects doomed teams in Aberdeen, Maryland and the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.

In 2010 the Atlantic League announced an expansion team in Sugar Land, Texas, a suburb of Houston. The Sugar Land Skeeters began play in 2012. As of 2018, the Skeeters remain a geographic anomaly in the league. The other active clubs are in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

The Atlantic League has long been considered to offer the highest caliber of baseball of any independent league. A number Major League superstars have spent time in the Atlantic League, typically at the tail-end of their careers. The big names include:

  • Ruben Sierra (Atlantic City Surf 1999)
  • Tim Raines (Somerset Patriots 2000)
  • Jose Canseco (Newark Bears 2001)
  • Rickey Henderson (Newark Bears 2003)
  • Juan Gonzalez (Long Island Ducks 2006)
  • Scott Kazmir (Sugarland Skeeters 2012)
  • Dontrelle Willis (Long Island Ducks 2013)

Sierra, Raines, Canseco, Henderson and Kazmir all returned to the Major Leagues following their Atlantic League stints. Kazmir earned a 3-year, $48 million dollar deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016, four years following his stint with the Sugarland Skeeters. It is the richest pro contract to date for an Atlantic League alumnus.

Roger Clemens pitched a single game for the Sugar Land Skeeters in August 2012. Clemens was 50 years old at the time.

After the 2017 season the Bridgeport Bluefish franchise folded. The demise of the Bluefish left the Somerset Patriots as the only founding Atlantic League club still in business.

 

Atlantic League Franchise List

Franchise Years Active Atlantic League Champions
Aberdeen Arsenal 2000 None
Atlantic City Surf 1998-2006 1998
Bridgeport Bluefish 1998-2017 1999
Camden Riversharks 2001-2015 None
Lancaster Barnstormers 2005-Present 2006-2014
Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds 1999-2001 None
Long Island Ducks 2000-Present 2004-2012-2013
Nashua Pride 1998-2005 2000
New Britain Bees 2016-Present None
Newark Bears 1998-2010 2002-2007
Newburgh Black Diamons 1998 None
Pennsylvania Road Warriors 2002-2004 None
Road Warriors 2006-2007 & 2011 & 2018 None
Somerset Patriots 1998-Present 2001-2003-2005-2008-2009-2015
Southern Maryland Blue Crabs 2008-Present None
Sugar Land Skeeters 2012-Present 2016
York Revolution 2007-Present 2010-2011-2017

 

Written by AC

March 27th, 2012 at 9:35 pm

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