An interesting development regarding the independent professional baseball industry, which has not yet had much publicity or official announcement, is the development of a new league called the Pacific Baseball Association. A recent article about a “Victory Girls” calendar for the Maui (Hawaii) team – which played in the North American League last season – mentioned that the Na Koa Ikaika Maui and the Hawaii (Hilo) Stars play in the Pacific Baseball Association (PBA). Up to now, no formal announcement of any such league has been made:
It mentions that it will include teams from Japan and California. The Japanese teams likely will be those which include squads from an equivalent independent league in Japan called the BC League. That league was referenced on a recent page regarding pro baseball tryouts (http://mauiprobaseball.com/tryout.pdf).
Bob Young, the Managing Member of the ownership group for the Hawaii teams, listed on his LinkedIn page that the team is part of the Pacific Baseball Association: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/robert-j-young/7/3b7/a88
A quick lookup of the owner for the newly registered website domain (PacificBaseballAssociation.com) indicates that the owner of the domain is Brian Clark. A few weeks ago, however, Clark sold his interest in the ownership group which owns the Pacifics and the Sonoma County Grapes to Mike Shapiro and Eugene Lupario:
To further confuse the issue, industry insiders think that the six Texas teams in the United League division of the 2012 North American League likely will split off and reform the United League Baseball entity. Should that become formally announced then it will be added to this website.
Before the 2012 season, the Yuma Panthers and Orange County Flyers were to form the division of the NAL which would have included Maui, San Rafael and possibly travel teams to lower the travel costs. Something happened where the ownership group which controlled Yuma and Orange County decided to “go dark” for 2012 and repackage for 2013. That ownership group became the league office for the upstart American West Baseball League, scheduled to begin play in 2013 and which is hosting tryouts for prospective players this weekend in Tucson, Arizona.
So the question becomes what will happen to the California teams which played in the NAL in 2012. Industry veterans think that this most likely scenario will occur this way:
- The 6 NAL Texas teams will reform and become the United League Baseball again, depending on the recent stadium situation in Edinburg
- The American West Baseball League will run with 4 teams, but stadium deals and other information needs to be confirmed publicly. Those teams will be the Yuma Desert Rats, Long Beach Splash, Fullerton Flyers (formerly Orange County Flyers) and the North County Cannons which will play near San Diego
- The San Rafael Pacifics would join the newly-formed Pacific Baseball Association and play against Maui, Hilo, and Japanese teams from the BC League. The status of last year’s travel team, the Sonoma County Grapes is still in question. Once all of this shakes out then you will be notified
If this speculation plays out to reality by the first pitch of 2013 then independent professional baseball’s landscape changes this way:
- American Association will have the same 13 teams and play “inter-league” games against the Can-Am League
- Atlantic League will have the same 8 teams
- American West Baseball League will have 4 teams
- Can-Am League will have 5 teams (losing Worcester for 2012 and gaining the new Trois-Rivieres Aigles) and play “inter-league” games against the American Association
- Frontier League will have 14 teams (with the loss of the London Rippers and the gain of the travel team Frontier Greys)
- Pacific Baseball Association would have 6 teams (San Rafael, another California team of some form, Hilo, Maui, and two “teams” of some compilation from the Japanese BC League or other independent professional Japanese baseball)
- Pecos League will have 10 teams (gain of the Raton Osos, Pecos Bills, Las Vegas NM Train Robbers and the Taos Blizzard)
- United League Baseball will have 6 teams (depending on what will happen with Edinburg and the pre-emptive season termination of the Abilene Prairie Dogs)
Should all of this play out as listed then there will be 8 independent professional baseball leagues in 2013 with this breakdown:
- 59 teams playing in the continental United States
- 12 in the American Association
- 8 in the Atlantic League
- 4 in the American West Baseball League
- 3 in the Can-Am League
- 14 in the Frontier League
- 2 in the Pacific Baseball Association
- 10 in the Pecos League
- 6 in the United League
- 2 teams playing in Hawaii (Maui and Hilo)
- 3 teams playing in Canada (Winnipeg Goldeyes, Quebec Capitales and Trois-Rivieres Aigles)
- 2+ teams coming from Japan
Again, the situations with the AWBL, ULB and PBA are still unknown and subject to change. This breakdown is an attempt to envision the likely 2013 landscape for independent baseball leagues. When any of these have confirmation or confirmed changes then you will be notified of the changes.
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