Below is the official press release from Robert Babiak, the former GM of the Road City Explorers of the NCBL:
I firstly would like to thank Bruce Zicari for the opportunity he gave me this summer. Without him my roster, coaches and I would have gone without a job this season. The North Country Baseball League was formed over the span of a few days to save the season for the players. Thanks to the efforts of Bruce Zicari and Eddie Gonzalez a league was able to be established and I was given the opportunity to be the General Manager of the Road City Explorers.
Without this effort there wouldn’t have been a place for 88 athletes and coaches to play professional baseball. The leagues goal was to help and promote players, which it did very well. Those with discontent with how the league ran are forgetting the fact that they wouldn’t have had a job. While, there were struggles through the season, there was a season. Mr. Zicari went out of pocket to fund 3 other teams, something that he did not have to do, but did because he wanted to help those wronged by the East Coast Baseball League folding.
Independent baseball is a very difficult business to operate. The margins are very tight and the business has to be run very effectively in order to be sustainable. It takes years of planning to have a successful team, let alone an entire league. The NCBL had significant financial losses due to how fast the league had to be put together and how poorly the ECBL had operated in the new markets. The front office of the league worked endlessly to try and generate revenue for the league.
One of the biggest issues we had was ending up with two travel clubs. I had said from the beginning that placing a team in Newburgh was a terrible idea, based on crime in the city alone. When the coaches arrived in Newburgh there was not a mound and nothing had been done front office wise. Coach Guinn and the team had to do the majority of the field preparation. The league had planned to leave the market well ahead of the league being informed that the ECBL’s check for the facility had bounced.
With only two home teams, the possibility of the league breaking even was slim. The front office looked into every possible market to place a team. The issue is if a stadium is available the market is probably poor or hosts summer collegiate baseball. Every possible market for expansion was investigated. Trust me, if there were two viable markets for the NCBL to place teams they would have. Just because a market is open doesn’t mean a team will be successful. All possible markets did not meet the Triple Bottom Line. The league chose not to operate because it consulted with sport professionals and a second season was not feasible. Folding the league was the responsible thing to do. There are no good markets left in the northeast that don’t already have teams and placing teams in bad markets would be a disservice.
When the league was formed everyone involved was told that pay wouldn’t be the same and if someone was not happy with it they could leave at any time. It shouldn’t have been a shock to anyone the way the league ran. Now, I am in no way saying I am pleased with how the league ran but let’s be rational. Those players or coaches that were successful in the NCBL are not complaining. I am sure that the 22 players that got a chance in a higher league aren’t overly upset about how things went. Not to be repetitive but there could have been no baseball. At the end of the day this all happened because Colin Cummins never had the money to operate a league.
I wish all those who participated in the NCBL the best of luck in their future baseball endeavors.
– Former GM of the Road City Explorers