Time for the Empire League to Pay Up

Here we go again…

I’m sure that’s what most readers are thinking when they see this title.
And you know what? They’re right.

I was hoping there wouldn’t have to be a post like this again after what went down last summer with those start-up leagues, but here we are.

The Empire League has been going on for over a month. Games have been played (including the All-Star game), a few players have been promoted, and everything from an outsider’s perspective seems to be going well… except for one small little detail that no one has mentioned.

As it turns out – according to the multiple players who have reached out to Indy Ball Island – none of the players or staff have been paid.

Players were promised pay once a month (or twice a month depending on whenever the sponsors decided to send the checks). When players ask about where these checks are, they keep being told that the sponsors are getting the money and sending it to the league for the players’ pay. So far, no one has seen a dime.

That’s not all. There have been stories about players having to play games with the “official league balls” used for little league practice. Players have also been forced to sleep inside a rest stop when their team van broke down while other players have been driving themselves back and forth to games on the road. One team, the Watertown Bucks, even had a Go Fund Me set up – no money has been raised.

The players are trying to make the most of it and keep pushing along. They get to play ball and have some fun doing it, but they’re also starting to run into some financial issues that just can’t be ignored anymore. Most of these guys paid for spring training out of pocket and have been trying to live and play baseball with their own money for well over a month. They have been promised a salary, yet the excuses keep coming and the pay date keeps being pushed further and further back.

It’s time for the Empire League to step up and pay these guys who have been playing hard for over a month just trying to live the dream, but who are now just trying to live.

*Update* about two hours after this post went live, the Empire League had this to say on their Facebook page.


24 thoughts on “Time for the Empire League to Pay Up”

  1. hmmm … feeling somewhat vindicated when I spoke to my son about how the finances in this league just “don’t add up”.

    We went over how the “no-cost” spring training with a mandatory housing fee (huh? no-cost + mandatory fee = “cost”, right?) was a good cash infusion because only a percent of the overall fee actually went to the baseball academy hosting the spring training.

    But that cash infusion will, in my estimation, only support about a third of the season with transportation costs, meals, stadium rentals, and player/staff salaries.

    The other two-thirds of the season expenses must be projected from sponsors and gate receipts. And if the attendance figures (note: none are shown in Pointstreak) that I’ve heard about are reality, then this league will come to a crashing halt right … about … now.

    Although I hope for the best, I’m guessing that we’ll hear about sponsorship pull-outs as the reason why this league will fold in the next week or so.

    Too bad … decent enough individuals running the league. Just in over their heads, I think.


  2. So….the League’s ‘response’ was really no response at all. They give no answer as to why this is happening, no indication as to when it will be rectified. I don’t think they even know. This looks like a sham, to me.


  3. “Sham” may not be right. Unrealistic expectations perhaps, but they are probably just guys with no money trying to bootstrap a long shot business plan into reality.


    1. And it’s possible you’re right. I wouldn’t want to label them as such without actual proof. It’s just that, whatever their intentions were, they are affecting the lives of their players in so many significant ways. As such, they have to bear responsibility for the outcome. What they are doing now is, at best, unprofessional; at worst, it could be deliberately misleading and damaging to these young men and the employees of the league.


  4. As a former Indy player (7yrs) In a solid league- Western (WBL) I never missed a paycheck…
    You know why?


    “Pay as you go” Leagues that are popping up are a joke to professional baseball.

    Hey owners… If you can’t pay for every salary, meal money, hotel, travel, balls, uniforms for the ENTIRE SEASON BEFORE THE SEASON STARTS, then don’t “own” a team.


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Would you be willing to discuss your experiences in the WBL? I am constantly looking to put experiences such as yours in writing.


  5. Sure-

    It’s pretty simple- so league owners pay attention:

    You have to have money to be in a league
    You have to have money to own a team
    You have to have money to pay for players salaries, meal money, bats, uniforms, locker room
    You have to have money to pay for managers, coaches, and staff

    You have to have a nice stadium to attract players and FANS

    You have to have entertainment value-
    When I joined the WBL, the team was 18 games out of first and averaged 2000 a game.

    You have to pay your players a good salary or you won’t get players

    If your a low level league- the owner has to have money and promote your league, and get players signed


    The rest is just baseball


    1. Well, i was thinking your personal experiences in the game and your favorite moments. Things like that. I write for two minor-league sites, and personal experience is a particularly-favorite subject of mine.


  6. It’s been over a week since IndyBallIsland posted this article and Empire’s subsequent response on their Facebook page.

    Does anyone know if the players have gotten any sort of payment yet?


  7. I guess we shouldn’t make fun of the Pecos League. It’s there year in and year out. It’s not going anywhere Hanging in there with frontier, American and Can-Am and if you get on the right team it’s not that bad


      1. Spoke with an active player on 7/23. Hasn’t seen a dime yet and according to the website, regular season ended this past weekend. What are the chances he will ever receive his promised salary.


      2. Last year when it was the North Country Baseball League, there were reports of players being handed a $100 when the season was over and that was it. Honestly, I don’t see these guys getting paid at all. If they do, I highly doubt it’ll be what was in their contracts.


  8. Unless it was an established league, I wouldn’t point anyone to an independent league team or any of the other fly-by-night leagues that seem to pop up like weeds. Unless, of course, the team/league was willing to pay the players BY GAME until they could establish a positive track record. Probably a better chance of hitting the lottery than any team/league agreeing to this. That would mean the league would have had to have enough start-up cash.


    1. There was a reason I never sent any player there, nor did I do any articles on the league. The ownership wanted nothing to do with the media, so I didn’t give them any of my time except for this.
      I have sent players to the United Shore start up league. They are selling out the stadium practically every night, have had guys signed to affiliated ball and have had no issues so far. They were willing to work with me, and I felt safe sending players to such open owners. The Empire League on the other hand was sketchy from day 1.


  9. Attended our first Garden State League game yesterday at the Explorers. I have to tell you all, I left the game feeling depressed. I felt that way for the players. My son and his friend actually went looking through the weeds with player parents to find foul balls. Of course, the game balls were basically just teener league baseballs. We actually saw the ump flip off the players in the dugout…even though it was done in jest – we were like “what just happened?”. The pitching actually was pretty decent, but the state of things was sour. The Explorers ballpark was less than adequate for pro ball, tucked away in the back corner of a tiny community college. I could go on, but no need to. Just sad to see guys who want to play being treated like this.


    1. I want to say I’m surprised by the conditions you stated… but sadly, I’m not. This post really makes me feel for those guys up there. It’s crazy how they’re taking advantage of good kids who just want to play baseball. I’m tired of it… year after year with some of these start up leagues. Terrible.


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