After a season of up and downs, highlighted by the fact that players had not been paid well over a month into the season, the Empire League has crowned a champion.
On August 3rd, the Sullivan Explorers defeated the Watertown Bucks to win the Empire League championship. Gevon Jackson of the Explorers was named the 2016 Empire League Championship Series MVP.
From all reports, the players who finished in the league have finally been paid. Some players were reporting that their pay may have been a little short of what was originally promised, but all players I spoke with are thankful that they were paid for their time in the league.
It wasn’t the easiest summer for these players, but they made the best of it playing the game that they love with guys who became their brothers.
Even with all of the issues, it appears as though the Empire League plans on continuing. They posted this on their Facebook page before the final playoff game:
What an amazing YEAR, AND fantastic SEASON it has been.. Full of fun, baseball, and most importantly great opportunities. Even with all the Trials, and tribulations that come with this industry of rookie level professional baseball, we are grateful for the front office members and ownership group that made this season possible. After solving the minor issues with sponsors that caused delays in pay periods, everything was a SUCCESS ! Players got paid in full, and now new additions to ownership groups have announced the expansion of 2 to 4 more teams for 2017. We are already looking forward for what the Empire League future has in store. Thank you Fans! Followers, and even the haters out there.. You keep us motivated!
I’m not sure I would call the lack of pay during the season a “minor issue” since it caused so many other problems with players having to leave or pay out of pocket for travel and even baseballs, but I am very happy that the season was completed and players were paid.
If the Empire League does indeed hope to continue (and expand !), they need to make sure that the money is in place before they start, and that they have a game plan for everything that may happen including: travel issues, pay, equipment needs, and having ball parks in place and ready for games.
2 thoughts on “Empire League Crowns a Champion, Pays Players”
Our son played for the Empire League and he never received his pay. He has been treated unfairly. Played for the Bucks, put on inactive list the end of June, then released around July 7th or so. Even though he was shown inactive, he pitched Monday after the July holiday, was then scoring the game mid-week (got rid of the help and started to use players), and released that Thursday. His transaction was never posted as released for anyone else to look at him but the other 2 who were released at the same time had their transactions posted. Our son stood up for himself and his teammates in this league for not being paid, etc, and he got burnt. It also was posted on their website for the May camp 2015 that there was no cost for tryouts (but was for housing, etc). But they told us we had to pay $350 – so we did – even though he drove back and forth each day and did not eat there. Found out others did not pay for tryouts but got paid in the end. To date he has not received his monies owed for June and some of July (his contract was for $350 and was to be paid on the 15th and 30th of the month). The GM (Snyder) lied to our faces when we were there about having paychecks in his office (this was mid June – he never had them – but allowed us to pick up his bar tab that night). He now has pushed aside any of the payment issue to Gonzales (the head of the league), stating that he (the GM) didn’t get paid either when our son talked to him a few weeks ago (probably another lie). This league and the coach our son had experience with was a joke – never have seen a supposed coach at a more professional level who didn’t know how to be a true coach. There was a lot more that went on regarding how things were handled for these guys overall as far as housing and transportation that was promised and didn’t happen too. Our son knew going in this was going to be tough and accepted the housing issues, transportation issues, etc, but the lies are unacceptable and not upholding their contract with him is unacceptable. This all being said, I know another player who played for the first month and got released did not get paid either. They also held tryouts mid season just to make money off people trying out to help pay the players (originally was only to be players from the May camp). Be careful and be sure what you are getting involved with before going to camps, tryouts, and signing with an independent league – we should have done our research as this league fell apart before and I can see why. This is not a boo-hoo story – this is a fact and would expect that these leagues understand how hard it is for these guys trying so hard out there to survive in baseball – just be honest and fair – it is a tough world out there in these leagues but these guys have to eat and pay bills so money is not something they just want to be throwing away or not receive when they are promised it or signed contracts. Not all individuals are supported by someone (like parents or sponsors), they do it themselves.