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.