East Coast Baseball League – Q & A With Owner Colin Cummins

5/20/2015 *UPDATE* The ECBL will not be going on as planned. Read all about it HERE – The East Coast Baseball League Ends Before Ever Playing a Game. 

The independent baseball world will have two new leagues looking to start up for the 2015 season.  One, the MRPBL, has previously been covered on this blog.  The other, the East Coast Baseball League, is being featured in this post.

The East Coast Baseball League (ECBL) will play in both the United States and Canada.  Currently there are four teams established, but the league is looking to add two more before the season begins in May.

I recently had the pleasure of asking the owner and league director, Colin Cummins, some questions about the league and his expectations.

What made you want to start your own independent league?

We actually looked to start out, as a single team, in the CanAm League. The CanAm thought that our area was too small, and we were turned down. So the thought of building a league was the next venture. I actually thought we were CRAZY and now look where we are.

What cities are your franchises in? And why did you choose those locations?

Niagara Wild (Welland, ON), Waterloo Whiskey Jacks (Waterloo, ON), Newburgh Newts (Newburgh, NY) and Watertown (Watertown, NY).
We are looking to add 2 more teams by the end of next week. All of our current cities, with the exception of Waterloo, have had professional baseball before.
These cities deserve to have professional baseball in their communities. Waterloo is new to everything, but they are a baseball/sports community. I believe we can make this work.

What are your expectations for fan attendance and community involvement?

My expectations aren’t too lofty. I truly believe for our first year that if we average around 300 fans a game, we will break even. We need something to build on each year. The on field product and in game entertainment will be another decision maker for individuals, groups, families and corporate fans. It’s a building and awareness year for us.

Starting a league, finding stadiums/cities and sponsors, as well as paying players and employees seems like it could come with a hefty price tag during the beginning. We’ve seen a lot of independent leagues go dark due to finances, plus keeping professional baseball in Canada seems to be a struggle as well. Do you have any worries about that or about how you are going to finance the league?

If I said No, I would be lying. You try to come up with a strategy and run with it. I have my concerns. We are not the main users at some fields, waiting for schedules, not having control over certain aspects and lastly, not having the right finances for it all. ‎ With this being a building year, I hope to have the right people in the right places. I have some silent investors above me. We talk all the time. We don’t want to lose any money, but we understand that it takes money to make money.

Do you foresee any problems running a new independent league that operates in two countries?

I don’t know right now! We hope that everyone has a clean background. We hope that everyone is able to get a passport and can travel to and from. It’s hard to foresee things. We just have to be better than good. Even our umpires will be under that scrutiny.

How exactly does the pay system work for players? Are they given host families, transportation, and meals?

Our pay scale is $500 for rookies to $850 for a veteran. We are looking for host families. We are talking to charter bus lines or looking to purchase a bus and each player and coach will receive a $25 stipend per away game.

Do you expect the players to get a fair look from scouts with a chance to move up to affiliated ball?

I think we will assemble a product that MLB and other indy leagues will like. I expect our coaching staffs to try and move players who deserve the opportunity and showcase the up and comers.

Have you taken any ideas/structures/rules from any other independent league when creating the ECBL?

Yes I have! These guys have helped build successful brands and leagues. I would be stupid not to take a little from here and there.

A lot of people on independent league message boards have concerns with a league owning every franchise. Do you see this as a problem now or even further down the road?

I don’t want to own every team. I would like to have an owner for every team. But if that is not possible right away, then the league will help out until we can find a potential owner. We are looking for owners, and we have had talks with a variety of potentials. It comes down to the right fit. You don’t just give ownerships away because there is money. The right fit needs to be involved.

The track record for new independent leagues isn’t very good. What are you doing to ensure that your league sticks around for the long run?

Hopefully, not follow the same path. Find successful ownerships, (the right fits), let the communities know we are there for them, market the brand properly, advertise properly and know your demographics. ‎LISTEN and LEARN.

I know that you have been working with the Myrtle Beach Winter League. Can you tell me how that is going? Are you planning on signing players from that league for the ECBL?

I put on the Myrtle Beach Winter League. We offered 16 contracts to players and offered 10 spring training invites. It was a learning experience for me. I made mistakes and will look back and say: I did it and I learned.

Is there anything else that you would like the readers to know about you and the ECBL?

Come and catch a game or two. We hope to surprise you!! Good eats, good treats, affordable and fun.

 I would like to thank Colin Cummins for his time and his honest answers. As with any start up league, it may be an uphill battle, but I truly hope to see the league succeed. It is nice to see Independent baseball alive and growing.
You can check out the ECBL website HERE.

Mr. Motivation – CJ Beatty is a Mentor On and Off the Field

“Never be afraid of failure…because without failure SUCCESS becomes nearly impossible.” – CJ Beatty 

My last blog post on player Tim Henry and his baseball story, Holding On To A Dream In The Pecos League, featured a “Motivational Nuggets” video produced by CJ Beatty.

CJ, a member of the Chicago White Sox organization, is many things. He is a man of God, a talented baseball player, a business owner, as well as a motivational speaker and life coach with a story to tell.

I first met CJ in 2013 while he was with the Washington Wild Things, and we have since formed a friendship that is irreplaceable. Personally, he has been the motivation I needed to get into shape and take control of my life. I lost 50 pounds, ran my first 5k, and gained a new outlook on life thanks to him. He has been my motivator, confidant, supporter, and my friend.
Me and CJ in May 2013 and again in August 2014 (the day that his contract was purchased by the White Sox.)
“Champions are not born at the end of battle…Champions are born in the midst of battle.” – CJ Beatty

CJ is a lot of things to a lot of people and has helped so many with their dreams.

He’s the perfect example of how a baseball player should be both on and off the field. Often times, he is the first one at the field for extra practice, and the last one to leave after games, always taking the time to meet and talk to his fans.

He is an exceptional motivational speaker and can reach everyone through his words and videos. He has been through adversity, been tested in his faith, experienced the ups and downs of baseball and life, and has lived through failure and success.

CJ is more than open to tell his story and share it with anyone who is willing to listen.

On the baseball side, CJ was drafted out of North Carolina A&T State University by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 26th round of the 2009 MLB draft. He played two seasons with the Cardinals, reaching High A Palm Beach, until his release before the 2011 season.

Not wanting to give up his dream of playing professional baseball, CJ turned to indy ball. He spent the 2011 season in the North American League with Edinburg and San Angelo. In 2012, he started the season with the Lincoln Saltdogs in the American Association but ultimately ended up back in the North American League with the Fort Worth Cats.

After the 2012 season in America, CJ headed to Australia to play for the Brisbane Bandits over the winter. His performance in Brisbane led him to sign a contract with the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League for the 2013 season. He spent the entire 2013 season and the 2014 season with the Wild Things until he was signed to a contract by the Chicago White Sox in August 2014.

After being named an All-Star twice and tearing up the Frontier League, CJ earned a second chance at affiliated ball.  He finished out the 2014 season with his home town team, the High A Winston-Salem Dash, and then once again headed down-under to play with the Brisbane Bandits.

He plays the game with true heart and is always the biggest supporter for his teammates. I have witnessed first hand how he can help a team come together and become a band of brothers.

“Support others around you to MAINTAIN your balance in life.” – CJ Beatty

Baseball is what he does, but it also doesn’t define who he is. That is what led him to start his own business, Motivational Nuggets. CJ uses his experiences in baseball to tell a much bigger story as a motivational speaker and life coach.

CJ’s energetic and passionate speeches are designed to motivate and inspire a wide range of audiences. Everyone can benefit from his “Motivational Nuggets” – athletes, students, and anyone else just looking to improve their life.

CJ has been a true inspiration to me and to many others I know.  I am eternally grateful for everything that he has done in my life.

Check out the Motivational Nuggets YouTube Channel and see his inspirational videos for yourself!  

You can also follow CJ on: Facebook, Twitter, and on his website.

“I am God’s instrument…and I’m not afraid to be played.” – CJ Beatty

Writing and sharing stories about Independent Baseball.