Tag Archives: Eddie Gonzalez

Are We in for Another Summer of New Indy Leagues?

Last off season, we highlighted many independent leagues that were looking to start in 2015.  First up were the Mount Rainier Professional Baseball League (MRPBL) and the East Coast Baseball League (ECBL). Then came word of one (and then two) leagues in the Ozark, Missouri area – The Heartland of America Baseball League and The Ozarks Pro Baseball League.

Sadly, none of them were able to have an entire season in their original form. During the summer, we recapped what happened to each;  The MRPBL played for a couple of weeks but ultimately folded. The ECBL never played a game, but it was resurrected by one of the team’s owners as the North Country Baseball League. They played a full season and had some players promoted although there were still many issues to overcome due to how quickly it had to be put together.  And Ozark, Missouri didn’t see any professional baseball games this summer as neither league could work through problems to field teams.

To say the least, this summer was not a good one for independent baseball from a new league standpoint.

But as the temperatures are starting to drop, the off season and rumors of new independent leagues are just heating up.

So far, we have heard of four leagues working on debuting in 2016 – The United Shore Professional Baseball League (USPBL), The Empire League, The Desert League, and the U.S. Baseball League.

Last month, we had a Q & A with the USPBL’s Executive Director of Baseball Operations which you can find HERE. The league is looking to field three teams that will all play in the same stadium (that is currently being built) in Utica, Michigan.

The Empire League is a continuation of the North Country Baseball League. Eddie Gonzalez, who was an essential part of the NCBL, will operate as the Empires League’s Director of Baseball and Business Operations. The league will be returning to Old Orchard Beach, Maine and Watertown, New York as well as bringing new teams to Albany and Rome, New York. We are working on getting an interview with Eddie soon!

The Desert League and the U.S. Baseball League have been quieter about their 2016 plans.

The Desert League will be looking to field teams in Arizona and California for a season that runs from August through October. Their website states that:

The Desert League of Professional Baseball is a fall Independent League that will begin its inaugural season in August. The season will run from August until October with each team playing about 60 games.  All of our players will be paid.  No player will pay to play in our league.  This is true professional baseball.

We are catering to the first year pro player.  Our goal is to help players get their foot in the door of professional baseball, there for we have adopted roster rules that require each team to carry 12 rookies. If you are looking for a place to start your professional career look no further.

I have been in talks with members of the Desert League staff and will release more information as well as a Q & A when the league has officially set their plans.

And finally, the U.S. Baseball League is looking to bring baseball to Ozark, Missouri the right way. In August, we reported that Price Cutter Park in Ozark had been purchased. It appears as though that will be the future home of the U.S. Baseball League. They are working hard to get the field ready for baseball in the near future. We will also have more information when it is released as well as a Q & A with the league before the season begins.

Please remember to subscribe to Indy Ball Island to keep up with all the off season news!

The NCBL’s Road City Explorers GM Issues Press Release

As reported yesterday, the North Country Baseball League (NCBL) has folded after just one season.

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.

Robert Babiak
– Former GM of the Road City Explorers