Tag Archives: independent league

Yinz Play Baseball At WHAT Time?!

This summer, baseball was played from morning until night at Wild Things Park in Washington, PA.

Just like every summer for the past 20 years, the Washington Wild Things played baseball in the evenings from May through September.

But for the second summer in a row, the stadium was also host to the Yinzer Baseball Confederacy and their own double headers every morning.

Born out of the summer of COVID baseball and the need for players to stay active and ready to play ball, the Black Sox pro baseball organization created the Yinzer Baseball Confederacy to give guys a place to play the game that they love.

This year, the Yinzer became a place that the MLB Partner leagues could rely on to find game-ready players at a moment’s notice.

In fact, more than 80 players went through the Black Sox/Yinzer to play in one of the four MLB Partner Leagues this summer. (More on some of those players will be featured in upcoming posts throughout the off season… Stay tuned!!)

I have always been a big supporter of the Black Sox. I’ve known the owner, Joe Torre, since I started this website over 6 years ago.

I’ve been in the dugout when it was hard to find players and the teams struggled to put up runs against established indy teams. I’ve also been there when guys were doing anything to get in that same dugout and have a chance to put up competitive numbers and win against those same indy teams.

They’ve adopted the wrestling “NWO” mentality… the outsiders who come in, take over and change the game.

This website was created for the guys like the Black Sox… For players who are seen as the underdogs… For the true grinders of the sport… For the guys who just want a chance to prove themselves…

It’s for the guys who get up and drive to the ballpark for early work before 7am… and play a double header starting at 9am… That’s right… the majority of the games this season started at NINE IN THE MORNING.

It’s for the players who put in the work on the field and then help out in the stands – charting, chasing foul balls, working the scoreboard, announcing on the PA system, and live streaming on social media…

It’s for those same players who – after early work/BP and two games of their own – stay around to work in the concession stands during Frontier League games just to make enough money to live and play baseball.

These guys played hard every single day with the hope that they would be the next guy up… the next one to get a chance to prove themselves.

Some guys were used for spot starts and to fill depleted positions. Those guys would drop everything at a moment’s notice just to meet up with a team in need… sometimes with no idea how they will even get home if they were released after they did their job.

Some were able to be a part of a “travel” squad who played games north of the boarder when other teams couldn’t field their own full roster.

And then some even proved themselves and stayed around for a lot longer than anyone (outside of this Black Sox organization) ever thought possible.

In fact, a few of them are currently playing in the Frontier League and American Association playoffs or finishing up the regular season in the Atlantic League.

This guys are at the very heart of indy ball and what it’s all about. THEY are the reason I love this sport the way that I do.

On a personal level, this has been one of the most enjoyable seasons of my life.

Getting up and driving an hour to the stadium to be there by 9am, sitting in the blazing sun for two straight games while watching the Killer B’s (the eventual Yinzer League champions), Road Warriors, Brilliance Sox and Wolfpac, and then staying in town to watch the Wild Things play in the evenings… I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

And those Wild Things evenings meant even more this season when my favorite Black Sox guys were working around the ballpark or just sitting in the stands because they just couldn’t get enough baseball.

To those players who I got to talk baseball with and just enjoy the game in the company of someone who truly loves the game the way that I do… Thank you. Those were some of my favorite moments of the entire season.

I was also fortunate enough to travel and see former Yinzer players thrive in the Frontier and Atlantic Leagues. There is something special about seeing a player who put his heart and soul into the Black Sox showcase their talent and commitment in a top league. It’s on the same level as seeing a brother and family member succeed.

And that’s because it is exactly that… it’s a family. Those guys who play against each other every day, who are competing against each other for attention and a chance to “make it” are still brothers. When one succeeds, they all celebrate.

Any time a former Yinzer would be at the plate or on the mound in Wild Things Park – no matter what team they happened to be on – you could always find a crowd of current Yinzers behind home plate cheering on their brothers because…

When you’re NWO… you’re NWO for life.

And if you didn’t know… Now you do.

Stay tuned this off season for more features and articles highlighting players from the Yinzer Baseball Confederacy.

My Reflections As An Indy Ball Lifer (So Far)

Many years ago…

Before this site became the “dirt sheets” exposing poorly ran leagues…

Before this site became a trusted source for news and tryout information…

This site was a blog written by a fan who wanted to share her experiences with the world.

Tonight, as I arrived home 14 hours after I first left it this morning, I found myself reflecting on the THREE baseball games I attended today and the impact that both baseball and this blog have had on my life.

First off, I’ve been a fan of independent baseball since I was a teenager. The WildThings (the closest professional baseball team to my hometown) were formed when I was just 12 years old. I’ve grown up at the ballpark, and in turn, I’ve watched a lot of players grow up around me.

Tonight, the WildThings welcomed back members of the All-Decade team from the 2010’s. These guys were integral parts of teams that I saw every single home game for… and plenty of road trips as well. They were a part of a history making perfect game, league records, a wild card playoff win on the road that I will NEVER forget, and so many more summer night memories.

We’ve all grown up since those nights. I got to meet their babies while we talked about those games and what we’re all doing now.

Then one player asked me if I still write my blog. He mentioned that the team loved reading everything I would write when I was just figuring out what this site was all about. He also told me that he still has the drawing I did for him hanging up in his office. Comments like those mean the world to me.

But tonight’s game was just the finishing touch on a really great day.

The day started out at 10 AM. Same WildThings stadium; however, it was a totally different team and atmosphere. If you are unfamiliar with my posts about the Black Sox, I encourage you to check them out HERE and HERE. It was Day 2 of the Yinzer League with the Killer Bee’s taking on the Brilliance Baseball Sox.

In a nutshell, the Yinzer League is made up of four teams of players who are all free agents looking to play games, get reps and hopefully move up and sign with a higher independent league.

Those guys are the true grinders of indy ball. They play games in the mornings and hold jobs running the concession stands, door dashing or giving baseball lessons in the evenings.

I’ve been around the Black Sox organization for many years now. I’ve watched guys come and go. I’ve seen players move on to bigger and better things and flourish. And I’ve also seen guys hang them up and put their playing days behind them.

I’m drawn to players who work hard. I love to see guys who are driven and push themselves to be better. To make it with the Black Sox, you have to have those qualities. It’s why I gravitate towards them. Over the past few days of hanging out with them, I’ve heard from countless guys that Indy Ball Island helped them at some point in their career.

It’s humbling to know that I can be even a small part of someone’s success in baseball. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of players I’ve met through just the Black Sox alone, but I can tell you that these guys have all changed my life.

They make me want to continue this site… to help them find teams… to encourage them and watch their games even if they’re at 10 AM in 80 degree heat for almost 4 hours. Their drive and determination keep me going, not just to run this site, but in life as well.

After the Killer Bee’s got the W, I met up with a friend and went into Pittsburgh to watch the Pirates battle the Marlins from the club level.

We had great seats and an amazing view of the field and the city but something was missing. Now back in college, the Pirates (who were terrible – this was even before the wild card win) were a huge part of my life. I had season tickets by the bullpen, would go to all the charity functions, knew every player and followed the minors religiously. I met players who are still great friends. A few guys I even considered to be my brothers as they grew up through the minor league system. I was at PNC Park for so many major league debuts. It really was a time in my life that I cherish dearly.

But I really just didn’t feel “at home” anymore. After stopping by to see my favorite bullpen coach, Herbie Andrade, in the Pirates bullpen, we left the game in the 8th inning (the game ended with a walkoff in the 12th). My friend didn’t mind since the Marlins were winning when we left (he’s originally from Florida), and I didn’t mind because we were heading back to Washington.

Which leads me right back to where this post started, Washington vs. Quebec for All-Decade team night. Speaking of the Pirates and Quebec, Gift Ngoepe – a former Pirates player that I have known for ten years since he was in the minors – is now playing on the team representing Quebec. Talk about a night that really went full circle for me!

See, it’s not about the level of play. Baseball is baseball. Sure there are small differences depending on what level you’re watching, but the game is really the same.

It’s just a game.

What makes baseball so special is the people involved. It doesn’t matter what time, what weather, what stadium or even what league or team I’m watching… what matters is the people on and off the field that I surround myself with.

They’re what keeps me going.