Tag Archives: Watertown Bucks

Empire League Crowns a Champion, Pays Players

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.

empire league championship
Empire League Championship Game

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.

gevon jackson
MVP Gevon Jackson

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.


Time for the Empire League to Pay Up

Here we go again…

I’m sure that’s what most readers are thinking when they see this title.
And you know what? They’re right.

I was hoping there wouldn’t have to be a post like this again after what went down last summer with those start-up leagues, but here we are.

The Empire League has been going on for over a month. Games have been played (including the All-Star game), a few players have been promoted, and everything from an outsider’s perspective seems to be going well… except for one small little detail that no one has mentioned.

As it turns out – according to the multiple players who have reached out to Indy Ball Island – none of the players or staff have been paid.

Players were promised pay once a month (or twice a month depending on whenever the sponsors decided to send the checks). When players ask about where these checks are, they keep being told that the sponsors are getting the money and sending it to the league for the players’ pay. So far, no one has seen a dime.

That’s not all. There have been stories about players having to play games with the “official league balls” used for little league practice. Players have also been forced to sleep inside a rest stop when their team van broke down while other players have been driving themselves back and forth to games on the road. One team, the Watertown Bucks, even had a Go Fund Me set up – no money has been raised.

The players are trying to make the most of it and keep pushing along. They get to play ball and have some fun doing it, but they’re also starting to run into some financial issues that just can’t be ignored anymore. Most of these guys paid for spring training out of pocket and have been trying to live and play baseball with their own money for well over a month. They have been promised a salary, yet the excuses keep coming and the pay date keeps being pushed further and further back.

It’s time for the Empire League to step up and pay these guys who have been playing hard for over a month just trying to live the dream, but who are now just trying to live.

*Update* about two hours after this post went live, the Empire League had this to say on their Facebook page.