Independent baseball leagues are professional baseball organizations located in the United States and Canada that are not operated in conjunction with either a Major League Baseball team or an affiliated minor league team. Being independent allows teams to be located close to major-league teams without their consent. They have been around for many years and were once known as "outlaw leagues" due to their position outside the rules of affiliated minor league baseball.
Northern League and Frontier League both started play in 1993, and the Northern League's success paved the way for other independent leagues like the Texas-Louisiana League and Northeast League. The Atlantic League has had more marquee players than any other independent league, including José Canseco, Rickey Henderson, Ozzie Canseco, Rubén Sierra, Carlos Baerga, and John Rocker. The Northern League alumni include Leon "Bull" Durham, J. D. Drew, and Darryl Strawberry.
Independent leagues have flourished in northeastern states, where dense populations can often support multiple
franchises. Because they are not subject to the territorial limitations imposed on affiliated minor-league teams, independent clubs can relocate as close to affiliated teams (and one another) as they choose to. For example, the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania cannot have an affiliated team because of its proximity to the Harrisburg Senators and Reading Fightin Phils, leaving the Atlantic League to place a team—the Lancaster Barnstormers—to fill the void. Another example is the greater New York City metropolitan area, where there are many independent teams: the Bridgeport Bluefish, Long Island Ducks, New Jersey Jackals, Newark Bears, Somerset Patriots and the Rockland Boulders and six affiliated teams: the Brooklyn Cyclones, Hudson Valley Renegades and Staten Island Yankees in New York, the Lakewood BlueClaws and Trenton Thunder in New Jersey and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in Pennsylvania. Not only is the Kansas City area home to the Major League Kansas City Royals, but also the independent Kansas City T-Bones. The St. Paul Saints share a market with the American League's Minnesota Twins; both teams have frequently worked together to promote baseball in the Upper Midwest. Current leagues [edit ] Traditional season [edit ] Winter [edit ] Defunct independent baseball leagues [edit ]
League First Season Last Season Geographical Area All-American Association 2001 2001 Southern United States Arizona-Mexico League 2003 2003 Arizona, Mexico Atlantic Coast League 1995 1995 Southeastern United States Big South League 1996 1997 Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee Canadian Baseball League 2003 2003 Canada Central Baseball League 2002 2005 Southern United States Continental Baseball League 2007 2010 Southwestern United States Empire State League 1987 1987 New York Golden Baseball League 2004 2010 Hawaii, Western United States, Western Canada, Mexico Golden State League 1995 1995 California Great Central League 1994 1994 Upper Midwest Heartland League 1996 1998 Midwestern United States, Northeastern United States, Southeastern United States Mid-America League 1995 1995 Midwestern United States North Atlantic League 1995 1996 Northeastern United States, Canada North American League 2011 2012 Western United States, Texas, Illinois, Canada North Central League 1994 1995 Upper Midwest, Canada Northeast League 1995 2004 Northeastern United States, Canada Northern League 1993 2010 Upper Midwest, Kansas, Canada Prairie League 1995 1997 Upper Midwest, Canada South Coast League 2007 2007 Southeastern United States Southeastern League 2002 2003 Southeastern United States Southwest Baseball League 1995 1997 Southwestern United States United League Baseball 2006 2010 Shreveport, Louisiana, Texas Western Baseball League 1995 2002 Pacific States Carolina League 1936 1938 North Carolina's Piedmont region See also [edit ] External links [edit ]