The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball is a professional, independent baseball league located primarily in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, especially the greater metropolitan areas of the Northeast megalopolis, with one team located in Texas. League offices are located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
The Atlantic League operates in cities not served by Major League Baseball (MLB) or Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams and is not affiliated with either; most of its teams are within suburbs and exurbs too close to other teams in the organized baseball system to have minor league franchises of their own. The Atlantic League requires cities to have the market for a 4,000 to 7,500-seat ballpark and for the facility to be maintained at or above Triple-A standards. When Atlantic League professionals are signed by MLB clubs, they usually start in their Double-A or Triple-A affiliates. The league uses a pitch clock and limits the time between innings in an effort to speed up the game. In 2019, the Atlantic League began a three-year partnership with Major League Baseball allowing MLB to implement changes to Atlantic League playing rules, in order to observe the effects of potential future rule changes and equipment.
|Atlantic League of Professional Baseball|
|No. of teams||8|
|Sugar Land Skeeters (2018)|
|Most titles||Somerset Patriots (6)|
In 1998, the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball played its inaugural season, with teams in Bridgewater, Newark, and Atlantic City, New Jersey; Nashua, New Hampshire; Newburgh, New York; and Bridgeport, Connecticut. The creation of the league was the result of the New York Mets' objection to Frank Boulton's proposal to move the former Albany-Colonie Yankees because of its territorial rights to the region. Boulton, a Long Island native, decided to create a new league that would have a higher salary cap for its players and a longer season than most of the other independent baseball organizations. He modeled the Atlantic League after the older Pacific Coast League, with facilities that exceed AAA-level standards. Boulton also emphasized signing players of Major League Baseball experience for all Atlantic League teams, raising the level of play above other independent leagues.
In 2010, the league announced that it would be expanding to Sugar Land, Texas and adding its first franchise not located in an Atlantic coast state. The Sugar Land Skeeters began play in 2012. In 2010, amid financial struggles, the Newark Bears moved from the Atlantic League to the Can-Am League, leaving the Bridgeport Bluefish and Somerset Patriots as the only teams remaining from the league's inaugural season. In the summer of 2013, then-ALPB President Frank Boulton announced that he would be resigning so that he could devote more time to operating the Long Island Ducks. He was replaced by longtime high-ranking Major League Baseball executive Rick White. On July 8, 2015, the Atlantic League began using Rawlings baseballs with red and blue seams, virtually unused in the sport since the American League swapped the blue in their seams for red in 1934.
On September 1, 2015, the Atlantic League announced conditional approval for an expansion team or a relocated team to play in New Britain, Connecticut for the 2016 season. On October 21, 2015, the Camden Riversharks announced they would cease operations immediately due to the inability to reach an agreement on lease terms with the owner of Campbell's Field, the Camden County Improvement Authority. The team was replaced by the New Britain Bees for the 2016 season. On May 29, 2016, Jennie Finch was the guest manager for the league's Bridgeport Bluefish, thus becoming the first woman to manage a professional baseball team.
Shortly before the conclusion of the 2017 season, the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut voted to not continue with professional baseball in the city and announced plans to convert The Ballpark at Harbor Yard into a music amphitheater; the Bridgeport Bluefish announced plans to relocate to High Point, North Carolina in 2019 when the construction of a new multipurpose facility in High Point is completed. League officials announced the return of the Pennsylvania Road Warriors, an all road game team, to keep the league at an even eight teams while the Bluefish go inactive for the 2018 season.
The Atlantic League is generally regarded as the most successful and highest level of baseball among independent leagues. Two former Atlantic League players have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame: Tim Raines and Rickey Henderson. Other notable former and future Major League ballplayers who have played in the league include Roger Clemens, Scott Kazmir, Dontrelle Willis, Juan González, Rich Hill, John Rocker and José Canseco, and several others have coached or managed, including Gary Carter, Tommy John, Bud Harrelson, Gary Gaetti and Sparky Lyle. The Atlantic League has consistently posted higher per game and per season attendance numbers than other independent circuits including the American Association, Can-Am League, and Frontier League.
In 2015, the Atlantic League experienced a watershed moment for independent baseball when it signed a formal agreement with Major League Baseball which put into writing the rules which the ALPB would follow in selling its players' contracts to MLB clubs and their affiliates. This marked the first time that MLB, which has enjoyed a U.S. Supreme Court-granted antitrust exemption since 1922, had made any formal agreement with or acknowledgment of an independent baseball league.
In March 2019, the Atlantic League and Major League Baseball reached agreement to test multiple rule changes during the 2019 Atlantic League season:
In April 2019, implementation of two of the changes was delayed:
The tracking system for calling balls and strikes was introduced at the league's all-star game on July 10. In addition to rule changes noted above, additional changes being implemented for the second half of the league's 2019 season are:
|Lancaster Barnstormers||2005||Lancaster, Pennsylvania||Clipper Magazine Stadium||6,000|
|Southern Maryland Blue Crabs||2008||Waldorf, Maryland||Regency Furniture Stadium||4,200|
|Sugar Land Skeeters||2012||Sugar Land, Texas||Constellation Field||7,500|
|York Revolution||2007||York, Pennsylvania||PeoplesBank Park||5,200|
|High Point Rockers||2019||High Point, North Carolina||BB&T Point||5,000|
|Long Island Ducks||2000||Central Islip, New York||Bethpage Ballpark||6,002|
|New Britain Bees||2016||New Britain, Connecticut||New Britain Stadium||6,146|
|Somerset Patriots||1998||Bridgewater, New Jersey||TD Bank Ballpark||6,100|
League members Moved to another league
|Aberdeen Arsenal||Bel Air, Maryland||Thomas Run Park||2000||Replaced by the Aberdeen IronBirds (Orioles Class-A affiliate).|
|Atlantic City Surf||Atlantic City, New Jersey||The Sandcastle||1998–2006||Moved to Can-Am League, folded prior to the 2009 season.|
|Bridgeport Bluefish||Bridgeport, Connecticut||The Ballpark at Harbor Yard||1998–2017||Folded when they lost the lease on their ballpark; replaced by the High Point Rockers.|
|Camden Riversharks||Camden, New Jersey||Campbell's Field||2001–2015||Replaced by the New Britain Bees|
|Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds||Quakertown, Pennsylvania||Memorial Park||1999–2001||Formerly the Newburgh Black Diamonds (1998). Became the first Pennsylvania Road Warriors.|
|Nashua Pride||Nashua, New Hampshire||Holman Stadium||1998–2005||Moved to Can-Am League, later relocated to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, folded at the end of the 2011 season.|
|Newark Bears||Newark, New Jersey||Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium||1998–2010||Moved to Can-Am League, folded prior to the 2014 season.|
|Newburgh Black Diamonds||Newburgh, New York||Delano-Hitch Stadium||1998||Became the Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds (1999–2001), which became the first Pennsylvania Road Warriors (2002–2004).|
The championship series is played as a best-of-five. Numbers in parenthesis denote the number of championships won by a team to that point, when more than one.
|Year||Winner||Runner-up||Result||Championship Series MVP|
|1998||Atlantic City Surf||Bridgeport Bluefish||3–1||Chris Eddy|
|1999||Bridgeport Bluefish||Somerset Patriots||3–0||Duane Singleton|
|2000||Nashua Pride||Somerset Patriots||3–0||D.J. Boston|
|2001||Somerset Patriots||Newark Bears||3–2||Robert Dodd|
|2002||Newark Bears||Bridgeport Bluefish||3–0||Jimmy Hurst|
|2003||Somerset Patriots (2)||Nashua Pride||3–2||Jeff Nettles|
|2004||Long Island Ducks||Camden Riversharks||3–0||Justin Davies|
|2005||Somerset Patriots (3)||Nashua Pride||3–0||Mark DiFelice|
|2006||Lancaster Barnstormers||Bridgeport Bluefish||3–0||Jeremy Todd|
|2007||Newark Bears (2)||Somerset Patriots||3–1||José Herrera|
|2008||Somerset Patriots (4)||Camden Riversharks||3–1||Brandon Larson|
|2009||Somerset Patriots (5)||Southern Maryland Blue Crabs||3–1||Jeff Nettles|
|2010||York Revolution||Bridgeport Bluefish||3–0||Ramón Castro|
|2011||York Revolution (2)||Long Island Ducks||3–1||Vince Harrison|
|2012||Long Island Ducks (2)||Lancaster Barnstormers||3–2||Dan Lyons|
|2013||Long Island Ducks (3)||Somerset Patriots||3–2||John Brownell|
|2014||Lancaster Barnstormers (2)||Sugar Land Skeeters||3–0||Gabe Jacobo|
|2015||Somerset Patriots (6)||Southern Maryland Blue Crabs||3–1||Roy Merritt|
|2016||Sugar Land Skeeters||Long Island Ducks||3–0||Juan Martinez|
|2017||York Revolution (3)||Long Island Ducks||3–0||Telvin Nash / Chase Huchingson|
|2018||Sugar Land Skeeters (2)||Long Island Ducks||3–2||James Russell|
|1998||Atlantic City, New Jersey||The Sandcastle||Atlantic City||6–4|
|1999||Bridgeport, Connecticut||The Ballpark at Harbor Yard||South||8–3|
|2000||Bridgewater, New Jersey||Commerce Bank Ballpark||North||2–0|
|2001||Newark, New Jersey||Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium||North||10–0|
|2002||Central Islip, New York||Citibank Park||South||4–1|
|2003||Nashua, New Hampshire||Holman Stadium||South||2–1|
|2004||Camden, New Jersey||Campbell's Field||North||10–8|
|2005||Atlantic City, New Jersey||The Sandcastle||North||9–6|
|2006||Bridgeport, Connecticut||The Ballpark at Harbor Yard||North||4–1|
|2007||Lancaster, Pennsylvania||Clipper Magazine Stadium||North||8–6|
|2008||Bridgewater, New Jersey||Commerce Bank Ballpark||Freedom||8–6|
|2009||Newark, New Jersey||Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium||Liberty||7–5|
|2010||Central Islip, New York||Suffolk County Sports Park||Liberty||7–1|
|2011||York, Pennsylvania||PeoplesBank Park||Freedom||7–0|
|2012||Camden, New Jersey||Campbell's Field||Freedom||9–5|
|2013||Waldorf, Maryland||Regency Furniture Stadium||Freedom||2–1|
|2014||Sugar Land, Texas||Constellation Field||Sugar Land||5–3|
|2015||Bridgeport, Connecticut||The Ballpark at Harbor Yard||Freedom||5–1|
|2016||Lancaster, Pennsylvania||Clipper Magazine Stadium||Freedom||3–1|
|2017||Bridgewater, New Jersey||TD Bank Ballpark||Freedom||10–3|
|2018||Central Islip, New York||Bethpage Ballpark||Liberty||4–3|
|2019||York, Pennsylvania||PeoplesBank Park||Freedom||3–3|
Freedom Division won the 2019 game in a "homer-off" after the teams were tied at the end of nine innings.
The Atlantic City Surf were a professional baseball team based in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Surf was most recently a member of the Can-Am League, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. The Surf played its home games at Surf Stadium, which was formerly known as "The Sandcastle" and "Bernie Robbins Stadium"
From 1998 to 2006, the Surf played in the South Division of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. While in the Atlantic League, the Surf won the first-ever Atlantic League championship in 1998 while also hosting the inaugural Atlantic League All-Star game.
On March 30, 2009, the Atlantic City Surf organization ceased operations, leaving the Can-Am League with six teams. Players from the team were made available in an April 3, 2009 dispersal draft.
On May 17, 2018 the Atlantic City (NJ) City Council authorized Frank Boulton, the former owner of the Atlantic City Surf (Independent Professional, Can-Am League/Atlantic League) to find an ownership group willing to bring minor league baseball back to Surf Stadium. The team would compete in the 2019 season.Bethpage Ballpark
Bethpage Ballpark is a 6,002-seat baseball park in Central Islip, New York that serves as the home of the Long Island Ducks, an independent minor league baseball team that is a member of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. Its first regular season game took place on May 14, 2000, when the Ducks played host to the Aberdeen Arsenal. The game was the first in the history of both franchises, as they both entered the Atlantic League at the same time. Bethpage Ballpark hosted the 2002, 2010, and 2018 Atlantic League All-Star Games.Bridgeport Bluefish
The Bridgeport Bluefish were an American professional baseball team based in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The team was a member of the Liberty Division of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. They played their home games at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard from 1998 to 2017.
It was originally announced that the franchise will relocate to High Point, North Carolina in 2019. However, the Bluefish ceased operations instead and a new franchise not connected to the Bluefish set up shop in High Point, the High Point team is called the High Point Rockers.Camden Riversharks
The Camden Riversharks were an American professional baseball team based in Camden, New Jersey from 2001 to 2015. They were a member of the Liberty Division of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. The Riversharks played their home games at Campbell's Field, which was situated at the base of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Due to its location on the Delaware River, the ballpark offered a clear view of the Philadelphia skyline. The "Riversharks" name referred to the location of Camden on the Delaware River, as the primary logo incorporated the Benjamin Franklin Bridge that links Camden to Philadelphia.
On October 21, 2015, the Camden Riversharks announced they would cease operations immediately due to the inability to reach an agreement on lease terms with the owner of Campbell's Field, the Camden County Improvement Authority (the authority had purchased Campbell's Field from Rutgers University two months prior).The Riversharks were replaced by the New Britain Bees, a separate franchise for the 2016 season.High Point Rockers
The High Point Rockers are an American professional baseball team based at BB&T Point ballpark in High Point, North Carolina and playing in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, an independent baseball league.Lancaster Barnstormers
The Lancaster Barnstormers are an American professional baseball team based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They are a member of the Freedom Division of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. The Barnstormers have played their home games at Clipper Magazine Stadium in the city's Northwest Corridor since 2005.
The team's name, selected in a fan ballot, refers to the act of "barnstorming", which means to travel around an area appearing in exhibition sports events, especially baseball games. The term was used to describe Lancaster's baseball teams as early as 1906. Their primary logo incorporates the colors red, navy blue, and khaki which were previously used by the Lancaster Red Roses of affiliated Minor League Baseball from 1940 to 1961. The name and logo also allude to Lancaster County's agricultural heritage and its inclusion of Amish culture and lore.Long Island Ducks
The Long Island Ducks are an American professional baseball team based on Long Island in the Suffolk County town of Central Islip, New York. The Ducks compete in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) as a member of the Liberty Division. The ALPB is an independent baseball league which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. They are the only team in the league to be based in New York. The Long Island Ducks played their first season in 2000, two years after the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball played its inaugural season in 1998. The Ducks' home ballpark has been Bethpage Ballpark since their inception in 2000. Throughout its history, the stadium has formerly been known as Suffolk County Sports Park (1999), EAB Park (2000-2001), and Citibank Park (2002-2009). The "Ducks" name refers to Long Island's duck-farming heritage, which is further represented by the Big Duck ferrocement. The Big Duck is also located in Suffolk County in the hamlet of Flanders, New York.The Ducks set the independent league baseball single-season attendance record at the time by welcoming 443,142 fans during the 2001 season. This surpassed the previous record of 436,361 fans which the team had also set in 2000. The Ducks reached the 5 million fan mark in attendance in July 2011 and welcomed their Atlantic League record 6 millionth fan in mid-2014.
Bud Harrelson, a 1971 Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner, is a part-owner of the Ducks. He was the first manager of the team following a stint as the New York Mets manager.Nashua Pride
The Nashua Pride was a professional baseball team based in Nashua, New Hampshire, in the United States, not affiliated with Major League Baseball. They played home games at Holman Stadium from 1998 through 2008, when they were sold and renamed the American Defenders of New Hampshire. In 2010 that team moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and became the Pittsfield Colonials. The franchise itself no longer exists, as the Colonials folded after the 2011 baseball season.New Britain Bees
The New Britain Bees are an American professional baseball team based in New Britain, Connecticut. They are a member of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. Beginning in the 2016 season, the Bees have played their home games at New Britain Stadium. They succeed the New Britain Rock Cats, who played in the Eastern League before moving to Dunkin' Donuts Park in nearby Hartford for the 2016 season, becoming the Hartford Yard Goats.
The "Bees" name alludes to Beehive Field, an older baseball park which stands next to New Britain Stadium. The civic motto of New Britain suggests, "Industry fills the hive and enjoys the honey." Additionally, the civic emblem and flag incorporate a beehive as a symbol of industriousness. New Britain’s official nickname is the "Hardware City," referring to its industrial heritage – namely as the headquarters of Stanley Black & Decker. The former Rock Cats club, both with the "Hardware City" and "New Britain" monikers, also drew its name from manufacturing.Newark Bears
The Newark Bears were an American professional baseball team based in Newark, New Jersey. They were a member of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball and, later, the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball. The Bears played their home games at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium. The team folded after the 2013 season.Pennsylvania Road Warriors
The Road Warriors are a professional baseball team owned by the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. The traveling team has operated intermittently throughout the league's history, usually being activated in years when the league otherwise has an odd number of teams.Somerset Patriots
The Somerset Patriots are an American professional baseball team based in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey. They are a member of the Liberty Division of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. From the 1999 season to the present, the Patriots have played their home games at TD Bank Ballpark.
The Patriots are the winningest franchise of the Atlantic League, capturing six Championship Series titles in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009, and most recently, 2015. Their most recent playoff appearance was in 2018 when they lost in the Semifinals against the Long Island Ducks.
The "Patriots" name refers to the Middlebrook encampment where the first official flag of the United States was unfurled, after a law to adopt a national flag had been passed by Congress on June 14, 1777. By special order of Congress, a 13-star flag is flown 24 hours a day at the Washington Camp Ground, part of the former Middlebrook encampment, in Bridgewater Township.Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs are an American professional baseball team based in Waldorf, Maryland. They are members of the Freedom Division of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, an independent baseball league which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. Since 2008, the Blue Crabs have played their home games at Regency Furniture Stadium. They represent the counties of Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary's, which are located on the Southern Maryland peninsula between Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River.In 2006, Southern Maryland residents chose the name "Blue Crabs" in a team-sponsored fan ballot. The name refers to the indigenous blue crab, the official state crustacean of Maryland. The Blue Crabs' fanbase has been nicknamed the "Crustacean Nation", an allusion to the Cardinal Nation and the Red Sox Nation fan clubs of the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox.Sugar Land Skeeters
The Sugar Land Skeeters are an American professional baseball team located in Sugar Land, Texas. The Skeeters play in the Freedom Division of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB), which is an independent league not affiliated with Major League Baseball. They have played their home games at Constellation Field since the beginning of the 2012 season.
The Skeeters entered the Atlantic League as an expansion team in 2010. They are the first Atlantic League team to play outside of the Northeast; the team is also the first of a planned western division to include four to six other teams. The Skeeters are the first independent league baseball team in the Greater Houston metropolitan area since the Houston Buffaloes' final season in 1961, and they are also the first from the city of Sugar Land.
The team's name, "Skeeters", is a Southern slang word for mosquito, and was the result of a team-sponsored name-the-team contest. Part of the reason for the naming is that mosquitoes are very common in the summer nights in Southeast Texas.The Sugar Land Skeeters have played in three Atlantic League Championships. In 2014, they were swept 3–0 by the Lancaster Barnstormers in the best-of-five game series. They returned for the second time in 2016, where they won the ALPB title, 3–0, against the Long Island Ducks. Matched up against the Ducks again in 2018, the Skeeters won their second ALPB Championship in franchise history after a 4-1 win in a decisive Game 5.
Atlantic League of Professional Baseball
Current ballparks of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball