I seem to have fallen behind as I travel south for a few weeks of visiting spring training sites--and doing some loafing--in Florida. It certainly isn't that I have forgotten baseball. I took part in a SABR program at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Little Falls, NJ, Saturday, my XM radio is almost constantly tuned in to spring training games where I keep one ear tuned to hear how our Independent Baseball grads are doing and I pour over the boxscores at every opportunity for the same reason. I'm just not finding enough time to write in this space.
I spent some time with Miles Wolff and Dan Moushon, the commissioner and president, respectively, of the Can-Am League and American Association, Monday at their Durham, NC office.
It was while I was there that I learned some sobering news which had eluded me. It was the fact former Allentown (PA) Ambassadors Owner Pete Karoly and his dentist wife Lauren perished recently when their airplane went down near New Bedford, MA. Fog may well have been an issue.
I spent several enjoyable evenings with Pete--and usually Lauren--watching the Ambassadors and our Waterbury (CT) Spirit battle it out in the Northeast League. While Karoly made some bitter enemies when he pulled Allentown out merely weeks (three, I believe) before a season was to begin forcing the Northeast League to create a traveling team, there was a time when he had what seemed to be one of the better franchises in the league.
Thankfully, the Can-Am League, which replaced the Northeast three seasons ago, is a much stronger unit today, and appears ready to grow from its current 10-team lineup, which again will have a travel team in 2007.
The Can-Am is openly courting both Montreal and Ottawa to join over the next year or two. Two Montreal groups in opposite areas of that French-speaking city want to build stadiums. Whoever succeeds--it wouldn't be impossible for both to come in along with Ottawa, which is losing its Triple-A team after this season--will join Quebec to add a much greater Canadian influence in the league. All the other franchises are in the United States.
Wolff had just returned from the announcement that Grand Prairie, TX, a Dallas suburb which could build a stadium within four miles of the Texas Rangers, will join the American Association next season, presuming there is no stumbling when a referendum is voted on in May.
Wolff called the potential 4,000-seat, $15 million stadium a "gorgeous design", and lauds the fact it will be in a complex which also houses a horse-racing track where the Breeder's Cup was run a year or so ago.
If the American Association wins the Wichita, KS, territory, where the Northern League likely will be the primary rival, it will be a 12-team league in 2008.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
GRAND PRAIRIE, CANADIAN CITIES IN THE NEWS FOR MILES WOLFF'S TWO LEAGUES
Former chief spokesman for Major League Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth. Six years as publicity director for the Kansas City Royals, and a background in newspaper, radio and television. Started Wirz & Associates, a sports PR and consulting firm, in 1985. Has written extensively on Independent Baseball since 2003.