It is nearly time to pack the bag for Las Vegas where we will do some blogging during next week's Winter Meetings, but other news has drawn our attention before we get to the Strip.
While this blog is devoted to Independent Baseball, I could not help but take note of a story within a story while reading about the name change of the Central Illinois Collegiate League to the Prospect League. The new circuit will have 10 teams, and a whole bunch of them once held a membership in the Frontier League, which along with the Northern League started this whole Independent Baseball surge back in 1993.
The most intriguing community may be Chillicothe, OH because the Paints were in the Frontier from the very beginning, only dropping out for 2009. The Prospect League also will include Richmond, IN, Slippery Rock, PA, Dubois County (Huntingburg, IN) and Springfield, IL. Every one of has been in the Frontier, with both Richmond and Springfield winning two championships.
Here is the point: Most of the departures from the FL came about because these communities could not keep pace, mainly from attendance or financial standpoints, with the bigger draws in the league circa 2008 or 2009. So, rather than go without quality baseball for the community and its faithful fans, move to the better budget arena of collegiate baseball.
Hooray for those who made it happen.
Glens Falls, Little Falls and Elmira in New York State, Rochester and Duluth in Minnesota, Pittsfield, MA and Thunder Bay (Ontario) are other communities to have gone this route in recent years, and there is little doubt in my mind we will see a few other teams from other leagues go this way eventually.
Independent Baseball will continue to do very well in many cities, but where the economics are not there it will be a very acceptable alternative to keep hometown baseball fans happy.
The mere thought of a baseball game without peanuts is difficult for many of us to, well, stomach.
But what about the sizeable group of youngsters who suffer from nut allergies? The River City Rascals of the Frontier League took note, and once again in 2009 will have a peanut-free section at T. R. Hughes Ballpark in O'Fallon, MO. The only problem is, they will only offer it for Wednesday games, after a thorough cleaning of peanut shells and peanut dust.
MORE ICE BREAKING
The Kansas City (KS) T-Bones helped thaw relations between the Northern League and the American Association by hosting exhibition games last spring involving the newer Association, where four teams jumped back in 2006.
Now the St. Paul Saints and Gary (IN) SouthShore RailCats are following suit with two games in Minnesota May 7-8. The series will shift to Gary in 2010.
Maybe everyone can get along.