You may have recently heard about an independent baseball team near where you live, or near where you were traveling. If so, you may have wondered what makes a team “independent” and if it is worth your money to go watch that team.
An independent professional baseball team is a team which plays in a professional baseball league that is not affiliated with any Major League organization or the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, which is now named (officially) Minor League Baseball. These teams have complete control over the players they sign, the personnel they hire, and their players can be signed by any “affiliated” team in Minor League Baseball.
Occasionally, an independent baseball player may make it to a Major League Baseball roster after having started his career in the independent baseball leagues. Many players who make it to a Major League roster after having spent time with an independent baseball team usually had previous Major League, or high-level Minor League experience prior to joining a Major League Baseball roster.
For the 2009 season, nearly 60 independent teams fielded a team in 8 independent leagues. The teams play in the U.S. and Canada. There are independent baseball teams in the Northeast, Quebec, Calgary, California, the Mid-Atlantic, Texas, Arizona, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota and the Dakotas, just to name a few regions. The players can range from just out of college, former “affiliated” minor league players who were released, players who could be in the minors but opted to play closer to home for family reasons, former Major League players, and occasionally international players. Many teams have managers and coaches whom have previous Major League Baseball experience.
The question you may still have, however, is if an independent baseball team is worth your time and money. In most markets this is a “yes.”
Here are just some of the reasons why:
- Prices are usually equal to or less than comparable entertainment, such as the movies
- Concession prices are usually less than at higher-level professional sports
- Kids and fans get participate in on-field and off-field promotions
- Many teams offer incentives for you to bring groups
- Many of the general managers and team executives have years of professional sports experience, so they understand what it takes to give you good entertainment for your money
- Many of the players are accessible for autographs
- The quality of play is considerably high, especially compared to other alternatives you may have in your area
Hopefully this article gives you a better understanding of independent baseball and helps you make a better decision for your entertainment dollar.