Atlantic League of Professional Baseball
|No. of teams||8|
|Most recent champion(s)||Somerset Patriots (6th Title)|
|Most titles||Somerset Patriots (6)|
The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball is a professional, independent baseball organization located primarily in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, especially the greater metropolitan areas of the Northeast megalopolis. It operates in cities not served by Major or Minor League Baseball teams and is not affiliated with either. 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 AAA standards. When Atlantic League professionals are signed by MLB clubs, they usually start in their Double-A or Triple-A affiliates.
In 1998, the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball played its inaugural season, with teams in Somerset, 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. In 2014, the league announced further expansion. The Virginia Beach Neptunes would begin play at Wheeler Field when construction on the ballpark is completed in 2016. 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 became the New Britain Bees for the 2016 season.
The Atlantic League is generally regarded as the most successful and highest level of baseball among independent leagues. Many notable former and future Major League ballplayers including Roger Clemens, Rickey Henderson, Scott Kazmir, Dontrelle Willis, Juan González, John Rocker and José Canseco have played in the league and several have coached, including Gary Carter, Tommy John, Bud Harrelson and Sparky Lyle. The Atlantic League has consistently posted higher per game and per season attendance numbers than rival independent circuits including the American Association, Can-Am League, Frontier League and United 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.
|Lancaster Barnstormers||Lancaster, Pennsylvania||Clipper Magazine Stadium||2005|
|Southern Maryland Blue Crabs||Waldorf, Maryland||Regency Furniture Stadium||2008|
|Sugar Land Skeeters||Sugar Land, Texas||Constellation Field||2012|
|York Revolution||York, Pennsylvania||PeoplesBank Park||2007|
|Bridgeport Bluefish||Bridgeport, Connecticut||The Ballpark at Harbor Yard||1998|
|Long Island Ducks||Central Islip, New York||Bethpage Ballpark||2000|
|New Britain Bees||New Britain, Connecticut||New Britain Stadium||2016|
|Somerset Patriots||Bridgewater, New Jersey||TD Bank Ballpark||1998|
|Virginia Beach Neptunes||Virginia Beach, Virginia||Wheeler Field||2017|
League members Moved to another league Team announced to join league
|Year||Winner||Division||Games||Loser||Division||Games||Championship Series MVP|
|1998||Atlantic City Surf||South||3||Bridgeport Bluefish||North||1||Chris Eddy|
|1999||Bridgeport Bluefish||North||3||Somerset Patriots||North||0||Duane Singleton|
|2000||Nashua Pride||North||3||Somerset Patriots||South||0||D.J. Boston|
|2001||Somerset Patriots||South||3||Newark Bears||North||2||Robert Dodd|
|2002||Newark Bears||South||3||Bridgeport Bluefish||North||0||Jimmy Hurst|
|2003||Somerset Patriots||South||3||Nashua Pride||North||2||Jeff Nettles|
|2004||Long Island Ducks||North||3||Camden Riversharks||South||0||Justin Davies|
|2005||Somerset Patriots||South||3||Nashua Pride||North||0||Mark DiFelice|
|2006||Lancaster Barnstormers||South||3||Bridgeport Bluefish||North||0||Jeremy Todd|
|2007||Newark Bears||North||3||Somerset Patriots||South||1||Jose Herrera|
|2008||Somerset Patriots||Freedom||3||Camden Riversharks||Liberty||1||Brandon Larson|
|2009||Somerset Patriots||Freedom||3||Southern Maryland Blue Crabs||Liberty||1||Jeff Nettles|
|2010||York Revolution||Freedom||3||Bridgeport Bluefish||Liberty||0||Ramon Castro|
|2011||York Revolution||Freedom||3||Long Island Ducks||Liberty||1||Vince Harrison|
|2012||Long Island Ducks||Liberty||3||Lancaster Barnstormers||Freedom||2||Dan Lyons|
|2013||Long Island Ducks||Liberty||3||Somerset Patriots||Freedom||2||John Brownell|
|2014||Lancaster Barnstormers||Freedom||3||Sugar Land Skeeters||Freedom||0||Gabe Jacobo|
|2015||Somerset Patriots||Liberty||3||Southern Maryland Blue Crabs||Freedom||1||Roy Merritt|
- "Atlantic League Market Requirements". Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. Archived from the original on 2 May 2006. Retrieved May 6, 2006.
- Walk, John (18 May 2012). Ian Thomas earns first affiliated contract. Published by The York Dispatch.
- Reichard, Kevin (May 17, 2010). "Atlantic League to expand to Sugar Land". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Reichard, Kevin (October 6, 2010). "It’s official: Bears to Can-Am Association". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Merrill, Everett (February 5, 2014). "Atlantic League’s New President Wants To Innovate". Baseball America. TEN: The Enthusiast Network. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Smith, Richard (July 22, 2014). "The Atlantic League Welcomes The Virginia Beach Neptunes". Stadium Journey. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Fagan, Ryan (June 30, 2015). "Atlantic League set to introduce red, white and blue baseballs". Sporting News. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- "New Britain gains Atlantic League OK". Record-Journal. September 1, 2015.
- "Baseball Will Likely Return to New Britain Next Season". NBC Connecticut. September 1, 2015.
- "Conditional Deal For Baseball In New Britain In 2016". CBS Connecticut. September 1, 2015.
- "New Britain Conditionally Approved to Begin Atlantic League Play in 2016". Atlantic League Professional Baseball: Newswire. September 1, 2015.
- "Riversharks Baseball Ceases Operation; Team Not Offered New Lease". Atlantic League Professional Baseball: Newswire. October 22, 2015.
- Stacom, Don (October 22, 2015). "Atlantic League Baseball: Camden Is Out, New Britain Is In". Hartford Courant. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
- Fehrman, Craig (May 9, 2012). "Down And Out In Baseball's Indie Leagues; Or, What Made Tommy John Want To Rake The Infield?". Deadspin. Gawker Media. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- "Creation of developmental indy league announced". Ballgamers. June 28, 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Knight, Graham. "Independent Leagues 2014 Attendance". BaseballPilgrimages.com. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Recihard, Kevin (September 16, 2013). "2013 Independent Attendance by League". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Reichard, Kevin (September 24, 2012). "2012 Independent Attendance by League". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Reichard, Kevin (September 19, 2011). "2011 Independent Average Attendance by League". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
- Cooper, J.J. (May 15, 2015). "MLB, Atlantic League Sign Player Transfer Agreement". Baseball America. TEN: The Enthusiast Network. Retrieved 11 July 2015.