Empire Professional Baseball League

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Empire League
200px
Sport Baseball
Founded 2015
No. of teams 4
Country United States
Official website EmpireProLeague.com

The Empire Professional Baseball League (EPBL) is an independent baseball league that began play in 2016.[1] The Empire League plays a 70-game regular season followed by a five-game post season. The four-team league consists of three teams from Upstate New York and one from New Hampshire. League offices are in Tampa, Florida.

History

The Empire League is a replacement of the North Country Baseball League, which folded after one season (and was itself a last-minute replacement for the East Coast Baseball League, which disbanded before the start of the 2015 season).[2] The league fielded four teams based in the states of New York, New Hampshire and Maine for its inaugural season.

It is a low-budget league meant to give players recently graduated from college or with little professional experience an opportunity at staying in shape and providing them the chance at being signed to higher level league contracts with affiliated or independent teams. All league funding comes from advertisement sales, ticket sales and tryout revenue.

The league is operated by Eddie Gonzalez, former professional baseball player and NAIA All-American at Webber International University. Gonzalez is also a former NCBL executive.[3]

The Sullivan Explorers, despite finishing the regular season with a losing record, won the 2016 league championship over the regular season winner Watertown Bucks.[4]

Prior to the league's second season, the Watertown Bucks lost the lease to their stadium and were replaced by the Plattsburgh Redbirds. The New Hampshire Wild ceased operations and were replaced by a team from Puerto Rico; however, since a stadium deal in Puerto Rico had not yet been finalized, the team played the 2017 season as a travel team.[5]

The league expanded to six teams for the 2018 season with two new franchises selected from four of the nine interested parties visited in 2017.[6] On February 23, 2018, the league announced that one team will be a revival of the New Hampshire Wild,[7] and the sixth team would be the return of the New York Bucks, formerly known as the Watertown Bucks.[8][9]

On May 31, 2018, the league announced the Puerto Rico Islanders will play in Rincon, Puerto Rico, and the Sullivan Explorers would be known as the Aguada Explorers.[10] For 2019, the Explorers would become a traveling team, and the Surge would move to Saranac Lake, New York.

Due to Covid-19, the 2020 Empire Professional Baseball League was held at Consol Energy Park in Washington, Pennsylvania.[11]

Teams

Locations of Empire Professional Baseball League teams in the Northeast
Team First Season City Stadium Capacity
New Hampshire Wild 2016 Concord, New Hampshire Memorial Field 2,000
Plattsburgh Thunderbirds 2017 Plattsburgh, New York Chip Cummings Field 500
Saranac Lake Surge 2016 Saranac Lake, New York Petrova Field 250
Tupper Lake Riverpigs 2020 Tupper Lake, New York Municipal Park 250

Champions

Year Champion Runner-up Result
2016 Sullivan Explorers Watertown Bucks 2–0 (best-of 3)
2017 Plattsburgh Redbirds Old Orchard Beach Surge 3–1 (best-of 5)
2018 Puerto Rico Islanders New York Bucks 2–1 (best-of 3)
2019 Plattsburgh Thunderbirds New Hampshire Wild 2–0 (best-of 3)
2020 Baseball Brilliance Sox Saranac Lake Surge 1–0 (single game final)
2021 Saranac Lake Surge Plattsburgh Thunderbirds 3–0 (best-of 5)

References

  1. "Are We in for Another Summer of New Indy Leagues?". Indy Ball Island. December 15, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "North Country Baseball League folds". Indy Ball Island. November 23, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "City Council to consider agreement with Watertown Bucks for 2016". Watertown Daily Times. January 30, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "WE ARE THE CHAMPIONSSSSS!!!!! – Explorers Baseball". Sullivan Explorers. August 11, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report". OurSports Central. November 7, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Empire Media (August 25, 2017). "Empire League Set to Expand to 6 Teams Next Season". empireproleague.com. Empire Professional Baseball League. Retrieved January 6, 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Wild to play its games in New Hampshire". Empire Professional Baseball League. February 23, 2018. Retrieved February 26, 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Empire Announces All Team Locations For 2018". Empire Professional Baseball League. April 12, 2018. Retrieved August 7, 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. St. Clair, Ricky (June 13, 2018). "RedBirds prepped for second EPBL season". Press-Republican. Plattsburgh, New York. Retrieved August 1, 2018. The Bucks, who were originally slated to play their home games at the Sports at the Beach complex in Georgetown, Delaware, will call SUNY Canton home.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Empire Media (May 31, 2018). "EMPIRE LEAGUE TO PLAY IN PUERTO RICO THIS SEASON". empireproleague.com. Empire Professional Baseball League. Retrieved June 2, 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "2020 SCHEDULE – Welcome to the Empire Baseball League". Retrieved August 30, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links