Frontier League

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Frontier League
Sport Baseball
Founded 1993
No. of teams 16
Country United States
Most recent champion(s) River City Rascals
Official website

The Frontier League is a professional independent baseball league with teams in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States and Eastern Canada. Formed in 1993, it is the oldest currently running independent league in the United States. The league is headquartered in Sauget, Illinois. In 2020, the Frontier League, together with the American Association and the Atlantic League, became an official "MLB Partner League."[1]

The league has a partnership agreement with the California Winter League for player development.[2]

Description and history

Teams in the Frontier League must recruit and sign their own players, who usually are undrafted college players or one-time prospects who have been released by their teams.

Frontier League rules limit teams to three "veterans" (Players older than 29 as of October 1), while a minimum of ten of the 24-man roster are required to be rookies.[3]

Pay in the Frontier League is minimal. For the 2020 season, each team had a salary cap of $85,000 and the player salaries ranged from a minimum of $600 up to $1,600 a month. Veterans can earn up to $2,500 per month, and each team's highest-paid player can make as much as $4,000 a month with only one-third of the salary counting against the cap.[4]

Due to the low pay, players typically live with host families and receive meal money during the season.

The first league champions were the Zanesville Greys. Only seven teams have won more than one championship: Springfield in 1996 and 1998; Johnstown in 1995 (as the Steal) and in 2000 (as the Johnnies), Richmond (now Traverse City) in 2001 and 2002, Windy City in 2007 and 2008, the Joliet Slammers in 2011 and 2018, and the Evansville Otters in 2006 and 2016. The Florence Y'alls (including years as Erie and Johnstown), the Rockford RiverHawks (including years as Portsmouth and Springfield), Schaumburg Boomers, and the River City Rascals (including years as Zanesville) are currently tied for the most league championships with each franchise winning three.

On June 20, 2000, Brian Tollberg debuted with the San Diego Padres, becoming the first player from the Frontier League to make it to the Majors. A week later, Morgan Burkhart made his debut with the Boston Red Sox.

Although the league does not have any teams located in the same city as Major League teams, it does nonetheless have teams located within the markets of Major League teams. The Chicago area has three teams (Joliet Slammers, Schaumburg Boomers and Windy City ThunderBolts), as does the New York area (New Jersey Jackals, Sussex County Miners, and New York Boulders), and St. Louis (Gateway Grizzlies), Cleveland (Lake Erie Crushers), Cincinnati (Florence Y'alls) and Pittsburgh (Washington Wild Things) each have one. The Wild Things, in particular, have been able to market themselves as a successful alternative to the Pittsburgh Pirates due to the latter franchise's long stretch of losing seasons, which lasted from the Frontier League's founding in 1993 until 2013 when the Pirates finished with a record of 94–68.[5]

On October 16, 2019, it was announced that the Frontier League would be merging with the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball, absorbing five of its teams to form the largest independent professional baseball league. This added the New Jersey Jackals, New York Boulders, Quebec Capitales, Sussex County Miners, and Trois-Rivieres Aigles to the league; the Ottawa Champions, the last remaining Can-Am League team, was not invited to participate.[6] The divisions were renamed, with the easternmost teams playing in the Can-Am Division and the westernmost in the Midwestern Division.

On September 24, 2020, Major League Baseball announced that it named the Frontier League a "Partner League" of MLB.[7] This enables collaboration with MLB to jointly discuss marketing and promotional initiatives to grow, expand, and enhance the game of baseball.

For the 2021 season, the Frontier League announced it would be adding two new teams. The first announcement came around the same time as the announcement of the partnership with Major League Baseball, as Ottawa was granted an expansion franchise in the league. The team, as chosen by fans in a contest, was named the Titans and will play at RCGT Park.[8][9] Then, on January 8, 2021, after the reorganization of Minor League Baseball, the league added the Tri-City ValleyCats, which were one of several teams that were orphaned or disbanded when the New York-Penn League was folded. The Titans and ValleyCats join the five former Can-Am League teams and Washington in the Can-Am Division; to even the divisions at seven teams, Lake Erie was moved to the Midwestern Division.


Current team locations:
  Can-Am Division
  Midwestern Division
Frontier League
Conference Division Team Founded Joined City Stadium Capacity
Can-Am Atlantic
New York Boulders 2011 2020 Pomona, New York Palisades Credit Union Park 4,750
Québec Capitales 1999 2020 Quebec City, Quebec Stade Canac 4,800
Tri-City ValleyCats 2002 2021 Troy, New York Joseph L. Bruno Stadium 4,500
Trois-Rivières Aigles 2012 2020 Trois-Rivières, Quebec Stade Quillorama 4,500
Northeast New Jersey Jackals 1998 2020 Little Falls, New Jersey Yogi Berra Stadium 3,784
Ottawa Titans 2021 Ottawa, Ontario RCGT Park 10,332
Sussex County Miners 2015 2020 Augusta, New Jersey Skylands Stadium 4,200
Washington Wild Things 2002 Washington, Pennsylvania Wild Things Park 5,000
Midwestern Central Joliet Slammers 2011 Joliet, Illinois DuPage Medical Group Field 6,016
Lake Erie Crushers 2009 Avon, Ohio Mercy Health Stadium 5,000
Schaumburg Boomers 2012 Schaumburg, Illinois Wintrust Field 7,365
Windy City ThunderBolts 1995 1999 Crestwood, Illinois Ozinga Field 3,200
West Evansville Otters 1995 Evansville, Indiana Bosse Field 5,181
Florence Y'alls 2003 Florence, Kentucky UC Health Stadium 4,500
Gateway Grizzlies 2001 Sauget, Illinois GCS Ballpark 6,000
Southern Illinois Miners 2007 Marion, Illinois Rent One Park 7,000

Former teams

Franchise timeline


See also


  1. "American Association, Frontier League now MLB Partner Leagues". Ballpark Digest. August Publishing. September 24, 2020. Retrieved October 2, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "California Winter League and Frontier League Extend Relationship into 2021" (Press release). California Winter League. August 27, 2020. Retrieved January 25, 2021.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Player Eligibility". March 1, 2020. Retrieved March 1, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Chris, Dugan (February 4, 2020). "Frontier League hoping more experience means better baseball". Observer-Reporter. Retrieved February 4, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Team History". Washington Wild Things. Archived from the original on July 11, 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Frontier League, Can-Am League to Join Forces". October 16, 2019.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "PressRelease". MLB. MLB. September 24, 2020. Retrieved September 30, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Reichard, Kevin (September 25, 2020). "Frontier League returns to Ottawa in 2021". Ballpark Digest. August Publications. Retrieved September 26, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Baines, Tim (September 23, 2020). "PLAY BALL! Sam Katz confident baseball will be a hit in Ottawa when it returns next year". Ottawa Sun. Retrieved September 26, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Chris Dugan Sports editor "Frontier League season canceled". Observer-Reporter. Retrieved June 25, 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links