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.
|Upcoming season or competition:|
2022 Frontier League season
|No. of teams||15|
Structure and historyEdit
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 years as of October 1), while a minimum of ten of the 24-man roster are required to be rookies.
Typically, teams play a 96-game regular season from May to September.
Pay in the Frontier League is minimal. For the 2020 season, most player salaries had a maximum of $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.
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. Eight 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. With four titles, the Schaumburg Boomers have won the most league championships.
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.
2019–2020: Merger, MLB Partner LeagueEdit
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. 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 an MLB Partner League. This enables collaboration with MLB to jointly discuss marketing and promotional initiatives to grow, expand, and enhance the game of baseball.
2021: New teams, border issuesEdit
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. 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.
In April 2021, the league announced that the Québec Capitales, Trois-Rivières Aigles, and Ottawa Titans would not compete in the 2021 season due to the prolonged closure of the Canada–United States border as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Titans, Aigles and Capitales later joined forces to form a new team that will compete as a member of the Atlantic Division. Known as Équipe Québec, they began the season as a traveling team, and starting on July 30, 2021, started sharing home games between Québec City and Trois-Rivières following a loosening in border restrictions. 10 games were played in Québec City and 11 in Trois-Rivières. They did not play in Ottawa due to COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario.
On October 6, 2021, the owners of the Southern Illinois Miners, Jayne and John Simmons, announced they would be retiring from professional baseball to spend more time with family and the Miners would be ceasing operations and dropping out of the Frontier League.
- Canton Coyotes (2002, became the Mid-Missouri Mavericks)
- Canton Crocodiles (1997–2002, became the Washington Wild Things)
- Chillicothe Paints (1993–2008, joined the Prospect League)
- Dubois County Dragons (2000–2002, became the Kenosha Mammoths)
- Erie Sailors (1994, became the Johnstown Steal)
- Florence Freedom (2003–2019, became the Florence Y'alls)
- Frontier Greys (2013–2015, travel team)
- Johnstown Johnnies (1998–2002, became the Florence Freedom)
- Johnstown Steal (1995–1998, became the Johnstown Johnnies)
- Kalamazoo Kings (2001–2010, folded)
- Kalamazoo Kodiaks (1996–1998, became the London Werewolves)
- Kenosha Mammoths (2003, became the Springfield-Ozark Ducks)
- Kentucky Rifles (1993–1994, folded)
- Lancaster Scouts (1993–1994, became the Evansville Otters)
- London Rippers (2012, folded)
- London Werewolves (1999–2001, became the Canton Coyotes)
- Mid-Missouri Mavericks (2003–2005, folded)
- Midwest Sliders (2008–2009, became the Oakland County Cruisers)
- Normal CornBelters (2010–2018, joined the Prospect League)
- Newark Bison (1994–1995, became the Kalamazoo Kodiaks)
- Ohio Valley Redcoats (1993–1998, became the Dubois County Dragons; returned 2005, folded)
- Portsmouth Explorers (1993–1995, became the Springfield Capitals)
- Richmond Roosters (1995–2005, became the Traverse City Beach Bums)
- River City Rascals (1999–2019, folded)
- Rockford Aviators (2013–2015, folded)
- Rockford RiverHawks (2002–2009, moved to Northern League; returned 2011–2012, replaced by Rockford Aviators)
- Slippery Rock Sliders (2007, became the Midwest Sliders)
- Southern Illinois Miners (2007-2021, folded)
- Springfield Capitals (1996–2001, became the Rockford Riverhawks)
- Springfield-Ozark Ducks (2004, became the Ohio Valley Redcoats)
- Traverse City Beach Bums (2006–2018, folded)
- Tri-State Tomahawks (1993, folded)
- West Virginia Coal Sox (1993, folded)
- Zanesville Greys (1993–1996, became the River City Rascals)
- 1993 Zanesville Greys
- 1994 Erie Sailors
- 1995 Johnstown Steal
- 1996 Springfield Capitals
- 1997 Canton Crocodiles
- 1998 Springfield Capitals
- 1999 London Werewolves
- 2000 Johnstown Johnnies
- 2001 Richmond Roosters
- 2002 Richmond Roosters
- 2003 Gateway Grizzlies
- 2004 Rockford Riverhawks
- 2005 Kalamazoo Kings
- 2006 Evansville Otters
- 2007 Windy City ThunderBolts
- 2008 Windy City ThunderBolts
- 2009 Lake Erie Crushers
- 2010 River City Rascals
- 2011 Joliet Slammers
- 2012 Southern Illinois Miners
- 2013 Schaumburg Boomers
- 2014 Schaumburg Boomers
- 2015 Traverse City Beach Bums
- 2016 Evansville Otters
- 2017 Schaumburg Boomers
- 2018 Joliet Slammers
- 2019 River City Rascals
- 2020 Season cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic
- 2021 Schaumburg Boomers
Individual career recordsEdit
|Games Played||588||Chris Sidick|
|Home Runs||127||Charlie Lisk|
|Runs Batted In||442|
|Games started||98||Aaron Ledbetter|
- "American Association, Frontier League now MLB Partner Leagues". Ballpark Digest. August Publishing. September 24, 2020. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
- "California Winter League and Frontier League Extend Relationship into 2021" (Press release). California Winter League. August 27, 2020. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
- "Player Eligibility". FrontierLeague.com. March 1, 2020. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
- Chris, Dugan (February 4, 2020). "Frontier League hoping more experience means better baseball". Observer-Reporter. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
- "Team History". Washington Wild Things. Archived from the original on July 11, 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
- "Frontier League, Can-Am League to Join Forces". FrontierLeague.com. October 16, 2019.
- "PressRelease". MLB. MLB. September 24, 2020. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
- Reichard, Kevin (September 25, 2020). "Frontier League returns to Ottawa in 2021". Ballpark Digest. August Publications. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
- 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.
- "ÉQUIPE QUÉBEC UNVEILS BRANDING" (Press release). April 27, 2021. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
- "FRONTIER LEAGUE ADJUSTS 2021 SCHEDULE" (Press release). April 17, 2021. Retrieved April 18, 2021.
- "Retour du baseball professionnel au Québec". Québec Capitales (in French). July 21, 2021. Retrieved July 25, 2021.
- "Jayne and John Simmons Announce Retirement from Professional Baseball in Marion, Illinois" (Press release). Southern Illinois Miners. October 6, 2021. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
- Reichard, Kevin (October 7, 2021). "Southern Illinois Miners ceasing operations". Ballpark Digest. August Publishing. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
- "Sports facilities and competition venues". Quebec City Business Destination. Retrieved September 11, 2021.
Capacity: 4,300 seats
- Chris Dugan Sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org. "Frontier League season canceled". Observer-Reporter. Retrieved June 25, 2020.