Independent baseball leagues are professional baseball organizations located in the United States and Canada. They are not operated in conjunction with either a major league or an affiliated minor league. Independent leagues currently operating in the U.S. are the Frontier League, the Northern League, the Can-Am League, the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, the Golden Baseball League, the American Association, and United League Baseball. Arguably, the most famous and popular independent baseball team in North America is the St. Paul Saints of the American Association (formerly of the Northern League).
The Northern League and Frontier League both started play in 1993, and the Northern League's success paved the way for other independent leagues like the Texas-Louisiana League and Northeast League. The Atlantic League has had more marquee players than any other independent league, including José Canseco, Rickey Henderson, Ozzie Canseco, Rubén Sierra, Carlos Baerga, and John Rocker. The Northern League alumni include Leon "Bull" Durham, J. D. Drew, and Darryl Strawberry.
Independent leagues have flourished in Northeastern states, where dense populations can often support multiple franchises. Because they are not subject to the territorial limitations imposed on affiliated minor league teams, independent clubs can relocate as close to affiliated teams (and one another) as they choose to. For example, the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania cannot have an affiliated team because of its proximity to the Harrisburg Senators and the Reading Phillies. So the Atlantic League placed a team, called the Lancaster Barnstormers, to fill the void. Another example is the greater metropolitan area of New York City, where there are many independent teams: the New Jersey Jackals, Sussex Skyhawks, Bridgeport Bluefish, Newark Bears, Long Island Ducks, and the Somerset Patriots; and two affiliated teams: Brooklyn Cyclones and the Staten Island Yankees. Not only is the Kansas City area home to the major-league Kansas City Royals, but also, the independent-league Kansas City T-Bones. The Saints share a marketith the American League's Minnesota Twins; both teams have frequently worked together to promote baseball in the Upper Midwest. Even a major-league city can also have an independent team: The San Diego Surf Dawgs play in the same city as the San Diego Padres; in addition, the Surf Dawgs' home stadium is also named after former Padre Tony Gwynn.
In September and October of 2005, four teams of the Northern League, including the league's most potent drawing card, the St. Paul Saints, jumped to the new American Association, along with five teams of the southern Central League.
Current Independent Baseball LeaguesEdit
|League||Formed||Logo|| Geographical Area |
|American Association of Independent Professional Baseball||2006||Midwestern, Southeastern United States|
|Atlantic League of Professional Baseball||1998||Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic United States|
|Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball||2004||Northeastern United States, Quebec|
|Frontier League||1993||Midwestern United States, Western Pennsylvania|
|Golden Baseball League||2004||Western United States|
|Northern League||1993||Northern United States, Western Canada|
|South Coast League||2006||Southeastern United States|
|United League Baseball||2006||Texas, Louisiana|