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May 22, 2015

Mexico: Liga Mexicana de Béisbol (LMB) (Mexican League), location-map/attendance-map (2014 figures), with active-clubs titles list.

Filed under: Baseball,Mexico: Béisbol — admin @ 8:17 pm

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Baseball in Mexico: Liga Mexicana de Béisbol (Mexican League), 2014 attendance-map, with active-clubs titles list


Links…
-Teams…Mexican League/Current teams (en.wikipedia.org).
-Attendance…Mexican League: Attendance [set at 2014/sortable for current attendances & archived back to -2005] (milb.com/milb/stats).
-Scores, Standings, Schedule…milb.com/LMB [Liga Mexicana de Béisbol (Mexican League)] (official site).
-My first map & post on Mexican League baseball (from 2011), which includes more info on teams and uniforms, Baseball in Mexico: Liga Mexicana de Béisbol (Mexican League), 2011.

    Liga Mexicana de Béisbol (LMB) (Mexican League), location-map/attendance-map (2014 figures), with active-clubs titles list…

By Bill Turianski on 22 May 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.
The Liga Mexicana de Béisbol (LMB) (Mexican League) is one of 3 Triple-A minor leagues in Organized Baseball. Unlike the other two Triple-A leagues – the Pacific Coast League (based in the West and Midwest of the USA) and the International League (based in the East and Midwest of the USA), the Mexican League’s teams are not affiliated with any of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs. (In fact, the Mexican League has three minor leagues of its own, the Liga Norte de Mexico, the Liga de Béisbol del Noroeste de Mexico, and the Liga de Mexicana de Béisbol Academia [a winter league]).

The Mexican League season is scheduled for 104 games, and runs from the middle of March, to mid-July, with the playoffs in late July/early August, then, in mid-August, the Serie Final (Final Series).

The Mexican League was founded in 1925, with 6 teams.
The only original team that has survived to this day are Águilas Rojos de Veracruz [the Veracruz Red Eagles], although there was a Mexico City team back then, and there is now a different, present-day Mexico City team – Diablos Rojos del México [the Mexico (City) Red Devils, who were formed in 1940 and have won the most Mexican League titles, with 16 Mexican League titles. The Diablos' last title was won last year [in 2014]).

There are sixteen teams in the Mexican League, which is an increase from the 14 teams the league had in the 1987 to 2011 era.
The three newest teams are the purple-clad Delfines de Ciudad del Carmen [the Carmen (City) Dolphins], established 2012; the navy-blue-and-gold Rieleros de Aguascalientes [the Aguascalientes Railwaymen], also established in 2012; and the black-and-red Toros de Tijuana [the Tijuana Bulls or Tijuana Toros], est. 2014. The Toros of Tijuana drew a very impressive 7.9 K in their first season in the LMB in 2014. This is 3 years after the new first division Mexican soccer team the Xolos of Tijuana began drawing in the +20 K-range {see this article I wrote featuring the Xolos, from Jan. 2013}. So these two developments show the signs of good healthy cross-border fanbases beginning to form for both the brand-new pro baseball and futbol teams in Tijuana.

(Meanwhile the Petroleros de Minatitlán [Minatitlán Oilers], who were among the lowest-drawing clubs in the LMB, folded after the 2013 season.)

Crowd sizes in the Mexican League
The Mexican League, as a whole, averaged 4,720 per game in 2014 (which was a 4% increase from 2013). The Mexican League’s highest-drawing club, year-in/year-out is the Sultanes de Monterrey [the Monterrey Sultans], who usually draw above 10 K and averaged 11,856 per game in 2014. That was best in all of Organized Baseball, by the way. [Second-best drawing ball club in all of MiLB last year [2014] was the International League’s Charlotte Knights, who, thanks to their new, downtown-Charlotte-located ballpark, drew 9.6 K {source for data in this paragraph: 2014 Affiliated Attendance by Average (ballparkdigest.com)}].

If you are wondering why there are no Mexican League teams in the pretty populous areas in and around Guadalajara and along the west-central coast in Sinaloa and Sonora states, that is because there is a separate pro baseball league there. That is the 8-team Liga Mexicana del Pacífico [Mexican Pacific League] (LMP), which is a Winter pro baseball league. Commenter Juan found the attendance figures for 4 of the Winter ball leagues, {see 3rd comment in the Comments section further below}.
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Thanks to all at the following links…
-Globe-map of Mexico, by Addicted04 at File:MEX orthographic.svg at Mexico (en.wikipedia.org).
-Map of Mexico…by Yavidaxiu at File:Mexico blank.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).

Some circular-cap-logos on the map included photos or banner illustration (which I then cropped and included into the design using my somputer-drawing-program)…
-Toros de Tijuana (Tijuana Toros), illustration of T-J logo, from banner at torosdetijuana.com.
-Saraperos de Saltillo (Saltillo Sarape Makers) teal home cap, photo of Gothic-S-with-sarape logo from neweraaustraliasale.com/saraperos.
-Vaqueros Laguna (Laguna Cowboys) grey-and-orange road cap, photo of silver-L-logo from listado.mercadolibre.com.mx/cachucha-vaqueros-laguna-beisbol.
-Delfines de Ciudad del Carmen (Ciudad del Carmen Dolphins) dark-purple home cap, photo of bright-green-C [part of the logo], from lids.com/mexican-league/delfines.
-Guerreros de Oaxaca (Oaxaca Warriors), photo of the O-a-x logo on home cap from newhatsite.net/oaxaca-guerreros.
-Piratas de Campeche (Campeche Pirates), photo of baseball-as-sneering-pirate logo, from mlm-s1-p.mlstatic.com [jpg] at mercadolibre.com.mx.

-Team info, etc…
Mexican League [Liga Mexicana de Béisbol] (en.wikipedia.org).

April 23, 2015

Baseball in South Korea: KBO League, 2015 location-map with 2014 attendances, and an analysis of KBO crowd sizes./ Plus an illustration for the reigning (4-straight) champions the Samsung Lions.

Filed under: Baseball,Korea: baseball — admin @ 9:42 pm

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Baseball in South Korea: KBO League, 2015 location-map with 2014 attendances



Links…
Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) (en.wikipedia.org).
-KBO teams…KBO League/ Teams (en.wikipedia.org).
-KBO official site/schedule, scores, standings; About KBO, etc. (in English, with Korean option)…http://eng.koreabaseball.com/.
-KBO 2015 season: standings, stats…2015 Korean Baseball Organization [sic] (baseball-reference.com/).
-KBO 리그의 공식 사이트http://www.koreabaseball.com/Default.aspx.
-My first post on KBO League (from Feb. 2010) has lots of info on the culture of Korean baseball,
Korea Baseball Organization: the 8 teams, with teams’ parent corporations listed, and baseball stadium photos (billsportsmaps.com/February 2010).

    Baseball in South Korea: KBO League, 2015 location-map with 2014 attendances

By Bill Turianski on 23 April 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.
Demographics of South Korea
The population of South Korea is around 51.3 million {2014 estimate}. This puts South Korea as the 26th-most-populous nation on Earth. South Korea is very small, though: it is the 109th-largest country (at 100,210 km-sq or 66,690 mi-sq). That makes South Korea slightly smaller than Iceland, and slightly larger than Hungary. Largest city (by far) is, of course, Seoul…which is absolutely gigantic, and has a metro-area population that is second-largest on the planet. Seoul has a special-city population of around 10.1 million, and metro-area population of around 25.6 million ! {2014 figures). Only Tokyo, Japan (at ~36.9 million) has a larger metro-area. (I guess you learn something new everyday.) Basically, half of the population of South Korea resides in Seoul’s metropolitan area. South Korea has about the 30th-highest adjusted-GDP in the world {see this, List of countries by GDP (PPP) per capita).

KBO League established 1982; title is called Korean Series championship; there are 10 teams in the KBO League/ season is 126 g/Apr-Oct
(KBO, or Korea Baseball Organization, is the governing body of the sport in the country).

Pro major-league baseball in South Korea began in 1982, with the institution of the KBO League as a 6-team league; a minor league was established eight years later in 1990 – the KBO Futures League. In 1986, the KBO League expanded to include a seventh team. In the first decade of its existence, the KBO League as a whole was only drawing in the 5 to 7 K range. By 1991, the KBO League had 8 teams. In 1995, cumulative attendance for the season finally topped 10 K per game, boosted by the exciting 1995 KBO season which saw three teams, the OB Bears, the LG Twins, and the Lotte Giants, go neck-to-neck for the pennant (the title in ’95 was won by the OB, now Doosan, Bears). However, this league attendance figure wasn’t surpassed for 14 years. After 1995, the KBO began to see dwindling fan interest that lasted for a decade. What first helped reverse the gradual slide in attendances from 1996 to 2004 was the good showing that the South Korean national baseball team had in the first World Baseball Classic, in 2005, when they finished in third. Another boost to the game there came three years later, when South Korea narrowly lost to Japan in extra innings in the second World Baseball Classic, and then six months later, the South Korean baseball team won the gold medal in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. These results convinced many South Korean sports fans that KBO baseball was a product worth supporting. In 2008, league-wide attendance shot up 2.3 K per game to 10.4 K; the next year [2009] it was 11.1 K, and the KBO League has drawn above 11 K ever since.

And there is no doubt that the caliber of Korean baseball players has improved in the last 25 years. There is a large number of South Koreans playing in Japan, in the Nippon Professional Baseball League. In the United States, in Major League Baseball, there are currently 5 Korean players, including LA Dodgers starting LHP pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu, and Cincinnati Reds slugger and OF Shin-Soo Choo {see this, List of Major League Baseball players from South Korea}.

KBO League in the last two-and-a-half decades (1990s through 2010s)/ including present-day make-up of the KBO League [2015]
There were a few franchise shifts in the ensuing two decades (1990s to 2010). It wasn’t until 2013 that the KBO League finally got a ninth team (the NC Dinos). Now, for 2015, the KBO League continues to exhibit robust signs of health by finally getting to the nice round figure of 10 teams, with the addition of the KT Wiz. The KT Wiz look to have a serious uphill climb though, seeing as how they started their KBO existence going 3-and-17 (!) and sit last (as of 24 April 2015/ 2015 table here).

The KBO League is, in 2015, comprised of the following…
5 teams from Greater Seoul/Incheon/Suwon (metropolitan-area Greater Seoul)
3 teams from Seoul’s core-city-region: (Doosan Bears, LG Twins, Nexen Heroes); and
2 teams from Greater Seoul, with one team in South Korea’s third-largest city of Incheon (SK Wyverns), and
one team about 19 miles south of Seoul-city-center in Suwon (the brand-new KBO team the KT Wiz; KT Wiz).
5 KBO teams from the rest of South Korea
The other 5 teams in the KBO League are comprised as follows [clockwise on the map]…
one team from the fifth-largest city, Daejon (Hanwah Eagles);
one team from the the fourth-largest city, Daegu (Samsung Lions);
one team from the second-largest city Busan, (Lotte Giants);
one team from the 8th-largest city, Changwon (recent-expansion-team NC Dinos; NC Dinos); and
one team from the sixth-largest city, Gwanju (KIA Tigers, who are the most successful team in KBO, with 10 titles, last in 2009).

    Attendances of KBO clubs in general

KBO League attendance in 2014 was 11,302 per game.

(Note: if you want to see year-by-year/team-by-team KBO League attendance figures, the link to the KBO site’s page on attendance can be found if you scroll down to the foot of this post, where you will see an instruction guide to translate the headers to English).

League-wide cumulative attendance in the KBO’s first division these days varies from around 11 K to 13 K per game, depending on how certain teams fare in any given season. With only 9 [now 10] teams in the KBO League, a few teams’ crowd-size variations can really skew the league numbers.

Lotte Giants weird crowd-size fluctuations and the possible harm of expansion in the KBO
The club with the biggest crowd variation from year-to-year is Lotte Giants of second-city Busan (which is on the south coast of the country). Generally speaking, Lotte can draw 20 K if the team is doing well (as in 2012), but they usually only draw about 12 K if the team is doing poorly (like in 2007 and 2014). But it is starting to appear that recent (2013) expansion in the KBO will end up hurting Lotte Giants’ ability to draw large crowds. It looks like nearby new team the NC Dinos (who are from Changwon, which is located about 25 miles west of Lotte Giants) might be starting to erode Lotte Giants’ crowd sizes. I say this because we have seen it happen elsewhere in top-division baseball in the recent past – namely, in the 2005 to 2011 time period, when the MLB’s Montreal franchise moved to Washington, DC and started to erode the nearby (~35 miles up the road) MLB team the Baltimore Orioles’ crowd sizes. The Orioles drew 34 K in 2004, but once Washington got an MLB team again, 6 years later the Orioles were only drawing in the mid-to-low-20s K (like drawing only 23.5 K in 2009, then only drawing an alarming 21 K in 2010). So the Nats were knocking off at least 5-to-7 K worth of attendance from the O’s circa the 2006-11 time frame, and it looked to be a problem until both those teams got competitive [circa 2013-on], and crowds for both the Nats and the O’s began to be in the healthy low-30-K range [circa 2014-and-on]). And the same could happen in the south-east coast of South Korea, because Lotte only drew 12.0 K in 2013, when they had a decent .532 winning percentage. Lotte were playing well in 2013, and going by the Lotte’s fanbases’ past behavior (ie, not going to the ballpark when Lotte were having a losing season), the ball club definitely should have been drawing at least in the 17-K-range, if not higher (for example, in 2010, Lotte had a .531 winning pct., and drew 17.8 K). The new factor of nearby fan-dollar competition has now emerged (2013 was NC Dinos’ debut season). NC Dinos, who draw 7-to-8 K, got competitive fast (with a .551 winning pct in their 2nd year in 2014). So it will be interesting to see how this new dynamic in the KBO plays out, and if the Lotte Giants will be able to overcome this imposition on their catchment area.

Other teams such as SK Wyverns of Incheon (crowd-size-variation from 12 K to 16 K), and Nexen Heroes of Seoul (crowd-size-variation from 6 K to 9 K) also have significantly variable crowd sizes in any given year.

The perennial highest drawing clubs in the KBO League are Seoul’s big two: the LG Twins and the Doosan Bears
The highest draws in KBO League are Seoul’s LG Twins and Doosan Bears. LG and Doosan share the second-largest ball park in the country, Jamsil Baseball Stadium (capacity 30,200) (Lotte Giants’ Busan Sajik Baseball Stadium is slightly larger at 30,500-capacity). Both LG Twins and OB Bears were charter members of KBO in 1982 (OB Bears were founded in Daejeon in 1982; the franchise moved to Seoul in 1985 [with same name kept], before being officially renamed the Doosan Bears in 1999). The OB Bears played their first season in Seoul in 1985 at a since-demolished stadium, then in 1986 moved over to the Jamsil stadium and have shared the venue with the Twins ever since [the Nexen Heroes also use the Jamsil stadium for big games/ see Nexen section a few lines below]. Both LG Twins and Doosan Bears’ attendance has improved considerably in the last decade, and both have drawn between 15 and 20 K in the last five seasons (2010-14). However, neither ball club is particularly successful, though, because the last of the LG Twins’ 2 titles was won in 1994, while the last of the OB/Doosan Bears’ 3 titles was won in 2001. So the big 2 of Seoul have become complacent.
3rd-best draw in KBO are SK Wyverns
Besides the aforementioned take-em-or-leave-em nature of Lotte’s fickle fanbase, the only other team in South Korea that can draw in the thirteen-to-fifteen-K-range is the SK Wyverns, a relatively new club (est. 2000), from the far-western-part of Greater Seoul in the city of Incheon. SK, whose nickname of ‘wyvern’ refers to a type of dragon, basically drew terrible in their early days (ie, 2.6 K in their second season in 2001), but once they started racking up the first of their 3 titles (2007, 2008, 2010), the ball club stated drawing better, and now can easily draw in the 12 to 15 K range, and SK Wyverns drew 12.9 K last year [2014].
Worst-drawing KBO club is Nexen Heroes (from the western-side of Seoul)
The lowest-drawing club in the KBO League is Seoul’s ugly-stepchild-club, the title-less Nexen Heroes (est. 2008), who draw between 5 and 8 K. The Nexen Heroes did come close to glory last season, though, when they drew 6.9 K and made it to their first Korean Series, but fell to the Samsung Lions in 6 games {see this, 2014 Korean Series}.

    Hats off to reigning KBO camps the Samsung Lions

Samsung Lions are the second-most successful baseball club in South Korea, with 8 titles – four of which they have won consecutively (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014). The dark-sky-blue-and-silver Samsung Lions draw between 6 and 9 K at their snug, 10 K-capacity Daegu Baseball Stadium, in Daegu. Daegu, which is located inland in the south-east of the Korean peninsula, is the fourth-largest city in South Korea, and has a metro-area population of around 2.4 million.

Samsung Lions drew 7.8 K last year, which made them the team that filled their ballpark the best in the KBO in 2014 (ie, the highest percent-capacity, at 78.9). The Samsung Lions have won all their four straight Korean Series championships under manager Ryu Joong-il. In 2014, the Lions boasted three sluggers who hit 30 HR or more (Hyoung-woo Choi, Yamaico Navarro, and Lee Seung-yeop); those 3 players are featured below…
samsung-lions_kbo_daegu-stadium_2014-champs_ryu-joong-il_hyoung-woo-choi_yamaico-navarro_lee-seung-yeop_i_.gif
Photo and Image credits above –
Logo/cap/batting helmet, illustration by 삼성 라이온즈 samsunglions.com/en/intro/intro_2_2.asp.
Ryu Joong-il, photo by Yonhop at english.yonhapnews.co.kr/culturesports.
Hyoung-woo Choi, photo by Yonhop via koreatimes.co.kr/news/sports.
Yamaico Navarro, photo unattributed at licey.com.
Lee Seung-yeop, photo unattributed at koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article.
Action photo from April 2015 at Daegu Baseball Stadium with crowd behind home plate, photo by Solmin at idaegu.com/?c=6&uid=313363.
Samsung Lions cheerleaders and crowd at Daegu Baseball Stadium, photo by LHD at yeongnam.com/news.
Mascot-logo illustration by samsunglions.com.
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Thanks to all at the following links…
-Globe-map of South Korea, by Ksiom at File:South Korea (orthographic projection).svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Blank map of South Korea, by NordNordWest at :FileSouth Korea location map.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Attendance…koreabaseball.com/Record/Crowd/History (koreabaseball.com).
and…
-A very Big Thanks to Dan at MyKBO.net, for tweeting me the 2015 KBO League attendances AND translating the headers there :) Mykbo.net ; @Mykbo.net

How to read KBO League attendance figures (at the official KBO site) if you can’t read Korean…
1.) go here.
2). use the following list to translate the [non-acronym] headers…”From left – right: Samsung, KIA, Lotte, LG, Doosan, Hanhwa, SK, Nexen, NC, KT, Hyundai, Ssangbangwool’.
3). PS, Hyundai and Ssangbangwool are defunct KBO teams.

February 17, 2015

MLB: Paid Attendance (tickets-sold) map for 2014 (home/regular season average tickets-sold), including change from 2013 and percent-capacity figures.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball >paid-attendance — admin @ 6:45 pm

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MLB: Paid Attendance (tickets-sold) map for 2014




MLB attendance is defined as tickets sold.
If you buy a ticket for a Major League Baseball game, and then you don’t attend that game, your ticket that MLB sold you still counts in the officially announced attendance figure for that game. To put it another way, MLB attendance figures do not represent actual attendance, but rather, the total tickets sold for that game. The National League used to count turnstile clicks (aka ‘people in seats’), while the American League has always counted tickets sold. In 1992, the National League also began counting tickets sold instead of how many ticket-holders actually attended. Some sources say this was mainly because of revenue sharing (and the need to standardize the bookkeeping for all the MLB franchises), but revenue sharing only began ten years later, in 2002, which was a decade after the NL had started measuring attendance by tickets sold {see this, Attendance figures that count tickets sold, not turnstile clicks, make it hard for fans to reconcile what they hear with the empty seats they see (by Bill Shaikin at the Los Angeles Times)}.

In any case, counting tickets sold rather than turnstile clicks conveniently allows all 30 Major League ball clubs to get away with consistently painting a rosier picture of their attendance than what the reality is. The sad truth of the matter is, late in the season, with respect to games where the home team is out of the Pennant race, many MLB games have actual crowds that are up to around 40% less than the announced crowd size. That is because many fans who had bought tickets for that game earlier in the year then decided that it wasn’t worth attending a meaningless game late in the season, because their basement-dwelling ball club had nothing to play for.

Here is an article on this subject from the New York Times baseball blog, by Ken Belson, from Sept. 22 2012, The Official Attendance Can Become Empty of Meaning (bats.blogs.nytimes.com).

If you think that this is all pretty disingenuous, I won’t argue with that. I will simply point out this…the way that they tabulate official attendance figures in two of the three other major leagues – the NBA and the NHL – is far more dishonest. That is because the NBA and the NHL count tickets distributed toward what their official attendance figures are announced as. [Meanwhile, the NFL leaves it up to the teams, and 30 NFL teams count tickets sold, while the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers count turnstile clicks/ {see this, specifically paragraph 6 (cbssports.com by John Breech)}; {also see this, which lists the 4 major leagues' attendance-count policies, The book on attendance (utsandiego.com by Mark Zeigler)}].

And when the NBA and the NHL are measuring attendance by tickets distributed, that includes the often sizable number of tickets given away for free {see this article, How Sports Attendance Figures Speak Lies (by Maury Brown of the Biz of Baseball site, at forbes.com)}. And it is even more dishonest, because as they inflate the attendance by measuring it this way, they are inflating the “attendance” figure even more, because that tickets-distributed-attendance-figure includes all tickets distributed…even in those cases when the recipient of the free ticket didn’t even attend the game (seriously). Some NHL teams, particularly those outside of Western Canada and Toronto and Montreal, as well as those outside of the US Northeast and the US Upper Midwest, give away up to 3,000 free tickets a game! Which is how poor-drawing major-league hockey clubs in the Sunbelt, for example, can pretend they have far more ticket-buying fans than they really do. Thankfully, some franchises are seeing the corrosive effects of this (how would you feel if you shelled out big bucks for season tickets for a major-league hockey team, when sitting all around you are people seeing the game for free?)…{see this article from Oct.2014, where one of those under-supported-NHL-Sunbelt teams (the Florida Panthers) now has new ownership that is trying to stop the attendance-figure-dishonesty, by announcing actual turnstile clicks as the announced attendance, The Florida Panthers’ Empty Den (onlyagame.wbur.org)}.

So, at least, when you are given figures that measure not the actual attendance, but instead measure total tickets purchased (as in MLB)…well, you know one thing for sure, and that is that they (the MLB teams) are not lying about how many ticket they sold. They are only lying about the number of actual spectators at (some of) their games.

    Below, 2014 tickets-sold, the biggest change versus 2013 figures: change in tickets-sold of over 1,000 per game
    (11 MLB teams with plus-1,000-or-more tickets-sold / 9 MLB teams with minus-1,000-or-more tickets sold)…


Best increases in tickets sold in 2014 (versus 2013)…
Seattle Mariners: +3,738 per game.
Milwaukee Brewers: +3,287 per game.
Kansas City Royals: +2,540 per game.
Oakland Athletics: +2,399 per game.
Pittsburgh Pirates: +2,293 per game.
St. Louis Cardinals: +2,109 per game.
Miami Marlins: +1,802 per game.
Boston Red Sox: +1,516 per game.
New York Yankees: +1,507 per game.
Baltimore Orioles: +1,320 per game.
Houston Astros: +1,234 per game.

Worst decreases in tickets sold in 2014 (versus 2013)…
Philadelphia Phillies: -7,266 per game.
Texas Rangers: -5,145 per game.
Minnesota Twins: -2,803 per game.
Atlanta Braves: -2,400 per game.
Detroit Tigers: -2,502 per game.
Toronto Blue Jays: -1,988 per game.
Cleveland Indians: -1,673 per game.
Chicago White Sox: -1,452 per game.
Colorado Rockies: -1,401 per game.

On the map page…
At the far right of the map page is 2014 paid-attendance for all 30 MLB teams, along with 3 other statistics: percent-change from 2013, 2014 ballpark seating capacity, 2014 percent-capacity (which is paid-attendance divided by stadium seating capacity). At the lower right-hand corner of the map page, there are asterisk-type notes on 3 things: Boston’s different home capacities for day games and night games at Fenway Park in Boston, MA; notes on the Oakland A’s pretend-capacity (via huge tarps covering the upper decks at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, CA); and also notes on the Tampa Bay Rays’ pretend-capacity (also thanks to the egregious deployment of tarps, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL).

The circular-cap-logos on the map page are all each MLB teams’ 2014 home cap logo, except with respect to Baltimore’s circular-cap-logo, which is of their all-black road cap, because the Orioles wear their white-paneled cap at home, and I wanted to maintain a uniformity to all 30 of the circular-cap-logos on the map. The circular-cap-logos were then sized to reflect crowd size, utilizing a constant gradient (the larger the ball club’s 2014 home regular season average paid-attendance, the larger their circular-cap-logo is on the map). I used cap logos from either the ball clubs’ pages at Wikipedia or at the excellent Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos.net, depending on which was more accurate in terms of actual cap-color as well as in terms of the logo itself (Yankees and Cubs cap logos are wrong at Wikipedia, and it looks like about 17 cap-logo background colors are wrong there as well).
___
Thanks to NuclearVacuum for the blank map, File:BlankMap-North America-Subdivisions.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
Thanks to ESPN for attendances & percent capacities, espn.go.com/mlb/attendance.
Thanks to Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos.net, for several (~17) of the cap logos, sportslogos.net.
Thanks to the contributors at en.wikipedia.org, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_League_Baseball#Current_teams.

July 7, 2014

Minor League Baseball: 2013 attendance map, the 84 highest drawing teams of all the minor league teams in USA, Mexico and Canada (all teams which drew over 4,000 per game) (affiliated, independent and summer-collegiate teams) (home/regular season average crowds) / Plus illustrations for the 2 highest-drawing MiLB teams of 2013: Sultanes de Monterrey & the Columbus Clippers.

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Minor League Baseball: 2013 attendance map, 84 highest drawing teams





Attendance figures on the map (source)
From Ballparkdigest.com, from Sept. 16 2013, ‘2013 Baseball Attendance by Average [Minor Leagues]‘ (ballparkdigest.com).

From en.wikipedia, ‘Minor League Baseball/ Current system
& ‘Independent baseball league/ Current leagues‘.

    Below is an overview of Affiliated MiLB, its levels, and its relationship to the Independent leagues (or lack thereof)

Affiliated Minor League Baseball is comprised of 18 of the 19 leagues in Organized Baseball
(MiLB is an informal quasi-acronym for minor league baseball.)
Affiliated means that the minor league ball club, though being a separate entity (a separate franchise), has a player-development working agreement (a PDC) with one of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs. An affiliated MiLB team, in other words, is under the protective umbrella of Major League Baseball. I say protective, because, crucially, the MLB team provides players and coaching staff to the MiLB team, and pays their salaries. Affiliated MiLB teams are within a ladder-arrangement on, officially, 4 levels which are below Major League Baseball. But, for all intents and purposes, there really are 6 minor league levels below the Major Leagues (see 2 paragraphs below). Organized Baseball is comprised of the 30 Major League Baseball teams and all their minor league affiliates which are in the 18 MiLB leagues, plus one other league, the Mexican League, which has 16 unaffiliated teams [official name of the Mexican League is Liga Mexicana de Béisbol]. (Note: each MLB team has 7 or 8 minor league affiliates; for example, here are the Boston Red Sox’ farm teams, ‘en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Red_Sox#Minor_league_affiliations‘)

There are affiliated MiLB teams in the United States, Canada, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela, but outside of the Vancouver Canadians (an A-level ball club), all the affiliated MiLB teams above the Rookie leagues are in the USA. (As the name implies, Rookie leagues players are straight out of high school, and by signing with an MLB team, have turned pro.) The MiLB teams themselves never move up or down the leagues-ladder via on-field accomplishments (as with teams in football [soccer] leagues or in rugby leagues in other parts of the world), but once in a while, MiLB franchises can move up or down a level or so (as with the case of the Durham Bulls franchise of Durham, North Carolina, which moved up 3 levels from Class-A to Triple-A in 1998). But the crucial factor (indeed, the whole raison d’être for Organized Baseball’s minor leagues) is, of course, that minor league players themselves can and do move up the ladder all the way to the big leagues, if they have what it takes to play in The Show (the Major Leagues).

The 4 different types of minor league ball clubs:
1). Affiliated teams in Organized Baseball.
2). Unaffiliated teams in Organized Baseball [Mexican Triple-A teams].
3). Independent leagues teams.
4). Summer collegiate baseball teams [amateur teams].
There are 4 types of minor league baseball teams. Two of these types are within the set-up of Organized Baseball. The affiliated teams come from 18 minor leagues spread out within the 4 levels, which are, going from highest-placed-level to the lowest-placed-level…Triple-A (aka AAA), Double-A (AA), Single-A (A-level/see following sentence for further description), and the Rookie leagues. But actually there are really 6 levels in affiliated MiLB, because the A-level is split into three levels of its own…Advanced-A, Class-A, and short season-A (and short season-A teams are from generally speaking, much smaller cities than adv-A or A-Class cities, and are stocked with many Rookie leagues-caliber players, and play in a season about only 50% as long as higher-placed MiLB leagues [the NY-Penn and Pioneer leagues, which are the 2 short season-A leagues, don't start their seasons until June]).

The other two types of minor league ball clubs are the teams from the Independent leagues, and the teams from the summer-collegiate leagues. Both are not connected in any way with Major League Baseball (although Independent leagues teams can sell players to MLB teams). Independent leagues have sprung up in the last two decades, and there are currently [2014] 7 Independent leagues, two of which have teams which draw well enough to have made this map (see 5 paragraphs below). With Independent leagues teams, while there there is a greater chance of financial failure, there is also a wrinkle in MLB/MiLB/Organized Baseball rules which has inadvertently allowed some Independent leagues teams to do very well at the turnstiles (also see 5 paragraphs below). The basic reason why it is much harder for Independent leagues teams to succeed financially is the simple fact that these teams from the ‘outlaw’ leagues must pay salaries to their coaching staff and their players (and some times build their own ballparks), while MiLB teams within Organized Baseball have the safety net of having their coaching staff and players’ salaries paid for by their parent-club (ie, the Major League team which they are affiliated with). Finally there are the summer-collegiate leagues (see 6 paragraphs below).

Attendance measurement within Organized Baseball’s minor leagues & within other MiLB leagues
Of the 19 minor leagues within Organized Baseball, 15 measure paid attendance – all 3 of the Triple-A leagues, all 3 Double-A leagues, all 7 A-level leagues, and 2 of the 6 Rookie leagues also do: the Pioneer League of the central Rocky Mountains, and the Appalachian League of the southern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont region. The other 4 Rookie leagues do not measure attendance (those are the Arizona League, the Gulf Coast League [in Florida], the Dominican Summer League, and the Venezuelan League). The attendance measurement within the Independent leagues and within the collegiate summer leagues is way more hit-or-miss, and some of the Independent leagues don’t publish their attendances (because they are so low I am guessing). Also, some collegiate summer league teams inflate their attendance figures {see this from Ballparksdigest.com/3rd paragraph there} (so it is probably just as well that I decided to draw the line where I did with respect to crowd-sizes on the map).


I made a map of the 122-highest-drawing minor league baseball team 2 years ago {here, ‘Minor League Baseball – Top 122 drawing teams within Organized Baseball and in the Independent Leagues – all teams that drew over 3,000 per game in 2011‘ (billsportsmaps.com).

Map of 84 highest-drawing MiLB teams in 2013
This time, I decided to narrow the focus to about three-quarters of that, to all minor league baseball teams in North America which drew over 4,000 per game in 2013 (instead of all minor league teams which drew over 3,000 per game). So the map here shows the top 84-drawing minor league teams in North America from the 2013 season (from home/regular season games). On the map there ended up being 76 MiLB teams within Organized Baseball (68 of them being affiliated with one of the 30 MLB teams as farm clubs, and 8 being from the Mexican League [which, as mentioned before, is part of the Organized Baseball set-up but whose teams are franchises which have no affiliation with any MLB teams - and in fact have minor league farm clubs of their own]).

The 76 Organized Baseball/MiLB teams on the map
The horizontal bar at the top of the map page lists every Organized Baseball/MiLB team in levels 2 through 6 (see immediately below for description of Organized Baseball/MiLB levels), with the 76 Organized Baseball/MiLB teams on the map in bold type (with 2013 attendance rank), as well listing as all the other Organized Baseball/MiLB teams above the Rookie leagues which drew too low to make the map.
At the far right of the map page, the attendance list includes a column for which level the MiLB teams are in, with:
level 1 being MLB (ie, there are no level 1/MLB teams on the map because this is a map of minor league teams),
level 2 being Triple-A,
level 3 being Double-A,
level 4 being advanced-A,
level 5 being Class-A,
level 6 being short-season-A
(note: no level 7 or Rookie leagues teams made the map).

The 8 Mexican League teams on the map
The 8 Mexican League teams on the map include the highest-drawing minor league ball club in all of North America last year – the Sultanes de Monterrey, of Monterrey, Nuevo León. The seven other Mexican League teams on the map are: Saraperos de Saltillo (the Saltillo Serape Makers), Acereros de Monclova (the Monclova Steelers), Diablos Rojos del México (the Mexico [City] Red Devils), Delfines del Ciudad Carmen (the Carmen City Dolphins), Pericos de Puebla (the Puebla Parrots), Vaqueros Laguna (the Laguna Cowboys), and Leones de Yucatán (the Yucatan Lions). The Mexican League has 16 teams; here is their page on en.wikipedia.org, ‘Mexican League‘.]

The 7 Independent leagues teams on the map, and the ability of Independent leagues teams to circumvent the 75-mile-radius protected-market territory which MLB allows each MLB team to enforce within Organized Baseball [via MLB's anti-trust exemption]
As far as representation from the Independent Leagues – on the map there ended up being 7 teams which are from the Independent leagues. Although they can and do develop players who they then sell to Major League teams, the Independent leagues have no formal connection with Organized Baseball. Thus they are able to place franchises in areas that Organized Baseball has zones of exclusion, or protected territory. Such as in south-east-central Pennsylvania, where Organized Baseball protects the MLB team the Philadelphia Phillies as well as the affiliated MiLB teams the Reading Fightin’ Phils and the Harrisburg Senators from there being any other Organized Baseball/MiLB teams in that region, but where the Independent league team the Lancaster Barnstormers (and the York Revolution) ignore that monopolistic edict and flourish. Also as with the case on Long Island, New York in Nassau and Suffolk counties, where MLB protects the New York Mets (as well as the New York Yankees) from there being any Organized Baseball/MiLB team in that region, but where the Independent leagues team the Long Island Ducks ignore that monopolistic edict and flourish. And also as with the cases of the Kansas City T-Bones and the Sugar Land [Houston] Skeeters, among others.

The 7 Independent leagues teams on the map –
[Note: here is my Independent leagues attendance map, which I posted earlier in 2014 (please note that some of the text there has been repeated here, below), http://billsportsmaps.com/?p=26979 .
-The Winnipeg Goldeyes [of the American Association] (from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and the only Canadian team on the map besides the Vancouver Canadians).
-The Sugar Land Skeeters [of the Atlantic League] (from the west side of Greater Houston, Texas).
-The Kansas City T-Bones [of the American Association] (from the Kansas side of Greater Kansas City, Missouri).
-The Long Island Ducks [of the Atlantic League] (from Central Islip, Long Island, New York in Suffolk County about 25 miles east of the NYC border).
-The Somerset Patriots [of the Atlantic League] (from what can be referred to as the outer western edge of Greater New York City in Bridgewater, New Jersey).
-The St. Paul Saints [of the American Association] (from the eastern half of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota).
-The Lancaster Barnstormers [of the Atlantic League] (from Lancaster, south-east-central Pennsylvania).

The American Association [of Independent Professional Baseball]
The American Association has 16 teams and is based primarily in the Upper Midwest and the Plains States from Texas to the Dakotas, plus Manitoba and Quebec in Canada, plus a few teams in the Northeast. The American Association has been around since 2006 but features some teams that have been around for over two decades (such as the St. Paul Saints). The American Association was founded by Miles Wolff in 2006. Wolff had previously been founder of the first modern-day Independent league in 1993, with the now-defunct Northern League (of 1993-2010). Here are four excerpts from that former Independent league’s page at en.wikipedia.org…’The modern Northern League was founded by Miles Wolff. Wolff started the league after many midwestern cities contacted him (through his affiliation with Baseball America) asking how they could get a minor league team. After visiting some of them, most notably Wade Stadium in Duluth, he began contacting potential owners to start the league.’/…’The league began in 1993 with 6 teams: Duluth-Superior Dukes (Duluth, Minnesota), Rochester Aces (Rochester, Minnesota), St. Paul Saints (St. Paul, Minnesota), Sioux Falls Canaries (Sioux Falls, South Dakota), Sioux City Explorers (Sioux City, Iowa) and Thunder Bay Whiskey Jacks (Thunder Bay, Ontario). The prospects for the league were originally “cloudy.” Many forecast an early demise especially in St. Paul where competition with the Minnesota Twins led many local sportswriters to consider it a “beer league.” The league, however, was a relatively moderate success, with only the Rochester franchise struggling to draw crowds to their games.’/…’ Following the [2005] season’s conclusion St. Paul, Sioux City, Sioux Falls, and Lincoln announced they were leaving the league to form a new independent league with five teams from the folded Central Baseball League in the southern United States; the new league was to be known as the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball.’/…’Following the 2010 season, the Northern League announced that Winnipeg, Kansas City, Fargo-Moorhead, and Gary SouthShore would be leaving the league to join the American Association’ …{end of excerpts}. The Northern League folded in 2010, but its legacy and 3 of its founding teams and 5 more of its expansion teams still exist today as 8 of the 16 franchises in the American Association (the 3 founding teams of the Northern League [1993-2010] which still exist today in the American Association are the St. Pauls Saints, the Sioux City Explorers, and the Sioux Falls Canaries). Miles Wolff, the founder of the influential publication Baseball America, and the modern-day creator of the Independent league-model, was commissioner of the trailblazing Northern League from 1993 to 2002. Wolff is presently commissioner of the American Association (which is headquartered in Durham, NC). Wolff also owns the American Association team the Québec Capitales (of Quebec City, Quebec, Canada), as well as the collegiate summer league team the Elmira Pioneers. Here is the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball’s page at en.wikipedia.org, ‘American Association of Independent Professional Baseball‘.

There is one American Association team that owns its ballpark, the highest-drawing Independent leagues team, the Winnipeg Goldeyes, who play at Shaw Park. Shaw Park, which opened in 1999 and has been expanded twice since, has a capacity of 7,481. It is owned by Sam Katz, owner of the Goldeyes, and, since 2004, the mayor of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Katz, the first Jewish mayor of Manitoba, is in his third term.

Atlantic League [Professional Baseball],
The Atlantic League has 8 teams in their league. The Atlantic League has 7 teams in the Northeast and one team in Greater Houston, Texas. The league will soon expand to two locations in Virginia (probably in 2016/ see this post from the Indepenent Baseball.net site, http://www.independentbaseball.net/independent-baseball-teams/midoctober-recap-independent-pro-baseball-industry/), adding one new team in northern Virginia in Greater Washington DC [the Loudon Hounds of Ashburn, VA]; and one new team in SE coastal Virginia near Norfolk [the Virginia Beach Neptunes of Virginia Beach, VA]. It might interest you to know that Baseball Hall of Famer/Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson (in a consortium named Opening Day Partners) is a co-owner of the Lancaster team & the York team and the Texas team (and 2 other franchises in the Atlantic League). The NY Mets fan favorite, mercurial Shortstop Bud Harrelson, is a co-owner of the Long Island team. Harrelson co-owns the Long Island Ducks with Long Island-native Frank Boulton, who used to own the now-defunct Albany, NY Eastern League franchise, then tried to set up a Long Island-based team still within the Organized Baseball umbrella, but was blocked by MLB and the New York Mets from doing so, then set up the Independent league in 1998. 2 years later, Boulton and the Atlantic League put a franchise in Suffolk County, Long Island, NY, with the Mets powerless to stop him. Boulton thumbed his nose at MLB and built the 6 K-capacity Bethpage Ballpark in 2000, where the Ducks pack ‘em in to this day, setting a consecutive-sellout-record for MiLB along the way. Here is what it says about all that at the Atlantic League‘s page at en.wikipedia.org, {excerpt}…’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.’…{end of excerpt}.

The Long Island Ducks are one of three Atlantic League teams which own and operate the ballparks they play in (the other two are the Sugar Land Skeeters, and the soon-to-be-expansion team the Loudon Hounds of northern Virginia).

The only amateur team on the map, the Madison Mallards
Finally, there is one amateur team on the map – the Madison Mallards. They are in the Northwoods League, which is one of many collegiate summer baseball leagues in the US. The collegiate ballplayers on these teams only receive a room and board stipend (as mentioned before, all the rest of the teams on the map are from leagues which are professional – and that includes the teams from the Independent leagues). In places such as Cope Cod in Massachusetts and in Alaska and in New England and in Upstate New York and in Wisconsin/Minnesota/Iowa/western Ontario, Canada and in the South Atlantic (as well as several other regions), there are leagues such as this. Actually there are quite a lot of these leagues {see this, ‘List of collegiate summer baseball leagues‘}. With one exception, the summer-collegiate leagues teams do not draw above 3,000 per game, but it must be pointed out that attendances in the collegiate summer leagues have been steadily improving in the last few years. In 2013, there were 7 collegiate summer league teams that drew over 2,000 per game, out of 144 teams from the 14 primary summer-collegiate leagues/{see this from Ballparkdigest.com, ‘2013 Summer-Collegiate Attendance by League‘}. The exception is the Madison Mallards, of Madison, Wisconsin (a city which lost its A-level affiliated minor league team after the 1994 season). The Mallards drew an astounding 6,100 per game in 2013. Think about it – 6K per game of ticket-paying public…and no players’ salaries to pay. Talk about a sweet deal for the Mallards’ owners. Why MLB has not put an MiLB team back in Madison, Wisconsin is an absolute mystery to me.

What the map shows
Below is a list of all minor leagues which measure attendance. The total number teams in the league drawing above 4K per game in 2013 (ie, teams on the map here) are listed in bold type.
Below: List of 2013 MiLB attendance by league (the list includes all 15 MiLB leagues within Organized Baseball which measure attendance plus the top 2-drawing Independent leagues)
List below is ranked in order of highest-to-lowest-drawing, with affiliated-MiLB levels noted, and with season length noted [knowing that total games in season divided by 2 equals the number of home games per team].
(Note: at the top horizontal bar above the map on the map page, these league-average-attendance figures are also shown, but here they are shown from highest to lowest league-average.)
(Please also note: level 1=Major League Baseball {not listed here}; Mexican League is at level 2, but with its teams being unaffiliated; while Independent leagues level is n/a but is probably equivalent to Double-A or level 3-caliber.)
#1, International League (Triple-A/ level/ 2 / 14 teams/ 144 game regular season), 7,041 per game. 13 of 14 teams drew above 4K per game in 2013.
#2, Pacific Coast League (Triple-A/ level 2 / 16 teams/ 144 game regular season), 6,053 per game. 15 of 16 teams drew above 4K per game in 2013.
#3, Texas League (Double-A/ level 3 / 8 teams/ 140 game regular season), 5,377 per game. All 8 teams teams drew above 4K per game in 2013.
#4, Eastern League (Double-A / level 3 / 14 teams/ 142 game regular season), 4,616 per game. 8 of 12 teams drew above 4K per game in 2013.
#5, Mexican League (Triple-A, but unaffiliated) / level 2 / 16 teams/ 114 game regular season), 4,519 per game. 8 of 16 teams drew above 4K per game in 2013.
#6, Atlantic League Pro Baseball (Independent league/ level: n/a / 8 teams/ 140 game regular season), 4,152 per game. 4 of 8 teams drew above 4K per game in 2013.
#7, Midwest League (Class-A/ level 5 / 16 teams/ 140 game regular season), 3,907 per game. 5 of 16 teams drew above 4K per game in 2013.
#8, Carolina League (Advanced-A/ level 4 / 8 teams/ 140 game regular season), 3,657 per game. 3 of 8 teams drew above 4K per game in 2013.
#9, Southern League (Double-A/ level 3 / 10 teams/ 140 game season), 3,515 per game. 3 of 10 teams drew above 4K per game in 2013.
#10, American Association of Independent Pro Baseball (Independent league/ level: n/a / 13 teams / 100 game regular season), 3,435 per game. 3 of 13 teams drew above 4K per game in 2013.
#11, Northwest League (Short season-A/ level 6 / 8 teams/ 76 game regular season), 3,292 per game. 2 of 8 teams drew above 4K per game in 2013.
#12, South Atlantic League (Class-A)/ level 5 / 14 teams/ 140 game regular season), 3,262 per game. 5 of 14 teams drew above 4K per game in 2013.
#13, New York-Penn League (Short season-A/ level 6 / 14 teams/ 74 game regular season), 3,173 per game. 5 of 14 teams drew above 4K per game in 2013.
#14, Pioneer League (Rookie)/ level 7 / 8 teams/ 76 game regular season), 2,282 per game. Zero teams drew above 4K per game in 2013.
#15, California League (Advanced-A/ level 4 / 10 teams/ 140 game regular season), 2,275 per game. Zero teams drew above 4K per game in 2013.
#16, Florida State League (Advanced-A/ level 4 / 12 teams/ 140 game regular season) 1,606 per game. Zero teams drew above 4K per game in 2013.
#17, Appalachian League (Rookie)/ level 7 / 10 teams/ 68 game regular season), 894 per game. Zero teams drew above 4K per game in 2013.
-Data for above list at ballparkdigest.com/2013-affiliated-attendance-by-league;
and at ballparkdigest.com/2013-independent-attendance-by-league.

    Below are illustrated profiles of the top two drawing minor league baseball teams in 2013 – the unaffiliated MiLB team Sultanes de Monterrey, of Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico (from the Triple-A Mexican League); and the Columbus Clippers, of Columbus, Ohio (the top affiliated ball club of the Cleveland Indians, from the Triple-A International League).

Below: Estadio de Béisbol Monterrey,the largest ballpark in Mexico, and, for the second straight season, the home of the highest-drawing minor league ball club in North America, Sultanes de Monterrey…
estadio-de-beisbol_monterrey-sultanes_best-milb-attendance-2013_.gif
Photo credits for Estadio de Béisbol Monterrey above -
Sultanes cap logo, photo from neweraaustraliasale.com/sultanes-de-monterrey-new-era-snapback-navyred.
Exterior photo, unattributed (uploaded by Jakovo Mtz)at pinterest.com
Aerial photo, unattributed (uploaded by PUMAS AJV) at skyscraperlife.com.
Interior/day-time photo, from sultanes.com.mx.
Interior/night-time photo, unattributed at el-fanatico.com.

Below: Huntington Park, home of the Columbus Clippers…
2014/04/huntington-park_columbus-clippers_2nd-best-milb-attendance-2013_.gif
Photo credits for Huntington Park (Columbus, OH) above -
Exterior, northbankcondos.com/overview/photovideogallery
Left Field Building, scolinssportsvenuesvisited.blogspot.com/2013/05/122-huntington-park-columbus-oh
Right Field Stands, Tom Reed at cleveland.oh.us/wmv_news/tomreed44.htm.
Panorama, dispatch.com/clippers.
___
Photo credits on map page,
Lexington Legends cap logo, photo from lexington.milbstore.com.
Winston-Salem Dash cap logo, photo from wsdash.milbstore.com.
Pericos de Puebla cap logo, photo from h2b.mx/products/pericos-de-puebla-mexican-pro-59fifty-cap.
Delfines de Ciudad del Carmen cap logo, photo from http://photos-c.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-frc3/t1.0-0/c0.90.540.360/10177312_275182789310312_2283421102371401731_n.jpg.
Long Island Ducks cap logo, photo from t20.glitnirticketing.com/ldticket/store.
Acereros del Norte cap logo from acereros.com.mx.
Winnipeg Goldeyes home cap, photo from Goldeyes’ site at http://www.goldeyes.com/shop/shop-index.
Rochester Red Wing new 2014 cap logo, illustration from milb.com/news/article ['Wings unveil brand new logos'].
Saraperos de Saltillo cap logo, photo from ecapcity.com/saraperos-de-saltillo-new-era-snapback-teal-black.
Toledo Mud Hens home cap logo, photo from strictlyfitteds.com/blog/2013/01/milb-new-eratoledo-mud-hens-fitted-baseball-cap.
Sultanes de Monterrey cap logo, photo from articulo.mercadolibre.com.mx/MLM-447192360-gorra-new-era-5950-sultanes-de-monterrey.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Minor League Baseball‘.
Thanks very much to Ballparkdigest.com

May 14, 2014

Independent leagues (unaffiliated minor league baseball): map and chart of the 44 Independent leagues teams in USA & Canada in 2013 which announced attendances (home regular season games).

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: Independent Leagues — admin @ 9:21 pm

baseball_minor-leagues_independent-leagues_highest-drawing-teams_2013-avg-attendance_post_e_.gif
Independent Leagues (Unaffiliated minor league baseball): map & chart of the 44 Independent Leagues teams in USA & Canada in 2013 which announced attendances




Source of attendance data used on map & chart:
Independent baseball league‘ (en.wikipedia.org).
From Ballpark Digest.com, from September 16, 2013 ‘2013 Independent Attendance by Average‘ (ballparkdigest.com).

Before I get started, 3 of the 4 the leagues on this map started their seasons this year in the 3rd week of May; here are links to the 4 Independent leagues featured on the map…
-American Association, at americanassociationbaseball.com;
/ American Association/Can-Am Division (4 teams), at canamleague.com.
-Atlantic League, at atlanticleague.com.
-Frontier League, at frontierleague.com.
-United Baseball League, at unitedleaguebaseball.pointstreaksites.com/view/unitedleague.

The attendance map (click on image at top of this post) is for Independent Leagues teams in North America. There are 7 Independent leagues currently operating [2014], down from 8 last season [2013], as the Can-Am League, was absorbed into the now-16-team AAIPB (American Association). [Note: the Can-Am League might continue to pretend it is an autonomous league of its own, and it might continue to have its own website (see above link), but (since 2012) it plays an integrated schedule with the American Association, and since 2014 it is one of the 4 divisions in the American Association - the 4-team Can-Am Division of the AA; and both leagues are headquartered in Durham, NC, and both are run by the same commissioner, Miles Wolff.]

What the map and chart shows…
The map shows Independent leagues teams in USA & Canada that announced attendances figures (from home regular season games) in 2013. The teams on the map are from the following 4 Independent leagues…
-American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, 12 of the 13 teams (the other one being the now-dormant El Paso Diablos franchise/see note at the asterisk [*] at the end of this paragraph), from the 2013 American Association.
(American Association est. 2006/16 teams*/range: Plains States from Dakotas to Texas; Indiana; Manitoba, Canada.)
-Atlantic League Professional Baseball, all 8 teams, from the 2013 Atlantic League.
(Atlantic League est. 1998/8 teams)/range; Northeast; and Greater Houston, Texas.)
-Frontier League, 13 teams (of the 14 teams, the other one being the travelling-team the Frontier Greys), from the 2013 Frontier League.
(Frontier League est. 1993/14 teams/range: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, western Pennsylvania.)
-United League Baseball 4 of the 5 teams (the other one being the now-defunct Alexandria Aces), from the 2013 United League Baseball.
(United League Baseball est. 2013/range: Texas [south-central and far southern Texas]; [plus, formerly, Alexandria, Louisiana].)
-Can-Am League [Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball], 4 of the 5 teams (the other one being the now-dormant Newark Bears), from the 2013-and-now-defunct Can-Am League.
*Note, the Can-Am League, which existed from 2004-13, was down to 4 teams by late 2013. It was absorbed in 2014 into the now-16-team American Association. (The Can-Am League had 2 teams from Quebec, Canada and 1 team each from New York and New Jersey, and now those 4 teams comprise the Can-Am Division of the 4-division American Association).

Also note that: 3 teams listed on the attendance list at the far right-hand-side of the map page were not placed on the map, as they are as of 2014 either defunct or dormant (the [dormant] El Paso Diablos [who vacated El Paso when the affiliated Triple-A league the PCL put a San Diego Padres farm club in El Paso; the franchise will renew active status in 2015 in Joplin, MO] and the [defunct] Alexandria Aces, and the [dormant] Newark Bears).
One final note: there are no new expansion teams in any of the 4 Independent leagues listed above, but next season, 2015, the Atlantic League will expand from an 8-team to a 10-team league, with the debuts of the Virginia Beach Neptunes of Virginia’s south coast, and the Loudoun Hounds of Ashburn, Virginia (which is 30 mi NW of Washington, DC).

    Independent league baseball

Independent leagues have no affiliation with Major League Baseball – no player development contracts means the Independent leagues teams must pay for personnel. As it says in Wikipedia’s page on affiliated minor league baseball…’Generally, the parent major league club pays the salaries and benefits of uniformed personnel (players and coaches) and bats and balls, while the minor league club pays for in-season travel and other operational expenses…’ (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minor League Baseball/Current system). The positive side of no MLB affiliation means Independent leagues teams are not bound to abide by MLB’s onerous territorial mandates. For example, MLB allows no MiLB (affiliated minor league baseball) teams to be located in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, NY (ie, Long Island) [to protect the NY Mets]; as well as no other affiliated teams in southeast-central-Pennsylvania [to protect the MiLB teams Reading Phils and the Harrisburg Senators]. So Independent leagues teams have sprung up in those 2 areas and have done well at the gates [Long Island Ducks; York Revolution and Lancaster Barnstormers].

Also, Organized Baseball usually does not put its affiliated minor league teams within the 75-mile-radius territory of the 30 MLB teams – with a few exceptions such as Tacoma, WA; Reading, PA; Toledo, OH; San Jose, CA; Tampa and Clearwater, FL; and, recently (in the last 20 years) in Dayton, OH; and in Lakewood Township, NJ; and in Brooklyn and in Staten Island, NY. But Independent leagues teams, again, can ignore MLB’s territorial edicts, hence the (successful) Independent leagues teams like the Kansas City T-Bones of Kansas City, KS (right next to MLB’s Kansas City Royals); and the Independent leagues team the Sugar Land Skeeters of Greater Houston, TX (right next to MLB’s Houston Astros); and the Independent leagues team the St. Paul Saints (right next to MLB’s Minnesota Twins); and the Independent leagues team the Somerset Patriots (relatively close by to MLB’s NY Yankees and NY Mets).

The fact that in the 2013 off-season one league was absorbed into another Independent league and that 3 teams closed up shop is nothing new when you are talking about Independent leagues/unaffiliated minor league baseball. Without the protection of a Major League Baseball team’s affiliation…the sort of protection which is enjoyed by all the teams in Triple-A baseball (except the Mexican League), and in Double-A baseball, and in the three A-League levels, and in the Rookie Leagues…an Independent league team is very vulnerable to economic insolvency. That is particularly the case if decent crowds (like over 1,500 or so) fail to materialize. In the last two decades (since 1993), there have been some real success stories in Independent leagues baseball (as you can see in the top 6-drawing teams profiled below), but the field is also littered with several dozens of defunct ball clubs (as you can see, for example, in this list of defunct Can-Am teams {en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Former_Can-Am_League_Franchises}).

Below are short profiles of the two highest-drawing Independent leagues…

The American Association [of Independent Professional Baseball]
The American Association has 16 teams and is based primarily in the Upper Midwest and the Plains States from Texas to the Dakotas, plus Manitoba and Quebec in Canada, plus a few teams in the Northeast. The American Association has been around since 2006 but features some teams that have been around for over two decades (such as the St. Paul Saints). The American Association was founded by Miles Wolff in 2006. Wolff had previously been founder of the first modern-day Independent league in 1993, with the now-defunct Northern League (of 1993-2010). Here are four excerpts from that former Independent league’s page at en.wikipedia.org…’The modern Northern League was founded by Miles Wolff. Wolff started the league after many midwestern cities contacted him (through his affiliation with Baseball America) asking how they could get a minor league team. After visiting some of them, most notably Wade Stadium in Duluth, he began contacting potential owners to start the league.’/…’The league began in 1993 with 6 teams: Duluth-Superior Dukes (Duluth, Minnesota), Rochester Aces (Rochester, Minnesota), St. Paul Saints (St. Paul, Minnesota), Sioux Falls Canaries (Sioux Falls, South Dakota), Sioux City Explorers (Sioux City, Iowa) and Thunder Bay Whiskey Jacks (Thunder Bay, Ontario). The prospects for the league were originally “cloudy.” Many forecast an early demise especially in St. Paul where competition with the Minnesota Twins led many local sportswriters to consider it a “beer league.” The league, however, was a relatively moderate success, with only the Rochester franchise struggling to draw crowds to their games.’/…’ Following the [2005] season’s conclusion St. Paul, Sioux City, Sioux Falls, and Lincoln announced they were leaving the league to form a new independent league with five teams from the folded Central Baseball League in the southern United States; the new league was to be known as the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball’./…’Following the 2010 season, the Northern League announced that Winnipeg, Kansas City, Fargo-Moorhead, and Gary SouthShore would be leaving the league to join the American Association’ …{end of excerpts}.

The Northern League folded in 2010, but its legacy and 3 of its founding teams and 5 more of its expansion teams still exist today as 8 of the 16 franchises in the American Association (the 3 founding teams of the Northern League [1993-2010] which still exist today in the American Association are the St. Pauls Saints, the Sioux City Explorers, and the Sioux Falls Canaries). Miles Wolff, the founder of the influential publication Baseball America, and the modern-day creator of the Independent league-model, was commissioner of the trailblazing Northern League from 1993 to 2002. Wolff is presently commissioner of the American Association. Wolff also owns the American Association team the Québec Capitales (of Quebec City, Quebec, Canada), as well as the collegiate summer league team the Elmira Pioneers.

There is one American Association team that owns its ballpark, the highest-drawing Independent leagues team, the Winnipeg Goldeyes, who play at Shaw Park. Shaw Park, which opened in 1999 and has been expanded twice since, has a capacity of 7,481. It is owned by Sam Katz, owner of the Goldeyes, and, since 2004, the mayor of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Katz, the first Jewish mayor of Manitoba, is in his third term.

Atlantic League [Professional Baseball],
The Atlantic League has 8 teams in their league (and will expand to 10 teams in 2015). The Atlantic League has 7 teams in the Northeast and one team in Greater Houston, Texas, and will expand to two locations in Virginia next season [2015] (adding one new team in northern Virginia in Greater Washington DC [the Loudon Hounds of Ashburn, VA]; and one new team in SE coastal Virginia near Norfolk [the Virginia Beach Neptunes of Virginia Beach, VA]. It might interest you to know that Baseball Hall of Famer/Baltimore Orioles Third Baseman Brooks Robinson (in a consortium named Opening Day Partners) is a co-owner of the Lancaster team & the York team and the Texas team (and 2 other franchises in the Atlantic League). The NY Mets fan favorite, mercurial Shortstop Bud Harrelson, is a co-owner of the Long Island team. Harrelson co-owns the Ducks with Long Island-native Frank Boulton, who used to own the now-defunct Albany, NY Eastern League franchise (an affiliated team in Double-A baseball). Boulton sold that team, then tried to set up a Long Island-based team still within the Organized Baseball umbrella, but was blocked by MLB and the New York Mets from doing so, then set up the Independent league the Atlantic League (originally a 4-team league), in 1998. 2 years later, Boulton and the Atlantic League put a franchise in Suffolk County, Long Island, NY, with Major League Baseball and the NY Mets powerless to stop him. Boulton thumbed his nose at MLB and built the 6 K-capacity Bethpage Ballpark in 2000, where the Ducks pack ‘em in to this day, setting a consecutive-sellout-record for minor league baseball along the way. Here is what it says about all that at the Atlantic League page at en.wikipedia.org, {excerpt}…’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.’…{end of excerpt}.

Here is a very recent article from CBS/New York, by Peter Schwartz, from May 2, 2014, about the continued success of the Long Island Ducks, ‘15 Years Later, Long Island Ducks Are Still Quacking‘. (newyork.cbslocal.com/category/sports)

The Long Island Ducks (see illustration below) are one of three Atlantic League teams which own and operate the ballparks they play in. The other two are the Sugar Land Skeeters (see illustration below), and the soon-to-be-expansion team the Loudon Hounds of northern Virginia.

Below are illustrated profiles of the 6 highest-drawing Independent leagues teams…

    The Top 6-drawing Independent Leagues Teams in 2013 (3 teams from the American Association and 3 teams from the Atlantic League)…

Winnipeg Goldeyes (American Association), 5,880 per game in 2013 (best attendance in Independent leagues in 2013).
winnipeg-goldeyes_shaw-park_highest-drawing_independent-leagues-team_2013_c_.gif
Photo credits above -
Winnipeg Goldeyes home cap, photo from Goldeyes’ site at http://www.goldeyes.com/shop/shop-index.
Shaw Park front-entrance, photo by Ccrryyee at ‘File:Winnipeg Goldeyes Baseball Club entrance.JPG‘ (en.wikipedia.org).
Shaw Park interior photo by Charlie at charliesballparks.com/st/MB-Winnipeg-CanWest.

Sugar Land Skeeters (Atlantic League): 5,537 per game in 2013 (second-best attendance in Independent leagues in 2013).
sugarland-skeeters_constellation-park_2nd-best-attendance_independent-leagues_2013_b_.gif
Photo credit above -
timstanleyphotography.com/constellation-field.

Kansas City T-Bones (American Association): 5,420 per game in 2013 (third-best attendance in Independent leagues in 2013).
kansas-city-t-bones_community-america-ballpark_3rd-best-independent-leagues_attendance_2013_b_.gif
Photo credit above -
James Hilchen at stadiumjourney.com/stadiums/communityamerica-ballpark-s239/images.

Long Island Ducks (Atlantic League): 5,303 per game in 2013 (fourth-best attendance in Independent leagues in 2013).
long-island-ducks_bethpage-ballpark_4th-best-attendance_independent-leagues_2013_d_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
LI Ducks’ back-to-back Atlantic League champions logo from liducks.com.
Photo of Bethpage Ballpark (then called Citibank Park) by Eric and Wendy Pastore at digitalballparks.com/Atlantic/Citibank.

Somerset Patriots (Atlantic League): 5,223 per game in 2013 (fifth-best attendance in Independent leagues in 2013).
somerset-patriots_td-bank-ballpark_5th-best-attendance_independent-leagues_2013_c_.gif
Photo credit above -
atlanticleague.com/ballpark-somerset.

St. Paul Saints (American Association): 4,886 per game in 2103 (sixth-best attendance in Independent leagues in 2013).
st-paul-saints_6th-best-attendance_independent-leagues_2013_midway-stadium_b_.gif
Photo credit above -
Steve Cuddihy at twincitiesdailyphoto.com/2008_08_01_archive.
___
Thanks to NuclearVacuum, at Wikimedia Commons, for the base map (blank map) of North America, at ‘File:BlankMap-North America-Subdivisions.svg‘ (commons.wikimedia.org).
Thanks to Winnipeg Goldeyes site, for photo of their cap logo, http://www.goldeyes.com/shop/shop-index.
Thanks to Long Island Ducks site, for the photo of their cap logo, t20.glitnirticketing.com/ldticket/store.
Thanks to Camden RiverSharks site, for photo of their cap logo, shop.riversharks.com/shop.
Thanks to CruiseFashion.co.uk, for photo of Amarillo Sox cap logo, images.cruisefashion.co.uk/images/products.uk/90909603_3plat_a1.jpg.
Thanks to Francois Gervais for his photo of Trois Rivieres Aigles players, at lapresse.ca/le-nouvelliste/sports – I used a segment of the photo for the Aigles’ cap logo on the map.
Thanks to Jav at OOTP Developments.com/board (forums) for San Angelo Colts logo, at ootpdevelopments.com/board/ootp-mods-logos-graphics-html/147410-san-angelo-colts-request.html.
Thanks to Flickr.com for the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings cap logo, at farm7.staticflickr.com/6008/5945116566_10de6d0092.jpg.

Thanks to Ballpark Digest.com for continuing to have reliable posts on MLB, MiLB, and Independent Leagues attendance.

February 16, 2014

MLB: attendance map for 2013 (home/regular season average attendance), including change from 2012 and percent-capacity figures.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball >paid-attendance — admin @ 6:37 pm

http://billsportsmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/mlb_attendance2013_segment_.gif
MLB: attendance map for 2013 (home/regular season average attendance), including change from 2012 and percent-capacity figures




MLB attendance in 2013 was 30,514 per game as a league total, which was down from 30,895 in 2012 – in other words, crowds last season in the Major Leagues were down -1.2 percent from 2012. Here is an article at USA Today from October 1 2013, ‘MLB attendance drops 1.2 percent this year‘ (usatoday.com/story/sports). Nevertheless, 2013 was the sixth-highest drawing season for MLB (for full seasons/ the MLB league attendance record was set in 1993, the year before the last players’ strike, at 31,337 per game) [you can see year-by-year league-attendance averages, from 1980 to 2013, in the link above].

    Biggest attendance increases and worst attendance drop-offs for 2013 in Major League Baseball

{MLB attendance figures here (espn.go.com)}.

In 2013, the Toronto Blue Jays, owing to pre-season excitement in Ontario, Canada about the Jays’ big signings (that flopped), had the highest increase at the turnstiles, going from 25,921 per game (in 2012) to 31,315 (in 2013) – which was an increase of 5,394 per game or +20.8 percent. The Blue Jays ended up only winning one more game (than in 2012) last season, finishing in last in the AL East at 74-88. But that spike in attendance could see some positives, as this article from the Toronto Star from Sept. 20 2013 by Brendan Kennedy points out, {‘Blue Jays: Boost in attendance could mean payroll increase‘ (thestar.com/sports/bluejays)}.

The only other team with a crowd-size-increase above 10 percent last season was the Los Angeles Dodgers, who won the NL West and drew best in MLB in 2013 at 45,216 per game at Dodger Stadium (an increase of of 4,176 per game or +12.6% from 2012, when the Dodgers drew 41,040 [for 5th-best in MLB in 2012]). So the LA Dodgers, now under new and non-dysfunctional ownership, reclaimed their status as the highest-drawing baseball club on Earth – they last led the Major Leagues in attendance in 2009. Look for the Dodgers to repeat as the top drawing ball club in 2014.

Other success stories in MLB in 2013 with respect to crowd-size increases could be seen at the following ball clubs.
Baltimore Orioles: attendance increase of +9.3% [18th-best attendance in MLB in 2013 at 29,105 per game], which was an increase of +2,495 per game. This on the heels of a playoff-season in 2012 for the O’s; in 2013 they went 85-77.
Washington Nationals: attendance increase of +9.1% [11th-best attendance in MLB in 2013 at 32,745 per game], which was an increase of +2,735 per game. This, like nearby Baltimore, was also on the heels of a playoff-season in 2012 for the Nats; in 2013 they went 86-76.
Cincinnati Reds: attendance increase of +7.9% [15th-best attendance in MLB in 2013 at 31,288 per game], which was an increase of +2,310 per game. Attendance in Cincy continues its gradual rise, as the Reds made the playoffs again in 2013 (and for the 3rd time in 4 years)…in 2013, the Reds drew their best since their move to their then-new ballpark in 2003.
Pittsburgh Pirates: attendance increase of +7.8% [19th-best attendance in MLB in 2013 at 28,210 per game], which was an increase of +2,062 per game. Attendance was of course boosted by the Pirates’ successful playoff run, as Bucs made the playoffs for the first time in 21 seasons (previously in 1992).
Oakland Athletics: attendance increase of + 7.7% [23rd-best attendance in MLB in 2013 at 22,337 per game], which was an increase of +1,609 per game. The A’s, under GM Billy Beane, have written the book (well Michael Lewis did, with Moneyball), on how to exploit market inefficiencies for the last decade-and-a-half. But Oakland has had traditionally poor attendance, and in 2009, 2010, and 2011 had the lowest in the league (in the 17-18K range). But a party-like atmosphere there at the Coliseum and a second straight AL West title saw the A’s inch up to 22.3 K per game in 2013.
Colorado Rockies: attendance increase of +6.2% [10th-best attendance in MLB in 2013 at 34,491 per game], which was an increase of + 2,017 per game. The Rockies were bad once again, finishing in last in the NL West, but they continued to draw well. The Rockies were aided by 5 high-drawing inter-league home games in 2013: three home games versus the Yankees in May, and two home games versus the Red Sox in August…those 5 games averaged over 40,000. {See this article by David Martin at Rockies Review blog from Sept. 12 2012 that accurately predicted this attendance upswing for the Rockies, ‘Colorado Rockies will get great attendance in 2013 regardless of disappointment‘ (rockiesreview.com)}.

Meanwhile the Miami Marlins (at their new instant-White-Elephant of a stadium) had the worst drop-off at the turnstiles, going from 27,400 per game [and 18th-best in 2012] 2 seasons ago, to an abysmal 19,584 per game last season [second-worst in MLB in 2013, better only than their fellow Floridians, the perennially lowest-drawing MLB team, the Tampa Bay Rays]. That was a drop-off of over 7,500 per game for the Marlins compared to 2012. This in a brand-new stadium.

Below is a chart I put together that shows the 8 MLB teams which had the highest average attendance increases in 2013 (Blue Jays, Dodgers, Orioles, Nationals, Reds, Pirates, A’s, and Rockies); and the 8 MLB teams which had the most drastic average attendance decreases in 2013 (Yankees, Cubs, White Sox, Rangers, Brewers, Twins, Phillies, and Marlins).

mlb_2013_average-attendance_best-increases_worst-decreases_versus-2012_c_.gif
Data for chart above from – http://espn.go.com/mlb/attendance/_/year/2012.
___
Thanks to ESPN for all MLB teams’ 2012 and 2013 attendance figures (and for Boston Red Sox’ 2013 home percent-capacity figure), at espn.go.com/mlb/attendance.
Thanks to mlb.com/shop for 29 of the MLB teams’ home cap photos.
Thanks to sportsstation1.com for the photo of the Baltimore Orioles’ home cap.

July 3, 2013

Minor League Baseball: the Appalachian League (Advanced-Rookie Classification).

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: MiLB >Rookie — admin @ 6:28 pm

milb_2013_appalachian-league_post_.gif
Minor League Baseball: the Appalachian League (III) (Advanced-Rookie Classification)



Minor League Baseball attendance – ‘2012 Affiliated Attendance by League‘ (ballparkdigest.com).

There are 6 leagues within Organized Baseball which are Rookie Class leagues: the Appalachian League, the Pioneer League, the Arizona League, the Gulf Coast League, and 2 foreign-based leagues, the Dominican Summer League, and Venezuelan Summer League. But in only two of them are attendances measured. Those 2 are also classified a bit differently, as Advanced-Rookie. They are the Appalachian League and the Pioneer League.

The Advanced-Rookie classification
From the en.wikipedia.org page ‘Minor League Baseball‘,…{excerpt}…”Leagues in the Rookie classification play a shortened season…starting in mid-June and ending in late August or early September. … Advanced Rookie leagues (Appalachian and Pioneer) play between 67 and 75 games… .
The Appalachian and Pioneer leagues are actually hybrid leagues; while officially classed as “Rookie” leagues, eight major league teams have their highest-class short season teams in those leagues. These eight teams also maintain Rookie-level teams in other leagues as well. The Gulf Coast and Arizona leagues are informally known as “complex” leagues, nicknamed for the minor-league complexes where most games in those leagues are played.” …{end of excerpt}.

{Excerpt from the ‘Pioneeer League‘ page at en.wikipedia.org} …”Classified as a Rookie league, the Pioneer League [as well as the Appalachian League, are]…predominantly made up of players out of high school and [are] almost exclusively the first professional league many players compete in.”…{end of excerpt}.

    A brief history of the Appalachian League, with present-day locations of teams noted

The Appalachian League (III) is the third league which has used that name, the first being located in eastern Tennessee, far western North Carolina, and far western Virginia in the early part of the 20th century. The original Appalachian League (I) existed for 4 seasons from 1911 to 1914, and was a totally Independent league (with no teams having any Major League affiliation). The 6 teams in the first season were – Asheville (NC) Moonshiners, Bristol (VA) Boosters, Cleveland (TN) Counts, Johnson City (TN) Soldiers, Knoxville Appalachians, and Morristown (TN) Jobbers. [1911 was the first appearance of 2 locations which have present-day teams [2013] in the Appalachian League – Bristol, Virginia, with the present-day Bristol White Sox (CWS); and Johnson City, Tennessee, with the present-day Johnson City Cardinals (STL).].

The second Appalachian League (II) existed for 5 seasons from 1921 to 1925 and again was entirely comprised of Independent teams (this is probably the reason why the first and second versions of the Appalachian Leagues both failed). The 6 teams in the first season of the second version of the Appalachian League (II) in 1921 were – the Bristol State-Liners, the Cleveland Manufacturers, the Greeneville (TN) Burley Cats, the [second iteration of the] Johnson City Soldiers, the Kingsport (TN) Indians, and the Knoxvlle Pioneers. [1921 was the first appearance of 2 locations which have present-day teams [2013] in the Appalachian League – Kingsport, Tennessee, with the present-day Kingsport Mets (NYM); and Greeneville, North Carolina, with the presnt-day Greeneville Astros (HOU).].

The third version of the Appalachian League was a D-level minor league, which was the lowest level in the pre-1963/64 Organized Baseball set-up. The Appalachian League (III) started in 1937 and had 4 teams, one of which, the Elizabethton Betsy Red Sox of Elizabethton, Tennessee, had an affiliation with a Major League Baseball team, the Boston Red Sox. That was the first Appalachian League team in leagues (I), (II), or (III) to have a Major League affiliation. The 4 teams in the first season of the present-day Appalachian League in 1937 were – the Elizabethton Betsy Red Sox (BOS-AL), the [third iteration of the] Johnson City Soldiers (Independent), the Newport (TN) Canners (Independent), and the Pennington Gap (VA) Lee Bears (Independent). [1937 was the first appearance of one location which has a present-day team [2013] in the Appalachian League – Elizabethton, Tennessee, with the present-day Elizabethton Twins (MIN).].

Unlike many other minor leagues, the Appalachian League was not forced to cancel seasons during World War II, but it did play with a smaller league-size of only 4 teams. After the War in 1946, in the 10th season of the Appalachian League (III), the league expanded from 4 to 8 teams with the inclusion of teams from West Virginia (2 of them) for the first time with the Bluefield Blue-Grays (BOS-NL) (located in Virginia and West Virginia, with the ballpark, Bowen Field, sitting right on the border of the two states); and the Welch (WV) Miners (Independent). The two other new teams in 1946 were the Pulaski (VA) Counts (Independent); and the New River (VA) Rebels (Independent). By this time the majority of teams in the Appalachian League had been able to attain affiliation with a Major League ball club (affiliation with an MLB team basically increases the likelihood of the minor league team’s survival), with the exception in 1946 being 3 of the 4 aforementioned new teams. [1946 was the first appearance of 2 locations which have present-day teams [2013] in the Appalachian League – Bluefield, Virginia/West Virginia, with the present-day Bluefield Blue Jays (TOR); and Pulaski, Virginia, with the present-day Pulaski Mariners (SEA).].

The Appalachian League shrunk back to a 6-team league in 1951, and it continued as a D-level minor league up to 1955. In 1956, the league was forced to go dormant for one season due to several teams having financial problems. In 1957, the Appalachian league re-started. It continued as a D-level minor league until 1962. In 1963, as part of Major League Baseball’s re-organization of their minor leagues [which occurred in 1963 and 1964], the Appalachian League was re-classified as a Rookie League.

Here are the 6 teams in the 1963 Appalchian League (III), which was the first season the league played as a Rookie class league – the Bluefield Orioles (BAL), the Harlan (KY) Yankees (NYY), the Kingsport Pirates (PIT), the Middlesboro (KY) Cubsox (Independent), the Salem (VA) Rebels (SFG), and the Wytheville (NC) Twins (MIN).

To round the first-appearance of each present-day Appalachian League location, here are all the first appearances of 2013 teams’ locations -
1911, in Appalachian League (I): Bristol, VA and Johnson City, TN.
1924, in Appalachian League (II): Greeneville, NC and Kingsport, TN.
1937, in Appalachian League (III): Elizabethton, TN.
1946, in Appalachian League (III): Bluefield, VA/WV and Pulaski, WV.
1986, in Appalachian League (III): Burlington, NC [present-day team called the Burlington Royals (KC)].
1988, in Appalachian League (III): Princeton, WV [present-day team called the Princeton Rays (TB)].
1993, in Appalachian League (III): Danville, VA [present-day team called the Danville Braves (ATL)].

Of those 3 most recent new locations of present-day Appalachian League franchises, 2 can be seen as representative of an expansion-of-range by the Appalachian League, because two of those locations – Burlington, North Carolina and Danville, Virginia – are not really in or near the edge of the Appalachian Mountains, but are in the Piedmont region of the American Southeast {see this, ‘Piedmont (United States)‘ (en.wikipedia.org)}. You can see the difference in topographic terms, because both Danville and Burlington are the only locations in the Appalachian League that are under 650 feet elevation, while all 8 other Appalachian League teams are well above 1,000 feet elevation and a few are well above 2,000 feet elevation. Princeton, WV is the highest-elevation Appalachian League location, at around 2,438 feet (or .46 of a mile high), and Bluefield VA/WV is the second-highest-elevation Appalachian League location at around 2,389 feet [note: elevations are listed on the map page for each teams' location, right above each team's large logo within their profile boxes, as well as in the 10 illustrations at the bottom of this post.]

In 2012, the Appalachian League averaged 914 per game. That was up 32 per game from the 882 per game that the Appalachian League averaged in 2011. Attendance for the Appalachian League is the smallest of all the 15 minor leagues, from Triple-A-level to Rookie-level, within Organized Baseball in which attendance is measured. But that is mostly a function of the fact that Appalachian League locations are among the smallest municipalities in the USA to have pro baseball teams. Several Appalachian League municipalities – 6 of them – have city or town populations under 16,000, and even the largest, Johnson City, TN, has a city population of only around 63,000 (note: metro-area populations also listed below)
Populations of Appalachian League teams’ locations -
[note: all figures from each municipalities' Wikipedia page and are from 2010, except Kingsport, TN from 2008, and Pulaski, VA from 2000.]
[Note: Johnson City, TN and Elizabethton, TN are part of the Johnson City metropolitan area, which has a population of around 193,000 {2008 figure}. Kingsport, TN and Bristol, VA are part of the Kingsport, TN/Bristol, VA/Bristol, TN metropolitan area, which has a population of around 302,000 {2008 figure}.]
-Johnson City, TN : city, 63,152 population/ metro-area, ~193,000 population {see above}.
-Kingsport, TN: city, 48,205 population/ metro-area ~302,000 population {metro-area combined with Bristol, VA}.
-Bristol, VA: city, 17,853 population/ metro-area ~302,000 population {metro-area combined with Kingsport, TN}.
-Burlington, NC: city, 49,963 population/ metro-area, ~148,000 population.
-Danville, VA: 43,055 population.
-Bluefield VA/Bluefield WV: {5,444 + 10,447} ~15,891 population.
-Greeneville, TN: 15,198 population.
-Elizabethton, TN: 14,176 population.
-Pulaski, VA: 9,473 population.
-Princeton, WV: 6,432 population.

So Princeton, West Virginia has around 6,400 inhabitants, and its pro baseball team drew 816 per game in 2012. That means 12.5 percent of the equivalent population of the community, on average, went to Princeton Rays baseball games last season. Now that is what you call community baseball.

    The 10 teams of the Appalachian League [2013], with photos of their stadiums and with notable former players listed

Appalachian League East Division

Bluefield Blue Jays, est. 1963.
Notable Bluefield/ Appalachian League alumni: Boog Powell (1959), Sparky Lyle (1964), Eddie Murray (1973), Cal Ripken, Jr. (1978), Jayson Werth (1998).
bluefield-blue-jays_bowen-field_.gif
Photo credit above – littleballparks.com/Bluefield.

Burlington Royals, est. 1986.
Notable Burlington/ Appalachian League alumni: Jim Thome (1990), Manny Ramirez (1991), Bartolo Colon (1994), C.C. Sabathia (1998).
burlington-royals_burlington-athletic-stadium_c.gif
Photo credit above – careeringcrawdad.wordpress.com//labor-day-and-the-end-of-baseball-season-2012.

Danville Braves, est. 1993.
Notable Danville/ Appalachian League alumni: Jermain Dye (1993), Andruw Jones (1994), Rafael Furcal (1998), Jason Marquis (1998).
danville-braves_american-legion-field_e.gif
Photo credit above – stadiumjourney.com/stadiums/american-legion-field .

Princeton Rays, est 1988.
Notable Princeton/ Appalachian League alumni: Carl Crawford (1999), Josh Hamilron (1999), Jonny Gomes (2001), Jeremy Hellickson (2005).
princeton-rays_hp-hunnicutt-field_c.gif
Photo credit above – littleballparks.com/Princeton.

Pulaski Mariners, est. 1982.
Notable Pulaski/ Appalachian League alumni: Dave Justice (1985), Jason Schmidt (1992), C.J. Wilson (2005).
pulaski-mariners_calfee-park_c.gif
Photo credit above – baseballdiaries.blogspot.com/2012/01/pulaski-mariners-vs-danville-braves

Appalachian League West Division

Bristol White Sox, est 1969.
Notable Bristol/ Appalachian League alumni: Lance Parrish (1974), Lou Whitaker (1975), Alan Trammell (1976), Carlos Lee (1995).
bristol-white-sox_boyce-cox-field-at-devaault-memorial-stadium_c.gif
Photo credit above – ballparkbiz.wordpress.com/impressions-of-a-ballpark-hunter-surrealism-in-bristol

Elizabethton Twins, est. 1974.
Notable Elizabethton/ Appalachian League alumni: Kent Hrbek (1979), Gary Gaetti (1979), Kirby Puckett (1982), Justin Mourneau (2000).
elizabethton-twins_joe-obrien-field_2012-champions_c.gif
Image credit above – ‘Twins Win Championship [2012]‘, (Screenshot of video at Elizabethtoon Twins’ page at milb.com/multimedia.

Greeneville Astros, est. 2004.
greeneville-astros_pioneer-park_.gif
Photo credit above – ‘Attendance History‘ (milb.com/[Greeneville]).

Johnson City Cardinals, est. 1937.
Notable Johnson City/ Appalachian League alumni: Terry Pendleton (1982), Jeff Fassero (1984), Coco Crisp (2000), Yadier Molina (2001).
johnson-city-cardinals_howard-johnson-field_.gif
Photo credit above – appalachiantreks.blogspot.com/howard-johnson-field.

Kingsport Mets, est. 1969.
Notable Kingsport/ Appalachian League alumni: Dale Murphy (1974), Darryl Strawberry (1980), Dwight Gooden (1982), José Reyes (2000).
kingsport-mets_hunter-wright-stadium_.gif
Photo credit above – kingsporttn.gov.

___

Attendance data from milb.com, here.
Base map of USA byThesibboleth at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Blank_US_Map.svg.

Photo credits on the map page –
Bluefield Blue Jays/ Bowen Field, Heath Bintliff at network.yardbarker.com/bowen_field_bluefield_wv .
Burlington Royals/ Burlington Athletic Stadium, littleballparks.com/Burlington-NC.
Danville Braves/ American Legion Field, littleballparks.com/DanvilleVA.
Princeton Rays/ H.P. Hunnicutt Field, writeopinions.com.
Pulaski Mariners/ Calfee Park, baseballdiaries.blogspot.com/2012/01/pulaski-mariners-vs-danville-braves.

Bristol White Sox/ Devault Memorial Stadium, thesportstraveleronline.com/byrce-cox-fielddevault-memorial-stadium.
Elizabethton Twins/ Joe O’Brien Field, ballparkreviews.com/Elizabethton.
Greeneville Astros/ Pioneer Park at Tusculum College, charliesballparks.com.
Johnson City Cardinals/ Howard Johnson Field, appalachiantreks.blogspot.com/howard-johnson-field.
Kingsport Mets/ Hunter Wright Stadium, littleballparks.com/Kingsport.

June 27, 2013

Minor League Baseball: the Florida State League (Class A-Advanced).

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: MiLB Class A — admin @ 7:58 pm

milb_2013_florida-state-league_post_c.gif
Minor League Baseball: the Florida State League (Class A-Advanced)



2012 Minor League Baseball attendance – ‘2012 Affiliated Attendance by League‘ (ballparkdigest.com).

The Florida State League was founded in 1919 and has played seasons from 1919 to 1928; from 1936 to 1941; and currently, every year since 1946.

The 12-team Florida State League is one of 3 Advanced-A level minor leagues within Organized Baseball, the other Advanced-A leagues being the 10-team California League and the 8-team Carolina League.

The Florida State League draws very poorly. And, you know, Florida is a pretty populous state – Florida is the 4th-most populous state in the USA, with around 19.3 million people {2012 figure}. Yet only 2 teams currently in the Florida State League are drawing above 2,000 per game. In 2012, the Florida State League averaged 1,592 per game. Compare that to the other 4 leagues in the Class A or Advanced-A levels, which are the Class-A Midwest League (which drew 3,730 per game in 2012), the Advanced-A Carolina League (which drew 3,520 per game in 2012), the Class-A South Atlantic League (which drew 3,279 per game in 2012), and the Advanced-A California League (which drew 2,293 per game in 2012).

In fact, not only does the Florida State League draw considerably worse than the 3 Class-A leagues one tier below them (see previous sentence), but the Florida State League also draws considerably worse than both leagues which are 2 tiers below them – in the two Short Season-A leagues – the New York-Penn League (which drew 3,290 per game in 2012) and the Northwest League (which drew 2,979 per game in 2012). The Florida State League even draws worse than one league 3 tiers below them at the lowest rung of the Major League/minor-league ladder, in one of the Rookie Leagues – the Pioneer League (which is located in some pretty small towns in the Rocky Mountain states of the West, and which averaged 2,317 per game in 2012).

Florida does have a couple of very good drawing minor league baseball teams – in the north of the state, where people speak with a southern accent. While the Florida State League, which is located in central and south Florida, draws very low crowds, two Florida-based minor league teams from the north of the state draw well. Granted, they are placed one minor-league-level higher, in Double-A ball. Both are in the Southern League (a Class AA league) – the Jacksonville Suns, from Jacksonville in furthest north-east Florida; and the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, from Pensacola in furthest north-west Florida. The Jacksonville Suns are the oldest continuous member of the Southern League (43 straight seasons now; see this small write-up of the J-ville Suns within my post on the Southern League from 2 years ago, here/ Jacksonville Suns section is at the very end of the post}; the Pensacola Blue Wahoos are a new team that moved to the Florida panhandle in 2012, leaving North Carolina [they were first incarnation of the Carolina Mudcats (I)] {see this illustration explaining Pensacola, FL/ Zebulon, NC/ Kinston, NC MiLB franchise shifts of 2012, which I posted last year in my post on the Carolina League, here}. These two teams were first and second best in attendance in the Southern League in 2012, with Pensacola drawing 4,826 in their first year in 2012, and Jacksonville drawing 4,309 in 2012. Those two average attendances are more than twice as high as what most Florida State League teams draw.

Why does the Florida State League draw so poorly? Because, generally, people in central and south Florida don’t really like baseball. Try to convince them that going to a minor league baseball game is a fun and very inexpensive summertime activity, and you’ll just get vacant stares. Many central and south Floridians probably find baseball to be too slow and relaxed and nuanced. Look at how bad both MLB teams in Florida draw, regardless of how well they both do. The Tampa Bay Rays are, these days, year-in-year out, a competitive ball club, and they won the 2008 AL pennant, while the Marlins have won 2 MLB World Series titles (in 1997 and 2003). But they both draw terrible. OK, we’ll give Rays fans, or lack thereof, the benefit of the doubt, because their dreary fixed-dome stadium is located on the wrong side of the bay in Tampa/St. Petersburg and is hands down the worst venue in MLB. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays/ Rays have been perennially among the lowest-four-or-five-drawing MLB teams each year; ditto the Marlins until 2012, and their new stadium/fiasco. Here are the recent years when both Tampa Bay and Florida/Miami were among the 5 worst-drawing MLB teams: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, and currently (June 27th/ after 38 to 40 home games) in 2013 {attendances from ESPN, here}. Now, after the Marlins’ cynical off-season fire-sale, no one in Miami wants to go to the instant White Elephant that is the Marlins’ new ballpark. The Miami Marlins have become the benchmark for dysfunctional-fan-base-with-owner-from-hell. So that’s the state of big league baseball fan-bases in central and south Florida. When you factor into the equation lower level minor league baseball – well, forget about it.

    The Florida State League is a waste of space.

Independent league baseball’ (en.wikipedia.org).
2012 attendances for all Independent-league teams in North Americ (ie, all un-affiliated teams): ‘2012 Independent Attendance by Average (ballparkdigest.com).

The Florida State League is a waste of space, and its franchises should be placed in other parts of North America where folks actually support lower-level minor league baseball. In 2011, 19 Independent league teams drew over 3,000 per game. In 2012, 20 Independent league teams drew over 3,000 per game. When you look at the very impressive attendance figures {see link directly above}, for more than a dozen-and-a-half Independent minor league baseball teams within the four primary Independent leagues (the Atlantic League, the American Association [of Independent Professional Baseball], the Frontier League, and the Can-Am League), you realize that Organized Baseball is doing many thousands of baseball fans a real disservice by ignoring them and not bringing into the fold the ball clubs these folks support. The sad truth is, the Florida State League has about ten teams that are being wasted on an uncaring populace, when their coveted status as affiliated minor league baseball teams could be better put to use with a supportive populace in say, Greater Houston, Texas, where the new Independent league team the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League drew 6.6 K in their first season in 2012. Or in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where the Independent league team the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the AA (American Association of Independent Professional Baseball) drew 5.7 K in 2012. Or in Central Islip, New York, where the Independent league team the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League drew 5.5 K in 2012. Or in Kansas City, Kansas, where the Independent league team the Kansas City T-Bones of the AA drew 5.2 K in 2012. Or in St. Paul, Minnesota, where the Independent league team the the St. Paul Saints of the AA have thrived for two decades now and who drew 4.9 K in 2012. Or in Lancaster, Pennsylvania or in York, Pennsylvania, where two Independent league teams in the Atlantic League draw well – the Lancaster Barnstormers drew 4.6 K in 2012; and the York Revolution, drew 4.0 K in 2012.

I could go, and also mention other successfully-drawing Independent league ball clubs in Fargo, North Dakota; and in Laredo, Texas; and in El Paso, Texas; and in Somerset, New Jersey; and in Camden, New Jersey; and in Traverse City, Michigan…but I’m sure you get my point. And if you think all these success-stories are spread too far apart to make an economically feasible theoretical-new-affiliated-minor-league, I would submit that the Atlantic League has already proven that a slightly truncated version of the geographical spread of all the locations I just mentioned is feasible, because the Atlantic League has ball clubs spread from the Gulf Coast of Texas to Long Island, New York. And 7 teams in the Atlantic League and more than a dozen other Independent league teams in the other Independent leagues are outdrawing scores of affiliated minor league teams who have the economic-protection of a Major League Baseball affiliation, but still can’t draw decent crowds – because they are stuck in locations where people refuse to support lower level minor league baseball.

The MLB/Organized Baseball rules prevent many of these Independent league teams from being affiliated teams because of their proximity to teams in Organized Baseball – like in the cases of Lancaster, Pennsylvania and York, Pennsylvania – where MLB/MiLB protects the territory of the Reading Phils and the Harrisburg Senators (regardless, they all draw well). But meanwhile, it is OK with Major League Baseball that two MiLB teams play in the 5-borough-New-York-City jurisdiction despite the 2 MLB teams there (NY Yankees and NY Mets), but then the territorial-protection rules in place decree that there is not allowed to be any affiliated team in all of Long Island, NY (ie, Nassau and Suffolk counties). Talk about artificially protecting the NY Mets from any sort of competition. Hence the very-well-drawing Independent team the Long Island Ducks. What I am trying to say is that MLB /MiLB rules for protecting certain teams’ territories is pretty arbitrary, and could be better worked out. Why not exploit market forces? People want affordable lower-level minor league baseball in certain parts of the country, and the success of “outlaw” league teams playing within some of the more densely populated areas of the country proves this.

However, for one simple reason (see next paragraph), all those populations in more-baseball-supportive parts of the country will probably never be getting affiliated minor league teams, even if the territory-rules were relaxed. This problem of horrible attendance in the Florida State League while other areas of the country must settle for Independent league teams looks like it is institutionally guaranteed to never go away.

Basically, the Florida State League would have been defunct several decades ago – like defunct by the late 1960s or the early 1970s – and would not still exist if it weren’t for one fact. And that fact is that so many Major League Baseball teams – 15 MLB teams – have their spring training facilities in the state of Florida. [There are 15 MLB teams who have spring training in Florida and 15 MLB teams that have spring training in Arizona {see this, 'List of Major League Baseball spring training ballparks' (en.wikipedia.org}.]

First of all, as mentioned, none of the teams in the Florida State League draw above 2,600 per game, and 10 of the 12 teams draw below 2,000 per game, and over half of them can barely even get 1.5 K per game. So there is no real market-driven demand for the product there in central and south Florida. Most franchises in the Florida State League would not be financially viable without the affiliation and support of Major League Baseball clubs. And MLB clubs would not want lower-level minor league teams of theirs to be located in places where there is so little actual demand for the product – except for the fact that there are venues there already in place. All eleven of the ballparks in the Florida State League exist solely because the ballparks are part of Major League Baseball teams’ spring training facilities. Those ballparks were all built by municipalities to attract MLB teams for spring training. Of the 11 stadiums where Florida State League teams currently play in 2013, one was built by a city’s Sports Authority (Tampa’s George M. Steinbrenner Field); 6 were built by a city’s municipal government (the ballparks in Bradenton, in Clearwater, in Daytona Beach, in Dunedin, in Fort Myers, and in Lakeland); and 4 were built by a county government there in Florida (the ballparks in Brevard county, in Charlotte county, in Palm Beach county, and in St. Lucie county). None of the ballparks in the Florida State League were built to attract a minor league baseball team. They were all built to attract a Major League Baseball teams’ very lucrative spring training custom.

[Note: the reason why the number of venues in the Florida State League is 11 and not 12 is because the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals share a facility in Jupiter, FL (17 mi. north of Palm Beach, FL), and so do 2 Florida State League teams - the Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) and the Palm Beach Cardinals (STL).]

    The 2 highest-drawing teams in the Florida State League -
    the Clearwater Threshers & the Daytona Cubs

The Clearwater Threshers drew 2,570 per game in 2012. The Clearwater Threshers are an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.
clearwater-threshers_bright-house-field_d.gif
Photo credits above -
fansedge.com/Clearwater-Threshers-Home-Cap.
mopupduty.com/dunedin-day-2-part-2-bright-house-field/.

The Daytona Cubs drew 2,346 per game in 2012. The Daytona Cubs are an affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.
daytona-cubs_jackie-robinson-ballpark_b.gif
Photo credits above -
shop.neweracap.com/MiLB/Daytona-Cubs.
baseballpilgrimages.com.
bing.com/maps.

___

Photo credits on the map page -
Brevard County Manatees/ Space Coast Stadium, thpoe.wordpress.com.
Clearwater Threshers/ Bright House Field, digitalballparks.com/SpringTraining/Brighthouse4.html; http://www.digitalballparks.com/.
Daytona Cubs/ Jackie Robinson Ballpark, ballparkreviews.com.
Dunedin Blue Jays/ Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, bing.com/maps.
Lakeland Tigers/ Joker Marchant Stadium, milb.com.
Tampa Yankees/ George M. Steinbrenner Field, bing.com/maps.

Bradenton Marauders/ McKechnie Field, baseballpilgrimages.com via oldbucs.blogspot.com.
Charlotte Stone Crabs/ Charlotte Sports Park, abaesel at flickr.com.
Fort Myers Miracle/ Hammond Stadium, Harry Hunt at flickr.com.bing.com/maps.
Jupiter Hammerheads/ Roger Dean Stadium, milb.com.
Palm Beach Cardinals/ Roger Dean Stadium, charliesballparks.com.
St. Lucie Mets/ Mets Stadium, facebook.com.

___
Thanks to Theshibboleth at en.wikipedia.org, for the USA blank map, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Blank_US_Map.svg.
Thanks to Eric Gaba (Sting – fr:Sting) at en.wikimedia.org, for the Florida location map, ‘File:USA Florida location map.svg‘.
Thanks to milb.com for attendances, http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&t=l_att&lid=123.
Thanks to the following site for some population figures, http://recenter.tamu.edu/data/pop/popm/cbsa15980.asp.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Florida State League‘.

Thanks to the always excellent minor league attendance posts at http://ballparkdigest.com/.

June 7, 2013

Minor League Baseball: the California League (Class A-Advanced).

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: MiLB Class A — admin @ 8:26 pm

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Minor League Baseball: the California League (Class A-Advanced)




I tried something different on this map. I have always been curious about population distribution within the state of California, so I decided to find city and metro populations in California. I listed them on the map and then I added circles radiating out from city-centers, to show where the greater metropolitan areas spread out to. {Note: see bottom of post for population sources.} All of the circles-which-represent-metro-areas emanate out from as central a point within a given city as I could depict, with the exception of Greater Sacramento, with the central-point being far to the east, because that is how the US Census Bureau defines Greater Sacramento. It makes sense, because most folks in the far outer reaches of the north-eastern edge of the Greater San Francisco/Bay Area metro-area wouldn’t be caught dead going to Sacramento for any reason. In Sacramento’s defense I must point out that their PCL ball club the Sacramento River Cats are one of the highest-drawing teams (at 8,455 per game last season) in the entire Organized Baseball minor league system (See link below).

2012 Affiliated Attendance by League [all minor leagues in Organized Baseball which charge for attendance (15 leagues)]‘ (ballparkdigest.com).

The California League is a 10-team Class A-Advanced level league, which is 3 levels below the Major Leagues. The other Class A-Advanced leagues are the Florida State League and the Carolina League. The California League gets pretty bad attendance, especially considering how populous central California is. According to the Ballparkdigest.com site {http://ballparkdigest.com/201209075507/attendance/news/2012-affiliated-attendance-by-league}, the California League averaged 2,293 per game in 2012, with just 2 of its 12 teams averaging over 3,000 per game (those two teams with the best attendance in the California League in 2012 were the Lake Elsinore Storm and the San Jose Giants). That means in Organized Baseball in 2012, of the 15 minor leagues which measure attendance, a whopping 6 leagues placed at the same level or lower than the California League outdrew the California League. Those leagues are: the Midwest League (1 level lower in Class-A level) at 3,730 per game in 2012; the Carolina League (in the same level as the California League) at 3,520 per game in 2012; the New York-Penn League (2 levels lower, in the Short Season-A level) at 3,290 per game in 2012; the South Atlantic League (1 level lower, in the Class-A level) at 3,279 per game in 2012; the Northwest League (2 levels lower, in the Short Season-A level) at 2,979 per game in 2012; and the Pioneer League (3 levels lower (!), in the Rookie League classification) at 2,317 per game in 2012.
[Note: here is a mitigating detail - If you throw out the worst-drawing California League team (Bakersfield Blaze, at 637 per game in 2012), the league average increases 183 per game to 2,476 per game in 2012 {see further below}.]

OK, so California has over 38 million people. And every California League team has several hundreds of thousands of people living within 1 hour’s driving distance of their ballparks. There is, with the notable exception of a few teams in the New York-Penn League and the Midwest League, by far more people nearby to every California League team (except High Desert Mavericks) than to most teams in the leagues listed in the previous paragraph. So why, with all those many hundreds of thousands of people close to every California League team, is it so hard for a Class A-Advanced team in California to even draw a paltry 2,500 people to a game?

What is the reason why Class A baseball in California is ignored by the vast majority of people in California? Maybe all the local news shows at the network stations in Los Angeles and in the Bay Area and in Bakersfield and in other inland cities within the Central Valley in the state don’t cover the California League at all, and potential California League ticket-buyers never materialize because there is so little media exposure. Maybe. But New York City sports media does not cover the minor leagues. By that I mean the major NYC sports media (ie, local network television stations in NYC and major NYC newspapers [the New York Times; the Daily News; the NY Post]). They all do not cover, on a regular basis, the Brooklyn Cyclones (based in Coney Island) or coastal New Jersey’s Lakewood BlueClaws. But why is it despite the major-sports-media blackout those metro-NYC-based-lower-level-minor-league teams regularly can draw over 6,000 per game? [Brooklyn Cyclones (NY-Penn League/Short Season A-Level) drew 6,553 per game in 2012; Lakewood BlueClaws (South Atlantic League/Class A-Level) drew 6,031 per game.] And granted, the economy in the Central Valley in California is really bad, and unemployment is above the national average. This has affected some teams’ gates (like the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, who were getting 4,155 per game in 2007, but drew just 2,296 per game in 2012). But actually, as a whole, the poor economy in the post-2008 era has only made a very slight negative impact in crowd size throughout the California League – in 2007 the California League averaged 2,375 per game, so that is a drop off of only 82 per game compared to the 2012 league average of 2,293 {see this/I had to do the math to arrive at that 2,375 league-average figure for 2007 because the official California League site didn’t bother to}. So since the economy tanked in 2008, the California League has only seen a cumulative drop-off of less than 100 paying customers per game. In other words, the poor attendance in the California League is a problem that goes deeper than the poor economy.

I think there is a cultural mechanism at work here that is depressing lower-level minor league baseball attendance in California (and in Florida, with respect to the even-worse-supported Class A-Advanced league the Florida State League [which drew only 1,592 per game in 2012]). I think people in California and in Florida look at lower-level minor league baseball as something to avoid. I think they think it is beneath them to go to attend inexpensive lower-level minor league baseball games. They think it is beneath them, and they think baseball is boring, especially if its not being played in a large stadium. They don’t see going to a lower-level minor league game as a fun and inexpensive thing to do. They see it as pretty lame and devoid of anything they find entertaining. Whereas a significantly higher proportion of people in the Upper Midwest and in the Carolinas and throughout the Eastern Seaboard and in the small cities of the Rocky Mountains and even in the biggest cities on the East Coast see it as pretty fun and relaxing, and sure as heck cheaper than a whole lot of other recreational activities. And it supports the community. So the Class A-Short season team the Brooklyn Cyclones draws over 6,500 per game in the entertainment capital that is New York City (where there are hundreds of other entertainment options available), but the overwhelming majority of the people in the outskirts of Los Angeles or Miami or the Bay Area or Tampa/St. Pete or from the inland cities in both California and Florida avoid lower-level minor league baseball like the plague. And if you say, well, they have better stadiums in all those other lower-level minor leagues that outdraw the California League and the Florida League, well that is not true. Granted, the newest stadium in the California League, Banner Island Ballpark (which opened in 2005) in Stockton is hampered by the fact that Stockton is such a dangerous urban miasma these days {see this (xfinity.comcast.net/slideshow/most_dangerous_cities_in_america)}. But San Bernardino’s Inland Empire 66ers play in a stadium, San Manuel Stadium, that is 17 years old and it has been maintained well and it gets glowing reviews {see this, ‘San Manuel Stadium, San Bernardino, California‘ (ballparkreviews.com) – but the 66ers, despite being a Los Angeles Angels’ farm team, and despite being part of a metro-area of 4.2 million (see the map for figures) cannot even get 2,500 per game these days.

And how come San Jose, right there next to that dynamic economy in Silicon Valley, still hasn’t moved beyond an antiquated stadium that was built in 1942 and that is filled with worn out paint-chipped bleachers (see photo further below)? The city of San Jose has a larger city-population than the city-poulation of San Francisco. San Jose has around 984,000 people (2012 estimate), making it around 89,000 larger than San Francisco (at 825,000). Yet the pro ball club from a city the size of San Jose (basically a city of 1 million) can only draw 3,101 per game. You could say San Bernardino (where the Inland Empire 66ers play, there in the Central Valley) is really hit hard with 15% unemployment, so it might be more understandable that their team, despite being surrounded by literally millions of people there on the edge of Greater Los Angeles, can only draw 2,400 these days. But San Jose, right there between all the money in San Francisco and in Silicon Valley, can only get 3,100 per game? Meanwhile, several (eight) ball clubs at the same minor league level or lower, in corollary situations with respect to there being a large Major League city within 60 miles of a minor-league team, can all draw well over 4,000 per game. Specifically, in Dayton, Ohio (8,532 per game for the Class-A Dayton Dragons) and Kane County, Illinois (5,587 per game for the Class-A Kane County Cougars) and Aberdeen, Maryland (6,447 per game for the Class A-Short Season Aberdeen IronBirds) and Wilmington, Delaware (4,235 per game for the Class A-Advanced Wilmington Blue Rocks) and Lakewood Township, New Jersey (6,031 per game for the aforementioned Class A Lakewood Blue Claws) and Wappingers Falls, New York (4,373 per game for the Class A-Short Season Hudson Valley Renegades) and Brooklyn, NYC, New York (6,553 per game for the aforementioned Class A-Short Season Brooklyn Cyclones) and Lowell, Massachusetts (4,547 per game for the Class A-Short Season Lowell Spinners). So, despite drawing the highest in the California League, you can see via the above 8 examples how San Jose should actually be drawing much higher.

Then there is Bakersfield’s Bakersfield Blaze – they have been drawing below 1,000 per game for 3 seasons now {see this article and the 2nd chart at ballparkdigest.com/2011-minor-league-baseball-attendance-figures}. There are 851,000 people in the Greater Bakersfield metro area, yet for two straight seasons they have failed to draw more than 637 per game to Class A-Advanced baseball games. Bakerfield’s metro-area is the 5th-largest metro-area in California, and the 63rd-largest metro-area in the USA {see this}. Yet still – 637 per game – for a pro team just three steps away from the Major Leagues. 637 per game is such a bad attendance figure for such a relatively large city that it is really hard to wrap your head around the concept.

Bakersfield’s ballpark is pretty inadequate (with no roof, for a team named after the blazing sun), but still…637 per game? That 637 per game was, in fact, the worst attendance in all of Organized Baseball in 2012. Towns 40 times smaller, with populations below 20,000, that have teams in the Rookie League Appalachian League (there are several) outdraw Bakersfield’s ball club. A town like Bakersfield, whose chief economic drivers are the nearby Edwards Air Force Base, petroleum extraction, and farming, shows its priorities here. And one of its priorities is ignoring its pro baseball team for over 20 years and leaving it to die a slow death by forcing it to play in one of the, if not the, worst ballparks in Organized Baseball. Here is what a commenter said at this article at the bakersfieldcalifornian.com, …{excerpt}…’I don’t live in Bakersfield, but I have followed the plight of the Blaze closely over the years. Specifically, the fact that the team and city haven’t been able to come up with a plan for a new ballpark is very, very sad. Frankly, it makes the city look bad that its baseball team plays in such a second-rate facility as Sam Lynn Ballpark. Do you know why the Blaze has had so many different Major League parents? It’s because no Big League team wants its minor leaguers playing at Sam Lynn. I’ve visited just about every pro baseball park in America, and I’d be hard-pressed to tell you one that is worse than the one in Bakersfield.’…{end of excerpt from comment by joebaseballparks}.

If you just want to blame the politicians in Bakersfield and in Kern County for this, I ask you, why has the been no real public pressure to address this situation which has festered for over 20 years? And its not like there is that much competition for the sports entertainment dollar in Bakersfield and in Kern County, except for an ECHL team, and a NASCAR venue about 125 miles northeast of Bakersfield in Fontana. The closest major league sports teams and well-supported college teams are the teams from Los Angeles, around 100 miles south. So there is literally no sports entertainment competition to the Bakersfield Blaze for around one hundred miles and they still can’t get even close to 1,000 per game. In the photo further below you can see how stark and unadorned and bare-bones the Bakersfield Blaze’s ballpark is. The stands make it look like a high school stadium from a town with a low tax base. There is no roof to protect you from that inevitably blazing sun, and most of the seats are aluminum planks. You could probably get second-degree burns from those bleachers during a day game in August there.

The new ownership that bought the Bakersfield Blaze in 2012 have plans to build a new stadium using their own funding (and not the financial backing of the city of Bakersfield or of Kern County), see this, ‘Long-awaited plans unveiled for a new Bakersfield Blaze ballpark‘ (by John Cox at bakersfieldcalifornian.com). But as it says in that article, building a new ballpark in Bakersfield …{excerpt}…’carries financial risks for the team’s new owners. By their own estimate, the new stadium will have to draw an average of 2,500 spectators per game, or about five times the typical Blaze home game at Sam Lynn’… {end of excerpt}.

Below: the worst-drawing team in all of the Affiliated minor leagues – the Bakersfield Blaze.
bakersfield-blaze_sam-lynn-ballpark_worst-franchise-in-organized-baseball_h.gif
Photo credit above – yelp.com.

The 3 highest-drawing teams in the California League -
the Lake Elsinore Storm, the San Jose Giants, and the Stockton Ports.

Lake Elsinore Storm, 3,243 per game attendance in 2012.
lake-elsinore-storm_lake-elsinore-diamond_b.gif
Photo credits above –
bleacherreport.com/articles/820027-power-ranking-the-25-coolest-minor-league-caps/page/22.
best-temecula-guide.com.


San Jose Giants, 3,101 per game attendance in 2012.
san-jose-giants_san-jose-municipal-stadium_.gif
Photo credits above –
sis.sjgiants.com/store.
littleballparks.com.


Stockton Ports, 2,868 per game in 2012.
stockton-ports_banner-island-ballpark_b.gif
Photo credits above -
fanshop.latimes.com/Stockton-Ports–Home-Cap.
Stockton Ports via sports.espn.go.com/travel/gallery/gallery.
___

Photo and Image credits on map page -
Bakersfield Blaze, bing.com/maps.
Modesto Nuts, bing.com/maps.
San Jose Giants, daver6sf@yahoo.com at flickriver.com.
Stockton Ports, milb.com/ [Stockton Ports' page at milb.com ].
Visalia Rawhide, bing.com/maps.

High Desert Mavericks, bing.com/maps.
Inland Empire 66ers, greatest21days.com.
Lake Elsinore Storm, SD Dirk at flickr.com via swrnn.com (Southwest Riverside News Network site).
Lancaster JetHawks, bing.com/maps.
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Brandon S. at yelp.com; Brandon S. at yelp.com.
___

For attendance figures thanks to MiLB.com, ‘Stats by League‘.

Thanks to JimIrwin at en.wikipedia.org for the population-density map of California, at ‘Demographics of California‘en.wikipedia.org).

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org -
California League‘.
List of Combined Statistical Areas [USA]‘.
California statistical areas‘.

May 29, 2013

Minor League Baseball: the Pioneer League (Advanced-Rookie Classification).

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: MiLB >Rookie — admin @ 8:46 pm

milb_2013_pioneer-league_segment_b.gif
Minor League Baseball: the Pioneer Baseball League (Rookie Classification)



Pioneer League [official site].

Minor League Baseball attendance – ‘2012 Affiliated Attendance by League‘ (ballparkdigest.com).

There are 6 leagues within Organized Baseball which are Rookie classification leagues – the Appalachian League, the Pioneer League, the Arizona League, the Gulf Coast League, and 2 foreign-based leagues – the Dominican Summer League, and the Venezuelan Summer League. But in only two of these leagues are attendances measured. Those 2 are classified as Advanced-Rookie. They are the Appalachian League and the Pioneer League.

The Advance-Rookie classification
From the en.wikipedia page ‘Minor League Baseball’,…{excerpt}…”Leagues in the Rookie classification play a shortened season…starting in mid-June and ending in late August or early September. … Advanced Rookie leagues (Appalachian and Pioneer) play between 67 and 75 games… .

The Appalachian and Pioneer leagues are actually hybrid leagues; while officially classed as “Rookie” leagues, eight major league teams have their highest-class short season teams in those leagues. These eight teams also maintain Rookie-level teams in other leagues as well. The Gulf Coast and Arizona leagues are informally known as “complex” leagues, nicknamed for the minor-league complexes where most games in those leagues are played. …”{end of excerpt}.

{Excerpt from the ‘Pioneeer League‘ page at en.wikipedia.org} …”Classified as a Rookie league, the Pioneer League is predominantly made up of players out of high school and is almost exclusively the first professional league many players compete in.”…{end of excerpt}.

The teams in the Pioneer League are situated on either side of the Continental Divide in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, with 4 teams in western and central Montana, one team in eastern Idaho, 2 teams in north-central Utah, and one team in western Colorado.

    Below, a short history of the Pioneer League, with all present-day team locations noted...

The Pioneer League was established as a C-level minor league in 1939, and initially had teams in it from the states of Idaho and Utah and was a 6-team set-up that featured 4 Independent ball clubs. The teams in the first season of the Pioneer League in 1939 were – the Boise Pilots (Independent), the Lewiston (Idaho) Indians (Independent), the Ogden Reds (a Cincinnati Reds’ farm team), the Pocatello Cardinals (a St. Louis Cardinals’ farm team), the Salt Lake City Bees (Independent), and the Twin Falls Cowboys (Independent). One of those cities – Ogden, Utah – has a team in the present-day Pioneer League [the Ogden Raptors]. In the Pioneer League’s second season, in 1940, a New York Yankees’ farm team joined the Pioneer League – the Idaho Falls Russets. The present-day Pioneer League has a team in Idaho Falls [the Idaho Falls Chukars]. In the seventh season of the Pioneer League in 1948, the league expanded from 6 teams to 8 teams with the inclusion of 2 teams from Montana – the Billings Mustangs and the Great Falls Electrics. Both those teams were Independents. The present-day Pioneer League has teams from Billings and Great Falls [the Billings Mustangs {who have maintained the same name their entire existence}, and the Great Falls Voyagers {who are nicknamed after a UFO incident that took place at the empty Great Falls' ballpark in 1951 and was witnessed and filmed by the team's general manager, see this, second paragraph 'Great Falls Voyagers' (en.wikipedia.org); see this, 'Nick Mariana UFO Footage - 1950 - Great Falls, Montana' (youtube.com).}.

The Pioneer League existed from 1939 to 1962 as a Class C minor league (with the 1943 through 1945 seasons not played, due to to manpower shortages because of World War II) , then the circuit spent one season as a Class A minor league in 1963, then, in 1964 (as a 4-team league), it was placed several rungs further down the minor-league-ladder, when Major League Baseball overhauled their minor league system in 1963-64. So the Pioneer League became a Rookie classification league in 1964.

Here were the teams in the 1964 Pioneer League (the first season the league played under the Rookie classification): the Treasure Valley (Caldwell, ID) Cubs (CHC), the Magic Valley (Magic Valley, ID) Cowboys (SFG), the Pocatello Chiefs (LAD), and the Idaho Falls Angels (ANA). Two seasons later, in 1966, Ogden, UT returned to the Pioneer League, with the inclusion of the Ogden Dodgers (LAD). That team was managed by Dodger legend and Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda, who managed the Ogden Dodgers to 3 consecutive titles in 1966-68. [Ogden has had a Pioneer League team from 1939 to 1955, from 1966 to 1984, and since 1994, when the Ogden Raptors were formed. The Ogden Raptors are the highest drawing Pioneer League team. In 2012, the Odgen Raptors averaged 3,434 per game at their 5,060-capacity Lundquist Field. The Ogden metro-area has a population of around 547,000 {2010 figure}.]

The 4-team Pioneer League of the mid-1960s grew to a 6-team league in 1969 with the return of two other longtime Pioneer League cities, Billings, Montana and Great Falls, Montana. In 1975, the still-6-team Pioneer League crossed the border and had a Canadian team in the league for the first time with the inclusion of the Lethbridge (Alberta) Expos. Two more Canadian teams (in Calgary and in Medicine Hat, Alberta) were added 3 seasons later in 1978, when the Pioneer League became the 8-team league it is today. Today, all 3 Canadian teams are gone, however – the Pioneer League team the Calgary Expos relocated to Salt Lake City in 1985 to make room for a Triple A team in the PCL called the Calgary Cannons (but that franchise moved to Albequerque, NM in 2003); the Pioneer League team the Lethbridge Black Diamonds moved to Missoula, MT in 1999 and became the present-day Pioneer League team the Missoula Opsrey; and the Pioneer League team the Medicine Hat Blue Jays existed in the league for 25 years (but always struggled to get decent attendance) then moved to Helena, MT in 2003 to become the second incarnation of the Helena Brewers (II) (est.2003). That franchise still struggles with attendance, though, as Helena draws the least in the Pioneer League by some margin, at 880 per game in 2012. The original Helena franchise in the Pioneer League is still alive – the team was based in Helena, MT (1987-99); then in Provo, UT (2000-01) before moving to a suburb of Provo: Orem, UT, as the Orem Owlz (est.2002). The newest team in the Pioneer League began last season in 2012 – the Grand Junction Rockies, from western Colorado. This team was based in Butte, MT (1978-2000); then in Caspar, WY (2001-11).

By and large, the Pioneer League draws very well, with 6 of the 8 teams drawing above 2,300 per game. Plus the backdrops are stunning – the views from the stands in most Pioneer League ballparks are spectacular (as you can see on the map page above and in the 2 illustrations below).

When one considers the raw talent level of the players in the league, and the small size of several of the teams’ municipalities, the Pioneer League can be seen as having extremely healthy attendances – in 2012, the Pioneer League as a whole averaged 2,317 per game, better than a couple higher-placed affiliated minor leagues in Organized Baseball (the Pioneer League drew better than the California League and the Florida State League, both of which are Class A-Advanced minor leagues). Remember, that is 2,300 per game on average, to watch kids just out of high school. The best example of a tiny mountain community supporting it’s pro baseball team so well would have to be Missoula, Montana. Missoula has a population of only around 66,000 {2010 figure}, yet is able to come close on most game days to filling their 3,500-capacity Ogren Park, with an average crowd of 2,363 last season.

    The two highest-drawing teams in the Pioneer League -
    the Ogden Raptors and the Billings Mustangs.

Ogden Raptors, average attendance of 3,434 per game in 2012.
ogden-raptors_lindquist-field_ogden-raptors-cap-and-jersey_.gif
Photo credits above –
raptors.milbstore.com.
mbuckee at panoramio.com.
lcscbaseballhof.com.
Eric & Wendy Pastore at digitalballparks.com/Pioneer/Lindquist.html.

Billings Mustangs, average attendance of 3,045 per game in 2012.
billings-mustangs_dehler-park_.gif
Photo credits above –
mustangs.milbstore.com.
Phil Bell Photography at milb.com.
Joe Hedin at panoramio.com via tripomatic.com/United-States/Montana/Billings/Dehler-Park.
Phil Bell Photography at milb.com.
___

Photo credits on the map page -
Billings Mustangs/ Dehler Park, Joe Hedin at panoramio.com via tripomatic.com/United-States/Montana/Billings/Dehler-Park.
Great Falls Voyagers/ Centene Stadium, the baseball travele…at panoramio.com.
Helena Brewers/ Kindrik Legion Field, digitalballparks.com.
Missoula Osprey/ Ogren Park at Allegiance Field, murphsroadtrips.blogspot.com/2011/06/missoula-osprey-vs-billings-mustangs.

Grand Junction Rockies/ Suplizio Field, the baseball travelle… at panoramio.com.
Idaho Falle Chukats/ Melalaueca Field, ballparksite.host56.com.
Ogden Raptors/ Lundquist Field, the baseball travelle… at panoramio.com.
Orem Owlz/ Brent Brown Ballpark, utahvalley.com.

Thanks to Theshibboleth at en.wikipedia.org, for the USA blank map, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Blank_US_Map.svg.
Thanks to milb.com for attendances, http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=milb&t=l_att&lid=123.
Thanks to baseball-reference.com/minors, http://www.baseball-reference.com/.

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