July 8, 2011

Minor League Baseball: the New York-Penn League (Class A-Short Season).

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: MiLB Class A — admin @ 8:34 pm

New York-Penn League (Short Season A)

The New York-Pennsylvania League is a minor league baseball league that is almost universally known as the New York-Penn League. Although part of the Class A level of minor league baseball, it is, along with the Northwest League, classified as a Short-Season A league. And they really are short seasons – the New York-Penn league regular season consists of 74 games played by each of the 14 teams in the circuit. By way of comparison, the Class A Midwest League plays 138 games in a season, and the Advanced-A California League plays 140 games in a season. The other Short Season A league – the Northwest League – plays 76 games in a season, and has 8 teams.

The shorter season and the player restrictions (see below) contribute to the fact that Short Season A leagues are viewed as effectively one level lower than the two Class A leagues (the South Atlantic League and the Midwest League) and two levels below the three Advanced-A leagues (the California League, Florida State League, and the Carolina League).

from –
“Player limits and requirements for the New York-Penn League…
New York – Penn League teams may have no more than 3 players on their active lists that have 4 or more years of prior combined Major League / Minor League service, with the exception of position players changing roles to become a pitcher or a pitcher changing into a position player. Teams may get to eliminate up to one year of time of Minor League service for players who have spent time on the disabled list.
By July 1 of each year, all clubs must have at least 10 pitchers.
Maximum number of players under team control is 35, 30 of those may be active, but only 25 may be in uniform and eligible to play in any given game.”

Last season, the New York-Penn League was the 6th highest-drawing minor league in Organized Baseball.
The New York-Penn League drew 3,490 per game in 2010, and had a better average attendance than 5 other minor leagues which are at a higher level.
Here are all the minor leagues’ average attendances for 2010 -
Average attendance of minor leagues in 2010…
International League (AAA) – 6,908 per game.
Pacific Coast League (AAA) – 6,120 per game.
Texas League (AA) – 5,264 per game.
Eastern League (AA) – 4,663 per game.
Midwest League (A) – 3,787 per game.
New York-Penn League (A-Short Season) – 3,490 per game.
South Atlantic League (A) – 3,306 per game.
Carolina League (A-Advanced) – 3,256 per game.
Mexican League (AAA) – 3,232 per game.
Southern League (AA) – 3,188 per game.
Northwest League (A-Short Season) – 2,920 per game.
California League (A-Advanced) – 2,237 per game.
Pioneer League (Rookie) – 2,158 per game.
Appalachian League (Rookie) – 865 per game.
[Arizona League, Gulf Coast League, Dominican Summer League and Venezuela Summer League attendances not available]
[Numbers from].

Part of the reason for the popularity of the New York-Penn league with fans is that some franchises in the league have relocated to certain areas in the last decade…well-populated areas that have enough people that basically have embraced the lower-minor-league fan experience. Specifically, those areas are Greater New York City; Greater Boston, MA; and Greater Washington, DC/Baltimore, MD. The teams that now sit at the top of the NY-Penn attendance list each season are the Brooklyn Cyclones (a New York Mets farm team), the Staten Island Yankees (a New York Yankees farm team), the Lowell Spinners (a Boston Red Sox farm team), and the Aberdeen Ironbirds (a Baltimore Orioles farm team). All 4 of these ball clubs regularly draw over 5,000 per game, and Brooklyn and Aberdeen drew over 6,500 per game last season. The Brooklyn Cyclones play in Coney Island and drew 7,147 per game to their MCU Park (MCU Park in Brooklyn, from,{see this}. That was good enough for the 15th best attendance in all of minor league baseball in 2010 [list of all 334 teams' attendances in minor league baseball in 2010 {click here} (}.Those are astounding numbers for a league that is 5 steps below the Major Leagues. Over half of the 30 Triple-A ball clubs didn't draw that well in 2010...18 Triple-A teams drew below that 5,300 per game figure that these New York-Penn teams drew above...
The Brooklyn Cyclones (7,147 per game at MCU Park/15th best in MiLB).
The Aberdeen Ironbirds (6,548 per game at Ripken Stadium {see this}/22nd best in MiLB).
The Staten Island Yankees (5,806 per game at Richmond County Bank Ballpark {see this}/34th best in MiLB).
The Lowell Spinners (5,446 per game at Edward A. LeLacheur Park {see this}/44th best in MiLB).

And the success of teams like this has blown away the received wisdom that minor league baseball teams cannot survive within close proximity to Major League Baseball teams. With the low prices of an outing to a NY-Penn League game, the opposite is pretty much true now. For example, why pay an arm and a leg to see a game at the elitist and over-priced Yankee Stadium, when a fun and affordable outing at the Staten Island Yankees or the Brooklyn Cyclones ball park can be had for a fraction of the cost. Besides, you can just see the next Yankees or Mets game on television anyway.

The only loser in this state of affairs are the small towns and cities that have lost New York-Penn League teams in recent years, like Geneva, NY; Watertown, NY; Oneonta, NY; Utica, NY; and Pittsfield, MA. But the fact is, if there are larger crowds to be had elsewhere, you can't criticize the franchises for pulling up stakes and seeking greener pastures. Most of the municipalities that lose lower minor league teams find replacement ball clubs in independent minor leagues from outside the Organized Baseball set-up. Personally, I hope that the current smallest municipality with a ball club in the New York-Penn League, the Batavia Muckdogs, does not fall to the same fate and relocate, but that is because Batavia, whose population is only around 16,256 {figure from 2006} is nearby my home in Rochester, NY, and I have seen around 15 or so Batavia Clippers games (that was their old name before 1997) and Batavia Muckdogs games. And I have had a blast each time, and have never spent more than $25 per game there (including ticket), no matter how much I ate and drank. Now that's value. [The only reason the Batavia Muckdogs, the oldest member of the New York-Penn League [with a team consecutively since 1961] have not moved elsewhere is that Rochester Community Baseball, Inc. which runs the Triple-A ball club the Rochester Red Wings, took over operation of the Muckdogs two seasons ago. The Rochester Red Wings are the second largest sports franchise in North America that is completely supporter-owned – the largest being the NFL’s Green Bay Packers.]

Photo credits -
Aberdeen IronBirds/Ripken Stadium…Photo from, here.
Brooklyn Cyclones/MCU Park [formerly Keyspan Park]…Photo from Uncle Bob’s Ballparks 56 site, here.
Hudson Valley Renegades/Duchess Stadium…Aerial image from’s Eye Satellite view, here.
Staten Island Yankees/Richmond County Bank Ballpark…Aerial photo from, thread, ‘Little Ballparks‘.

Auburn Doubledays/Falcon Park…Aerial image from’s Eye satellite view, here.
Batavia Muckdogs/Dwyer Stadium…Aerial image from’s Eye satellite view, here.
Jamestown Jammers/Russell Diethrick Park…Aerial image from’s Eye satellite view, here.
Mahoning Valley Scrappers/Eastwood Field…Photo from, here.
State College Spikes/Medlar Field at Lubrano Park…Photo from State College Spikes’ page at, here.
Williamsport Crosscutters/Bowman Field…Photo from, here.

Connecticut Tigers/Dodd Stadium…Photo from, here.
Lowell Spinners/LeLacheur Park…Aerial image from’s Eye satellite view, here.
Tri-City ValleyCats/Joseph L. Bruno Stadium…Photo from U.W. Marx Construction Co. site, here.
Vermont Lake Monsters/Centennial Field…Photo from, here.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at, ‘New York-Penn League‘.

Thanks to David Kronheim at Attendance figures from’s Minor League Baseball – 2010 attendance analysis [pdf] (Note, league attendances begin on page 28 of the 60 page pdf.)

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