Canadian Baseball League

Last updated
Canadian Baseball League
Sport Baseball
Founded2003
Founder Tony Riviera
Inaugural season2003
Ceased2003
No. of teams8
Country Canada
Last
champion(s)
Calgary Outlaws (declared winner)
Most titlesCalgary (1)
TV partner(s)The Score (18 regular season games, CBL All-Star Game and Jenkins Cup Championship)

The Canadian Baseball League was an independent minor league that operated in 2003. The league's only Commissioner was Major League Baseball Hall of Famer and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame member Ferguson Jenkins. The league featured former major league players such as Francisco Cabrera, Floyd Youmans, Rich Butler, Steve Sinclair.

Contents

The CBL was based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The championship trophy was the Jenkins Cup, named after the commissioner of the league, Ferguson Jenkins.

History

The CBL was the brainchild of Tony Riviera, a former major league scout, and the face of the league. It was backed by former Microsoft product developer Charlton Lui, and later by former Yahoo! president, and part owner of the San Francisco Giants, Jeff Mallett. [1] Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins was brought in to act as the league's Commissioner.

Riviera's vision had big goals, and he followed suit by making big promises. Riviera stated that the CBL would be "AAA quality", [2] He was rumoured to have approached the Winnipeg Goldeyes about switching leagues, and even nominated Pete Rose for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. [3]

The big plans initially appeared to be possible. The league announced a national television deal with sports channel The Score, [4] while a crowd of 5,100 took in the league's inaugural game in London, Ontario. [5]

Quick demise

However, despite early promises that the league could, and would, average over 2,000 fans per game, it was clear that the CBL was not remotely close to projections. Only two markets averaged over 1,000 fans per game: Victoria at 1,700 and Calgary at 1,000. [6] Four teams averaged fewer than 300 per game: Kelowna (271), Saskatoon (256), Welland (181) and Trois-Rivières (163). [5] The national TV deal was cancelled after only six weeks after the CBL was unable to find enough sponsors to cover the production costs. [6]

The Montreal franchise never played a game in that city due to a lack of a playing field, as they were denied a lease at Olympic Stadium. Their home games were played at Stade Amedee Roy in Sherbrooke instead.

The Abbotsford Saints relocated to Trois Rivieres, Quebec before the season started.

The CBL's swan song was the All-Star game, held at Calgary. Unwilling to absorb any more losses, Mallett pulled the plug on the league, suspending operations the day before the game. A crowd of over 5,700 (the largest crowd to come to Burns Park all season) watched the East and West All-Stars play to a 5-5, ten-inning tie. Following the game, a home run derby was held, in which Jamie Gann of Kelowna hit the only dinger, thus giving the West the victory. [7] Despite losing as much as $4 million on the CBL, [6] Mallett initially promised to bring the league back in 2004. However, the remaining assets of the league were quietly auctioned off on December 1, 2003 in Vancouver and the league never returned.

Teams

The eight teams that played in the CBL, and their record at the time the league was suspended. The Calgary Outlaws were declared the Jenkins Cup champions on the basis of having the league's best record.

West Division

East Division

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References

  1. ""CBL receivership not a fall classic", Vancouver Courier, August 4, 2004". Archived from the original on October 21, 2006. Retrieved October 6, 2006.
  2. "Ballparkwatch.com, September 5, 2002". Archived from the original on May 13, 2006. Retrieved October 6, 2006.
  3. No Rose, but former Blue Jays slugger Carter voted in, ESPN.com, March 13, 2003
  4. "Canadian Baseball League gets National TV deal, Channelcanada.com, January 23, 2003". Archived from the original on October 29, 2006. Retrieved October 6, 2006.
  5. 1 2 enterstageright.com, Jackson Murphy, July 21, 2003
  6. 1 2 3 Empty Field of Dreams, thetyee.ca, April 5, 2004
  7. CBL all-stars get one final chance to shine, Calgary Herald, July 24, 2003, p. E5