Minor League History: Florida-Alabama-Georgia League (FLAG League)

The Florida-Alabama-Georgia League saw the light in 1915 as the Georgia State League changed its name when the Americus team moved to Gainesville FL and a team in Dothan AL was added. This happened in June 1915. The Georgia State League had previously been known as the Empire State League.

The FLAG league started the 1915 season under the well known name of Georgia State League. In the past there had been an attempt to start a Georgia State League (1906) but that edition was short lived as it ceased operations in the second week of July after the Americus and Valdosta franchises disbanded and a third team was forced to move. Most of the other teams had financial difficulties, so folding the league was the only option. C

Cities represented:

Americus, GA: Americus Muckalees
Brunswick, GA: Brunswick Pilots
Dothan, AL: Dothan
Gainesville, FL: Gainesville Sharks
Thomasville, GA: Thomasville Hornets
Valdosta, GA: Valdosta Millionaires
Waycross, GA: Waycross Moguls

Before the start of the 1915 season the Cordele Ramblers dropped out of the league and were replaced by a team in Dothan in Alabama. After the owners of (again) the Americus franchise handed over the team to the league due to financial difficulties on May 18 1915, three weeks into the season, and the team was moved to Gainesville (FL) on May 31. Due to this move and the earlier addition of a team in Dothan at the start of the season, the league swiftly changed its name into Florida-Alabama-State League. The Americus Muckalees changed its name into Gainesville Sharks. The nickname of the Dothan franchise isn’t known.

One of the FLAG league players that made it to the bigs was Ben Paschal. He made quite a jump from class D to the majors in 1915. While playing for the Dothan franchise, Paschal Afbeeldingsresultaat voor Ben Paschal baseballled the FLAG league in homeruns with seven dingers. After the league folded, he debuted with the Cleveland Indians on August 16. He did not impress with his bat, hitting a meager .111. Eventually he was sent down to the class D Charlotte Hornets of the North Carolina State League in 1916. After spending many years in the minors, in which he made it to class A. In 1920, his contract was acquired by the Boston Red Sox. In nine games he hit a decent .357 but once again he was sent down to the minors again. Eventually he ended up with the New York Yankees in 1924. He spent six years with the Yankees where he became the last hitter to replace Babe Ruth as a pinch hitter in 1927 in the opening game of the season, in which Ruth went o for 3 and Paschal collected a hit. Paschal was known as a five tool player but still his playing time with the Yankees was limited as they already had a lot of future hall of famers on their roster. Eventually Paschal was sent down to the minors again where he would play for the remainder of his career (through the 1934 season).

Next to Paschal there were some players that had a cup of tea in the Bigs. Herb Hall for example played three games with the Detroit Tigers in 1918, debuting on April 25 and playing his last game on May 3rd. With the Dothan franchise, Hall clinched a league leading fourteen wins and a .737 winning percentage (14-5).
Ross Reynolds was another example of a FLAG player that had a short lived major league career. Reynolds debuted with the Detroit Tigers on May 2nd in a season in which he made 26 appearances on the mound, seven as a starter, and in which he finished the season with a 5-3 record. In 1915 he appeared in only four games. He did not record a win and lost one.
His final MLB game was on May 1 1915 after he signed with the Waycross Moguls.

The size of most cities became a problem for the league. Many franchises were located in small communities which had a direct influence on the number of spectators. For the smaller cities operating costs (equipment, travel, and lodging) and player salaries were harder to deal with due to the small numbers of fans visiting the games.
Only in its third month, the league disbanded on July 17. The league attempted to play a play off series between the Valdosta Millionaires and the Brunswick Pilots, but that series was never finished due to a player strike.

Minor League club for sale

If you always wanted to own a minor league club, this is your chance. The city of Auburn is putting the DoubleDays into the shopping window. They are asking $6 million for it. In 1982 the city of Auburn took over the team from the owner at his request since he had substantial debts. The city wants the team to stay in Auburn but doesn’t want the municipality to own it. 

The city is looking for a buyer and has hired Beacon Sports Capital Partners LLC,  a investment bank and financial advisor that is specialized in the sports industry.  The company from Needham Massachusetts  will help the city sell the team.  uburn has put the team for sale since.

The New York Penn League has adviced to put a price tag of $6 million on the A Short Season affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

According to the city there is a significant interest in the team, mostly from people who own one or more minor league franchises.

The spokesperson of the city said that it’s not a city’s business, number one, to have a professional sports team. “Municipalities are facing very tight financial times and the resources are limited.”

The city will turn the club into a limited liability corporation (LLC) after approval of the New York –  Penn League. Auburn would then sell all, or a portion of the company as a partnership, to private owners. Money from the sale would go into the city’s general fund and could be used for different kinds of purposes.

The team could advertise itself as the number of fans passing the turnstiles surpassed the previous year. This season 52,811 set foot in the stadium, averaging 1,427 spectators per game.

Since the team is located in the city since 1957, there is a strong tie with the community. Until 1996 the team was named Astros but in that year the team adopted the name DoubleDays to honor Abner DoubleDay, long-believed to be the inventor of the game, who spend his childhood days in the city of Auburn.

As the team made a $9,000 operating profit in 2015, its first in five years, the new owners don’t need to expect to make millions of dollars with the team. But if the fans keep showing up like they did in the last three years, they do not give the new owners a reason to leave the city.


Balentien and Van den Hurk won’t join KOTN in friendly vs Japan

The Japanese sports website hochi.jp.co announced that Curacao slugger and Dutch pitcher Rick van den Hurk will not join team Kingdom of the Netherlands in the friendly matches vs Samurai Japan in November.

The article doesn’t tell why the two Dutchie stars of the NPB will not join the team but it mentioned that both are willing to join team Kingdom of the Netherlands with the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Wladimir Balentien’s future with the Yakult Swallows is up in the air as the club is eyeing some pitching. The club hesitates to continue the cooperation with the slugger as he has some history with nagging injuries. They also claim that his defense is questionable.
Nevertheless Balentien wants to return to the Swallows. In 2013 Balentien broke the season homerun record as he hit 60 dingers to beat Sadaharu Oh’s record of 55.
Balentien finished the 2016 season with a .269 average and 31 homeruns.

Rick van den Hurk signed a three year contract extension with the Softbank Hawks for the next three seasons. This year, Van den Hurk ended up on the disabled list due to some ailments. Eventually he finished the season with seven wins and three losses in thirteen starts. During the season Rick broke the record of consecutive wins for a rookie and a foreign pitcher with fourteen consecutive victories.

This report was brought to you by Score66 baseball.

MLB spends big in Chinese baseball

MLB is spending big to get baseball off the ground in China. The Chinese government sees baseball as a $7.4 billion industry. Within ten years the government and MLB want to build diamonds and academies in a country where baseball was banned once.

With MLB spending hundreds of millions of dollars, it is proof that the organization rather looks for big markets instead of honoring countries with a bigger baseball history.

Anyhow, MLB is looking for players that can get to the MLB as soon as possible. They take the NBA as an example. When Yao Ming made his first steps into the NBA, the popularity of basketball in China exploded. So far China has exported a few players but none made it to the Bigs. To grow the sport in China, it will need a superstar like Yao Ming.

Currently there are 3,000 players on a population of 1.4 billion. The number of 50 baseball stadiums is rather cramped on such a number of players. Especially when you know that about 500 schools have baseball programs and that there is a professional baseball league, the CBL, with six teams (Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Wuxi and Chengdu).
Besides building its own diamonds, MLB opened development centers at existing high schools in Nanjing, Wuxi and Changzhou to look for talent. At the development centers, promising athletes work on their hitting, fielding and throwing after doing their reading, writing and arithmetic and English lessons.
Since opening those centers, MLB has paid for the education and living expenses for 92 athletes. Normally those players come under the attention of MLB through schools or businesses where a teacher or businessman has introduced the game to the local kids.

It is not that baseball does not have a history in China. Back in the 1930s Babe Ruth visited the country with a barnstorming tour and played vs a local team in Shanghai. But the sport has been banned for a while during Mao’s cultural revolution. Since 1975 the sport is allowed again. Since then MLB has tried to gain ground by providing coaches for Chinese teams in international tournaments and the Olympics, having the Los Angeles Dodgers build a stadium in Tianjin in 1986 and staging the exhibition China Series in 2008.

In January of this year, a big step forward was made when the China Baseball League signed its first national media deal, that gave Le Sports exclusive rights for three years to live stream games. But the biggest step forward for MLB would be if they could sell media and broadcast rights in China. About 710 million people in China are actively using the world wide web.

For a while, Japan financed the CBL but due to heavy losses and baseball disappearing from the Olympic agenda in 2009, the funding was cut. Eventually the league folded in 2012 but a restart was made in 2014. In 2015 the CBL even expanded to two divisions and ten teams. This year an, what should become an annual event, amateur draft was introduced.

When you look to the list with Chinese champions below, you see that there is not a good structure yet. One year they play for the championship in only one game and the next it is a best of five series.

2002 Tianjin Lions 1 Beijing Tigers 0
2003 Beijing Tigers 3 Tianjin Lions 2
2004 Beijing Tigers 3 Tianjin Lions 2
2005 Beijing Tigers 2 Tianjin Lions 0
2006 Tianjin Lions 3 Guangdong Leopards 0
2007 Tianjin Lions 3 Guangdong Leopards 1
2008 Tianjin Lions 3 Beijing Tigers 0
2009 Beijing Tigers 1 Guangdong Leopards 0
2010 Guangdong Leopards 2 Beijing Tigers 0
2011 Tianjin Lions 2 Guangdong Leopards 1
2014 Beijing Tigers 2 Tianjin Lions 1
2015 Jiangsu Pegasus 2 Beijing Tigers 0

But even though MLB has made some progression in China, the growth of the game is slow. Perhaps with the help of the Chinese government, things will speed up. But nevertheless baseball still has a long way to go before baseball will gain a foothold in China.

Positive ballpark news from Richmond

The city of Richmond Va, the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and the Richmond Flying Squirrels have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding a new ballpark in Richmond. It would be a boulevard area ballpark with a price tag of $50 MM – $60 MM. This was all presented in yesterday’s press release of the city of Richmond. 

A MOU is anything but final. It is merely an loose agreement. But in this case it is an important step forward as the city of Richmond kept lingering about a location and even adviced the Flying Squirrels to look elsewhere.

The agreement is about the construction and the development terms:

All parties think that the best location is city-owned North Side land bounded by North Boulevard and Hermitage Road, close to the current stadium of the team. The construction costs will be around $50 -$60 million. But since the Flying Squirrels and VCU will be the main users, they will pay the biggest share of that amount.
The new ballpark will be designed in a way that it can host non sporting events as well.

Of course all parties are happy. “The Flying Squirrels are excited by the progress and spirit of cooperation that is evidenced by this new agreement. We look forward to playing our games in a new ballpark, as tenants in a Boulevard area that is being economically developed to best serve the interests of our Greater Richmond community, neighbors and fans,” said Flying Squirrels President Lou DiBella.

There may be one tiny problem with the projected location. Currently it is state owned and central office and distribution center by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. So it remains to be seen if the state of Virginia is willing to donate the ground, rent it or is willing to sell it.

If the stadium will be built, the Flying Squirrels will commit themselves to stay in Richmond for at least thirty years.

Japan – KOTN friendly: (provisional) Dutch roster released

A few months ago, you could read here that there will be a set of friendly games between team Kingdom of the Netherlands and team Samurai Japan in November 2016.

According to the website of Samurai Japan, the roster of the Dutch team has been released. According to a source within the Dutch baseball federation, there are still negotiations going on with players, so the following list will likely be subject to change.

The following players will head to Japan for the friendly games that will be played on November 12 and 13 (Saturday and Sunday) in the Tokyo Dome, home of the Yomiuri Giants.


Berry van Driel , Diegomar Markwell, Kevin Kelly, Loek van Mil, Orlando Yntema, Byron Cornelisse (all Curacao Neptunus), Jim Ploeger (HCAW), Jair Jurrjens (no team), Lars Huijer (Vaessen Pioniers), Mike Bolsenbroek (Regensburg Legionaere) and Tom de Blok (L&D Amsterdam Pirates).


Dashenko Ricardo, Gianison Boekhoudt (both Curacao Neptunus) and Shawn Zarraga (Los Angeles Dodgers / Oklahoma City Dodgers).


Dwayne Kemp (Curacao Neptunus), Sharlon Schoop (Baltimore Orioles / Bowie BaySox), Yurrendel De Caster (no team) and Nick Urbanus (L&D Amsterdam Pirates).


Christopher Garia (Vaessen Pioniers), Kalian Sams (no team), Randolph Oduber (Curacao Neptunus).

It is very well possible that some of the mentioned players will be linked to other clubs after the November 1 deadline of the Dutch hoofdklasse’s transfer period.

This set of games will be a preparation for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. And according to previous news reports, the Dutch can ask MLB for permission to let their players participate in the exhibition games since these games are preparation games for the upcoming World BaseBall Classic.

The roster may contain 28 players. Since only 21 are named in the aforementioned list, there will be players added for sure.

The Japanese team will contain NPB players only, so they will be a tough opponent for team Kingdom of the Netherlands. Team Samurai Japan is looking to these games as a preparation for the World Baseball Classic, so the team is very serious in its approach.