This year the Collegiate Baseball League Europe will enter its sixth season. The CBLE started in 2012 with four teams. The expansion came two years later when the league spread its wings to Spain, France and England.
The CBLE is a wood bat collegiate league in Europe which can be compared with collegiate leagues in the United States like the Cape Cod League and the Northwoods League. The league was founded in 2012 by Jan Maarten Kops, club icon of Oostehout Twins, where he is very active in the organization of the club.
In the first two editions the league was played as a tournament over four/five days at the facility of (now) Dutch hoofdklasse club Twins from Oosterhout. The teams carried the names Falcons, Bombers, Cavaliers and Admirals. From 2014 the league started to tour through Europe as the league visited La Rochelle (France), London (England)and Barcelona (Spain) and then returned to good old Oosterhout. The team names were linked to the participating cities.
The intention was to expand to six teams in 2015 but the league was forced to let that plan go. Two teams were added, Vienna and Prague and London was dropped, so the league could make one tour with a touring car of 90 persons.
In 2014 the league announced an agreement with the Northwoods League, one of the premier wood bat collegiate leagues in the United States. Both leagues agreed that six excellent European players of the CBLE will get an invitation to play in the Northwoods League in the next year.
In 2016 the league added London again and the league organized two tours: a West tour to London, La Rochelle, Barcelona and Oosterhout, and an East tour to Amsterdam, Vienna, Prague and Oosterhout as well. Oosterhout served as the home base again where the play offs and the championship game were played.
But the expansion to two tours proved to be too much logistic wise. The league was not able to keep up two divisions/ two tours. So for the 2017 season, the league decided to downgrade and to return to only four teams with one tour. The four remaining teams are the Amsterdam Bombers, the Sant Boi Falcons of Barcelona, the La Rochelle Admirals and the Antwerp Cavaliers.
Antwerp replaced London as participating city. Last year London appeared a tough hurdle to take for the CBLE as the city of London asked a very high price to play on the field of the the BSUK (Baseball Softball United Kingdom). Since almost everything is rather expensive in London and to get there will bring additional cost for the train through the Chunnel or the ferry. Another important factor was that nobody seemed to care about the games being played. The CBLE people hardly got any help from the club to make this event succeed. And that was a bit of the problem with the other cities that have been dropped as well. Therefore it was decided to bring the Cavaliers to Antwerp. This city had knocked on the door of the CBLE for quite some time and with the fields of the Borgerhout Squirrels and the Brasschaat Braves the CBLE game will be played on some nice facilities. Especially the field of the Brasschaat Braves is brand new.
Another reason why the league was downgraded to four teams was the depth of the rosters. Per city there were seven games played and with rosters of only fifteen men, the pitching staff was not deep enough. Now with only four teams, they can have a 20-men roster per team with enough pitchers.
Cities like Sant Boi/Barcelona and La Rochelle are making a big event out of the CBLE. Every year for example, an all star game is played with team France and players from the highest French division in La Rochelle. These clubs realize that the CBLE is a kind of shopping window for their club.
For the host clubs in the various cities the CBLE is an advantage. The clubs can appoint eight prospects. These prospects will be allowed to play in one of the participating teams to get more experience. Also local umpires will call games to get more experience.
Winners of the CBLE:
2012 Sant Boi Falcons of Barcelona
2013 La Rochelle Admirals
2014 La Rochelle Admirals
2015 Sant Boi Falcons of Barcelona
2016 La Rochelle Admirals
Even though the CBLE enters only its sixth season, it is very famous in the United States already as there are shiploads of (college) players that want to participate in the league.
If you are interested to play at the CBLE, you can go to the website of the league where you can find information about how to apply, what the costs are and a lot more. I have spoken to various volunteers and they all say that young baseball players should experience the CBLE at least once in their life.
In the coming weeks, there will be more blog posts on the CBLE. I will pay attention to the four teams separately.
The league will start on July 9 in Sant Boi (Barcelona). After seven games the league will depart for La Rochelle on July 12. On July 13 the league will start playing in the French coastal town. After three games on July 16, the league will leave and head to Antwerp, where they will start playing on July 18. After seven games the league will move to Amsterdam where the games will start on July 21. Eventually the league will land in Oosterhout on July 24. On July 25 the play offs will start and eventually the league will reach its apotheosis with the consolation game and the championship game on July 27.