DALLAS, TEXAS(February 25, 2010) The Continental Baseball League, which offers the most affordably priced tickets among any of the eight professional independent leagues in the United States, announced its 2010 schedule today, one that will see the return of the Big Bend Cowboys of Alpine, TX, the addition of the Las Cruces Vaqueros and a two-team alliance with the New York State League that will allow the CBL to bring pro baseball to areas previously absent from the professional ranks.
The joint announcement was made by CBL commissioner Ron Baron and CBL director of baseball operations Bob Ibach. The 60-game regular season schedule will also begin two weeks earlier this season, with the opening weekend of games set from May 6-9. Big Bend will host the annual league All-Star Game in mid-July and the CBL Ferguson Jenkins Championship playoffs will be held beginning August 19.
Big Bend played in that title series just last season and lost to the Alexandria Aces, which recently left the CBL to begin a new venture in a wooden bat league. Two other franchises, Texarkana, and the Bay Area Toros, the league champs two years ago, will not return to the CBL in 2010 due to economic reasons.
The two teams from the New York State League will be the Desert Mountain Lions and the West Texas Roadhoggs.
“The NYS has been very supportive of the CBL since our inception in 2007 and have sent several players to the CBL over the past three seasons,” noted Baron. “The NYS is a premier pro baseball development organization that has sent more than 100 players to all levels of independent league baseball over the last four seasons, including the Atlantic League, CanAm League, the American Association and others. We can’t thank Jay Acton enough for his past support of the CBL and for his continued guidance as we go through some challenging economic times that has been felt at all levels of professional sports the past two years.
“We are very confident of bringing on board a new franchise in Colorado in 2011, which had planned to play in 2010 but needed some additional time to get prepared. And we have two or three other locations that have expressed an interest in the CBL for the 2011 season, including cities in Texas and Arizona. We’ve had a good track record in the past three seasons in getting players in our league opportunities with affiliated teams, as 19 of our players have been signed by MLB organizations during that period. And a couple of those youngsters have a real shot to make a big league team in the very near future. So it’s a very exciting time for us.”
The Tarrant County Blue Thunder won the inaugural CBL title in 2007, followed by the Bay Area Toros and the Aces. “We had four of our teams jockeying for first place up until the final games of the regular season last summer and the balance in our league over the three seasons has been very good,” noted Ibach, a former Chicago Cubs executive under general manager Dallas Green in the 1980s, who hired present day Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti as his assistant during that time. “Once again I like the balance of talent in our league, and I think we’ll have another season of exciting pro baseball for our fans, and a race that won’t be decided until the final week or so of the season.”
The first two series of the season finds Big Bend hosting Las Cruces and West Texas hosting Desert Valley. The CBL plays four games per week, Thursday through Sunday, to keep operating costs at a minimum and deliver baseball at times most convenient for families. Tickets to CBL games run anywhere from $2 to $7, and most concession items are priced under $4. Parking is free. A family of four can easily attend a CBL game for less than $45, including tickets and food.
“That was the platform for our league, something Ron and I insisted upon from the beginning,” noted Ibach, who like Baron was raised in New York City and watched games at Yankee Stadium as a youngster in the 1950s for .50 cents in the bleachers. “It’s a tough stretch these days to try and bring a family to a major league game, where sometimes it will easily cost you $400 for a family of four. We want to bring affordable, family-friendly baseball to our communities, and we want our players to become hometown heroes to our fans in those markets.”
The CBL championship trophy is named after Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins. Details surrounding the playoffs and the format will be announced shortly. Other former major league players have been involved in the league, including Jay Johnstone, who is the CBL director of player relations. Curtis Wilkerson, Steve Trout and Tom Goodwin, all former big leaguers, have managed in the CBL in recent seasons.
For more information on the Continental Baseball League, visit the league’s website at www.CBLproball.com