Atlantic League

From BR Bullpen

Atlantic League

Atlantic League 1998.png

Founded 1998
No. of teams 10
Country Flag of United States United States
Current champions Lancaster Barnstormers
Official website

The current Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, based in Camden, New Jersey, is a professional, independent baseball organization located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States, especially the greater metropolitan areas of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. It operates in cities not served by Major or Minor League Baseball teams and is not affiliated with either. The Atlantic League requires cities to have the market for a 4,500 to 7,500 seat ballpark and for the facility to be maintained at or to exceed AAA standards.

In 2014, he league introduced a set of special rules in mid-season in order to speed up play. Those included issuing intentional walks automatically (i.e. without the need to throw four pitches outside the strike zone); reducing the number of warm-up pitches allowed; designating courtesy runners for catchers to allow them to put on their equipment in preparation for the next half-inning; and reducing the number of mound visits allowed. Umpires were also instructed to do a better job of moving the game along. The rule about pinch-running for catchers was quickly dropped, as it was found to be potentially counter-productive.

In the spring of 2019, the league reached an agreement with Major League Baseball to experiment with some potential rule changes, in order to judge their effect with experienced ballplayers putting them into practice. These included having all balls and strikes called by computer; tinkering with the distance between home plate and first base by shortening it by 3 inches, a result of using larger bases; and increasing the distance between the mound and home plate by 2 feet in the second half of the season, to 62' 6". There would also be a rule to restrict the use of defensive shifts in the infield and another forcing relief pitchers to face a minimum of three batters or complete the half inning before being replaced, unless injured. The role of the home plate umpire on pitches will be limited to overruling the system in case a ball bounced in front of home plate and through the strike zone, or to make rulings on checked swings. The experiment was originally slated to start on opening day, April 25th, but a couple of weeks before that, it was announced that the introduction of the changes would be delayed, with the computerized strike zone only being implemented gradually during the course of the year, and the other changes waiting until the 2020 season. The automatic strike zone came into effect with the start of 2019 season's second half, in mid-July. They also introduced a variation on the dropped third strike rule that allows the batter to "steal" first base on any count if the ball strays far enough from the catcher for him to reach the base safely.

The league was shut down by the Coronavirus panemic in 2020, then was upended by the 2021 Minor League Reorganization: not only did it join Organized Baseball, now called the Professional Development League as a "partner league", but two of its franchises moved to the ranks of affiliated baseball, the Sugar Land Skeeters heading to AAA and the Somerset Patriots to AA. In return, two former minor league franchises, the Lexington Legends and the West Virginia Power joined the league, the former winning the league championship and the latter being re-named the Charleston Dirty Birds during the season. Another franchise, the Gastonia Honey Hunters joined as a expansion franchise, replacing the New Britain Bees, keeping the league at 8 teams. In 2022, another franchise displaced by the Minor League Reorganization, the Staten Island FerryHawks also joined the circuit, necessitating the addition of a road team, the Wild Health Genomes, who share facilities with Lexington, to give the league an even number of franchises.

In 2023, the league introduced more potential changes to the rules to be tested at a high level: a designated pinch-runner, who can freely substitute for any baserunner at any point of the game without either player losing the ability to re-enter the game at a later time; limiting pitchers to a single disengagement from the mound per at-bat, instead of the current two; and tying the presence of the designated hitter in the game to that of the starting pitcher (i.e., after the starting pitcher leaves the game, the subsequent pitcher or a pinch-hitter must come to bat when the spot previously occupied by the DH comes up).

There have been three Atlantic Leagues in baseball history.

Current Teams[edit]

2024 Atlantic League Teams
North Division South Division
Team City Manager Team City Manager
Hagerstown Flying Boxcars Hagerstown, MD Mark Mason Charleston Dirty Birds Charleston, WV P.J. Phillips
Lancaster Stormers Lancaster, PA Ross Peeples Gastonia Baseball Club Gastonia, NC Mauro Gozzo
Long Island Ducks Central Islip, NY Lew Ford High Point Rockers High Point, NC Jamie Keefe
Staten Island FerryHawks Staten Island, NY Mark Minicozzi Lexington Legends Lexington, KY Gregg Zaun
York Revolution York, PA Rick Forney Southern Maryland Blue Crabs Waldorf, MD Stan Cliburn

Minor League 1896-1900[edit]

The first Atlantic League lasted from 1896-1900 and was the successor of the Pennsylvania State League 1892-1895.

Cities Represented[edit]

In 1896 New Haven moved to Lancaster on July 3rd, while New York was expelled on July 13th and replaced by Philadelphia. In 1899 Paterson disbanded on July 4th, and Scranton followed on July 9th. In 1900 Philadelphia moved to Harrisburg, and Newark and Jersey City disbanded on June 2nd. The league disbanded on June 12th.

Teams & Statistics[edit]


President: Samuel B. Crane

Team Standings W L PCT GB Managers
Newark Colts 82 61 .573 - Oyster Burns
Hartford Bluebirds 73 56 .566 1 Billy Barnie
Paterson Silk Weavers 74 60 .552 3.5 Ed Barrow
New York Metropolitans / Philadelphia Athletics # 57 69 .452 13 John Irwin / Bill Sharsig
Wilmington Peaches 58 79 .423 20 Danny Long
New Haven Texas Steers @ 21 38 .356 NA Ted Sullivan
Lancaster Maroons $ 26 30 .464 NA Frank Rinn

@ New Haven disbanded July 12
$ Lancaster entered the league July 13
# New York (30-32) was expelled July 13 and was replaced by Philadelphia; first home game July 13
Soby Cup Playoff: Paterson 5 games, Hartford 2

Player Statistics
Player Team Stat Tot Player Team Stat Tot
John Newell Wilmington BA .391 Tom Vickery Hartford W 34
Rasty Wright Newark Runs 163 Jerry Nops Wilmington SO 199
Rasty Wright Newark Hits 189 Tom Vickery Hartford Pct 34-19 .642
John Rothfuss Newark HR 13
John Rothfuss Newark SB 87

President: Ed Barrow

Team Standings W L PCT GB Managers
Lancaster Maroons 90 45 .667 - Frank Rinn
Newark Colts 89 52 .631 4 George Ellis
Hartford Bluebirds 78 55 .586 11 Oyster Burns
Richmond Bluebirds 71 59 .546 16.5 Jake Wells
Norfolk Jewels 66 72 .478 25.5 William A. Smith
Paterson Silk Weavers 68 79 .463 28 Charles McKee
Philadelphia Athletics 49 89 .355 43 Bill Sharsig
Reading Coal Heavers 40 100 .286 53 Danny Long
Player Statistics
Player Team Stat Tot Player Team Stat Tot
Rasty Wright Newark BA .372 William Carrick Newark W 31
Hal O'Hagan Newark Runs 150 Sam Leever Richmond SO 179
Hal O'Hagan Newark Hits 202 Joe Yeager Lancaster Pct 28-9 .757
Socks Seybold Lancaster HR 14
Charles Cavelle Hartford SB 71

President: Ed Barrow

Team Standings W L PCT GB Managers
Richmond Bluebirds 77 44 .636 - Jake Wells
Lancaster Maroons 82 50 .621 0.5 Frank Rinn / Pierce Chiles / Carl McVey
Reading Coal Heavers 72 56 .563 8.5 John Newell
Paterson Silk Weavers 65 70 .481 19 Sam Laroque
Allentown Peanuts 55 67 .451 25.5 Bill Sharsig
Newark Colts 58 71 .450 26 Oyster Burns
Hartford Cooperatives 57 76 .429 29 Bill Traffley / Mike Roach
Norfolk Jewels 47 79 .373 35.5 Charley Jewell
Player Statistics
Player Team Stat Tot Player Team Stat Tot
Pat Meaney Newark BA .330 Edward Fertsch Reading W 28
John Buttermore Lancaster Runs 118 Ned Garvin Reading W 28
Pierce Chiles Lancaster Hits 184 Harry Wilhelm Lancaster Pct 20-5 .800
Socks Seybold Richmond HR 17
Piggy Ward Lancaster SB 59

President: Ed Barrow

Team Standings W L PCT GB Managers
Richmond Bluebirds 63 25 .716 - Jake Wells
Wilkes-Barre Coal Barons 49 37 .570 13 Dan Shannon / William Goeckel
Lancaster Maroons 51 42 .548 14.5 Carl McVey
Reading Coal Heavers 46 40 .535 16 Frank Rinn
Allentown Peanuts 37 47 .440 24 Bill Sharsig
Newark Colts 42 54 .438 25 Jim Field / Jack Chapman / Abner Powell
Scranton Miners $ 25 38 .397 NA Martin Swift
Paterson Giants # 21 51 .292 NA Rasty Wright / Jack Thornton / Ed Barrow / Abner Powell
Player Statistics
Player Team Stat Tot Player Team Stat Tot
Jack Thornton Paterson/Newark BA .379 Harry Wilhelm Lancaster W 21
John Buttermore Lancaster Runs 83 Case Patten Wilkes-Barre SO 101
Piggy Ward Lancaster Hits 136 Ned Garvin Reading Pct 14-3 .824
Socks Seybold Richmond HR 11
Louis Lippert Scranton SB 41

President: Horace Fogel

Team Standings W L PCT GB Managers
Scranton Miners 26 7 .788 - Walter Burnham
Wilkes-Barre Coal Barons 24 13 .649 4 Bill Clymer
Reading Coal Heavers 16 16 .500 9.5 Ben Fleishman
Allentown Peanuts 14 20 .412 12.5 Bill Sharsig
Philadelphia Athletics / Harrisburg @ 10 17 .370 13 Duff Cooley
Elmira Pioneers 11 19 .367 13.5 George Sayers
Newark Colts # 8 12 .400 NA John Irwin
Jersey City # 7 12 .368 NA Samuel Mills

@ Philadelphia (10-11) transferred to Harrisburg; first game June 4
# Newark and Jersey City disbanded June 2
The league disbanded June 14

Player Statistics
Player Team Stat Tot Player Team Stat Tot
Joe Delahanty Allentown BA .469 Dan Kerwin Scranton W 8
Fred Ketcham Wilkes-Barre Runs 49 Frank Owen Wilkes-Barre W 8
Joe Delahanty Allentown Hits 67 Frank Owen Wilkes-Barre SO 41
Fred Ketcham Wilkes-Barre Hits 67 Bill Milligan Scranton Pct 7-0 1.000
John Burns Wilkes-Barre HR 4
Bill Clymer Wilkes-Barre HR 4
Fred Ketcham Wilkes-Barre HR 4

Hall of Fame Alumni[edit]

Minor League, 1905-1909[edit]

From 1905 to 1909, save for 1906, a league based in Pennsylvania played under the Atlantic League title.

Minor League, 1914, 1916[edit]

In 1914 there was a class D league known as the Atlantic League. The league had been known as the New York-New Jersey League in 1913. The title was won by the Poughkeepsie Honey Bugs. Internal politics and poor financial agreements hindered the league, which made it to the year's end, but folded before it could try another run in 1915. The league operated once again in 1916 before again disbanding on June 24th.

Cities Represented[edit]

Teams & Statistics[edit]


President: Rosslyn M Cox

Team Standings W L PCT GB Managers
Poughkeepsie Honey Bugs 65 31 .677 - Bill McCabe
Newark Cubans / Long Branch Cubans # 59 32 .648 3.5 Ricardo Henriquez
Middletown Middies 47 45 .511 16 Jack Lawler
Danbury Hatters 49 48 .505 16.5 Tom Guiheen
Perth Amboy Pacers 44 49 .473 19.5 Bob Ganley / Henry Ramsey
Newburgh Hill Climbers 40 48 .455 21 Andrew Marshall / Todd Waterman
Paterson Silk Weavers 32 54 .372 28.5 Richard Cogan
Bloomfield-Long Branch Cubans / Asbury Park Sea Urchins $ 30 59 .337 31.5 Sam Jaeger

# Newark (26-11) moved to Long Beach June 29
$ Bloomfield-Long Branch (15-22) moved to Asbury Park July 2

Player Statistics
Player Team Stat Tot Player Team Stat Tot
Angel Aragon Long Beach BA .443 Jim Clinton Poughkeepsie W 15
Joe McCarthy Poughkeepsie Runs 83 Andy Coakley Asbury Park SO 138
William Duggan Poughkeepsie Hits 120 Jim Clinton Poughkeepsie Pct 15-1 .937
Jim Elcock Newburgh HR 7

Independent League, 1998-present[edit]

Cities Represented[edit]

League Champions[edit]

Year Winner Series Loser
1998 Atlantic City Surf 3-1 Bridgeport Bluefish
1999 Bridgeport Bluefish 3-0 Somerset Patriots
2000 Nashua Pride 3-0 Somerset Patriots
2001 Somerset Patriots 3-2 Newark Bears
2002 Newark Bears 3-0 Bridgeport Bluefish
2003 Somerset Patriots 3-2 Nashua Pride
2004 Long Island Ducks 3-0 Camden Riversharks
2005 Somerset Patriots 3-0 Nashua Pride
2006 Lancaster Barnstormers 3-0 Bridgeport Bluefish
2007 Newark Bears 3-1 Somerset Patriots
2008 Somerset Patriots 3-1 Camden Riversharks
2009 Somerset Patriots 3-1 Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
2010 York Revolution 3-0 Bridgeport Bluefish
2011 York Revolution 3-1 Long Island Ducks
2012 Long Island Ducks 3-2 Lancaster Barnstormers
2013 Long Island Ducks 3-2 Somerset Patriots
2014 Lancaster Barnstormers 3-0 Sugar Land Skeeters
2015 Somerset Patriots 3-1 Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
2016 Sugar Land Skeeters 3-0 Long Island Ducks
2017 York Revolution 3-0 Long Island Ducks
2018 Sugar Land Skeeters 3-2 Long Island Ducks
2019 Long Island Ducks 3-2 Sugar Land Skeeters
2020 season cancelled
2021 Lexington Legends 3-2 Long Island Ducks
2022 Lancaster Barnstormers 3-0 High Point Rockers


Further Reading[edit]

  • Emma Baccellieri: "How the Atlantic League Became MLB's Laboratory for the Future of Baseball", Sport Illustrated, July 25, 2019. [1]
  • Frank Bodani: "Baseball history made: Inside the debut of robot umpires", York Daily Record, July 10, 2019. [2]
  • Anthony Castrovince: "MLB, Atlantic League team up for more experimental rules",, April 18, 2023. [3]

External Link[edit]