Australian Baseball League

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The Australian Baseball League (ABL) was founded after the 1988 Claxton Shield. It was the first full-season winter league in Australian history and drew numerous future US stars such as Vernon Wells, Kevin Millwood and John Jaha, in addition to homegrown talents such as Dave Nilsson and Graeme Lloyd. In the summer of 1989-1990 the new league played it first season, with the Waverley Reds being the dominant team of the season.

Due to mounting debts, the ABL was sold off after the 1998-1999 season to a group led by Dave Nilsson, who formed the International Baseball League of Australia.

A new Australian Baseball League was formed by Major League Baseball and the Australian Baseball Federation and started in November 2010. MLB withdrew its 75% share of the funding following the 2015-2016 season, spelling cutbacks in the schedule at the very least. In 2018, the league announced that it was expanding to add a South Korean team, named Winterball Korea, created to give an opportunity for players in the Korea Baseball Organization an opportunity to hone their game in the off-season. It also added a team based in Auckland, in New Zealand. The 2021-2022 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when most leagues worldwide were back in operation after missing time in 2021.

Season/Championship Team/MVP[edit]

Career Leaders (1989-1999)[edit]

Source: Flintoff & Dunn Australian Baseball Almanac

Original clubs[edit]

Over the 10 years of the original Australian Baseball League there was a total of 12 franchise licenses issued, most seasons the ABL had a total of 8 teams but had as many as 9 and for the final season 6. The founding 8 teams of the Australian Baseball League were:

  • Adelaide Giants. The Giants competed in all 10 seasons of the ABL but did not make the championship playoffs once.
  • Brisbane Bandits. The Bandits competed in the first 9 seasons but dropped out of the final season due to not having a suitable venue. The Bandits won 1 championship and finished runner up in another.
  • Gold Coast Clippers. The Clippers had many different names over their 10 years in the ABL. They were the Daikyo Dolphins from 1990 to 1993, due to a sponsorship with Japanese company Daikyo, then the East Coast Cougars and finally Gold Coast Cougars. This franchise won 2 championships and were runner up a further 2 times.
  • Melbourne Monarchs. The Monarchs competed in 9 of the 10 seasons, they were expelled from the league for the 1991-92 season. The Monarchs won 1 ABL title and were runners up to the Reds' 1990 victory.
  • Parramatta Patriots. The Patriots competed in the first 3 season with their best result being 3rd in 1990. The Patriots disbanded after the 1991-92 season due to heavy financial losses. The Sydney Blues purchased their licence.
  • Sydney Metros. The Metros have the dubious honour of being the least successful team in the ABL and also the shortest history after they folded shortly after the 1989-90 season. The Metros licence was purchased by the Sydney Wave.
  • Perth Heat. The Heat were the second most successful team in the league winning the title twice and finishing runner up a further 3 times.
  • Waverley Reds. The Reds were the most successful team in the league, being the only team to win three ABL titles, also finishing runner-up once. The Reds also hold the regular-season single-game attendance record (and second-highest overall) at 11,444, in the 1991/92 season against then cross-town rivals the Melbourne Bushrangers at Waverley Oval. The Reds changed their name to the Melbourne Reds after the 1993-94 season in an attempt to broaden their supporter base.

Later additions (1989-1999)[edit]

Later additions to the league were;

  • Melbourne Bushrangers. The Bushrangers were brought in to replace the Monarchs after they were expelled. The Bushrangers played 2 seasons in Melbourne before moving north to Canberra where they changed names to the Canberra Bushrangers and competed in a further 2 seasons before going broke.
  • Sydney Blues. The Blues purchased their licence off the Parramatta Patriots. The Blues encountered a legal battle with New South Wales Cricket Association over the use of the nickname "Blues" after this point the team was known as the Sydney Storm. The team won 1 championship and finished runner-up under the Blues name; they finished runner-up once more under the Storm name. The Blues hold the overall single-game attendance record, with a 1994 finals series game against the Brisbane Bandits drawing 13,764 to Parramatta Stadium. [1]
  • Sydney Wave. The Wave were formed after purchasing the license of the Sydney Metros. The Wave had no real impact on the league lasting only 2 seasons before folding with heavy financial losses; their license was sold to the Hunter Eagles.
  • Hunter Eagles. The Eagles had slightly more success in the ABL then their previous two license owners lasting for a total of 4 seasons. The Eagles were excluded from the 1998-99 season after not being able to supply enough funds to run the team for the upcoming season.

Original Teams (2010- )[edit]

When the league restarted, the teams were the following:

Additional Teams (2018- )[edit]

  • Geelong - Korea. An expansion team in 2018-2019, the team was composed of South Korean players but it was based in Australia.

External links[edit]

  1. Australian Baseball League (1996). Australian Baseball League 1996/97 Media Guide., p. 182.