Global League

From BR Bullpen

The Global League was a professional baseball league in 1969. The league was meant to feature six teams from five countries; the Dominican Republic, Japan, Puerto Rico, the United States, and Venezuela. In reality, only four teams were constituted. The league folded after one month.

The league was the idea of the Louisville Colonels' Walter Dilbeck. The league would be a world-wide league, featuring teams from the United States, Japan, and the Caribbean. It was formerly announced in September 1968 with the following teams:

  • Alabama Wildcats (Alabama)
  • Dominican Sharks (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)
  • New Jersey Titans (New Jersey)
  • Puerto Rico Sunfans (Puerto Rico)
  • Tokyo Dragons (Tokyo, Japan)
  • Venezuela Oilers (Caracas, Venezuela)

Toru Mori, formerly of the Chunichi Dragons, Taiyo Whales, and Tokyo Orions was the manager of the Tokyo club. Chico Carrasquel managed the Latin American squad. Happy Chandler was named the league's Commissioner and Bill McKinley as its chief umpire.

The four teams (two American, one Japanese and one Latin American) played a few games before sparse crowds in Puerto Rico, then moved to Venezuela where the attendance was slightly better, but the league soon collapsed as no bills were getting paid, including food and lodging for the players. The American and Japanese embassies in Caracas had to intervene to get the players repatriated, and no one ever got paid. Dilbeck sold the league to the Baptist Foundation of America for $3 million, but that entity also proved to be fraudulent. Dilbeck was later tried for income tax evasion for a period including that during which he ran the league, and he was found guilty and sentenced to 60 days in jail (he apparently used some political connections to influence the judge to issue him a lenient sentence, even though fraudulent intent had clearly been demonstrated.

One historical note was that the league was the first "professional" circuit to use the designated hitter.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Warren Corbett: "A Global Fiasco: Walter Dilbeck tried to create a third major league. He wound up in prison.", in Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Vol. 49, Nr. 1 (Spring 2020), pp. 20-25.

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