A road team is a team that does not have a home ballpark and therefore plays all of its games on the road. Road teams are most usually seen in Independent Leagues where they are sometimes constituted to make an even number of teams for scheduling purposes. They are formed from cast-offs from other teams in the league. Road teams hold little appeal for the more established players.
The lack of a home ballpark and the incessant travel are also serious disadvantages, and road teams are usually near the bottom of the league standings. In some cases, these teams may play a handful of "home" games in non-league ballparks, without one ever being considered their permanent home. They may be listed as the home team in certain games (i.e. bat last).
Road teams are a recent phenomenon, although the idea can be traced back to barnstorming teams of the early decades of the 20th Century. Teams like the House of David or the Satchel Paige All-Stars would travel from city to city, taking on all comers. However, these teams were usually quite strong, as their value as a gate attraction was a function of their quality of play. One team that is considered to have major league status are the Cuban Stars, who played in a variety of Negro Leagues and were quite competitive even if they never won a title. Today's road teams are more akin to the Washington Generals, the hapless opponent of the Harlem Globetrotters touring basketball team, which is composed of real basketball players, but largely serves as a foil for its opponent. The difference in quality between city-based teams and road teams in baseball is not that large though, as a team of complete patsies would hold no interest for competitive balance in the league.
A rare case of an affiliated road team playing in organized baseball was the 2012 Empire State Yankees, who used a variety of AAA and A ballparks as their home while their home field in Scranton, PA, where they had played the previous season as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, was undergoing renovations. In this case, the team was not made up of cast-offs. A similar case happened in 2016, the first season of the Hartford Yard Goats, as construction of the team's new ballpark ran into unexpected delays, forcing them to spend the entire season on the road.
A fictional example of the road team is found on the "Ruppert Mundys" of the Philip Roth's novel The Great American Novel.
- Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds, Atlantic League, 1999-2001
- Pennsylvania Road Warriors, Atlantic League, 2002-2004
- The Aces, Northeast League, 2004
- Ohio Valley Redcoats, Frontier League, 2005
- Japan Samurai Bears, Golden Baseball League, 2005
- The Grays, Can-Am Association, 2005 & 2007
- Road Warriors, Atlantic League 2006-2007 & 2011
- Midwest Sliders, Frontier League, 2008
- New York Federals, Can-Am Association, 2011
- Empire State Yankees, International League, 2012
- Frontier Greys, Frontier League, 2014-2015
- Garden State Grays, Can-Am Association, 2015
- Road City Explorers, North Country Baseball League, 2015
- Hartford Yard Goats, Eastern League, 2016
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