Canadian Baseball League


Canadian Baseball League

The Canadian Baseball League, was an independent minor league that operated in 2003. The league's only Commissioner was Major League Baseball Hall of Famer and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame member Ferguson Jenkins. The league featured former major league players such as Francisco Cabrera, Floyd Youmans, Rich Butler and Steve Sinclair.

The CBL was based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The championship trophy was the Jenkins Cup, named after the commissioner of the league, Ferguson Jenkins.

A Canadian pro league

The CBL was the brainchild of Tony Riviera, a former major league scout, and the face of the league. It was backed by former Microsoft product developer Charlton Lui, and later by former Yahoo! president, and part owner of the San Francisco Giants, Jeff Mallett. [http://www.vancourier.com/issues03/103103/sports.html "CBL receivership not a fall classic", Vancouver Courier, August 4, 2004] ] Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins was brought in to act as the league's Commissioner.

Riviera's vision had big goals, and he followed suit by making big promises. Riviera stated that the CBL would be "AAA quality", [ [http://www.ballparkwatch.com/stadiums/IL/jetform.htm Ballparkwatch.com, September 5, 2002] ] He was rumored to have approached the Winnipeg Goldeyes about switching leagues, and even nominated Pete Rose for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. [ [http://espn.go.com/mlb/news/2003/0224/1513515.html No Rose, but former Blue Jays slugger Carter voted in, ESPN.com, March 13, 2003] ]

The big plans initially appeared to be possible. The league announced a national television deal with sports channel The Score, [ [http://www.channelcanada.com/Article151.html Canadian Baseball League gets National TV deal, Channelcanada.com, January 23, 2003] ] while a crowd of 5,100 took in the league's inaugural game in London, Ontario. [http://www.enterstageright.com/archive/articles/0703/0703cbl.htm enterstageright.com, Jackson Murphy, July 21, 2003] ]

Quick demise

However, despite early promises that the league could, and would, average over 2,000 fans per game, it was clear that the CBL was not remotely close to projections. Only two markets averaged over 1,000 fans per game: Victoria at 1,700 and Calgary at 1,000. [http://thetyee.ca/News/2004/04/05/Empty_Field_of_Dreams/ Empty Field of Dreams, thetyee.ca, April 5, 2004] ] Four teams averaged fewer than 300 per game: Kelowna (271), Saskatoon (256), Welland (181) and Trois-Rivieres (163). [http://www.enterstageright.com/archive/articles/0703/0703cbl.htm enterstageright.com, Jackson Murphy, July 21, 2003] ] The national TV deal was cancelled after only six weeks after the CBL was unable to find enough sponsors to cover the production costs. [http://thetyee.ca/News/2004/04/05/Empty_Field_of_Dreams/ Empty Field of Dreams, thetyee.ca, April 5, 2004] ]

The Montreal franchise never played a game in Montreal due to a lack of a playing field. Their home games were played at Stade Amedee Roy in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

The CBL's swan song was the All-star game, held at Calgary. Unwilling to absorb any more losses, Mallett pulled the plug on the entire operation, suspending operations following the game. A crowd of over 5,700 watched the final game in CBL history end in a tie. Despite losing as much as $4 million on the CBL, [http://thetyee.ca/News/2004/04/05/Empty_Field_of_Dreams/ Empty Field of Dreams, thetyee.ca, April 5, 2004] ] Mallett initially promised to bring the league back in 2004. However, the remaining assets of the league were quietly auctioned off on December 1, 2003 in Vancouver and the league never returned.

The teams

The eight teams that played in the CBL, and their record at the time the league was suspended. The Calgary Outlaws were declared the Jenkins Cup champions on the basis of having the league's best record.

West Division
*Calgary Outlaws (24-13) - Foothills Stadium
*Saskatoon Legends (22-15) - Cairns Field
*Kelowna Heat (18-19) - Elks Stadium
*Victoria Capitals (13-22) - Royal Athletic Park

East Division
*London Monarchs (20-13) - Labatt Park
*Niagara Stars (15-15) - Welland Stadium
*Trois-Rivières Saints (14-17) - Stade Municipal
*Montreal Royales (10-22) - Stade Amedee Roy (Sherbrooke)

References


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