- Canadian Baseball League
The Canadian Baseball League, was an independent minor league that operated in 2003. The league's only Commissioner was
Major League BaseballHall of Famer and Canadian Baseball Hall of Famemember Ferguson Jenkins. The league featured former major league players such as Francisco Cabrera, Floyd Youmans, Rich Butlerand Steve Sinclair.
The CBL was based in
Vancouver, British Columbia.
The championship trophy was the Jenkins Cup, named after the commissioner of the league,
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 Microsoftproduct 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 Jenkinswas 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 Goldeyesabout switching leagues, and even nominated Pete Rosefor 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] ]
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
Calgaryat 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 Royin 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, 2003in Vancouver and the league never returned.
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.
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
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