The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball Clubs, Inc. has granted final approval for a minor league baseball team in Southern Maryland to begin play in 2007. The announcement was made by Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson, of Maryland Baseball, LLC, and Atlantic League Executive Director Joe Klein. Klein is the former general manager of the Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers.
The eight-team Atlantic League presently has teams playing in new, state-of-the-art facilities in Long Island, NY (Long Island Ducks), Somerset, NJ (Somerset Patriots), Lancaster, PA (Lancaster Barnstormers), Camden, NJ (Camden Riversharks), Bridgeport, CT (Bridgeport Bluefish), Newark, NJ (Newark Bears) and Atlantic City, NJ (Atlantic City Surf). Over $200 million has been invested in stadiums that host Atlantic League teams over the past several years.
“The Atlantic League is recognized as the premier league of its kind in the nation; Major League scouts classify the level of play as being between the Double-A and Triple-A levels,” stated Brooks Robinson, who serves as advisor to Maryland Baseball on baseball operations and community affairs. “Our fans will see experienced and recognizable players, many of whom have played in the big leagues. The league features managers and coaching staffs with Major League experience. Hundreds of Atlantic League alumni are currently playing for all 30 Major League clubs,” Brooks added.
“We are very familiar with every minor league, and having the Atlantic League as our partner in Southern Maryland solidifies our investment,” stated Peter Kirk, Maryland Baseball’s Chairman and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, Inc. “With the Atlantic League on board, we are comfortable in putting our $7 million into the new stadium, as well as investing the additional millions to set up the new team.”
The Atlantic League is entering its ninth season and drew over two million fans last year. Three teams (Long Island, Lancaster and Somerset) finished in the top 15 percent in attendance for all of minor league baseball. The league was designed by former Major League and Minor League executives as a feeder system to Major League Baseball. The league maintains close ties to all 30 Major League Clubs and with the Office of the Commissioner. Former Atlantic Leaguers who have gone on to play in the Majors include Jose Lima (Los Angeles), Brendan Donnelly (Anaheim), Ruben Sierra (New York Yankees), and Rickey Henderson (L.A. Dodgers).
“We are pleased that the Atlantic League has approved our project and we are excited about Opening Day in 2007,” said Wayne Cooper, president of the Board of Charles County Commissioners. “The Commissioners and staff have thoroughly researched this league, including attending a game in Lancaster last season. It is exciting, well-played professional baseball and will be an asset to our County.”