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Future of North American League in…Japan?

Na Koa Ikaika Maui With a two-game series against Ishikawa Million Stars drawing well at Iron Maehara Stadium, Na Koa Ikaika Maui (independent; North American League) owner Bob Young is looking at another indy setup that calls for less travel and more Japanese competition.

Na Koa Ikaika draw more than 2,500 fans for the two-game series against the Million Stars, a member of the semi-pro/independent Baseball Challenge League in Japan. The Maui team will return the favor in September with a Japanese trip. In 2013, the ties may extend even further, with competition against Japanese teams counting in league standings — and maybe no trips to the mainland.

“Our staffs feel there is a real future in independent baseball,” Young told the ever-reliable Robert Collias. “We will travel to at least play the Ishikawa Million Stars and perhaps other teams in the Japan Baseball Challenge League. We are also moving forward to form a World Independent Baseball League with other countries. We are talking in New York as I speak to you; tomorrow, with some television channels from the Far East about some rights fees.

“If there are multiple teams that come from Japan to play us and there is another team in the North American League that wants to do that — we want these games to count in our regular-season standings — then I think it is a real possibility there could be at least a championship series between the North American League and Japan Baseball Challenge League next year,” he added.

Of course, nothing is final, it’s hard to imagine the economics of a world baseball league given an exhibition series drew 2,500 fans, and lots of details need to be worked out. It’s hard to imagine any of the six Texas teams comprising the NAL’s United Division ponying up for a championship series in Japan. And a detail not missed by Collias: Dan Partney, the fourth GM in team existence (which consists of two prior seasons), is gone. But give Bob Young and David Andrus some credit for some big thinking.


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