A major shakeup in the independent baseball landscape occurred Wednesday, as it was announced that five former Can-Am League teams will merge into the Frontier League.
In a move that takes effect for the 2020 season, the two circuits are joining forces to form a 14-team league that will consist of two seven-club divisions. That will include the Frontier League’s nine members, along with the five clubs from the Can-Am League. Those five squads–the New Jersey Jackals, Quebec Capitales, Rockland Boulders, Sussex County Miners, and Trois-Rivieres Aigles–will play in the Can-Am Division, where they will be joined by the Washington Wild Things and Lake Erie Crushers. All remaining squads will compete in the Midwestern Division, which will feature the Evansville Otters, Florence Freedom, Gateway Grizzlies, Joliet Slammers, Schaumburg Boomers, Southern Illinois Miners, and the Windy City ThunderBolts.
The Frontier League is the oldest independent professional baseball league in the country. It began play in 1993. The League just completed its 27th consecutive season. In those 27 seasons, over 1000 players have been signed by MLB teams. 38 of those players have advanced to play in Major League Baseball.
The Can-Am League’s predecessor was the Northeast League that began play in 1995. Prior to the 2005 season, the Can-Am League name was officially adopted. During those years, more than 135 players have signed contracts with MLB clubs and 16 have advanced to play in Major League Baseball.
Frontier League Commissioner, Bill Lee, who has held that position since 1994, will continue in that role. “I am extremely excited and privileged to be able to make this announcement,” Lee said in a press statement. “These discussions have been ongoing for almost 2 years. The 2019 Frontier League/Can-Am League All-Star Game was the first major step in the Leagues working together. We believe this merger strengthens Independent Professional Baseball as a whole. I want to thank everyone from both Leagues that have worked so hard to make this happen.”
“It has been my honor to be a part of this groundbreaking deal and I can’t thank all parties involved enough for getting us to this historic moment,” Kevin Winn, Executive Director of the Can-Am League said a press statement. “I look forward to seeing where our newly formed alliance heads next and all the Independent Professional Baseball history that is yet to be written.”
Tuesday’s announcement noted that future expansion will be a priority, with the league planning to explore its options from the east coast to the Mississippi River in the United States and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Marketing, sponsorship and promotional efforts will also be areas of focus.
The 2020 camapign marks the 28th season for the Frontier League. All teams will play a 96-game schedule. Opening Day will be Thursday, May 14th. The regular season will conclude on Sunday, September 6th. The full 2020 Schedule will be released on Monday, October 21st.