We have another cross-league effort similar to what the American Association scheduled with a Pecos League team in 2021, as the Empire State Greys, a travel team made up of players from the independent Empire League, will be playing in the 2022 Frontier League.
In 2021 the Houston Apollos served as a travel team in the MLB Partner League American Association to fill out an uneven schedule, a situation rectified by the addition of an Oconomowoc (WI) team in 2022. An independent league supporting a travel team is not unusual–in fact, the Frontier League sported the Frontier Greys in 2013–but the collaboration with another indy league is.
So we’ll see the Empire State Greys in 2023. The Greys, based out of Tupper Lake, N.Y., will be playing all of their games on the road, but will field a team by adhering to the same roster and salary rules as all Frontier League clubs, according to a press release from the league.
The Empire League began play in 2016 and features four teams in upstate New York and northern New Hampshire. The Empire League is owned by brothers Eddie and Jerry Gonzalez along with MLB outfielder Matt Joyce. Eddie Gonzalez played in the Frontier League from 2006-08, including participating in the 2006 Championship Series. Jerry Gonzalez played as an infielder in the Los Angeles Angels’ organization in 2007 and 2008. Matt Joyce has appeared in 1,400 MLB games over a 14-year career, and saw postseason action for Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and Miami.
The Empire League moved 34 players to MLB Partner Leagues during the 2021 season, including 10 to the Frontier League. Current Frontier League coaches Joe Gannon (Tri-City) and Jared Lemieux (New Jersey) plus former Frontier League and current Atlantic League managers Jamie Keefe and Mark Mason have worked with the Empire League.
“We are very interested in seeing where this partnership goes. The Empire League’s historical ties to the Frontier League plus their New York base made them an ideal partner,” said deputy commissioner Steve Tahsler via press release. “Eddie Gonzalez has impressive baseball experiences and we like what he brings in terms of his player development skills, network, and desire to compete.”
The Empire State Greys will hold spring training at their home base in Tupper Lake, New York, before starting regular season play at the Gateway Grizzlies on May 13. Empire State will play in the league’s Eastern Division. They will play one three-game series against the eight Western Division clubs, three series against the three Canadian teams in the Eastern Division, and four series against the four United States teams in the Eastern Division.