Currently, there are a total of three baseball teams within about an hour’s drive or so of Elkhart County: The Silver Hawks in South Bend; the Fort Wayne Tin Caps, also a member of the Midwest League and a Class A affiliate of the San Diego Padres; and the Gary-SouthShore Railcats of the American Association.
Independent baseball leagues in North America include:
• The American Association (focused in the Midwest and the South);
• The Atlantic League (focused in the Northeast and greater Houston;
• The Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball (more commonly known as the Can-Am League, focused in the Northeastern U.S. and Quebec);
• The Frontier League (focused in the Midwestern U.S. and Western Pennsylvania);
• The Freedom Pro Baseball League (focused on Arizona);
• The Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs (based in California and Hawaii);
• The Pecos League (located in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado);
• The United League (formerly known as the Texas-Louisiana League, based in Texas).
The American Association is perhaps more familiar to Midwest baseball fans because it features an Indiana team: The Gary-SouthShore Railcats.
American Association Commissioner Miles Wolff said there are several critical factors involved in making independent baseball work.
“The key for a successful independent league is having cities with sufficient size (minimum, 100,000 to 150,000 population) and having proper facilities that are equipped to handle a professional operation,” Wolff said.
“Leagues and teams need to have quality front-office personnel with experience in running a quality minor league operation. To get all these pieces to fall together is sometimes difficult but can always happen.”
Derosiers said he and other league officials are working hard to get all those pieces to fall together.
“We have many things that we have been working on as we prepare for the re-launch of the Northern League in 2014. These are some of the first pieces of the puzzle, Derosiers said. “The website and the addition of Elkhart into our footprint … and there is plenty more to come. To say that we are excited is an understatement.”