Freedom's Frontier League Expands with Teams from Canada
There are more changes afoot for the Florence Freedom.
Not only did the summer see an ownership change, the early fall arrived with news that the team may be changing its name from Freedom to something to be determined following the contribution of fan suggestions.
Now comes news that the Frontier League, of which the Freedom have been a part since the team's arrival in the 2003 season, will accept five teams from the recently closed Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball (Can-Am League).
Members of the Frontier League and the new teams from the Can-Am League will make up the 14-team circuit.
The New Jersey Jackals, Quebec Capitales, Rockland Boulders, Sussex County Miners, and Trois- Rivieres Aigles will play in the newly formed Can-Am Division of the Frontier League. The Frontier League's Washington Wild Things and Lake Erie Crushers will join the Division as well.
The other seven remaining teams, including the Freedom, the Evansville Otters, Gateway Grizzlies, Joliet Slammers, Schaumburg Boomers, Southern Illinois Miners, and the Windy City ThunderBolts, will compete in the Midwestern Division.
“What a great thing for our fans with the growth and strengthening of our league,” Florence Vice President/General Manager Josh Anderson said. “Our fans will get to see new, exciting teams come into our ballpark they’ve never seen before. The 2020 year will bring all sorts of fun and exciting new things for our fans.”
The League will be the largest in all of independent professional baseball. Major markets such as New York, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Quebec City, and St. Louis will be represented.
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 1,000 players have been signed by Major League Basbell teams. 38 of those players have advanced to play in Major League Baseball games.
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 games.
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," he said. "These discussions have been ongoing for almost two 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," said Kevin Winn, executive director of the Can-Am League. "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.”
The League said in a news release that it will continue to look for ways to expand, looking at all potential expansion opportunities from the east coast to the Mississippi River in the United States and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.
2020 will be 28th season for the Frontier League. All teams will play a 96-game schedule. Opening Day will be Thursday, May 14. The regular season will conclude on Sunday, September 6.
The full 2020 Schedule will be released on Monday, October 21.