Autumn Baseball League
It was in the summer of the year 2000 the
seed was planted and by the Fall sprouted the Autumn Baseball League.
For years I had coached and managed
youth baseball and in every league and at every level I would see the trend...many of those without any influential attachments
or natural and raw talent were left by the wayside. Let me explain! These kids, in most cases, were neglected resulting in either quitting or becoming under achievers with
low self esteem. So as the years past, many of those players would fall
behind on the baseball learning curve and eventually by the age of 13 would lose interest and quit altogether.
Reduced applications of recruits graduating from Little League advancing
to the Senior
Little League and/or the Babe Ruth.
So what was / is currently
happening in youth baseball?
In my opinion, a great deal of talented
and potentially talented kids were not making the coveted All Star teams. These players know what's going on behind
the scenes. Some get very frustrated when they have worked hard on the diamond and see "Little Johnny" (who’s
parents are friends or relatives with the manager or have financially influenced their way into the organization) get
appointed to the All Star team and hadn't got a base-hit all season!
Well I have two sons, my eldest Jason had played
3rd base in high school and quit the team during his Jr. season. Although I'm not absolutely sure why,
I did get the impression that he was frustrated with the system. However
during his shortened high school baseball career, he was being scouted by Mr. Mons of the major league team Pittsburg
Pirates as well as numerous colleges. Well needless to say I was devastated when
Jason hung up his spikes.
Now, with my younger son Lucas (19
years younger than his brother), I started the coaching cycle once again and became a "retread" (so to speak) in the
youth baseball world. Lucas' friends played in the Swansea Baseball Independent
League (SIBL) and
that’s where he wanted to go. Personally I was unfamiliar with SIBL and knew only a
few associated with the league.
The Genesis of the ABL in year 2000
In the year 2000, Lucas, 7 years old at
the time, would practice daily and workout diligently to become a better player. His
manager placed him in the outfield because he played it well moreover the coach had his faves playing the infield. (At ages 8 - 10, in my opinion, players should move from position to position). At this tender young age, most of the kids want to play the infield but I would explain to Lucas that teams
need outfielders as well and can't win without them... but occasionally Luke would play 3rd.
Sometimes for practice we would go
to the Diman
High School field and I would hit him "Major League" fly balls. He performed
well and knew he was as talented as anyone at SIBL.
Although Lucas hit several homeruns and
played a solid infield and outfield throughout the season...he was not chosen for the All Star team. He completely broke down and cried like a baby when he received the news... I had no explanations for him
and broke down with him. My heart fell out of my chest... I looked at who was picked for the team and felt that a few were...
well... I think you know what I mean. I didn't make a fuss with
and in time Lucas accepted it and moved on!
With the SIBL regular
season ending during the latter part of June and Lucas not playing
on the SIBL All Stars,
his baseball was finished for the rest of the summer.
I wanted to do something for him and for
all of kids who were not playing. I felt that there's a need for a league that
encourages free spirit and competition which allows all to feel like they are part of the a team. A league to learn the game (as well as learn how to win and lose), to become better players (on and off
the field), and one that politics has no place. I wanted it to be fair for everyone,
including the kids with no affluence or no influence. Youth leagues are suppose
to be for the kids and not the adults craving and searching for some kind of power and control.
The most important factor why the
started is because after talking to Lucas about playing more baseball during that summer of 2000, he encouraged me to gather
some kids to play a few games... In August of 2000 I did just that by notifying
all local newspapers and called everyone I knew who was involved in baseball, including those at SIBL.
I was just hoping for enough players to form 2 teams. I had my fingers crossed.
In August of 2000 the tryout was
Park in Fall River
and I couldn't believe the turnout! Enough kids showed up to fill 12 teams... The first year was a huge success after which I was encouraged to do it
again in 2001.
Year 2 had 16 teams, year 3 with 21 teams,
year 4 - 24 teams, year 5 - 26 teams, year 6 - 35 teams, year 7 - 33 teams, year
8 with 29, 10th - 44 and this year 2010 - 43 teams from Quncy, Mass. to Plymouth, Mass., extending into Southern
R.I. (Kingston, RI) and many cities and towns in between. (12th year (2011) - 49 teams playing Autumn Baseball).
The ABL saw a decline in teams for a few years
and not because of the lack of popularity in baseball but quite the contrast! In
those years, baseball had grown in popularity because of local little leagues starting their own fall leagues. So if you take into consideration the total teams prior to year 2000 (0 teams) and present, there are
now well over 60 fall teams throughout our region for our boys and girls to play ball.
I have to give all the accolades to my
son, Lucas, who encouraged me to create what is now the Autumn Baseball League. I'll
never forget Lucas' heartbreaking emotion of rejection and disappointment during that 2000 SIBL season and I'll never forget that big smile
on his face and how excited he was to be playing in the first year of the his new baseball league.
In tribute to my son Lucas, I wanted
to name the league after him. Originally
I called the league: The League of Autumn
Baseball or the LAB. My son's name is: Lucas Alexander Bomback. Because the letters ABL seemed to roll off
the tongue more fluently and after discussions with local sports writer Greg Sullivan of the Fall River Herald News, it was
decided to go with ABL.
It's been exciting and rewarding history
for youth baseball in Southeastern New England since the year 2000. In 2009 and 2010, ABL teams competed from as far as Quincy (Boston
area) and Plymouth (Cape Cod),
MA as well as teams throughout Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts. This year I have received a call from a
coach from Salem, MA and I told him that if his team is willing to travel then he's in.
THE 2010 SEASON PRODUCED
43 BASEBALL TEAMS. That's approximately 650 +- players, 88 +- coaches, 1200 +
parents and grandparents and many more sponsors and supporters.
We're looking to expand! The ultimate goal: an ABL World Series
with teams representing each state in New England. We're not there yet but the 1,000 mile journey started with the first
2011: 49 teams a new ABL record.
54 teams another ABL record.
60 teeams another ABL record.
2015: 76 teams *
2016: 66 teams
written 11/03/07 (updated: Sept. 9th, 2013)
* As stated in the narrative above, fluxuations
in growth is expected because of local and regional leagues/programs have been following in the footsteps of the ABL...
creating their own Fall programs.
Take due notice thereof, and govern