I know its 20 degrees out, but we’re only a month away from opening day for the Nats, colleges started playing two weekends ago in the warmer states, and local amateur leagues can start as early as April 1st. So lets talk some local baseball.
I thought it’d be of service to readers to summarize information of known local adult/amateur leagues for anyone who is perhaps interested in getting back to playing, or who knows someone looking for a team. If you’re looking for a place to play this summer, now is the time to reach out and start making contacts/sign up to play. I’ve also gone over the Division 1 schools playing in the area and put in some links for those that want to go see some college ball.
I’ll list these leagues in perceived order of talent/skill/intensity from highest to lowest. Each site also has links for those who may want to look into playing or watching. I’m not including any youth, AAU, travel, American Legion, Babe Ruth or Cal Ripken (not to be confused with the Cal Ripken collegiate league) baseball here; we’ll start with College-age Adult baseball. I will have a post coming later on that discusses draft prospects in the area worth following, which will give an overview of what high schools are worth looking up this spring. Honestly I don’t know a ton about the big DC area travel league other than listening to complaints from my adult baseball buddies about how they get all the good fields .
1. Local College-area Baseball teams. If you’re looking for some division 1 area baseball, Washington DC has four teams to consider: (ACC), George Mason (A-10), George Washington (A-10) and Georgetown (Big East) all play division 1 schedules of varying strength (in roughly the order I just listed). Their home fields are:
- Maryland: on Shipley Field in College Park
- George Mason: across 123 from campus behind the big Track and Field pavilion
- Georgetown: on Shirley Povich field in Bethesda
- George Washington: in Barcroft Park on Four Mile Run in South Arlington
Maryland (being in the ACC for one last season) features several marquee teams visiting this year (2014 schedule here), including UNC, NC State (with consensus 1-1 overall pick Carlos Rodon), and Clemson. Mason’s best home opponent (2014 schedule here) may be 2013 CWS participant St. Louis. Georgetown’s 2014 home schedule‘s best visitor may be Seton Hall (the new Big East isn’t that big into baseball), and GW’s home slate for 2014 highlight may be Rhode Island. These schools are playing each other in mid-week stand-offs here and there, and new A-10 rivals GW and Mason face off more than a few times this year.
Personlly, I’m kind of bummed by Mason’s exit to the A-10; it means no more visits to or from my alma mater JMU, an itinerant baseball power. JMU does a mid-week visit to Maryland after playing a 3-game set in Towson; that’s about as close as they come to DC this year.
2. DC-Area Summer Collegiate Leagues: Once the NCAA seasons are done, lots of college players debunk for wood-bat leagues. The local wood-bat Cal Ripken Collegiate League has teams from DC, Maryland and Virginia and is the successor to the long-running Clark Griffith League (one of the first wood-bat leagues in the nation but now defunct: the Clark Griffith league suspended operations in 2010 and has not been able to re-start itself). The Cal Ripken league has flourished and expanded since its inception, taken some of the former Griffith teams and now has at least 12 teams competing. The marquee team is the Bethesda Big Train, named after Senator’s great Walter Johnson and whose home games are at the fantastic Shirley Povich field in Bethesda (also the home-stadium of Georgetown University). If you havn’t seen games at Povich, you should take a drive up there one night this summer and take in a game. The quality of play is good (the players are either Division-1 college players or elite HS prospects) and the field is great.
The Cal Ripken league is a step down from the famed Cape Code League in terms of summer college talent … but then again nearly every other wood bat summer league is a step down as well. Of the dozens of summer leagues out there, most pundits would rank the Cal Ripken league as a 3rd tier quality league (2nd tiers being leagues like the Valley League, the Northwest league, the Alaska league or the Coastal Plains leagues). But the Cal Ripken league definitely has its share of pro alumni.
Eligibility: you must have college eligibility left to play in this league. High Schoolers are eligible but rare. Teams are competitively assembled and hand selected. Most players are contacted through their college coaches, but some are placed via relationships with GMs. The Cal Ripken teams are always looking for host families; if you are interested in hosting a player definitely reach out to the league to volunteer.
3. The Industrial League: The Industrial League is the most elite level of adult amateur baseball in the area, filled with ex-Collegiate players and ex-Pros to serve as close to a “semi pro” league as we have in the area. The current incarnation of the Industrial league plays wood bat and is the combination of two long-standing leagues (the “Industrial League” and the “Credit Union” league). The old Credit Union used to play with aluminum, but went to Wood fully upon its dissolvement. There’s only a handful of teams; this league used to be much healthier. The “history” page on the website is informative and gives some great background on the league itself and its origins. A quick check on 2013′s season showed that they played just a partial slate of games compared to the 40-50 game schedules they used to play.
By way of talent comparison; recent industrial teams used to scrimmage the Griffith/Ripken teams and would get wiped out. Not so much because of talent, but because of depth. These college summer league teams have full rosters and massive bullpens. However, many years ago the tables were turned when these industrial teams featured significantly more talent and would dominate the Clark Griffith teams of the time.
Personal connection: I played in the predecessor league (Credit Union) for a brief time while in college, and can attest to the quality of play at the time.
Eligibility: no restrictions; anyone can play at any age. No restrictions on time sitting out if you are an ex-pro.
4. DCMSBL/MABL: DC Mens Senior Baseball League: a large adult baseball league (the 2nd largest Adult league in the Nation according to MSBL’s records) with divisions ranging from 19 and up to 55 and up. DCMSBL started in 1991 with just a 30+ division and now has dozens of teams split amongst 19+, 25+, 35+,45+,55+ and a wood-bat only league that crosses age divisions. In 2012 the league had no less than 75 teams among all these divisions (each team has to have a minimum of 15 registered players, meaning there’s more than 1100-1200 players in the league). Note: MABL stands for Mens Adult Baseball League, which was formerly the under 30 adult league now rolled into one organization).
The DCMSBL amateur league is pretty decent baseball. The 19-and up is essentially a low-end collegiate summer league (though not nearly as talented as Cal Ripken). There is some overlap with teams in the Industrial league and the Cross-age group woodbat leagues. The 25 and up division has a large number of ex-college players and ex-pros, and the 35-and up teams have more than their fare share of ex-major leaguers as well. Its not uncommon to face a guy in the upper 25+ division who was a starter for his Division-1 college team for 4 years and is just a few years removed from that level of competition. There’s enough teams so that there are “upper” and “lower” divisions of play within each age group. From an intensity standpoint, the “upper” divisions are quite competitive each year while the “lower” divisions are less intense but certainly not a “beer drinking” division like you’d see if you were playing softball.
Teams are organizing right now for play that starts in the first week of April. There’s a player waiting list that you can sign up for at the website www.dcmsbl.com.
Note: there is also the Chesapeake MSBL that covers the Annapolis, Southern Maryland and Howard county areas with similar rules and talent levels to DCMSBL. The two leagues play an all-star game at season’s end in one of the local minor league stadiums (this year in Frederick).
Personal Connection: I played in this league for more than a decade, finally “retiring” temporarily (?) to rehab injuries and get our kid out of infancy. We played two seasons in the “upper” 25+ league and the rest in one of the lower leagues; the upper leagues are pretty good baseball, though not nearly as good as the Credit Union of old.
Eligibility: ex-professionals must sit out a year before being eligible to play.
5. DC Wood Bat League, formerly associated with NABA and which absorbed teams from the old WARBL. It had 12 teams for 2012 and expanded to two divisions and 14 teams in Spring/Summer 2013 (in prior years they had as many as 20 teams; its good to see them growing). There seems to be some overlap between DCWood and DCMSBL teams, and this league definitely has had some talented teams in the past.
Eligibility: 19+, no known pro restrictions.
6. Ponce de Leon league, owned and operated by Bob Duff, serves as an excellent low-key competitive league for players to play. There are a slew of very specific competition rules that control the flow of games, prevent blowouts and limit the ability of pitchers to dominate the league. But this league also guarantees participation and is a great option for guys who havn’t played in years or who are nervous about the intensity of the above leagues.
It is now affiliated with the DC Wood bat league somehow; this is a new affiliation and I don’t know all the details other than what’s on the websites.
Ponce has two age divisions; 30+ and 48+. You have to be at least 30 and cannot pitch unless you’re at least 36 in the younger division. There are no pitching restrictions in the older division.
To show how much inter-linking and cooperation there is between the leagues mentioned here, we met Ponce league owner Duff when he ran a fantastic DCMSBL 28+ team back in the late 90s (they’re now a dominant 35+ team), he owns and operations the Ponce league, which has an affiliation with the Wood bat league, and Duff used to own/sponsor one of the Clark Griffith teams. That’s some serious participation in the local DC baseball scene. Just to add one more note about Duff; he started and runs the Diamond Dream Foundation, which runs baseball programming for youths, has an association with the Nationals and runs a charity golf event every August that features many current and former pros with connections to the Orioles, the Nationals and baseball in general. If you’re interested in playing in this golf event, I’ll be sure to put an announcement out when he starts organizing.
Eligibilty: 30+ with restrictions as noted above. No known pro restrictions.
[Editor's note: after the 2013 publication of this, I noticed an advertisement in a local publication for new adult baseball league, discussed here.]
7. Legends Sports Leagues: Has two divisions (19+ and 30+) and advertises itself as a “less pressure” league. Has been in operation for a while based on the pictures from their website. I can’t believe i’ve never heard of it; anyone know anything about this league?
8. Eastern Women’s Baseball Conference: the EWBC is an Adult Womens baseball league with teams from DC to Baltimore that plays competitively. I must admit; I had not heard about them until prompted by suggestions in the comments from last year’s post.
I’d love to hear from you if you’re familiar with any other area leagues that I may have missed, or if you have some thoughts on the post here. I know there were lots of corrections and clarifications from this post last year; apologies if I didn’t get them all in for this year.
Editor’s note: some of this is reposted from last year’s PSA informational blog about area baseball leagues.