A new summer collegiate baseball league has taken root out West. It will open play June 14, 2005 with seven teams and a 36-game regular season schedule. The summer amateur league is a first of its kind on the West Coast, as the newly formed West Coast Collegiate Baseball League will feature only college players with remaining eligibility. Founding members are the Aloha (Ore) Knights, Bellingham (Wa) Bells, Bend (Ore) Elks, Kelowna (BC) Falcons, Kitsap (Wa) BlueJackets, Spokane (Wa) RiverHawks and Wenatchee (Wa) AppleSox. Based in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, the league will be headquartered in Wenatchee, Washington.
Jim Dietz, former San Diego State University head baseball coach, will act as the leagueis first commissioner. Dietz, a native of the Northwest, managed San Diego State for 31 years, led the Aztecs to 1,231 wins and was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2002. His coaching career also included success in summer baseball. Dietz guided the Fairbanks Goldpanners of the Alaska Baseball League to four NBC World Series titles in the 70s and is a member of the NBC Hall of Fame.
“I agreed to be the WCCBL’s first commissioner because I believe in the league’s ownership group, its values and its commitment to the future.” Dietz signed up with a vision – of perpetuating baseball in the Northwest, and of perpetuating summer collegiate baseball on the West Coast. “I grew up, played and coached in a day when summer baseball entertained and prospered in rural communities all over the Pacific Northwest. I’ve seen the positive impact baseball can have, and have watched with great interest as America rediscovers the game. Believe me; the essence of our national pastime is not lost. This league is in a great position to make a difference from developing young people to bringing communities together to increasing youth participation,” said Dietz.
Dietz thinks the league is already postured well, “This group is going to be a premier summer collegiate league. It’s really not a new league in that its teams are established. I’ve followed several of the clubs and am impressed not only with the caliber of play, but with the professionalism of each organization and with how communities like Bend, Bellingham and Wenatchee embrace their teams. I hope to help the league take shape and become a major player in summer college baseball.”
The new league features the 2004 NBC World Series champion Aloha Knights and the 2004 Pacific International League (PIL) champion Bend Elks and 2003 PIL champion Wenatchee AppleSox.
The Knights beat the Alaska Baseball League champion Mat-su Miners in last summeris NBC title game and were the first NBC champion to go undefeated since Team USA in 1995. Aloha went 7-0 with wins versus the champions of the Jayhawk League (El Dorado Broncos), Western League (Southern California Fire) and California Coastal Collegiate League (Santa Barbara Foresters), yet the Knights finished behind four future WCCBL clubs; Bend (24-12), Wenatchee (24-12), Kelowna (22-14) and Bellingham (21-15) in its league standings.
Bend, Wenatchee and Bellingham also excelled at the gate. They led the PIL in attendance last season as each club consistently drew crowds of over 1,000.
“The WCCBL will be extremely competitive from top-to-bottom and feature solid coaching, excellent ballparks, outstanding crowds and top college players from conferences like the Pac-10, Big West, Mountain West, WAC and WCC. We can’t wait to get started,” said Dan Segel, General Manager of the 2004 NBC World Series Champion Aloha Knights and Vice President of the WCCBL.
The league will also feature an advisory board of experienced and name professionals and outstanding summer baseball weather.
Commissioner Dietz and the WCCBL will benefit greatly from the counsel of advisory board members like Bob Richmond, President, Northwest League; Chuck (Bobo) Brayton, ex-Head Baseball Coach, Washington State University; Harold Reynolds, Analyst, ESPN Baseball Tonight; Paul Swangard, Managing Director, Warsaw Sports Marketing Center; Marty Lehn, Coach, Team Canada; and Allan Simpson, Editor in Chief, Baseball America.
Summer weather in the region is perfect for baseball. Temperatures average in the low 80s with no humidity and there is rarely rainfall (average of 2 inches total for June and July combined).
“The Pacific Northwest is an ideal spot for summer collegiate baseball. The weather is the absolute best and our member towns are diverse and hungry for baseball. We expect to play the best summer college ball in the West. We also expect to renew a sense of community at our parks. It’s harder and harder to find that community-feel, that special community place. By harkening back to the gameis heritage, we can bring our sponsor communities together in a positive, fun, social and nurturing setting that delivers the true sense of community Americans long for but can no longer find,” said Wenatchee AppleSox owner Jim Corcoran and WCCBL Treasurer.
“Our future is about rediscovery of rural values and of our national pastime. For us, it’s about community renewal at the ballpark. We are anxious for opening day and are gearing up for a memorable first season,” said Bellingham Bells owner Tony Larson and the WCCBL’s inaugural President.
The WCCBL is dedicated to player development, player exposure and to providing affordable summer entertainment to its member communities.