One of my favorite leagues is the Frontier League. For an independent league it has been around for a long time, though 1993 doesn't seem that long ago.
The league has really transformed. In fact, with the departure of the Chillicothe Paints, there are no original teams in their original city left.
I will save the Frontier League history lesson for another day, but the the league has had some of the coolest named teams ever, including the Canton Crocodiles.
I recently saw a book about Ohio baseball that neglected the Frontier League teams! Fortunately, the teams radio announcer for their 1st season documented that 1997 summer.
Thurman Munson Memorial Stadium in Canton had hosted minor league baseball. The Canton-Akron Indians left the venue to go and play their home games in the new downtown Akron facility. The young but growing Frontier League jumped in immediately and the Canton Crocodiles were born.
Tom Delamater gives a great and easy to understand history of the league leading up to the Crocs entrance. He talks about how the league was very much an Ohio league. He covers all of the politics involved in getting a minor league team to a town. Delamater also describes the chaos of opening night for a new minor league team.
Tom talks about the Crocs season and their battles to make it to the Frontier League Championship. He covers the players, the opponents, and the other teams home fields that he visits.
I personally enjoyed Tom describing the conditions in the broadcaster booths at each of the parks!
One of the interesting characters in the book is Thurman Munson's son, Mike Munson. I won't go on about Thurmon's legacy and all, but how many times does a second generation pro player play in a stadium named after his father? "Crocodiles Rock" documents it.
As a side note on Mike, I found a great article about his restaurant:
It has been a while since I read this book- I read it before I started this blog, but it is a great minor league baseball book. The players on the Crocodiles team are mostly forgotten now, as their careers have ended in pro baseball. After their championship game win in Evansville the team went back to Canton (Tom notes that staying another night in Evansville, where they won their championship, was not in the budget).
I appreciate the passion and the scrappy play of the low level minor leagues. Budgets are a huge concern. Players work in the off season. No one, players, coaches or owners, are likely to get rich at this level. I doubt Tom Delamater made money on this book.
I appreciate the fact that he did though. He has preserved a piece of baseball history that might have otherwise been forgotten. As the Frontier League ages, and continues to gain respect (as it has every season) I think more people will become interested in the leagues origins and early days. Thanks to Tom, they will be able to read about one of those teams championship seasons.
This is a well written book by a humble radio announcer for a lower level team. Tom has nothing to prove (or gain) in writing this great book. I can easily say this is one of my top ten favorite baseball books of all time.