The Albaland Baseball League, known locally as The League but commonly known as ABL, is a professional baseball league in Albaland. It is the highest level of baseball in the country and the only level where all teams are professional.
The league began play in 1910 with 16 teams and has remained consistent throughout history, with the bottom team being put up for re-election during the off-season until 1967, when the Albaland Second Divison (ASD) was formed by professional and semi-professional teams wanting to compete for entry into the ABL. In 1970, the two leagues agreed to a system of promotion and relegation with the bottom two teams from the ABL changing divisions with the top two teams in the Second Division. 12 years later, the system was expanded to three teams with the 14th placed team in the ABL swapping places with the Third-placed finisher in the second tier.
Unlike other professional and semi-professional leagues within the Southern Union, teams in the Albaland Baseball League have always played 60 game schedules, (twice at home and twice away) against all opponents compared to three games at home and three away, with games traditionally taking place on Saturdays and Sundays only.
The Albaland Baseball system was first created in 1906, when the Albaland Baseball Association was formed by Tadd Steward. In 1907 the Alba Shield – an annual knockout competition open to semi-professional teams within the country – was created with the intention of growing interest and participation in the sport as the desire for a round robin competition was intially low, despite many talented players leaving to play in the Ianoian I-League.
The first Alba Shield final in 1907 did little to whet the appetite of uninterested club owners and newspapers, with Fossoway Baseball Club – from a town of only 30,000 – winning the inaugural Shield after 10 innings with only one being scored all game to beat Drumoak Import Export.
The following year faired little better as Townend, a town of a little over 35,000, beat Blainslieonians 5-3 in the final forcing Tadd Steward to approach various clubs throughout the nation located in major cities to garner interest in a league to be known as the Albaland Baseball League.
Despite lukewarm interest for the league from newspapers throughout the country, the inclusion of Rigside Nine, Steward’s favourite team and Alba Shield semi-finalists in 1908, proved intriguing to two workers clubs of Melton Coss and Terregles Collieries who pledged their commitment to the league.
With Steward’s desire to start a league of at least 16 clubs to ensure the entire country was invested in the competition as quickly as possible looking less and less likely, Steward approached many local newspapers in the hopes of garnering more public support. His greatest effect on the national game came when he paid The Albaland Standard – Albaland’s biggest national daily newspaper – to cover the 1909 Alba Shield with particular attention being paid to clubs from major cities and towns.
However, after Melton Coss’s thrilling 6-5, come-from-behind First Round victory over Oakley Banks was reported on in The Solsgirth Telegraph and published in other local newspapers including Mossbank’s Daily in 1909 where it mentioned Melton Coss’s intent on joining the new league, the interest in joining the competition exploded. With as many as 30 teams enquiring via telephone and telegram to Tadd Steward’s office, Steward personally travelled to every club and weighed up the pros and cons of the team joining over the course of several months.
After Douglastown BC beat Maryburgh Angels in the final of the 1909 Alba Shield, Steward formally invited 13 teams to join Rigside Nine, Melton Coss and Terregles Collieries in the Albaland Baseball League, to begin play in 1910. All accepted with the lone exception of Kilmarnock Albaland from Douglastown who were not prepared to risk financial ruin upon finding out Douglastown BC had accepted their invitation and feared the city was not big enough to house two professional teams. United Bankfoot from Port Bannatyne were chosen instead.
Initial plans were to copy Günsovölk’s Baseball Meisterschaft with teams meeting for two, three-game series once at home and once away for a schedule of 90 games. However, several teams led by Douglastown BC insisted participating in the Alba Shield should still be a priority for all clubs and Steward was convinced to change the schedule to two, two-game series to be played on Saturday and Sunday with the Alba Shield moved to Wednesdays, except for the Final to be played on a Sunday.
The sixteen founding teams of the Albaland Baseball League and first to turn professional in the country were:
- Abner Arduaine (Arduaine)
- Bridgebank (Donibristle)
- Douglastown BC (Douglastown)
- Glenarm (Sandwick)
- Kirkcolm Town (Kirkcolm)
- Melton Coss (Solsgirth)
- Oxenfoord Athletic (Oxenfoord)
- Rigside Nine (Rigside)
- Sandwick City (Sandwick)
- South Angel (St. Michaels)
- Strathmiglo Wanderers (Strathmiglo)
- Terregles Collieries (Terregles)
- Tower Hill (Crocketford)
- United Bankfoot (Port Bannatyne)
- Waltonians (Skipness)
- Warriors (Donibristle)