About the Arizona Fall League
Founded in 1992 by former Major League Executive Roland Hemond as a finishing school for top prospects that was easily accessible for the respective clubs to monitor their development, the AFL recently completed its 20th season of play.
Hemond, a 2011 Hall of Fame Honoree, was at the time the General Manager of the Baltimore Orioles, had long dreamt of a small development league that became a reality in 1992.
Headed for nineteen of it’s twenty years by former Cincinnati Reds Executive Steve Cobb, the league flourishes in the Valley of the Sun for seven weeks every year, from the first week in October until the week before Thanksgiving. The six team league plays it’s games in major league spring training facilities, with all tickets being general admission and less than ten dollars each.
Since it’s inception, over three thousand players have appeared in the league, with roughly sixty percent going on to reach the major leagues. The list of notable alumni goes all the way back to its first season, when an offensive minded young catcher in the Dodgers’ system named Mike Piazza played for the league’s first championship team, the Sun City Solar Sox.
The development process for the league isn’t just for players, through Major League Baseball and the NCAA, the Fall League has provided prospective Sports Management students with internship opportunities each year, from ballpark and team operations duties, media relations and promotions, and even sports medicine/physical therapy. As of the end of the 2010 season, seven former AFL trainers were full time trainers in the major leagues, and eighty-one former interns had worked as in some sort of administrative role in the majors.
Even umpires, coaches and managers have an opportunity to develop their trade as they move towards the major leagues. After consulting with each minor league’s executive office, twelve of the top rated umpires are hand-selected by Major League Supervisor of Umpires Steve Palermo to work the AFL. At the beginning of the 2011 season, fifty-three percent of all major league umpires had spent at least one season in the AFL.
Several notable managers and coaches have spent time honing their craft in the desert as well, including Dusty Baker, Terry Francona, Mike Scioscia and Don Mattingly, with 145 total former AFL managers and coaches going on to the same roles in the majors.
For additional information on the Arizona Fall League, click the links below, or go to the league’s website