In a move that could shape the West Coast summer collegiate baseball landscape for decades to come, the WCL Tri-State and the Pacific West Baseball League have announced that they are merging, beginning in 2011.
The new Far West League, as it will be called, will include 11 teams competing in two divisions, the North and the South.
The six-team North Division will include three of the teams that were in WCL Tri-State — originally co-sponsored by the West Coast League — including the Humboldt Crabs, Redding Colt .45s and the Southern Oregon RiverDawgs. Joining them are the PWBL's California Seals and newcomers the NorCal Pirates and the Reno Aces.
Three other former PWBL teams — the California Glory, Atwater Aviators and Fresno Cardinals — will join Fontanetti's Athletics and the Neptune Beach Pearl in the South Division.
The new league's goal is a lofty but worthy one.
"The WCL Tri-State and the PWBL are joining forces to form a highly competitive league," said volunteer commissioner and Crabs boardmember Roger Lorenzetti, "and to continue to attract the very best collegiate players."
Steven Cannady of the Athletics echoed that sentiment.
"I believe the Far West League will be the premier all-colligiate league on the West Coast," he said, "and will be comparable on the national scene to the Cape Cod league, Northwoods League, and Alaska League within the first 2-3 years of operation. Our goal is to be the best All-Collegiate baseball league in the country."
Each team will play three league games against every other team — regardless of division — for a total of 24 league games per team. At the end of the league season, the top eight teams will compete in a round-robin tournament to determine the league champion. Most teams in the new Far West League are done or nearly done with their 2011 playing schedule.
The venue for the tournament will rotate from year to year, with Humboldt hosting the inaugural event on August 4, 5, 6 and 7. League play across the Far West League will get under way the weekend of June 10 – 11- 12.