SIBL HistoryUpdated Wednesday April 26, 2017 by SIBL.
The Swansea Independent Baseball League was established to offer an alternative to the town’s existing youth baseball program. The league’s first organizational meeting was held in September 1975, but later it was decided to delay its initial season until 1977. The first public notice of the league’s existence was published in the September 7, 1976 issue of the FALL RIVER HERALD NEWS.
Original league officers of the SIBL were as follows: Executive Director Christopher Shott, Assistant Director Edward Donovan, Secretary Florence Collins, Treasurer David Ross, Purchasing Agent Dennis Cullen, Insurance Agent Suzanne Lial, Safety Officer Joseph Orlando and Publicity Director Ralph Moniz (in 1980, the league changed the title of Executive Director to President and Assistant Director to Vice President).
Through the generosity and cooperation of officials of the Stevens’ Children’s Home, the SIBL was granted use of property owned by said facility and located on Elm Street in Swansea. The league utilized this facility during the 1977-84 seasons, with one field constructed in time for the 1977 season and a second erected late in the 1980 season.
The SIBL’s first Opening Day was staged on Saturday, May 14, 1977. During its initial season, the league fielded six teams of 90 players of ages 10-12 years in a Bronco Division, introducing the concept of “Real Baseball” to Swansea youths for the first time. To this day, the Bronco Division uses the established regulations of the Bronco League of PONY Baseball/Softball, Inc., permitting young players the opportunity to compete according to Major League Baseball rules. The league’s other divisions are all designed to enable youngsters to gradually learn the fundamentals of baseball over an extended period of time and also enable them to easily make transitions to larger playing field and more complex playing rules.
The SIBL has been an affiliate of PONY Baseball since 1978 and has also forged associations with Babe Ruth League, Inc., the American Amateur Baseball Congress and AAU Baseball. The league has hosted numerous PONY Baseball tournaments since 1983 and has entertained teams from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and Puerto Rico.
After maintaining its original structure in 1978, the SIBL embarked on a remarkable four-year period of development and expansion during which its player enrollment increased five-fold. The Pinto-Mustang Division was created in 1979 (and sub-divided into a separate Pinto Division and Mustang Division in 1981), the Pony Division was established in 1979, a Special Needs program was launched in 1981, and both the Stallion Division and Colt Division were opened in 1982.
In 1982, the SIBL enjoyed its first major success in all-star tournament play when its Mustang League team (9-10-year-old players) captured the North Region championship in Brooklyn, NY and later placed third in a Mustang League “Mini World Series” in Humacao, PR.
With substantial assistance from the Town of Swansea, the SIBL initiated construction of the Nike Site Playing Complex in the fall of 1985. The first games at the complex were played in 1986 and from humble origins of one field, it grew to five fields by 1990 (including two with artificial lights) and several auxiliary facilities. The first night game in SIBL (and Swansea history) was played in May 1990 when the Bronco Division Athletics opposed the Yankees.
In the late 1980’s and into the 1990’s, the SIBL experienced another era of significant growth and expansion, ultimately attaining a record player enrollment of 786 in 1993. The league established an Instructional Division in 1987 for 5-year-old players, resurrected its Special Needs program in 1991 and the Colt Division in both 1988 and 1997, and restructured the Bronco Division in 1988 (organizing a separate American League and National League) to enhance playing opportunities for participants in that age group.
The Pony and Colt Divisions were consolidated into a single division in 2002 and disbanded at the conclusion of that season. The Junior Instructional Division was created in 2005, the same year that the league restructured its existing divisions to enhance playing opportunities for all registrants.
In 2007, the league created the Greg Gagne Division for 13-, 14- and 15-year-old players, but the division was disbanded at the conclusion of the 2008 season.
Commencing with the 2006 season, the SIBL has sponsored several teams annually (totally composed of league players) in the New England District of AAU Baseball, providing additional playing opportunities for its registrants. The league has also hosted several AAU District tournaments.
The SIBL began accepting non-Swansea residents as players in 1978, but did not actively solicit such players until a decade later when the league’s growing popularity attracted substantial interest throughout the region. For many years, the league has openly welcomed residents of several other local communities as well as Swansea citizens, thereby creating a diverse and competitive environment for youngsters.
The SIBL achieved enormous successes in inter-league competitions in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, capped by appearances by its Bronco League all-star teams in back-to-back Bronco League World Series in Monterey, CA (1995-96). The SIBL entry placed fifth in 1995 and third in 1996, losing to eventual world champion Anaheim, CA in extra innings in the winners’ bracket final in 1996.
SIBL Pony Division teams advanced to the AABC’s Sandy Koufax League World Series in Jersey City, NJ in 1998 and 2000. In 2005, its 10A all-stars clinched the North Region and East Zone tournament championships of the Mustang League of PONY Baseball and later finished fifth in the Mustang League World Series in Irving, TX.
In 2007, its 10A all-stars clinched the Eastern New England, North Region and East Zone tournament championships of the Mustang League of PONY Baseball and later concluded third in the Mustang League World Series in Irving, TX.
In 2008, the SIBL renewed its affiliation with the AABC and captured the Willie Mays League (9- and 10-year-olds) Massachusetts State Tournament championship.
Through the 2008 season, league teams have captured nearly 200 tournament championships since 1982.
Also since 1982, SIBL teams have defeated opponents from 15 different states in all-star tournament games – Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Texas and California – as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. League teams have also opposed clubs from several other states and teams representing the Dominican Republic, the Republic of China (Taiwan), South Korea and Mexico.
.During the past quarter-century, SIBL graduates have gone on to successful careers in many fields and received countless distinctions and honors. In baseball, three graduates have been drafted by Major League Baseball teams - Jeffrey Davis (1993), Allen Levrault (1996) and Michael Costantino (2002) – while Craig Albernaz (2006) was signed as a free agent by the Tampa Bay Rays. In 2000, while pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers, Levrault became the first-ever SIBL alumnus to play in a Major League Baseball game.
Another SIBL graduate – Debra (Caito) Scrozynski – played with the Coors Silver Bullets professional women’s baseball team during the 1993 season.
Individuals who have served as Presidents of the SIBL since its inception include Christopher Shott (1976-82, 1985-91, 1994-97), Gerard Hajder (1982-85), Robert Scanlon (1991-93), George Soares (1993), William Pavao (1993-94), Christopher Chasse (1997-98), Daniel Beaudoin (1998-2000), Robert “Buster” Ganem (2000-2002), Curtis Maderios (2002-2004), Kenneth Garcia (2004-2008) and David Hadad (2008-present).
The Swansea Independent Baseball League was established to offer an alternative to the town's existing youth baseball program. The league's first organizational meeting was held in September 1975, but later it was decided to delay its initial season until 1977.
The Swansea Nite Site as it appeared circa 1959.