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In 2001, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jessica Biel starred in the romantic comedy Summer Catch where Prinze played a college baseball player for the Chatham A’s of the Cape Cod Collegiate Baseball League.
The popularity of collegiate summer leagues grew after Summer Catch was released, but they had been around for quite some time before.
Collegiate summer leagues exist for further player development and to give professional scouts more opportunities to see prospects play more games.
For college baseball players, finding a roster spot on a collegiate summer baseball team is usually a result of networking through their college coach. Many college teams have a coach who is responsible for seeking out opportunities for their players to play in the summer.
Those coaches make phone calls to people they know that are involved in collegiate summer leagues to place their players on teams.
How are Collegiate Summer Baseball Teams Run?
Collegiate summer baseball teams are run like professional teams. Each league has a commissioner, and each team has an owner and a general manager. Typically, the general manager takes care of all roster decisions.
Each team also has a coaching staff that is typically made up of college baseball coaches. Young coaches looking to advance their careers often seek these opportunities to add to their resumes.
Usually, in the early fall, the general manager and the coaching staff will get in contact with college coaches about players that can fill their roster spots. Sometimes the summer team reaches out to school coaches, and sometimes vice versa.
In the past, players have not been allowed to be paid for these opportunities to play in collegiate summer leagues. With the NCAA passing the rule allowing players to be paid for their name, image, and likeness (NIL) recently, that could possibly change.
How Competitive Are These Leagues?
Not all summer collegiate baseball leagues are created equal. Some leagues are tougher for players to get into than others.
For example, the Cape Cod League is known to be the most competitive league in all of summer collegiate baseball. Players who perform well in Cape Cod are typically destined to be drafted by MLB teams in the future.
A player who has struggled for his college team or has not received much playing time likely won’t be able to find a spot on a Cape Cod team.
However, he may have more luck finding a team in a league that is not as competitive as Cape Cod; therefore, players who have struggled in college baseball can still find a home on a team in a different league.
All collegiate baseball leagues are competitive, but some are more competitive than others and may only accept players of a certain caliber.
Some of the most renowned leagues year in and year out are the Cape Cod Baseball League, the Northwoods League, the Coastal Plains League, the Alaska Baseball League, the New England Collegiate League, and the West Coast League.
The opportunities to play on a summer collegiate baseball team are endless as there are 85 total leagues in the country. As stated earlier, while the other 79 teams not mentioned may not be as competitive each year, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t competitive at all.
In any given year, teams in those leagues can offer quality baseball for the players on the team and the fans in the stands. There is good baseball being played all over the country in the summer.
Are summer collegiate baseball teams limited to Division 1 players?
No, any player at any level of college baseball can play on a summer collegiate team. Even in some of the more competitive leagues, teams may feature players from all levels of college baseball.
Do players have any say in where they play in the summer?
Sometimes, if a player has a connection with a team and his coach at school is okay with it, the player can find his own team. This usually happens when a player wants to play on the same team that he played the summer before. It doesn’t happen often, but players can find their own team if they please.
Why don’t the players get paid to play in these leagues?
Until recently, NCAA rule did not allow athletes to be paid for anything relating to their sport. Now, NCAA athletes can be paid for their name, image, and likeness. Technically, the summer teams still can’t pay the players simply to play for them as that would make it a professional league, but they can pay them every time they put their picture on a ticket stub or use their name to host a camp.