Back in the late 1980s, a business man and baseball fanatic got the fantastic idea to put Vida Blue, Rollie Fingers, Ferguson Jenkins, Clint Hurdle, and a host of other former major league baseball players back on the field in what was called the Senior Professional Baseball Association. After two years, though, the league folded.
I can’t help but wonder if such a venture would not be more successful today? With several former ballplayers still in excellent shape, it could turn out to be an interesting and competitive league. Think of it: Jose Canseco, Rickey Henderson, and Barry Bonds in the outfield; Mike Piazza at first base; Barry Larkin at shortstop…these are big draws! Much bigger than Vida Blue was in the late 1980s.
Another problem that I saw with the league of nearly two decades ago was that all the games were played in Florida. They never traveled to baseball-starved cities. It could be a “barnstorming” league, traveling across the country and playing for communities that may have some minor league teams, but missed out on the big superstars in their primes.
For those who are not familiar with the SPBA, the minimum age for players was 35 (with the exception of catchers at 32). They had about eight teams I think, and while they did get a couple of future Hall of Famers to sign up, it was mostly filled with utility players and regional stars (like Clint Hurdle, Jim Morrison, and Joaquín Andújar).
However, I believe that the nostalgia of people of my generation (born in the 1970s) would propel a new league on to success if it were organized correctly with a good smattering of former stars. (What’s Wade Boggs up to nowadays? Dave Stewart? Hey, Ryne Sandberg, wanna play 2B?)
If such a league were formed, who would you like to see play? Obviously, Pete Rose and Johnny Bench are probably a little too old to go for it, but what about some of the players who started in the 1980s?