The Can-Am League is one of the historic names in minor league baseball. The first Can-Am League was formed in 1936 with cities in upper New York State and Ontario. This league operated as a Class C circuit until 1942 when World War II caused it to cease operations along with most of the minor leagues in North America.
With the war over the league reopened in 1946 with two of the current members, Pittsfield and Quebec. Minor league baseball encountered a huge boom in the post-war years and the Can-Am was no exception as the league experienced large attendance numbers with a great fan following. But the boom collapsed in the early 1950’s, and the Can-Am closed its doors after the 1951 season. The introduction of television was one factor, but the fact that there were not enough major league working agreements for the huge number of minor league teams was also a factor in the dwindling of minor league franchises.
Minor league baseball’s downturn continued for the next several decades and the leagues that remained were kept alive with the help of subsidies from the major leagues. But baseball started a turnaround in the 1980’s and by the 1990’s, the minors were booming. Cities across the country wanted teams, but the major leagues were not expanding their farms systems. In 1993, independent baseball started to serve those cities that wanted teams. Without major league help, the Northern League, the first of the independents, showed that baseball at the minor league level could survive without big league help and other independent leagues spring up across the country.
The Can-Am was reformed in 2005 with many of the teams from the Northeast League that had started in 1995. The Can-Am is now one of the most respected of the independent circuits with strong cities, good stadiums, and a great brand of baseball. In the 2016 season, the Can-Am will play series’ against both the Cuban National Team and the Shikoku Island League All-Stars.
The Cuban National Team, who finished 2nd at the World Baseball Classic in 2013 and have three Olympic Gold Medals, will embark on a 19-game tour, playing against all 6 Can-Am teams. The Shikoku Island League All-Stars, a team based around the very best players from the Shikoku Island League in Japan, will also tour the Can-Am league against every team within the league. It is a unique experiment and will provide a new opportunity for Can-Am teams and new excitement for fans throughout the league.
The league is currently comprised of 7 teams: Ottawa, New Jersey, Rockland, Quebec City, and Trois-Rivières, Sussex County (which is also located in New Jersey state), and Garden State.