Manuel: Time to give thanks to Roland Hemond for Arizona Fall League

From John Manuel at Baseball America on November 21, 2013, on SABR member Roland Hemond:

The spring training home of the San Francisco Giants, Scottsdale Stadium isn’t the biggest or nicest in the Phoenix metro area. In many ways, though, it’s the hub of the Arizona Fall League.

I’m probably biased, because when the AFL launched in 1992, my older brother bought me a fitted Scottsdale Scorpions hat. It was pretty snazzy and unique back in the early ’90s.

I also hold the “franchise” in high regard because it is one of two AFL teams that have not changed names. Only the Peoria Javelinas also remain unchanged in the 21-year AFL history. The Javelinas get extra credit for making me think of The Pixies. Yes, The Pixies spelled it differently, and yes, I’m stuck in the ’80s and ’90s.

Scottsdale Stadium also serves as home of the AFL Hall of Fame, with plaques of honored players, managers and executives lining the concourse of the ballpark. It’s a testament to the staying power of the league founded by Roland Hemond, the former general manager who remains involved with the AFL.

We owe Hemond a debt for making the idea of a domestic fall/winter league, a finishing school for prospects, a reality. It seems like many 21st Century baseball fans take the Fall League for granted, when we really should realize just how cool it is.

Today’s social-media, instant-gratification culture makes fans obsessive, much to Baseball America’s delight. Some baseball fans aren’t ready for the season to end when the World Series is over, and the AFL is there for them.

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Originally published: November 21, 2013. Last Updated: November 21, 2013.