HOW A FRANCHISE WAS BUILT
Baseball America|January 2021
In 1981, Baseball America was launched to fill a void in scouting and player development coverage
ALLAN SIMPSON

Baseball America began in 1981, which turned out to be a watershed year for the minor leagues, college baseball and the draft. BA has been there to document their changes every step of the way. The publication’s signature moment occurred in 1983, when it moved to Durham, N.C.

One of baseball’s redeeming qualities is that it is trapped in a time warp. Basically, the fundamentals of the sport today are the same as they were 50 years ago. Even 100 years ago.

That truism hardly applies, though, when the game is viewed through a Baseball America prism.

At a time of reflection as we mark the occasion of BA’s 40th anniversary, it’s relatively safe to say that baseball in 1981, in our first year of publication, was hardly the same stable entity we’d always come to expect, just as it wasn’t in 2020, in our 40th year, either.

Between the pandemic that brought unimagined chaos to every facet of the game, along with the sweeping, systematic changes administered by Major League Baseball that brought a noble institution like Minor League Baseball to its knees, baseball in 2020 was hardly a game we recognized. For certain, it tested the resolve and resilience of Baseball America to cover the series of unsettling events in a manner that faithful readers had become accustomed to over the last 40 years.

Understandably, it was BA’s most challenging year since, well, 1981, when I had the temerity to launch a bold, new, all-baseball publication out of the garage of my home in Canada. As ambitious and perhaps misguided as I was in believing I could succeed in making inroads on the game with a niche approach as basically a one-man operation with no conventional publishing wisdom or tools at my disposal hardly does justice to the term “humble beginning” in describing the early days of Baseball America.

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