The following season saw the MSBL of Atlanta take off. With the combination of the teams from the prior season, plus the addition of new teams the league jumped to 14. Over the course of the next three seasons it would continue to grow - up to 19 teams during the summer of 1992. The powerhouses of the league's early years were Gary Klumpp's Dixie Diehards and Rhett Martin's 96 Rock - A's. The Diehards took the league championship three years in a row (1989 - 1990 - 1991) and the A's brought home a national trophy for winning the 30+ American title in the 1991 MSBL World Series in Arizona.
With the Atlanta area's rapid growth it wasn't long before several new leagues were developed. In 1990 the MSBL of Atlanta decided to switch from wood bats to metal bats. A few traditionalists wanted to stick with the wooden bats and Barnes left the Atlanta group to form the Atlanta Metro MSBL. It was Kevin's intention to run the new league as a smaller and more intimate league with less of the politics of the larger Atlanta league. This group plays out of Dresden Park and has since become a 40+ league. Also that year the Northwest Georgia MSBL was formed with teams based out of the Cartersville - Adairsville - Rome area. This league has since folded with some of it's members returning to the Atlanta chapters.
In 1991 the league was joined by four teams from the southern suburbs of Atlanta. The travel and scheduling demands became too much and in 1993 the four teams started a league of their own, The Atlanta Southside MSBL. The Southside league is currently 10 strong with teams based out of southern Fulton Co., Henry, and Fayette Counties.
In 1992 the decision was made to split the MSBL of Atlanta into two separate divisions. The National Division continued to play around 20 games a season. The American Division wished to assume a more aggressive schedule of 30 to 35 games per season. While under the umbrella of the MSBL of Atlanta, essentially the American Division became a league of it's own. The American Division collapsed, after the 1996 season, due to the difficulty of maintaining such a competitive league. Also in 1992 another 40+ league was formed, the Greater Atlanta MSBL. The GAMSBL now has close to twenty teams.
In 1997 the MABL of Atlanta division was introduce to the Atlanta area. Taking in some of the members of the defunct American Division it was a success right from the start. The Men's Adult Baseball League is part of the MSBL family and is geared toward ballplayers ages 18 and up. It has continued with it's tremendous growth and now supports almost 50 teams. During the 90's new leagues were formed in Athens, GA and Macon, Ga. Also lining up were Augusta, Savannah and Columbus, Georgia.
The mid-90's saw the MSBL of Atlanta mature. It also saw the beginning of some classic team rivalries that continue to this day. Games between the Yankees, Generals, Pirates, Crackers, Pilots, Mudcats and others would go down in league folklore as some of the most intense games that the league has ever seen. As the decade ended new teams and teams returning from other divisions added to the character of the league and only increased the competitiveness of the league. The Bulls, who had left the league in 1992 (formed from members of the Yankees), returned to be the only other team besides the Diehards to win three consecutive championships (1998 - 1999 - 2000). The White Sox, a team that scrounged it's way from an expansion team to a championship team, returned after a season in the MABL. Merging with the Yankees/Diablos they would bump the Bulls from the playoffs and break the Bulls shot at four consecutive championships. The end of the decade also saw the addition of new teams such as the Devil Rays, Mustangs, Decatur Braves, Indians and others. New teams to build new rivalries.
As the 2001 season started the MSBL of Atlanta would feel the loss of the last of it's original teams. The Bald Eagles / Eagles / Pirates folded after 12 years. Some of it's members would start up with a new team, the Reds, hoping to start a new tradition. But, coming full circle, as if to keep it's family lines intact, 2001 would see the return of a team with ties back to the leagues beginning. The Astros. Not the Astros/Reds of 1990 and '91. This team's family tree could be traced all the way back to the Royals, one of the founding teams from the 1988 season.
Going into the 2002 season the leaders of the Atlanta MSBL chapters decided to change the age brackets to match what was becoming more and more common nationwide. The MSBL of Atlanta became a 28+ league - and the Greater Atlanta MSBL became a 38+ league. Setting these age brackets meant that the MSBL of Atlanta would be in line with most MSBL tournaments and would match the brackets set at the MSBL World Series and Fall Classic.
The 2002 season is shaping up to be the most exciting and competitive season yet. Come join us and see what the MSBL of Atlanta is all about.
Thank you to the 28+ Pilots for the information.