Central Florida Amateur Baseball League Celebrates Ten Year Anniversary with Phenomenal Growth
By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
The Central Florida Amateur Baseball League, an MSBL affiliate, started in Lakeland, Florida with four teams in 2012. Now heading into their tenth anniversary year, an expansion magician known as Aaron Eberhardt had a vision back then. That vision is now a reality and the beautiful Florida sky is the limit.
This 18-over league is the premier amateur baseball league in the Orlando, Tampa, St. Pete, Lakeland, Lake Wales, and Hudson areas in the west coast region of Florida and offers a combination of competitive and recreational divisions.
“In the early days we had a highly talented league, which was good in some ways but not so good for the recreational player,” explained Eberhardt. “Our competitive division teams routinely win MSBL tournaments and always represent themselves well. But not everyone wants to face an ex-collegian who brings it at 90 miles per hour. Something had to be devised to attract and retain someone who just wants to get back into the game.”
Aaron had a management vision and asked Sergio Delgado to head a competitive division and Kareem Evans to handle the recreational teams while Aaron became the orchestrator and business manager. Aaron’s engineering background was the perfect fit to work alongside these guys and make it all work while they handle the day-to-day operations.
“That doesn’t mean that I don’t get the occasional 2:00 AM phone call by someone with a concern of some sort. I don’t live in a problem-free bubble!”
To further illustrate how far the league has come, the Central Florida Amateur Baseball League now consists of 24 recreational teams and eight competitive. Aaron is also the advertising guru who makes sure the brand is out there.
“We stay visual in all of the social media arenas and have a nice website and Facebook page. But word of mouth is our best source of new teams and players. We supply a quality product and these players desire quality competition. We supply that.”
But wait…there’s more!
“Geoff Gonzalez was a long-time player in our league and he moved to Titusville, which is on the east coast of Florida. He was bummed because there were other leagues in the area but they weren’t up to the standards of the CFABL,” Aaron explained. “He was able to recruit some teams and wanted to make them a part of our league. It is so hard to run a league that is that far away so I asked him if he would run it and just report to me. So last fall Geoff started with three teams and that’s how the Central Florida Amateur Baseball League ‘East’ was born.”
The postal script to this is that Geoff has already expanded to an anticipated six to eight teams for this spring! For those of you keeping score at home, that puts the league near 40 teams going into 2022. All divisions throughout the state maintain an 18-over concept, however during the covid concerns of 2020 and 2021 they allowed 17-year-olds to play because they had nowhere to go to continue playing.
“We continue to allow 16 and 17 year-olds to play in our league with their parent’s permission. This is also a guarantee that when they become of age (18) they will continue to participate in the CFABL. We have created a sort of minor league.”
Aaron is by no means complacent with the league being successful and experiencing phenomenal growth this past decade. His plans for the future are very well defined.
“We want to continue to provide a quality product out there and let the word of mouth continue to take hold. We will be working on some things to really expand Geoff’s area out east. That is a fertile area that is ready to explode. We are also exploring a special needs league. We have a specific blueprint we are maintaining and look for big things in the months and years ahead. We are only as good as the people who make this work. With the help of Sergio, Kareem and Geoff I have no doubt we can become an even bigger presence in Florida.”