The ELB wasn’t the first attempt to start a professional league in Europe

In recent years, two baseball enthusiasts from the Netherlands tried to start a professional league in Europe, the Euro League Baseball. Unfortunately, this attempt was destined to fail due to the sabotage of the Dutch Baseball Federation and the European Baseball Confederation. But this attempt wasn’t the first one. Somewhere in the 1970s, a Scotsman tried to do the same.

This Scot, Norman Sutherland, was the spokesperson of a group that tried to launch a professional baseball league in Europe. Cities considered as possibilities for franchises were Brussels, Amsterdam, London, Antwerp, Stuttgart, Rome, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, and Paris. Initially, the capital to launch the league was about being raised in North America.

As baseball had its roots in many soccer clubs in the Netherlands, the initiators of this professional league approached many European soccer clubs to get them interested in establishing a baseball branch. Not only because these clubs had the facilities but also because of the administrative experience.

The intention was to play three-game series in the weekends, starting on Friday. If this league would have gotten off the ground, players would have been expected to have a job next to playing, so in the first years, this league would have been semi-pro.

Participating clubs would have had rosters of 18-20 players, of which only three would be locals. The vast majority of the players would come from the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and South-America. In a certain way, this can be compared with the now-defunct NFL Europe. That league also tried to establish a league with mainly American players and only a handful of locals. Eventually, the NFL Europe failed as well.

The duration of the season would only be three months as the league would run from the end of April until the end of July.

According to Mercury Baseball, a British baseball magazine from the 1970s and 1980s, it was intended that 51% of the capital of each franchise will be held by residents of the city having the franchise. Each club would have a fulltime coach, general manager, public relations officer, and secretary. Each club was expected to spend 20,000 dollars a year on publicity.

Because the World Cup soccer was played in 1974, the decision was made not to start the season of the league in that year as most of the attention of the European sports press would go to the World Cup.

The league did not take off in 1975 and the projected start in 1976 failed as well as teams from West Germany, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands would have obligations in the European Cup (nowadays called the European Champions Cup).

Eventually, nothing was heard about the attempts of Mr. Sutherland and his companions, so we can say that the projected European professional baseball league died a silent death, unfortunately.

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