Mark Cryan Published Article on Appalachian League Restructuring

Mark Cryan recently published a new article in the baseball industry online magazine Ballpark Digest about dramatic changes on tap for the local minor league.

Mark Cryan, an assistant professor in Elon’s Sport Management Department, published a new article about the reincarnation of the Rookie-level Appalachian League as a summer college wood bat league operated with support from Major League Baseball and USA Baseball.

Mark Cryan, assistant professor of sport management

The 10-team Appalachian League, which includes the Burlington Royals as well as teams in Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia, has been in operation since 1911.  The league has been on MLB’s hit list of roughly 40 teams expected to be cut during Major League Baseball’s dramatic overhaul of the minor league system.

The new version of the Appalachian League will feature college baseball players competing in a 54 game schedule from early June to mid-August.  Leagues of this type allow players to showcase their abilities for pro scouts using a wood bat, unlike the aluminum bats used in college baseball.  This league is designed for rising first-year and sophomore players.  USA Baseball, the national governing body for the sport, will scout, recruit and place the players in the league.

Prior to teaching at Elon, Cryan served as General Manager of the Burlington franchise, and was also Vice President of the summer college Coastal Plain League.  Ballpark Digest covers the business and culture of baseball.

“The new version of the Appalachian League seems like the best available option for most of these cities, but there is certainly a loss of prestige when you are no longer part of pro baseball,” Cryan said.

Cryan has taught at Elon since 2007, originally working as an adjunct professor, and joining the faculty full-time in 2012.  Cryan’s scholarly interests include professional baseball at all levels, including minor league baseball and international baseball.

He leads a Winter Term class each year that visits the Dominican Republic with a focus on the baseball and tourism industries, which has been a key experiental learning class for many alum who now work in Major League Baseball.

He is also the author of “Cradle of the Game; Baseball and Ballparks in North Carolina,” considered the definitive book on baseball in North Carolina.  The second edition was published in 2014.  A third, completely updated edition was scheduled for publication in 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic. That book is now scheduled for publication in 2021, and will include a comprehensive look at major changes in the state’s baseball landscape