Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The First American Leaguer

On May 28 in 2003, Julio Lugo of the Six Packs became the first player in history to accrue stats for a CFCL team while on the roster of an American League team. This was a major milestone, and one that shook one of the long-standing and fundamental founding principles of the CFCL.

1984 - 1991
As a National League-only Rotisserie League, we had historically shunned American League players (following in the Constitutional footsteps of the original Rotisserie League). We were not allowed to bid on American League players in the auction on Draft Day, nor select them in the Reserve List draft. For nearly the first decade of our existence, if a player on a CFCL roster was traded to the American League, or signed with an American League team as a free agent, that player was automatically and immediately dropped from the CFCL roster. There was no intermingling of American League blood (or stats) on CFCL rosters.

1992 - 2002
In 1992, the Rotisserie League updated their Constitution to provide some degree of compensation to owners whose players were traded to the American League during the season. The players were still automatically and immediately dropped, however an amount equal to the lost player’s salary was added to the team’s Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB), which was used to acquire free agents in sealed bid auctions during the season. The CFCL decided to adopt this rule, though we clarified it to specify that only players on a CFCL team’s active roster when they were lost to the American League. Theoretically, this allowed teams the opportunity to replace the players they lost. Still, however, CFCL rosters remained unsullied by American League personnel.

2003 … From time to time after the reimbursement rule was adopted there were grumblings about some inequities with the rule. These grumblings intensified during the 2002 season, and again during the off-season. The main complaints with the rule were that team tended to either be under-compensated (in the case of a star with a low salary) or over-compensated (in the case of an over-priced player). And even if a player was appropriately priced, chances were low that a player of equivalent talent would be available in the Free Agent Pool to replace the American League player.

At one point during that off-season, the CFCL actually eliminated the entire reimbursement rule in favor of a return to the SOL principles of the early years. The fallout from that decision kicked of one of the more intense debates in CFCL Message Board History. Thanks to the glories of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, you can revisit parts of that discussion here:

It was during that debate that the idea of allowing CFCL teams to keep players who were traded to the American League (and accrue their American League stats) was first seriously debated (the idea had been suggested earlier, but quickly dismissed).

The thought of allowing American League players on active CFCL rosters represented a significant psychological hurdle, but eventually it was cleared and the league voted (not unanimously) to allow CFCL teams to keep players who had been traded to the American League AND accrue that stats they produced there. 

When, on May 9, 2003, Julio Lugo, a player on the Six Packs’ Reserve List, was released by the Houston Astros and signed by the Toronto Blue Jays on May 15, he became the first American League player to appear on a CFCL roster. And when the Six Packs activated Lugo a couple weeks later, he became the first American Leaguer to accrue stats for a CFCL team. Lugo went 3-for-4 with an RBI that night, and produced solid stats in the American League for the Six Packs: .285 BA, 14 HR, 51 RBI, 10 SB. 

Interestingly, it was Six Packs’ owner Kelly Barone who had argued most vehemently against allowing American League stats to count in the CFCL.

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