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Joe Sperle clings to Freedom Pro Baseball League dream

Joe Sperle blames Freedom League problems on the inability to get a favorable stadium lease in Tucson.
Joe Sperle blames Freedom League problems on the inability to get a favorable stadium lease in Tucson.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

In North Carolina to celebrate the birth of his granddaughter, Joe Sperle read last week’s Examiner report predicting the demise of his Freedom Pro Baseball League. The league founder and president immediately picked up the phone and called to “set the record straight and tell the true story.”

In an exclusive Examiner interview, Sperle denied that the league is dead and that players were promised contracts if they paid for camps held by the league in March and April. Players paid up to $300 each to attend the camps.

“There were never any contracts promised,” said Sperle. “What players and parents have to understand that this isn’t some city league—this is professional baseball. Players earn contracts based on their ability and potential. It’s not a situation where you pay to get into the league.”

Sperle went on to describe the camps as instructional camps, not tryouts. “Our camps in Tucson and Phoenix provided real, professional instruction. Players said they learned more in two days (at Freedom League camps) than they did in three weeks at the California Winter League in January where they paid $3,600,” beamed Joe.

As far as the future of the league, Sperle admits that there may not be a season this year but says he is working to return in 2015. “Things didn’t work out in Tucson, at least not yet,” he lamented. “We have solid relationships in Goodyear and Prescott, but couldn’t get a stadium deal that made sense in Tucson.”

Meanwhile the offices in Scottsdale are shut down and the staff now consists of Joe and his dream. “Without as season, we have no revenue and had to cut those things out,” he explained. Sperle admits that it has been a rough two seasons trying to get the Freedom League started. “We haven’t been able to put together the right staff to take us where we want to go. That’s the hardest part. It’s my dream and my vision and my passion that is keeping me going. We’ll keep working until we can get this thing done,” assured Sperle.

Back from North Carolina, Sperle says that he plans on meeting with Pima County officials again to talk about Kino Stadium in Tucson. He makes no promises about this season, but said he has confidence in the league being back at some point. For now, the Freedom Pro Baseball League consists of a closet full of uniforms and one heart full of hope.

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