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British baseball belts a surprising home run

By Loren Nelson, 07/18/14, 1:00PM CDT

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We look across the pond to find SportsEngine's No. 1 baseball league site.

This is the first installment in a regular series that ranks websites in various categories on the Sport Ngin platform. Today we focus on the best of our baseball league sites, with the highest marks going to the sites with the greatest depth of content.

Wondering why your site didn't make the list? Want to put your site in the Top 5? Contact SNUG webmaster Loren Nelson at loren.nelson@sportngin.com for a free consultation.

Number 1

British Baseball Federation

URL: www.britishbaseball.org

Leagues: Four adult leagues and four youth leagues for players ranging in age from under 12 to under 17.

Teams: 73

Webmaster: Trevor Clissold.


Get in the Game page (click to view)

Overview:

Quick quiz: Name the planet’s biggest baseball hotbeds outside of the U.S.? Dominican Republic might pop into mind. Maybe Puerto Rico. Possibly Japan. England? Not likely. The Brits are known for their soccer, tennis, golf, cricket – but not for their excellence in baseball. Until now. The


Club Toolkit page (click to view)

impeccably designed and managed British Baseball Federation site might just be forewarning us of another British invasion – baseball style.

What we like:

The simple, clean understated design. No flames or fireworks needed here. Just basic fonts and a minimalist color palette. It is all so very functional and, dare we say, British? Besides, an assault with pyrotechnics would only detract from the seemingly unending flow of updated content filling the home page slide show and breaking news aggregator.

Stats, schedules, scores, standings:

We love sites that invest the considerable effort required to maintain the four Ss, then showcase that work on the home page. Three of the four Ss are front and center -- it would be great to at least a tease to the site’s robust statistics package.

Navigation:

An abundance of scrolling or thumb-tiring amound of clicks isn't required for players or fans to find the information they seek. We like that the Get in the Game link is the first choice in the top navigation bar and the call out to player registration sits high in the right rail. Baseball is a developing sport in England, and the site's setup and navigation reflects that.

Did you know?

Qualifiers for the European Junior Championships were held July 15-19 in Croatia in Varazdin and Zagreb? Updates from the event were, of course, posted on the BBF site.

Bonus content

Click on the Club Toolkit call out graphic on the home page and you are taken to a page that offers “getting started” info that includes an attractive, informative PDF series that lays out the basics of baseball, right down to a section titled “Holding a baseball.”

Number 2

Minnesota Baseball Hub

URL: www.mnbaseballhub.com

Leagues: Minnesota’s high school baseball teams are divided into 45 conferences in the regular season. In the playoffs, the same teams compete in three classifications based on enrollment size.

Teams: 375.

Webmaster: Star Tribune staff.


Top Games of the Week page (click to view)

Overview:

Baseball season in Minnesota is a short-lived proposition. It starts in earnest when the last of the snow melts from local diamonds (usually sometime in April or as late as May) and ends in mid-June – just after most high schools have held their graduations. Snowouts and rainouts are the norm in the early going, when schedule changes are more common than strikeouts and walks.

What we like:

The photography is usually outstanding, as is a mix of content that ranges from game stories to features to Q&As with top players. The power rankings widget on the home page is a great way to get quick snapshot of the state’s top teams in each of its three classes. The minimalist green on white design, right down to the fonts, matches the look of the Star Tribune’s main site.

Stats, schedules, scores, standings:

All four Ss, with the exception of standings, are prominently displayed on the home page. The rankings, mentioned above, serve as a worthy substitute for standings.

Navigation:

All of the site’s best content is just a click or two away in either the top navigation bar, the home page slideshow or the Latest News aggregator.

Did you know?

State championship games in all three classes are held at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins.

Bonus content:

Speaking of the Twins, first baseman Joe Mauer of Cretin-Derham Hall still holds several state batting records, including the highest career average at .567. How do we know this? The Hub's ocean-deep history section includes state records in numerous hitting and pitching categories.

Number 3

Lewis & Clark Baseball League

URL: www.lewisclarkbaseball.com

Leagues: 1.

Teams: 9 (teams are split into two conferences: Lewis and Clark).

Webmaster: Ross Clites.


Residental Program page (click to view)

Overview:

St. Louis is baseball town to its core, so naturally it is home to a growing summer college league. Only this isn’t your average collegiate league. As an added twist, one of the conferences plays its games only on the weekends while the other conference limits its schedule to weekdays. The idea is to accommodate players who have summer jobs with mostly weekday or weekend hours.


Fan Zone page (click to view)

What we like:

One of the stories that caught our attention in the home page news aggregator slideshow featured the great former major league base stealer Lou Brock (Lou Brock!) helping the league raise money for charity. The Players of the Week feature looks great on the home page. Roster pages are decked out with an abundance of information on each player, including their college major interest.

Stats, schedules, scores, standings

It’s all prominently displayed on the home page in widget format. Offensive and pitching leaders from both conferences are displayed in tabs that allow for quick and easy sampling of the leaders in multiple stat categories.

Navigation:

There are lots of unexpected options in the top nav bar, indicating the depth and variety of the site’s content. Prospective Players and Fan Zone are prominent tabs, as are links that drive viewers into information about the league’s playoffs and awards.

Did you know?

Lou Brock’s full name is Louis Clark Brock.

Bonus content:

The Find Your Way page details how the league pairs players with employers. An interactive map on the homepage shows the states that have supplied the league with players.

Number 4

North Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League

URL: www.northatlanticbaseball.com

Leagues: 1.

Teams: 10.


All-Star Game page (click to view)

Overview:

College baseball players don’t stuff their cleats in the closet when school ends and summer arrives. Hardly. Summer is baseball (or is it: baseball is summer?). Anyway, the NACBL, based in the New York City and Long Island area, gives East Coast college players from Division I, II and III schools and junior colleges a place to hone their skills in the “offseason.”


Game recap page (click to view)

What we like:

Thanks to the ambitious work of the site’s webmasters, NACBL players do not toil in obscurity. Almost every game gets big league coverage, from Twitter updates to short game recaps to action photos. Roster pages for most teams are filled out with player profile pictures and all the information you could want (college, year in school, height, weight, hometown and more).

Stats, schedules, scores, standings:

Scores are updated quickly in the top scroll on the home page, and the standings in the league’s two divisions also are displayed prominently. Stat leaders are noticeably absent.

Navigation:

Each of the league’s 10 teams has its own link in the top navigation bar, and a secondary navigation includes buttons for the league’s schedules, stats and standings.

Did you know?

League rules limit teams from having no more than four players from the same college. Recent high school graduates who have been accepted to college for the coming fall semester are eligible to play in the league.

Bonus content:

Coverage of the league’s all-star game included video highlights and postgame interviews.

Number 5

United States Amateur Baseball League

URL: www.usabl.com

Leagues: Dozens, ranging in age from 7-under to 38-over and playing in spring, summer and fall seasons.

Teams: 799 listed on the site's team finder.

Webmaster: Brian Delahant.


Free Agent Info page (click to view)

Overview

The New Jersey-based league was established in 1986 and bills itself as the “largest travel league with over 2,000 teams playing spring summer and fall.” The site also houses the Jersey Shore Baseball League, which has been operating since 1928.

What we like


Field Locations page (click to view)

The home page doesn’t suffer from information overload. Upcoming events, testimonials and a fun USABL World Series slideshow packaged in a video format occupy the prime positions.

Stats, schedules, scores, standings

It’s all there, but because there are so many leagues and teams, it takes a bit of digging to find any of the four Ss.

Navigation

Huge graphics on the home page help drive viewers to key pages (Team sign up, Register and Leagues). The main navigation bar includes a fields button that lists the names and addresses of the hundred-plus locations used by the league.

Did you know?

There are more than 1,000 teams and 9,000 players in the U.S. Over Thirty League. The Old Bridge Angels have won the last three Over Thirty titles.

Bonus content

Hundreds of players looking for teams are can be found on the “free agents” page. Each player has an “additional information” field that can be used to include information such as “solid middle infielder” or “working on switch-hitting.”

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About Loren Nelson

Loren Nelson is Community Manager at SportsEngine. He is also the National Media Editor and has served in a variety of other customer facing and media roles since 2009.

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