The Rocket League
Rocket League was formed in 1993 as an
8-team 4x4 American League only rotisserie league, with limited retention. Jim Lewis and
Mark Meads were the original Co-Commissioners, and as the years have
passed, Jim has become Commissioner, Statistician, and web page editor. Other original owners include Darry
Davenport, John Flucke, Richard Grantham, Rich LaPietra, Ray Ortiz, and
The league was an
offshoot of the Royal League,
a successful and ongoing AL rotisserie league in Kansas City founded in
1987 by Rob Tillotson, who later became a Rocket League owner. Other
current and former Royal
League participants include Jim Lewis, Mark
Meads, Darry Davenport, Jim Bolles, Chris Peck, Craig Van Bebber, and Jeff Bogart.
Mark Meads dominated the league the first two seasons; in 1993 he set a league record for highest percentage of points won (58 out of a possible 64, or 90.625%) that has endured for three decades. He was also ahead at the time of the strike that ended the 1994 season.
Rich LaPietra found the promised land in 1995
thanks to a $1 end game bid for surprise closer-to-be Jose Mesa that haunts original league members to
this day. Dave Sapenaro was so devastated that he
chose to take his career to a new city and follow a normal family life.
His franchise was taken over
by Dave Ezell.
Darry Davenport managed Disabled List to a lopsided win in 1996. In 1997, The Rocket
League expanded to include a ninth team, co-managed by Brad and Claude Meads.
All players were thrown back, and a full auction was held. In the most competitive season to date, Darry won his second consecutive title, with five other teams finishing within 5-1/2 points of first.
After the season, the league resumed limited retention, and instituted Topper Rights.
1998, Claude Meads,
mired in travel, handed over full reins of the M&M's to Brad
Meads, with the resulting obvious team name change to the M's. Rich
LaPietra, content with one championship in his five years
of competition, retired from The
Rocket League. As a result, the league
once again had eight teams. Jim Lewis won his first pennant, denying Darry his third straight as well as co-second place finisher John Flucke.
recruited son Derek to assist him with the management of his team in 1999, a strategy that nearly produced a title. The Rocket League
had its closest pennant race to date, with Jim Lewis surviving by one point over Darry Davenport and the Ezells. Following the season, the owners agreed to expand in Year 2K to ten teams and
conduct a full auction,temporarily foregoing retention. Tim Scheer and Rob
the new franchise owners. The league agreed to resume limited retention
and topper rights for ensuing seasons. Managing Winner Lou's,
Jim Lewis became the first owner to win three consecutive titles in 2000.
There were nine teams
in the 2001 season as Brad Meads, wunderkid and MVP of the KC Royals 2001
Dream Week, retired from the league to manage the homegrown Lenexa Twins (a
franchise that ultimately relocated and became the Nixa Twins). For the
first time, The
Rocket League agreed to count stats of
AL players moving in-season to the NL, implement a Free Agent
Acquisition Budget, and reward the second half winner.
Richard Grantham broke through to win his first pennant.
The Rocket League
disdained an opportunity to follow Bud Selig's lead and contract in
2002. Tim Scheer left the league to become commissioner of a youth baseball
league, something akin to his team name of Scheer Madness. Travis and Bob Horn took over the ninth franchise.
went on to post the best finish ever for a rookie owner, third place. After several near misses, Dave
and Derek Ezell finally won their first title.
2003 brought stability
to the league, as retention and topper rights were resumed. Jim Lewis
became the first owner to win four pennants with a 13 point margin over the three teams that tied for second place, the largest margin of victory to date.
In 2004, Matt
and Erick Emerson entered the league, and the rules were modified to add a Utility Player and eliminate a required second catcher. John Flucke, whose best finish was second place in 2000, took a step back from full-time managerial duties. His Homerhead Sharks joined
forces with Jim Lewis' Winner Lou's, creating the memorable
Fin&Win franchise. John nearly got his pennant, but Fin&Win came up half a point short to the Ezells.
2005 eclipsed the 1999 race for tightness at the top. Dave and Derek Ezell won their third title in four years, this time by half a point over the LongHorns and one point over Fin&Win, with Richard Grantham just three points behind.
Ray Ortiz, whose best finish was a bronze medal in 1997, followed the Flucke lead and paired up with Mark Meads' Wheatie Boys in 2006 to make the Cereal Killers. The Weezells split, with Dave taking one
franchise and Derek replacing Ray. In their third season, Matt Wheeler and
Erick Emerson, managing the Mammer Jammers, emerged victorious by one point over the Tilstars, owned by Jim Bolles and Rob
2007 brought Jason Pharr into the league when Travis Horn relocated to Chicago. Richard
Grantham and Size Matters dominated in a nearly unprecedented fashion, winning by 15 points, breaking the 2003 Winner Lou's margin of 13. Richard also accumulated 65 of a possible 72 points, a percentage of 90.28%, the best ever in a 9-team league, and just shy of Mark Meads' 1993 record 90.625% in an 8-team league.
Three new owners came
into the league for 2008. Kyle Dubois, Bill England, and Chris Peck
replaced Matt Wheeler, Dave Ezell, and Derek Ezell. Jim Lewis, managing solo, became
the first five-time winner.
Mark Meads, playing without Ray Ortiz as the Marksmen and winless since 1994, claimed
the 2009 title by one point over Jason and two over Darry in a dramatic finish that saw all
three with the lead at some point during the final week of play. Chris Eichhorn,
with the unfortunate team name of "Taste the Rainbow", took over the
reins from a clearly overmatched Bill England, but then bowed out after the season,
presumably to dine on Skittles. That paved the way for the
second coming of Dave Ezell and the Weezells.
Darry Davenport and the Darry Airs recovered from his narrow
loss in 2009 to win his third pennant and first in thirteen years with
a come-from-behind finish in 2010. Mark Meads won his fourth
title in 2011 with a near wire-to-wire victory.
2012, the league's 20th season, Kyle Dubois and Zig Zag Rosin Bags made a spirited second half run to capture his
first Rocket League trophy, edging Jim and Mark.
With Houston moving
from the NL to the AL,
The Rocket League decided to expand
for the 2013 season, and Matt McLeod took on the tenth franchise. Rob
Tillotson and Jim Bolles left the league, replaced by Craig Van Bebber
and Robert Harris. Jason Pharr added Pete Brisbois as a partner. The
rules were amended to allow a Swing Player in season. Mark Meads won
his fifth pennant by running away from the pack after the All-Star Break to win
by a new record margin of 16.5 points. This
was Mark's third title in five years and fifth overall, tying him with
Jim Lewis for most pennants.
The Rocket League make
a long-debated change in categories. Batting Average was
eliminated in favor of On Base Percentage, bringing walks into play for hitters. In addition, a new head-to-head competition was introduced. Jason Pharr and
Pete Brisbois retired from the league, with Jeff Bogart taking over the
franchise and resurrecting the "Disabled List" team name. The
Weezells won their fourth pennant, outdueling Chris Peck and Richard
Grantham in the final weeks. MLB brought us an October surprise, as the KC Royals
finally returned to the playoffs after a 29-year absence. Their run to
within one game of the championship galvanized the city!
Matt McLeod retired prior to the 2015 season, and Jim Felps
joined the league. While the Royals swept the field to win their first
championship since 1985, Darry Davenport parlayed a terrific freeze
list to his fourth title with 66.5 points, the highest total to date with ten teams competing.
2016 brought Stan and Cole Sydnee into the league to replace Chris Peck. The season's remarkable final week resulted in a first place tie between Kyle Dubois and Richard Grantham! Rules called for a count of categories won between the two, so with his 5-3 tiebreak advantage, Kyle earned his second pennant, denying Richard his third.
In 2017, The Rocket League's 25th season, Kyle delivered a repeat victory, pocketing his third championship in six seasons.
Several changes were enacted for 2018 to better align the league with how MLB had evolved. Active rosters were increased from 23 to 25, upping the number of pitchers from 9 to 11. The saves category was modified to Saves + Holds - Blown Saves, reflecting the growing importance of middle relievers. Chris Peck returned to the league after a two year absence, replacing Jim Felps. Jim Lewis won his sixth pennant in a three team race, edging out the Marksmen by one point on the final day of the season, and denying Kyle a third straight by 3-1/2 points.
Chris Peck and Who's On Deck pulled away down the stretch from the now solo Robert Harris and Slumpbusters to win his first pennant in 2019.
The 2020 season was short-circuited by the novel coronavirus. With a delayed start and an abbreviated 60-game season, the league determined to hold a one-off draft league mid-summer virtually instead of the traditional in-person auction format. Eleven teams participated in the draft, with Derek Ezell joining for the year. Jeff Bogart earned his first title with a double digit win over Chris and Kyle.
Darry Davenport and the Darry Airs had a sensational season in 2021, racing away from the field to win his fifth championship. With 72 points, the Airs won 90.0% of the possible 80, setting new highs for a ten team league. His 18-1/2 point margin of victory also set a new high.
In 2022, The Rocket League's 30th season, Kyle Dubois and Zig Zag Rosin Bags held off Robert Harris and Slumpbusters to win his fourth title.
Robert Harris and the Slumpbusters broke through to win his first title in 2023, holding off a late challenge from Mark Meads. The season was marked by Todd Habiger standing in at the last minute for Dave Ezell at the auction, and compiling a team that was tied for second at the ASB but finished fifth. Brad Meads, last seen in 2000, rejoined the league with his son Mark, replacing Chris Peck.