The Albany Twilight League was founded in 1930 by the "Father of Twilight Baseball", George Elwell. The first league Commission consisted of James Ronin, William Louden and two former major league players; Matty Fitzgerald Sr. and Ed Phelps Sr. In 1931, Claude Tibbitts became President and the Twilight League officially began its first competitive season with ten teams participating in league play. The legendary Schuylers, under the direction of Charlie Callahan, became the first league champion. Then in 1932, Joe Tholl, who had been the League Secretary, took over as President of the League for the next 16 years. Just two years into his presidency, he and the league watched the final construction of the Bleecker Stadium Bowl get completed and its first and longest resident, the Albany Twilight League moved in. Previously, Bleecker was built as a reservoir for the City of Albany public water system in 1850.
During the 1940's, the Twilight League did a masterful job of continuing competitive baseball on the most advanced amateur level in spite of the loss of hundreds of young men to the Armed Forces, some of whom were killed in action. In 1947, a Navy veteran and former League Secretary, Joe Thomas came on board as Twilight League President and guided the League into the decade of the 1950's. With anew President at the start of the decade also came a new force in Twilight League play. Gone were the Graves and Rodgers, the New York Central's and the McEnaney Oilers. Now it was fans cheering on Roxy Cleaner's managed by Chuck Yanni. Within a span of nine years, this baseball dynamo would win five league crowns. During this period of Roxy domination, the league experienced two new League Presidents. First, Lloyd Maranville, elected in 1953and serving until 1958, then Andy Schnert, who presided in the 1960's.President Schnert's most significant and lasting accomplishment was convincing Mayor Erastus Corning to install lights for baseball at Bleecker Stadium. The Twilight League was immediately given a new lease on life. The crowds improved tremendously. No longer were players and fan required to go without supper so they could be at the ballpark by 6 pm; the more leisurely 7:30 p.m. start was scheduled.
The 1960's also witnessed the domination of the Twilight League by two senior sponsors; Mike's Submarines and Finkle's Jeweler's. Together they combined to win six pennants in seven years. In 1966, Andy Schnert retired. The league appointed George Clemens as his successor. After a brief tenure, George passed away and John Brousseau succeeded to the Presidency serving until 1970.
The era of the college baseball player arrived in the 1970's. Team ranks became swollen with players from all local institutes of higher learning. With the election of a new President, Bill Leorchick in 1971, two teams began a series of victories which dominated the Twilight League into the 80's. The Schenectady Sons of Italy, managed by Tony Rossi, captured three league crowns in five years. The Oppenheim Post 1019, managed by Tim Lane won the honors in four out of five years, to finish out the decade. Coinciding with the Oppenheim win streak, the Twilight League chose a new President, Jack Joyce. President Joyce was been an avid baseball fan since boyhood and was a Major League scout for the Philadelphia Phillies.
In the 1980's the Sons of Italy and the Oppenheim Post VFW continued their winning ways by capturing eight more league titles, totaling an unbelievable 15since 1973. Ed Delehanty took over for Jack Joyce in 1981 and served throughout the 1980's as League President. Ed oversaw the Twilight League’s re-entry into the American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC).Highlighting the re-entry was a strong franchise in Apex Printing who won the AABC North Atlantic Regional title and finished third in the 1989 AABC Stan Musial World Series in Battle Creek, Michigan.
The 1990's witnessed a multitude of new franchises but it also saw Apex, managed by Ken and Norm Hayner, continue their string of success. The team won three league titles in a row from 1992-94 and four AABC Upper NYS Championships in the first half of the decade. In 1996 Bill Miles, Jr. succeeded Delehanty as League President and saw five different franchises take Twilight League crowns from 1995 to 1999.Unfortunately, only the Troy Haymakers, the longest tenured franchise in the history of the league, remains in the league today as the only team from that string of champions. Troy won a League title in 1998 and since then the League has seen 15 different franchises compete through the 2015 season.
Embarking on the 2000’s, All Stars Academy, managed by Dave Perry, went on a short run of success becoming just the fourth team in the League’s history to accomplish a three-peat. They won ATL titles from 1999-2001, an era when the league permanently switched to using wood bats for all their games. Switching to wood bats in 2000 saw a significant increase in the speed of games and the influx of more college players. The early 2000’s era also saw the charter of a very successful independent program, Waterford Fordians (now known as Waterford Nationals), happen in 2008. That followed short, but solid tenures by the Lansingburgh Royals (2003-10) and South Troy Dodgers (2005-07). The Dodgers finished second in the League in 2006 with a 16-5 record and lost the League Championship Series.That year was the first season manager Joe Altieri and his Athletics won a League title. They would string together two championships, then after a year losing to Davies AC in the 2008 League Championship Series, the Athletics won four more consecutive ATL crowns for the first “four-peat” in League history (2009-12). Davies AC, who entered the league in the early 1990’s also showed they could collect multiple League crowns during this era. Behind General Manager Tom Yovine, Davies won the Championship Series in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008, three with Yovine playing a dual role as coach and, then a fourth with Yovine as just the GM. AABC Tournament play became more popular during this era with the League hosting more AABC postseason events which resulted in more teams gearing up to participate in them.
The Athletics won nine AABC Upper New York State Championships under Altieri from 1998-2009, which currently stands as a State record. The League, meanwhile, captured two more AABC State titles (Davies AC in 2003, Senators in 2005) during that time to keep the state crown in the Twilight League for 11 straight years heading into 2011. THE2010’sPriorto the 2010 season, Davies AC left the league due to numerous retirements from players, which yielded way for the Blue Slate Blue hawks franchise to enter the ATL. Behind General Manager Gary Pollard, the team was a small core of former Davies players and was competitive right away with top three finishes in its first three seasons. Meanwhile, the Albany Athletics continued their dominance by winning the League title in 2010 and upsetting downstate powerhouse Long Island Storm to win the AABC North Atlantic Regional Tournament and earn a trip to the AABC World Series in Houston. It was the first World Series berth by an ATL team since the 1989 Apex team.
The A’s finished 5th in the World Series that year. A year later Blue Slate and the A’s were separate by only one game in the final standings and while the Hawks went up two-games-to-none in the Championship Series, the A’s came roaring back and swept the final three towing it—the first time a team has come back from two games down since the 1983 Oppenheim Posta year later, the Lansingburgh Royals and All-stars Academy exited making way for the Albany Thunder, run by propane businessman Robert Nolan Sr., and the Chemenergy Diamond Kings, run by Bill Creighton Sr. who had previously run numerous younger level teams. While both teams struggled in 2011, the League still had a strong product on the field.
The Athletics built on its World Series appearance by winning in the final inning of the 2012 Regional Championship to advance to the World Series in Florida. Then after losing to a31-0 Texas team in the first game of the World Series, the A’s won five straight including the championship on a walk-off homer in the 9th to bring home the League’s first National title since the Series began in 1935. The Athletics shattered numerous ATL records that year including most runs scored by a wood bat team (201) most consecutive league wins (18) in a season, most consecutive league wins (23) spanning two seasons, and had the most wins in the league forth 7th straight year. During this era, the ATL also established an intern program where students work all summer for the league designing game day programs, compiling weekly reports, posting on Twitter and Facebook, and assisting with game management.
In 2013, the ATL began working with a new group of umpires. Following the departure of the College Baseball Umpires, the League entered into a contract with the Eastern New York Umpires Association. TODAY, the league has a dynamic web site thanks to the work of Bill Kelts, Sr. and Bill Kelts,Jr. who also manage the Waterford franchise. Fans are also informed with blast emails of weekly league reports and on Twitter and Facebook, which is where interns post game results and schedules as well. Over the last decade, despite the growth of wood bat collegiate leagues across New York State drawing players from the ATL, the league has still enjoyed enthusiastic crowds, close pennant races, local, state and national tournaments, past and future professional players, to continue to add to its strong history and tradition.