The National Fantasy Baseball Championship was started in 2004 as the industry's first multi-city, high-stakes event. With live drafts in Las Vegas, New York and Chicago, the NFBC drew 195 teams at $1,250 each for the Main Event and awarded the industry's first $100,000 grand prize for baseball. Artie Rastelli, appropriately of Hoboken, N.J. - the birthplace of baseball - won the NFBC's first overall title and the first $100,000 grand prize. Two days before the end of the season, Artie and Aaron Seefeldt of Northbrook, Illinois, were TIED for first place, almost a statistical impossibility. Artie, 28, then forged ahead on Saturday and Sunday to edge Aaron for the title.
In 2004, the NFBC consisted of just 13 Main Event leagues and a total of 3 $1,250 Auction Leagues. That was it.
By 2005, demand had grown to where the Main Event sold out with 300 teams and the auction leagues had expanded to 10 leagues, thanks to a second offering at $650 per team. The NFBC also rolled out two new events in 2005: The NFBC Ultimate Leagues where the entry fee was $5,000 per team and first place was worth $40,000, and the NFBC Mid-Season Leagues. The Ultimate Leagues consisted of one 15-team Draft League in 2005 and one 15-team Auction League where owners from Las Vegas and New York were hooked up on a teleconference (not fun, but it worked). The Mid-Season League was the first online venture for the NFBC and consisted of six full leagues trying for a "second chance". Brian Oldenski of Middletown, New Jersey won the NFBC Main Event in 2005 as he won his league with 141 out of a possible 150 points and edged out Dan Kenyon of Grand Junction, Colorado for the $100,000 grand prize.
The NFBC expanded to a full slate of online satellite leagues in 2006 with everything from $125 entry fee leagues to $1,000 entry fee leagues filling up. Twenty-two satellite leagues were held before Draft Day as preparation for the Main Event, which in 2006 sold out with 330 teams. David DiDonato of Johnston, Rhode Island won the overall grand prize and finished the year with $145,000 in winnings by also winning the Ultimate Draft League. Rick Thomas of Bozeman, Montana finished second in the Main Event, which had grown to a fourth location as the NFBC expanded to Tampa in 2006. A total of 10 live auction leagues were also held, pushing the total number of leagues to 54.
The NFBC's Main Event sold out for the third straight year in 2007 as 375 teams were on hand in Las Vegas, New York, Chicago and Tampa. Terry Haney of Johnston, Iowa won the $100,000 grand prize with Thomas Greenwald of Hoffman Estates, Illinois finishing second. The biggest expansion of 2007 occurred online as the NFBC Satellite Leagues doubled to a total of 45. The Ultimate Leagues also doubled to four in 2007, with nine live auctions taking place. In 2007, NFBC prize money had grown to more than $850,000.
2008 was a historic year for the NFBC as it marked the fifth anniversary of the event. A total of 104 owners competed as Charter Members, with the vast majority of owners playing all five years. Robert Jurney of Dunkirk, Maryland made a great turnaround to win the $100,000 grand prize, with Stephen Jupinka of Waldwick, New Jersey finishing second. Jurney had finished 345th overall in 2007 and his team was 389th out of 390 teams during Week 2, but he came roaring back to win his second league title in the last four years and first overall title. The newest addition to the NFBC in 2008 was Super Leagues, $2,500 entry fee leagues with a $20,000 grand prize. The NFBC hosted three Ultimate Leagues, two Super Leagues and 10 Auction Leagues in 2008 as the event moved from Tampa to Orlando for the Florida location. The growth of the satellite leagues also continued that year, with 70 different satellite leagues being held. Total prize money topped $970,000 in 2008.
In 2009, F+W Publications formed a partnership with NBC Sports/Rotoworld to take the NFBC to a higher level. It was a historic season in many ways as Lindy Hinkelman of Greencreek, Idaho won a record-setting $241,300, accomplishing the impossible. Lindy won the NFBC’s Main Event as he beat out 389 other teams for that title and he also won the debut NFBC Online Championship, beating out 599 other teams for that title. Before the season started, the NFBC offered a $75,000 cash bonus to anyone who could win the overall title in this 15-team format and the new 12-team format and sure enough Lindy accomplished both. Lindy also finished second in the Ultimate Auction League to walk away with the biggest single payout in our six-year history. In all, the NFBC distributed more than $1.1 million in prizes as the event grew to record numbers thanks to the NFBC Online Championship. In 2009, the NFBC hosted more than 170 leagues.
Big changes occurred at the end of 2009 and led to a historic season in 2010. In August of 2009, Fanball.com acquired the NFBC from F+W Media with the goal of taking the NFBC to unprecedented heights. In 2010, the NFBC expanded to a two-weekend format for the live events, expanding to Atlantic City, St. Louis and Las Vegas for the first weekend. The live events were then held in Las Vegas, New York and Chicago on the final weekend of March, with first-class venues such as the Bellagio and Citi Field as host sites. The dual weekend of live drafts was a big hit as the NFBC Main Event expanded to a record-high 435 teams, including 120 on the first weekend. Stephen Jupinka of Waldwick, New Jersey entered 2010 as the NFBC’s Lifetime Standings leader and he dominated the NFBC Main Event in 2010 to win the $100,000 grand prize. Steve won Las Vegas League 5 with a record-setting 144.5 points and he also set a new NFBC record in total points earned, finishing with 3,925.5 points. That was 90.2 percent of the available points, the highest percentage ever earned by an overall champion. Mark Srebro of York, Pennsylvania – our 2004 $100,000 winner in football – finished second in the Main Event as he cashed in 13 of 14 events he competed in during 2010. The NFBC also expanded its Online Championship by creating a second portion of that contest: The Live Double Play. Jaime Baird of Cambridge, Ontario won both the Live Double Play and the Online Double Play to earn $85,000 in prizes as the NFBC finished with 540 Online DP teams and 288 Live DP teams. The NFBC also debuted its first $10,000 entry fee league in 2010 – the NFBC Diamond League – with James Stanard of Chatham, New Jersey winning that $75,000 league prize. Will Tyrer of Beverly Hills, California won the $40,000 Ultimate Auction League title and Rick Thomas, Ken Magner and Chris Plouffe won Super League titles and $20,000 each. Also debuting in 2010 was the NFBC Auction Championship, with 135 teams competing for the $15,000 grand prize. The title went down to the final day as Jeff Dobies of Farmingville, New York edged Richard Gordon by ONE-HALF point for the title. One hit over an entire season was the difference in that national title. Wow. That incredible finish was all part of a record-breaking season for the NFBC as it hosted 188 different leagues and awarded more than $1.3 million in prize money.
The biggest change in the NFBC’s history occurred in 2011, but it was a change that will stabilize the NFBC’s future forever. In January of 2011, Liberty Sports Interactive dissolved Fanball.com, which ran this contest. NFBC Founder Greg Ambrosius and LSI were able to agree to an Asset Acquisition Purchase for the NFBC and NFFC in February and Ambrosius then formed a partnership with STATS LLC to own and operate the contests going forward. The Asset Acquisition took several weeks to complete and caused a six-week delay in signups, but the NFBC still went on to have another record-breaking year. For the seventh straight year, the NFBC Main Event sold out, this time with 390 teams. Lindy Hinkelman of Greencreek, Idaho made history by becoming the first two-time national champion, winning the Main Event by the closest margin ever. Lindy beat KJ Duke of San Diego, California by just 2.5 points out of 3,900 points for the $100,000 grand prize. Lindy won Las Vegas League 4 with 138 points and then finished with 3,407.0 points or 87.4% of the available points. KJ finished with 3,404.5 points or 87.3% of available points in a race that wasn’t decided until the final pitch of the final night of the MLB season. Lindy won $116,750 in 2011 as he won four of the seven events he entered. He became the third inductee to the NFBC Hall of Fame in March of 2012, joining inaugural recipients Stephen Jupinka and Shawn Childs, who were inducted in March of 2011. The NFBC had a total of FIVE National Championships in 2011 as it once again ran live drafts in five cities over two weekends. Gino Yu of Torrance, California beat out 780 teams for the $50,000 grand prize in the Online Double Play, while the tag team of Emmett Ruland of Haymarket, Virginia and Pat Gagne won the $20,000 grand prize in the Live Double Play, beating out 251 other teams. Richard Gordon of Las Vegas and partner Charles Levitz won the $15,000 grand prize in the Auction Championship (among 135 teams) after finishing 2nd overall the year before, and Terry Passalacqua of Sante Fe, New Mexico won our debut Slow Draft DC Championship, winning $3,500 while beating 389 other teams. The NFBC awarded over $1.4 million in prize money in 2011 as it finished with a record 190+ leagues. Among them were the private high-stakes leagues: 1 Diamond League, 3 Ultimate Leagues and 3 Super Leagues. Jim Ferrari of San Diego, California won the $75,000 league prize in the Diamond, while Kevin Kirves of Lexington, Kentucky won the Ultimate Auction League. Other top winners included: David Deterra and Chris Schinker in the Ultimate Draft Leagues; and Jack Haan, Donn Johnson and John Lemke in the Super Leagues.
During its first full year under STATS LLC’s ownership, the NFBC had enough promotional time to again post a record-breaking season. In 2012, the NFBC ran more than 260 leagues for more than 3,750 teams among all of the various contests. For the 7th straight year, the NFBC Main Event sold out, this time with 420 teams. Dave Potts of Auburn, Alabama won the $100,000 grand prize as he led his Low Talkers team to a first place finish in Las Vegas League 1 of the First Weekend (130 points). Low Talkers finished with 3,628.0 points or 86.38 percent of all available points to win the overall title. Dave also finished 3rd overall in the NFBC XII as he won league titles in both Main Events, along with league titles in 2 Online Championship Leagues and a $375 Slow Draft League. He was actually leading the NFBC Main Event and the NFBC XII overall standings in late September and had a shot at the $75,000 cash bonus for winning both overall titles, but Jeff Butler of Grafton, Virginia came on strong during the final two weeks to win that $50,000 grand prize. Jeff led his EM 33 BO team to the overall title with 2,146.0 points or 85.16 percent of available points. The debut NFBC XII – with a $1,000 entry fee and live drafts in Las Vegas, New York City, Chicago, St. Louis, Mahwah, New Jersey and Online – finished with 252 teams and 21 leagues. Joe Berg of Fullerton, California finished 2nd in the NFBC XII, while Chad Schroeder of Omaha, Nebraska finished 2nd overall in the NFBC Main Event and 4th overall in the NFBC XII. Both Dave Potts and Chad Schroeder made a serious run at winning both overall titles, but Jeff Butler prevented that from happening. With two weekends of live events, the NFBC also sold out its 3rd annual Auction Championship and the team of Jeff Dobies of Farmingville, New York and Andy Saxton of Bear, Delaware won the overall title and $15,000 grand prize with 1,181.0 points (87.48 percent of available points). It was Jeff’s second NFBC Auction Championship title in three years and this time he shared it with Andy Saxton as the pair led from May until the final day of the season. While the live events were strong, the online business grew like never before. The NFBC finished with 864 teams in its NFBC Online Championship, with Michael O’Brien of Brighton, Colorado winning the overall title and the $60,000 grand prize. Michael’s Nut Flush team finished with 8,072.5 points (93.43 percent of available points) to win in dominating fashion. The NFBC Slow Draft DC Championship also had a record year, finishing with 1,050 teams as Steve Wells of Las Vegas, Nevada won the overall title and the $10,000 grand prize with 9,239.5 points (88 percent of available points). The NFBC Satellite Leagues also grew to almost 70 full leagues as the 12-team format was equally as popular as the 15-team format. And in the high-dollar private leagues, Donn Johnson of Atlanta, Georgia won the $75,000 prize in the Diamond League, while the team of Jon Stadtmueller and Josh Honeycutt of Paragould, Arkansas won the $40,000 prize in the NFBC Ultimate Auction League, and John Lemke of Brooklyn, New York won the $40,000 prize in the NFBC Ultimate Draft League. Winning $20,000 league titles in the NFBC Super were: Kristopher Carroll of Bedford, Massachusetts; Marc Perlmutter of Chappaqua, New York; Jason Duponte of Waltham, Massachusetts; Duran Holton of San Diego, California; and Kevin Kirves of Lexington, Kentucky. Shawn Childs of Forrestdale, Massachusetts won his 3rd $1,300 AL Auction League title, while Jason Gill of Chicago, Illinois won the $1,300 NL Auction League title. In all, the NFBC awarded more than $1.75 million in prize money in 2012.
The NFBC will mark its 10th anniversary season in 2013 with live drafts March 22-24 at the Bellagio Las Vegas, followed by live drafts March 28-30 in Las Vegas, New York City and Chicago. The First Weekend in Las Vegas should reunite many of the die-hard members who have been with the NFBC for much of the last decade. The NFBC continues to be the only contest with live regional drafts and this season marks our 10th straight year of live drafts on the East Coast, Midwest and in Las Vegas. The NFBC will again offer a $100,000 grand prize for the Main Event, a $50,000 grand prize for the NFBC XII and a $50,000 grand prize for the NFBC Online Championship. The Slow Drafts – now called the NFBC Draft Champions – began with drafts in November and will continue through March. The Satellite leagues now have 10-team leagues to go with the usual 12-team and 15-team formats. And auctions in many different formats will again be a big part of the NFBC’s live events. It’s the NFBC’s Diamond Season and once again it’s sure to be bigger and better than ever. Good luck everyone and ENJOY the 2013 season.