1.1 Leagues and Teams
New Section of the Rules - Added 12/8/15
Benchwarmer Baseball Leagues are perpetual. Once
they are formed, the franchises in the league continue from
season to season with the same rosters/owners. Leagues
are made up of 16 teams. Leagues are divided into 2
conferences of 8 teams each. Each
conference is separated into 2 divisions.
The 4 division winners each advance to the playoffs, first
meeting for a conference title, then the 2 conference
winners play for the league championship.
As mentioned above, during the fall after each season,
teams may pick up to 28 players from their rosters to carry
over into the next season. All remaining players on
the roster are put back into the league's free agent pool.
There is an off season Redistribution Draft each
January-February that provides teams the first chance to
restock their rosters from the unsigned players, with
preference given to teams that finished with the worst
records the previous season.
1.1.1 Orphan Teams
Each fall, team owners are asked whether or not they wish
to retain their team(s) for the next season. Any teams
not retained become "orphan teams" and are open for adoption
for the next season. In most cases, these "orphans"
are teams that have fared poorly in the current season and
perhaps for many seasons, for a wide variety of reasons.
So, as an enticement for someone to "adopt" the team, the
team fee is reduced and that team is provided
amount of team cash in order to help rebuild the team.
Unclaimed orphans will be operated by the Benchwarmer
League Office in order to remain as competitive as possible,
though perhaps at a reduced capacity. BWB will attempt
to place orphans throughout the season and may eventually
attempt to recruit "foster owners" to operate the team for
the remainder of a season with no financial commitment.
1.1.2 Clarification of Orphan Status
Reunited and it feels so good - A team
that is initially let go and at some point during the off
season is reclaimed by the original owner may or may not be
considered an orphan. Reclaiming the team at any point
before Opening Day will remove the team from orphan status,
even though the BWB League Office may have made carry over
roster selections, Redistribution Draft choices, and free
The primary implications of this status are:
- The team will revert to normal pricing and not a
reduced orphan team price.
- The team will NOT receive any extra cash normally
awarded to adopted orphans.
Transferred teams - To become an orphan
team, an owner must give up ownership and the team must be
made available to all potential BWB owners. A request
to directly "transfer" ownership from one owner to another
will not place the team in orphan status. BWB may
reduce the team fees to orphan pricing, but no extra team
cash will be awarded as with normal orphan teams. No
collusion is typically assumed, but this removes all doubt
(eliminating some side agreement to transfer a team to a
friend with the added benefit that the team will get extra
cash to pay player salaries).
1.1.3 Orphan Teams at League
Occasionally, in order to get a league to a full 16 teams
and into the draft process, BWB will set up orphan
franchises to fill up the league. This is typically
around 1 to 3 orphan teams depending on the situation.
Usually this happens in mid-to-late March for a
partially-filled league, but sometimes it may occur earlier
in the process if BWB feels that getting the league moving
In a 2017 change, rather than BWB developing the draft
list, it will pick a random draft list from another league
that has drafted in that same season - making sure that any
randomly-selected list is not from one of the new league's
current owners. BWB does reserve the right to adjust
the list after selection to remove injured players, pick
additional players if the random list was light or left a
lot of cash unspent, and to add/adjust draft bidding and
Teams set up as orphans for league creation will not be
awarded the extra $4 million in cash when a real person
takes over that team in the league's first season.
Orphan cash is provided to allow new owners to fix problems
with existing franchises and to help remake the team roster
in the new owner's vision - but in the initial season,
adding that extra cash will be a competitive disadvantage in
a league where everyone started from scratch. If the
team remains an orphan, it will be awarded extra cash when
the team is adopted in the next season.
1.1.4 Realignment of Teams
Once leagues are set, the franchises and rosters are set
in a given division/conference forever.
Private leagues may make independent decisions to realign
owners/teams into different divisions and in that situation
the rosters will move along with the owners. However,
all franchise history is maintained by the original position
1-16 of the teams in the league and will not move along with
the owner to a new division. This includes records of
division/league championships. Private leagues are
discouraged from rearranging divisions, but it can be done.
This is the basic breakdown of deadlines for each season,
subject to change:
redistribution draft for
January - March
Startup draftor new leagues as they fill
January - March
Signup for new
owners to indicate they are returning for the next
October - March
Find new owners
for Orphan Teamsin
Signup for new
for next season
season trading period.
discount for next season ends
submit carryover rosters
New players added
for next season based on 40-man rosters.
1.3 Entry Fees and Prizes
The cost for a season of Benchwarmer Baseball is $65 (was $60 in 2014). Entry fees go toward costs for the web site, stat services,
and potentially post-season rewards. It also helps to cover
the great amount of labor behind the game. New players
of Benchwarmer Baseball should
sign up for a user ID
and password to obtain a team. Beginning in 2014,
there was a special first-time rate for a new owner in BWB
for their first team. This allows them to join with
less risk. The Rookie Rate is $35 for the
first team (all other teams that season at regular prices)
The charter league of Benchwarmer Baseball, the Hall of
Fame League, has, since it's inception, had a lower entry fee.
Ownership has turned over several times on many teams.
Any owner in the Hall of Fame League as of 2013 will keep
that lower fee, but as new owners take over league teams,
the team fee will revert to the BWB standard fee.
Multi-team discounts are available. Each team beyond the
first gets a $20 discount. Owners who joined BWB
before the 2007 season get $20 off each team.
can pick up additional teams.
In future seasons, a non-refundable deposit may be
collected toward the end of summer from owners who intend to
return for the following season.
There is also a program called
Club that allows an owner to pay one up-front
fee, but never have to pay again. There are extra
benefits for family members and for transferring free
seasons to other BWB owners. Also, owners who want a
play-as-much-as-you-want option for a single season can save
with a Season
Ticket. See the
for further information.
check their current payment status
1.4 Group Pricing
Benchwarmer Baseball also offers special pricing
discounts for owners who want to join as a 4-team division,
8-team conference, or a full 16-team league. See the web
site or contact BWB for more details on price and
availability. A single owner will be responsible for paying
the package price. The teams in the package must remain
grouped together and in the same position within the league
as they originally joined. No additional discounts will be
provided for the group – including the free team for the
league champion (although free extra teams in additional
leagues will be available for post-season tournament
4-team Division Package - 4 teams for the price of 3
- all in the same division. Total price: $195
- 8-Team Conference Package - 8 Teams
for the price of 6. The 8 teams form two divisions in the same
Total price: $390
- 16-Team League Package - 16 Teams for the price of 10.
Total price: $650
There is no franchise movement in BWB, so once a group
forms a division or conference via the packages, those teams
are set. (It might be possible in future seasons for
owners to move within the league to take over a different
team, but the players stay put with the original franchise).
A private league could, if it decided, switch up the
division/conference lineup - but BWB generally discourages
As a point of clarification, League packages do not get
an extra free team for the league champion (the package
price includes 6 free teams). However, Conference or
Division packages will get a small discount for league
- A conference package will receive a $10
discount if the league champion comes from that conference
and a division package will receive a $20 discount for any
- If any prize winners from the Benchwarmer
Bash come from a package, whether it is league, conference,
or division, that league will receive a $30 discount for the
seasons covered by Bash prizes.
- Also - the winner of the Benchwarmer Bash gets
his/her team free for 2 seasons and the runner up gets 1
free year. If a package team wins the Bash or
finishes 2nd, BWB will transfer the free season prize to
another team that person owns, if applicable.
While an exception or two was provided in 2008, bonus
Orphan teams that may be given away to new owners cannot be
used for Orphans that are part of a package.
Owners who join as a package may have some input on the
league naming. Groups who join as a full league will also
have the option of running their own drafts outside of the
1.4.1 Price Reductions for Long-time Leagues
Added 4/25/17 - Effective for the 2018 Season
To reward private leagues for longevity, prices will be
reduced for league packages based on how long they have
existed. Many of the owners in these private leagues
are in multiple leagues and often have purchased Season
Tickets or Cooperstown Club memberships.
*Based on 2017 pricing. If league package prices
change, these discounted prices will be modified as well
with similar discounts.
For reference, in the 2021 season, these private leagues
will be entering season....Beer League - #15; Murderers' Row
- #12; Moneyball - #9
There are no cash prizes for this game. Currently, the
reward for division and playoff titles is a hearty "Well
done!" and a virtual slap-on-the-back. Cash prizes would
mean a higher entry fee, plus a higher level of scrutiny on
transactions and other moves that doesn’t exist today in a
game played “for fun.”
However, the league champion will get his/her team for
free for the next season, plus the opportunity to play for
free for one season with an Orphan team in another existing
league or a team in a brand new league. In 2007-09,
all division winners received as an extra bonus a free team
to be used as an orphan or in a new league, but that was
intended for a limited time. Beginning in 2010, the
remaining division winners will get a discount from their
team fee for the following season (set at $10 off the entry
fee initially). The conference champion who loses out
in the league championship series will get an extra free
team for the next season.
Teams that win the other postseason tournaments – the
Gore Cup and the Bottom Feeder Open – will be allowed to
pick up an Orphan/new team for the next season for free.
There is a final tournament in the post season that
includes all the league champions – the Benchwarmer Bash.
The winner of the tournament will get their team for free
for two additional seasons and the runner up will get one
- Winner of the Benchwarmer Bash - Two free seasons for the team
that won the title.
- Runner up of the Benchwarmer Bash - One free season for the
team that finished 2nd.
- League Champions - In addition to getting the winning
team free for the next season (for the division championship), one
additional free season is awarded for that team along with the
conference title bonus of an additional $10 discount for all teams
that owner has in other leagues; Plus, an
additional bonus team that can be used for a new or orphan team
the next season.
- Conference Champions (not winning the league title) -
in addition getting the team for free in the next season for
winning the division, the owner will receive an additional $10
discount for all other teams that owner controls. Plus, an additional bonus team that
can be used for a new or orphan team the next season.
- Division Champions - that same team is free for the next season.
- Winners of the Gore Cup and Bottom Feeder Open - An
additional bonus team that can be used for a new or orphan team
the next season.
All discounted and free seasons are non-transferable* and
only apply to the winning team (it cannot be used for
another team that the same owner plays in a different
league). The Benchwarmer Bash prizes are cumulative;
so a League Champion that wins the Bash will get four free
seasons for his/her team or a Division Champion that wins
the Bash after qualifying as a wild card will win three free seasons.
Winning additional championships will extend the
*Cooperstown Club members, who paid one
large up-front fee and never pay again, can transfer free
seasons to any BWB team/owner.
1.6 Referral Bonus
Owners - new and returning - who refer additional new
owners to Benchwarmer Baseball will receive a bonus for each
paid new team (amount subject to change). To avoid the
hassles of refunds, if an owner has already paid, the bonus
will generally be applied for the next season. If the
team making the referral is already playing for free and has
no other paid teams that season, the bonus will
automatically be carried over to the next season and applied
only if the new owner renews for a second season.
The referral bonus is only provided for one season and is
not applicable if the "new owner" is a previous member of
Benchwarmer Baseball. The referral is applied only once per
owner (or co-owners), regardless of how many teams they
2018 Season Referral Details
2018 Special carried over from 2017:
Instead of a $10 credit, for any new owner you refer for the
2018 season you will receive
a free team - either good on an existing team or to
grab an additional new/orphan team in 2018.
Notes and conditions:
Referral credit only provided for paid teams. If you
give a person a free team for this season, you'll get your
referral credit if they stay and pay for team(s) in 2019 or
buy a membership or pay for an additional team in 2018. Unfortunately there is no referral
credit provided to Cooperstown Club members - people with
2018 Season Tickets will get referral credit for 2019.
If you've already paid your 2018 bill, you can either take a
free team this year or have your free team credited to the
bill for an
existing team in 2019.
1.7 Late Payment of Entry Fees
Currently, BWB requires new owners of new teams to pay before
drafting. On the other hand, returning teams may conduct
off-season business before payment and existing owners who
pick up new teams can start up before paying their fees. We must, however, try to
encourage payment by means other than the early payment
discount. Thus, if you do not pay by certain times, there
will be roster penalties:
If entry fee is not received by:
You may not...
Week One deadline (2018 Date:
Make roster changes (signings,
drops, trades, contract extensions).
Week Five deadline (2018 Date:
Make roster changes or lineup
changes (batting order, pitching rotation, etc.)
Week Ten deadline (2018 Date:
Continue to own your team.
Benchwarmer Baseball will take control of the team and
find a replacement owner.
Once payment is received, full rights are restored.
If you need more time, please contact BWB and we can work
something out. The idea is to not string out the
process all summer.
At any time, if the league office considers the owner has
abandoned the team, it reserves the right to take over the
team before the Week 10 deadline and find a new owner. This
will occur if repeated attempts to contact the team fail
and/or it is evident that no actions are being taken on the
team's behalf or the owner is not logging in to the web
Throughout this rules manual the following terms will be
used – hopefully on a consistent basis:
- Players: refers to Major League players, not
participants in the BWB Game.
- Owners: refers to participants in Benchwarmer
- Teams: may also be used interchangeably to
refer to participants in the game.
- Week: 6 games in the Benchwarmer Baseball
- Series: All series during the regular season
are 3 games.
- Opening Day: Unless otherwise noted, this
refers to the Week 1 transaction deadline for Benchwarmer
Baseball, not the first major league game of the season.