For the first 20 seasons, Hunter was a solid, private world that normally ran pretty smoothly under Leppykhan’s commissionership. We averaged about 4 vacancies every year and the most we ever had was 7 and that was back in seasons 1 and 2. But then something happened. Several things happened, actually. It was the HBD equivalent to the perfect storm and Hunter almost sunk.
The trouble started when many Hunter owners were annoyed by a chat hog who wouldn’t drop his issues with how HBD’s ratings worked and how one team hit so many homers against his. The owner was voted out in season 20, but not before a few frustrated owners checked out. Also, WIS had just announced that they really hadn’t worked on the Hardball Dynasty program for quite a while and that they might not get back to it anytime soon (and we’re still waiting). This really rubbed owners the wrong way and chased a bunch of them away, not only in Hunter. On top of that, this was a time in our country’s history where jobs weren’t terribly secure and many weren’t willing or able to throw money at a silly game. Add in a couple nervous nellies, who bailed because it looked like a long wait, and Hunter was up to 19 vacancies. Yes, we had more available teams than committed owners at one point.
Hunter became a bit of a whipping boy in the HBD forums. We were accused of having a poor group of owners who didn’t care about their league and of having too many “super teams” so nobody would want to join. These things were not true but people started believing them. Heck, we started believing them.
“Lots of teams open, wrong timing. I just left Hunter, because I find it silly to waste money while waiting for something to happen.”—lets_try
“I'm only holding on because it's my original HBD team (from the day HBD opened). I have 2 other teams to keep me busy. At some point soon, though, I'm giving up and bailing.”—pfontaine
“...this whole damn thing has crushed my spirit to play anymore. So, byebye HBD.”—leppykhan
Things were so bad that a few trolls in the forum began fantasizing about a merge between Hunter and another troubled league, American Baseball Union. WIS was willing to merge leagues so owners could keep their players but all histories and stats would be lost. This forum post actually got the two leagues talking to each other about merging and things got so bleak at one point that we actually agreed to merge. Since Leppy had pretty much checked out, I decided to step-in and look at both leagues and see what teams would stay in what cities and what the new divisions would look like. In doing so, I realized that ABU was filled with mostly owners with 0 years of experience. Obviously, this made us very suspicious and we began to believe that ABU filled themselves with aliases so that they did not look so empty. That was never proven but, even if they weren’t aliases, we didn’t want to merge with a bunch of newbs who might quit and put us in the same boat the next season—but without our storied history.
This is when Hunter bonded together. The remaining owners (who combined for over 250 seasons of experience at the time) decided to keep our teams and the league’s history until WIS pulled it from our cold, dead mitts. We would wait. Perhaps until we were old and senile. But we would wait until the sucker filled.
On October 23, 2011, almost 2 months after Hunter’s season 20 ended, Jahu43 agreed to become the new commissioner of our world, which was now being ridiculed by the bystanders for refusing to merge with ABU. But Jahu was relentless in his recruiting. To make the world more attractive, he devised a plan where all of the veteran Hunter owners would only protect 35 players, instead of 40, to expand the prospects for the Rule 5 draft giving some of the bad teams a chance to catch up quicker.
On October 27, 2011, Hunter was full. In an unprecedented recruiting push, Jahu got 16 owners to join a struggling world in just four days. And he didn’t fill it with a bunch of newbies or aliases which, of course, we were being accused of. To fill the 16 openings, we got 3 previous owners to reup, we accepted two newbies who were asked to work with a mentor and the remaining 11 new owners were veterans who, at that point, had a combined 388 seasons of HBD experience. Three of those recruits are still with us (bigtex1, bigalric, jbburner).
The 35-man rule went off without a hitch as all of the returning teams (plus a few others) followed the rule. This was one of the main reasons we attracted so many users so quickly. Not only did it help the rebuilding teams, it showed we had a creative commish and that we were all in this for the long haul.
So, while we are all impatiently waiting for a few spots to fill, just remember than Hunter has been through much worse and that the 7 remaining founders and long-time owners (over half of the league has been with us for 10 or more seasons) will keep it sailing smoothly.