Mike Stone, the Commissioner of the Northern League of Professional Baseball, announced today that he will retire from that position, effective at the end of the 2006 season.


Stone was elected to a five-year term as the second Commissioner of the Northern League in May 2002. With today’s announcement, he indicated he would step down from the office following the final game of the 2006 Championship Series, seven months prior to the expiration of his contract.


“My term as Northern League Commissioner called for five seasons, and I intend to serve for that duration,” commented Stone. “I feel it is important for my successor to be able to go through a full off-season cycle, rather than begin his term in May 2007. As a result, I will step down at the end of the 2006 season.”


During Stone’s tenure as Commissioner, the Northern League has expanded from eight to 12 teams while producing the highest attendance figures of any Independent League in professional baseball.


“Serving as Commissioner of the Northern League has been an incredibly rewarding experience,” said Stone, a veteran of more than two decades as a senior sports executive. “However, it is time for me to devote more attention to other opportunities, including my position with American IronHorse.”


Stone serves on the Board of Directors of Fort Worth-based American IronHorse, one of the nation’s fastest growing manufacturers of motorcycles.


"On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to thank Mike Stone for the role he has played in helping to further develop the strength, size, and success of the Northern League,” commented Bruce Thom, President of the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and the Chairman of the Northern League’s Ownership Executive Committee. “Commissioner Stone has ably guided this league during an important period in its history. The teams look forward to working with him over the next 12 months and wish him the very best for the future."


Founded in 1993, the Northern League is the oldest and highest attended of all Independent Minor Leagues. Nearly 2.2 million fans attended Northern League games in the 2005 season.