Major League Baseball held meetings from February 4th through February 6th to discuss the state of their sport, including a plan to eliminate up to 42 of their Minor League affiliates. I believe this plan to be misguided and that is why I have joined with Mayors across the country to try and stop this from happening.
Baseball – hot dogs, fireworks, the roar of the crowd, everyone coming together to support their local teams – connects us to our communities and our neighbors. For most folks in small to midsize Towns and Cities the chance to go to a Major League game will never come, partly due to logistics, but also because it is so expensive. Baseball is a community activity here and it is affordable to most of our citizens. We come together at Calfee Park for a common pastime, and no matter what our status when we walk through those gates we are all one big family supporting our Pulaski Yankees. It’s family friendly, the baseball is great to watch, the antics between innings on the field and in the stands are great fun and the food is great as well. Those of us that have been here for many seasons can certainly name off a pretty fair list of players we watched in our hometown that went on to have great Major League careers.
We are blessed to have a Ballpark owner who loves Baseball and loves our Town. He has made our Park a showplace for the Minor Leagues and because of that we are the only team out of a League of ten that isn’t on the chopping block. We could simply rejoice in that fact, but part of what makes the Appalachian League experience is that fans travel well to see their teams. We get to meet people from other communities all around our region for this fabulous summer pastime.
Our park hosted nearly one hundred thousand fans this past season. The economic impact on a Town of nine thousand people is amazing. What else could possibly bring this kind of an influx of activity? Every citizen in Pulaski is affected by having the Yankees here, even the ones who are not Baseball fans. The damage to our Town and all others who might lose their teams both fiscally and to Quality of Life by the loss of our beloved Appalachian League cannot be measured or properly expressed.
Mayors and leaders across the country want Minor League Baseball to thrive. We want to see business and community growth, greater encouragement for our kids to play on Little League Teams, and increased entertainment opportunities. Right now, Major League Baseball is dealing with a massive sign stealing scandal. Like any good business, they need to earn and keep the trust of their fans. The fact is that there are no greater ambassadors for the sport than the Minor League teams. Those linked with Big League Teams serve as great brand advertisements for the League and its players.
Nearly one hundred Mayors have joined a task force to stop the contraction of Minor League Baseball. Some stand to lose their teams while others seem “safe”, but we all share a deep concern for the future of the game. Collectively, we stand together to support Minor League Baseball, and have expressed our displeasure to Major League Executives. We hope to continue our dialogue as League owners consider their options.
For more than one hundred years, Minor League Baseball has been a part of the fabric of Small Town America. Pulling out of 42 of those Towns and Cities would be a major error for Major League Baseball. When the owners emerge from their meetings, we look forward to hearing how we can work together to save our teams. If this issue is important to you, please enter cha.city/saveourteams into your browser, or go to the Town of Pulaski’s website or our Facebook page and find the link to send your thoughts and comments. They will be gathered and sent to our Congress and Senate Representatives to help us forward the cause.
By MAYOR DAVID CLARK
Town of Pulaski