Hayes: Jammers have not filed for relocation

When Mark Twain learned his obituary had been printed in the New York Journal, he said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

New York-Penn League president Ben Hayes feels the same way about published reports that the Jamestown Jammers have filed for relocation to Morgantown, W. Va., to play in a proposed stadium to be built by West Virginia University in time for the 2015 season.

A press conference was held at WVU last week to announce the plans for the stadium and the possibility of an NY-P League team relocating there. During the press conference, there was no mention of Jamestown as the team. However, several published reports stated the Jammers, who are affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates, were named as the team and it was also reported they had filed relocation papers.

There were also “quotes” from Hayes and Pat O’Conner, president and chief executive officer of Minor League Baseball, stating that Jamestown was the team.

The league president cleared that up in a telephone interview on Tuesday morning.

“I am totally dismayed by sportswriters writing stuff that simply is not true,” Hayes said. “The biggest thing is a report I just read in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review where they write that the Jamestown club has submitted a relocation application. I can tell you that is absolutely false. A relocation application needs to be submitted to me and no club has submitted a relocation application -none. So where they got that information, I have no idea.”

He added, “I just don’t understand it all and this is what everybody (other newspapers) is misquoting. To me, it’s like reporters are reporting on what other reporters say and no one goes to the original source. The quotes from me and things I absolutely didn’t say. To me, that’s just wrong.”

Hayes also doesn’t know why a team would file for relocation to Morgantown at this time.

“I can tell you right now, no club in the New York-Penn League has submitted a relocation application,” he said. “It is so early in the process for that to happen that anybody who submitted a relocation application would be nuts because they don’t know what the deal is yet.”

For instance, stadium funding must be approved, an architect would have to submit stadium designs and there would have to be negotiations with WVU for use of the facility. And those are just a few of the many things to finalize a deal.

“What if the West Virginia legislature doesn’t approve it?” Hayes said. “Nothing happens.”

When asked what is involved in filing for relocation, Hayes said, ”They would have to file the application and it would have to have all the necessary documents associated with it and be filed with the New York-Penn League, minor league baseball and major league baseball.”

As for the negotiations for placing an NY-P League team in Morgantown, Hayes said they would take place over the next couple of the months.

”We may have something by the end of the season (in September), it may be all the way to baseball winter meetings (in December) when we get together and we finally hammer out which club it might be,” he said.”I don’t want to rule out any club, but absolutely no club is ruled in.”

Hayes stressed, ”One of my jobs as the president of the New York-Penn League is to look after the long-term future of the league. I know that I’ve got some clubs that are hurting and it’s my job to find places in a better market, in a better stadium, so forth and so on, and for the league to explore opportunities, find out the details and bring them back to the league. At some point in time, I and the executive committee, would have to make a decision about which club it would be. It’s really my final decision which club it will be. Obviously, they have to go along with it, too. In some point in time I would select a club and if there’s two or three clubs that are all willing to go, I have to make the decision between those two or three.”

The speculation about which NY-P League team would move to Morgantown reminds Hayes of when Norwich, Conn., became the site of a relocated team in 2010.

“‘There were people saying Vermont was going, Jamestown was going,” he said. ”We really did look at three different clubs moving there and it ended up being Oneonta.”