Jamestown mayor reacts to loss of New York-Penn League team

JAMESTOWN – Monday night’s Jamestown City Council meeting got off to a somber start as the news of the Jamestown Jammers departure set in.

During a news conference at West Virginia University on Monday, Rich Baseball Operations announced the relocation of its short-season Class-A New York-Penn League franchise to Morgantown, W.Va.

Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi spoke for roughly five minutes about the news.

“I think that for some time now, many of us have known in both our heads and hearts that it was only a matter of time before this day could come,” he said. “In short, New York’s pearl city has been bucking the trend now for years and the tide of the big business reality of ‘modern baseball’ finally caught up and overtook us today.”

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Weather permitting, the Jammers will play their last scheduled game at Diethrick Park on Labor Day.

Teresi said that over the years, baseball at Diethrick Park has been a business that has provided and supported dozens of jobs and has served as a key component of the region’s diverse, robust and growing tourism industry.

“We’ll be having conversations with the team about the future relative to the remaining year on the lease and an orderly transition of their operation out of the ball park,” he said, adding that the team’s five-year lease was scheduled to end in 2015, totaling $16,500 to the city for the upcoming year.

He also said Bob Rich, chairman of Rich Products Corporation and owner of the team, was transparent about the decision.

“The ownership and management of the ball club indicated to me that the final details to the negotiations were actually agreed to five minutes before they placed a phone call to me,” Teresi said.

In terms of another franchise taking the Jammers’ place, he said it isn’t out of the question.

“There are some possibilities out there, high-quality leagues with local potential interests, but I can’t say what the possibilities may be or may not be,” he said. “I wouldn’t say anything is off the table but I think the Penn League, for some time, has been moving in a different direction.”

The team, which will have a new name, will play in the new complex for the university’s Big XII baseball program and will serve as a Class-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, competing from mid-June through Labor Day each summer.

“We’re extremely excited to find a state-of-the-art home for our team here in Morgantown, West Virginia, and to partner with everyone at West Virginia University,” Rich said in a statement on Monday.