End of an era
The last day for Jamestown Jammers baseball was a day Ernie Banks would have enjoyed.
The Hall of Fame baseball player known as Mr. Cub coined a famous line while playing 19 seasons for the Chicago Cubs ”It’s a great day for a ballgame; let’s play two.”
And that is what the Jammers did on Monday, as they finished the 2014 New York-Penn League season. It will be the last season the Jammers play at Russell Diethrick Jr. Park in Jamestown because it was announced last month that the short-season Class-A affiliate for the Pittsburgh Pirates will be moving to Morgantown, W.Va., to play ball next summer.
The last day of minor league baseball in Jamestown, for now, brought many local supporters out to the ball park on a sunny afternoon. Marty and Mary Lou Hovey of Lakewood attended the twin bill because it was the last games for the Jammers. Hovey said his father started taking him to ballgames when he was a child, and he has been returning ever since. He estimated he had been watching the boys of summer in Jamestown for 60 years.
”We don’t get to a lot of games. Maybe three to four a season,” he said. ”I really enjoy being at the ballpark each time.”
Mary Lou Hovey said she enjoys being able to share the ballpark experience with her husband.
”I like coming out and being a part of the crowd. It is fun to do together,” she said.
Unlike Hovey, Douglas Hahn of Forestville is new to the minor league experience. He said his first game was last year.
”I’m new at it,” he said.
Pat Rodgers said he has been enjoying baseball in Jamestown for about 20 years. He enjoys watching live professional baseball.
”I come out for the food too,” he said. ”It’s great to be around the small-town minor league action.”
Tom Halicki said he has been watching the Jammers for about 10 years. He said the thought of possibly seeing the next great major league star locally is exciting.
”I like to watch the minor leaguers play because they may make it to the big time some day,” he said.
Rich Baseball Operations announced last month the relocation of the team. The team, which will change its name, will play in the new complex for the West Virginia University baseball program and will continue to serve as a Class-A affiliate for the Pittsburgh Pirates, competing from mid-June through Labor Day each summer.
Rich Baseball also owns the Buffalo Bisons and the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, a Class AA affiliate of the Blue Jays. The Jammers’ two-year player development deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates expires at the end of this season, though Rich still has one year left on a stadium lease with the city. Rich Baseball has owned the NY-Penn League franchise since the 1989 season.