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May 14, 2018 - 11:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, batavia, sports, baseball.

Press release:

The Batavia Muckdogs (Class A Short Season Affiliate of the Miami Marlins) and Genesee County’s only professional sports franchise have announced nightly promotions that deliver value and respond to fan feedback.

The Home Opener is set for Monday, June 18th at 7:05 p.m. as the Muckdogs face the West Virginia Black Bears (Pittsburgh Pirates).

The first 2,000 fans in attendance will receive a Muckdogs Magnet Schedule presented by Tompkins Bank of Castile.

Individual game tickets will go on sale Monday, May 21st, at 10 a.m. at the Dwyer Stadium ticket office and online at Muckdogs.com. Highlights of the 2018 nightly promotions include:

Saturday Night Fireworks
The Muckdogs are moving post-game fireworks shows to Saturday nights in 2018. The team has increased the number of post-game shows to seven (7) beginning June 23rd. The change to Saturday nights is reflective of fan feedback and surveying of season ticket members. Each show will be set to music consisting of a different theme and genre. Fireworks nights include: 6/23 Southern Rock Fireworks; 7/3 Salute to the USA Independence Eve Expanded Fireworks; 7/7 Country Hits Fireworks; 7/14 '80s Hair Band Fireworks; 7/21 Jimmy Buffet Night Fireworks; 8/4 Elvis Fireworks; 8/25 '90s Hits Fireworks.

Friday Buck-A-Beer Nights
Every Friday home game will feature $1.00 12oz domestic draft beers. New this season $1 drafts will be available from 6 p.m. until the 7th inning.The Muckdogs will also be instituting an ID check booth at a designated location within Dwyer Stadium in which all fans 21 and over must present ID and receive a wristband in order to purchase alcohol. The new wristband policy on Friday nights will also allow for improved speed of service at concessions.

NY’s 529 College Savings Program Sunday Family Fun Days
New York’s 529 College Savings Program presents Family Fun Sundays during the 2018 season. From noon-12:20 select Muckdogs players will sign autographs in the concourse for all fans in attendance. After the game, all kids can run the bases just like their favorite Muckdog players courtesy of Bob Evans restaurant. Sunday games will include face painters, contests and prizes for kids throughout the game. Sundays will also feature a special Family 4-pack offer that includes four general admission tickets, four hot dogs and four regular size sodas for only $35.

WON Buck Weiner Wednesdays
New this season are WON Buck Weiner Wednesdays featuring $1 hot dogs all game long (maximum eight hot dogs per transaction). Fans can also purchase small sodas for only $1. Each Wednesday is also a Winning Wednesday presented by WBTA 1490 AM. When the Muckdogs win – all fans in attendance receive a FREE ticket to any future Muckdogs game.

2018 Home Game Times
Game times for the 2018 season are as follows: Monday through Saturday 7:05 p.m. (except July 26th -- 11 a.m. Camp Day), Sundays 1:05 p.m. (except July 1st 4:05 p.m. and Aug. 26th 4:05 p.m.).

A complete list of Muckdogs promotions and giveaways will be announced at a later date. Fans are encouraged to stay up to date with team social media platforms.

Follow us on twitter @bataviamuckdogs, and like us on facebook.com/bataviamuckdogs. The official team website, muckdogs.com is currently under construction and will be refreshed and updated to provide the latest news, information and team content throughout the season. A relaunch date will be announced in the coming weeks.

April 26, 2018 - 2:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, batavia, dwyer stadium, news.

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Crews from Batavia Turf and DuraEdge have been working diligently at Dwyer Stadium this week (these pictures are from Tuesday) to get the field ready for baseball season.

Local high schools will be able to start playing on the field soon and the Batavia Muckdogs open their season June 18.

Above, a laser on a tripod sends a signal to the grader in the background, which automatically adjusts its blades to level the playing field.

The infield was laser-leveled with the old infield mix and then a DuraEdge professional mix, the same infield mix used by the Miami Marlins, was applied and laser-leveled.

"Mike Robinson and his crew (from DuraEdge) do a lot of professional fields and they know what they’re doing," said Chuck Hoover, with Batavia Turf.

Hoover said the grass in the infield and the outfield was overseeded, fertilized, and top-dressed so it will grow into a smoother playing surface in a couple of weeks.

The lip of the infield was cut down and back about six inches so the lip of the grass is removed. There is a slight incline around the back of the infield. Robinson said it will take more time to repair that than is available before this season.

Hoover said the pitcher's mound, by Major League standards, should be 10 inches higher than home plate. It's just a tad lower. Asked if home plate and the mound were otherwise aligned, Hoover said, "They haven’t gotten to that yet — that’s their game. I’m not sure but we’re going to have to remove the rubber anyway to adjust things."

Once the infield is level, an overcoat will be applied, with a similar material added to the warning tracks.

"It will be a pretty red," Hoover said.

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April 18, 2018 - 8:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, sports, batavia, baseball.

Bad weather is delaying the start of field repairs at Dwyer Stadium according to Muckdogs General Manager Dave Chase while other preparations for the 2018 New York Penn League season, which opens June 18, remains a work-in-progress.

There is a new phone number for the Muckdogs: (585) 483-DOGS (3647).

Today, new computers should arrive. Wi-Fi, with broadband from Empire Access, is working.

Ticket sales should begin around May 1.

Chase said staff has been working with Wilson Sporting Goods on new uniform jerseys (one red and one black).

Currently, field work is scheduled to begin Monday, provided there is a solid break in the weather, and should be completed in five to seven working days.

April 13, 2018 - 11:19am
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, sports, baseball, news.

Press release:

The Class-A Short-Season New York-Penn League and its member clubs are proud to announce that the league's philanthropic arm, the NYPL Charitable Foundation, will once again award more than $10,000 in scholarships this summer to deserving high school graduates from the league's 14 markets.

Now in its 10th year, the 2018 NYPL Scholarship Contest is open to any graduating senior from a public or private high school within the league's footprint. Any student who has been accepted at a two- or four-year college or university, vocational school, or technical education institution is eligible.

Applicants will be judged based on academic performance, volunteer and extracurricular activities, and the impact their local NYPL club and Minor League Baseball have had on their lives.

The scholarship contest will consist of two stages -- a local round and a league round. In the local stage, students will apply directly to their local NYPL team, with one applicant chosen by each of the 14 teams to advance to the league/final round. The 14 finalists will then be judged by league representatives.

Three applicants will be selected to receive the top prize of a $2,500 scholarship. All other finalists will receive a $250 book award.

“The New York-Penn League Charitable Foundation and our 14 member clubs are pleased to have the opportunity to assist outstanding high school seniors within our league’s footprint for the tenth consecutive season,” said Ben J. Hayes, president of the New York-Penn League.

“This program will again recognize those seniors who not only meet and exceed traditional scholarship criteria, but demonstrate the positive community impact and lifelong memories fostered by their local NYPL clubs throughout the year.”

High school seniors interested in entering the 2018 Scholarship Contest can obtain the official application from their local NYPL club, or by visiting the league's official website, NewYork-PennLeague.com.

The deadline to submit applications to the nearest NYPL team is June 4. Each club's winner, including the three $2,500 scholarship recipients, will be selected in mid-July.

March 31, 2018 - 3:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, news, muckdogs, batavia, notify.

The president and CEO of the Rochester Red Wings, the organization that ran the Batavia Muckdogs operations for the past 10 years, has no reason to believe the playing conditions of the field at Dwyer Stadium are poor.

She also disputes the implication that team management left things at Dwyer in a way that would make it hard for new management to take over operations.

Naomi Silver also said any equipment or furniture removed from the stadium by Red Wings staff was equipment or furniture purchased and owned by the Red Wings. The staff inventoried everything that was removed so that whoever took over operations, if anybody, knew what needed to be replaced.

Silver spoke with The Batavian this afternoon to offer a response to remarks by the team's new general manager, Dave Chase, published yesterday.

Chase portrayed a situation at Dwyer where the field wasn't up to professional standards; the clubhouse and office were filled with junk and trash and nothing workable; and that previous management hadn't run the organization in a professional manner.

Silver defended her staff and said the field was up to Major League standards, which Chase said wasn't level and that the pitcher's rubber mat didn't align with home plate.

"Major League Baseball, just last year, came and did an audit and they found zero wrong with the field," Silver said. "That's really kind of an unusual situation where they wouldn't find something wrong and they found nothing. That was just last season. When they came in August they said everything was fine."

Whereas Chase was seemingly critical of the team's former groundskeeper, Don Rock, Silver praised Rock and said she would hire him again in Batavia if it was her decision.

She also praised former General Manager Travis Sick, who is now working for the Red Wings in Rochester.

"Don Rock was a phenomenal employee of ours," Silver said. "He and Travis made that operation work. He was a hard worker. He was there day in and day out and I can't criticize him for anything. I don't want to see him take any of the criticism there. It wouldn't be fair to him or to Travis."

About Sick, she said, "Our general manager did an excellent job and he worked hard at it and he worked long hours. He did what I would call a very, very good job."

When the Red Wings were vacating Dwyer Stadium, Silver said, the Red Wings didn't think there would be another season of professional baseball in Batavia, but nevertheless retained the paperwork any future operator would need, such as advertising contracts, the list of season ticket holders, and payroll information, so the new operator could know the team's salary structure.

All of that was shared with Chase, she said.

"We have done everything we can to cooperate," Silver said. "We've answered every question they've had. We want them to succeed."

She said Red Wings staff met with Chase just yesterday morning to ensure he had the information he needed about operations.

She expressed surprise and disappointment at the comments Chase made to local media about how the Muckdogs had been run in recent years.

"We were shocked to read his comments, frankly," Silver said. "We have in good faith put our souls into the operation in Batavia. We cared about it and we cared about its success. We wouldn't have done it if we didn't care. We felt we ran the operation in a way that we can walk away and feel proud of what we did for baseball in Batavia."

She added at the end of the conversation, "It was disappointing to read those comments. We never said a disparaging word coming into the operation or leaving the operation. I was surprised there were disparaging comments about us."

March 30, 2018 - 11:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, batavia, news, notify, baseball.

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It has occurred to Dave Chase that when he agreed to become the new general manager of the Batavia Muckdogs after the New York-Penn League took over ownership of the venerable franchise, the situation at Dwyer Stadium is much worse than he anticipated.

Maybe, he thought, this isn't the right job at the right time.

“I have my moments when I wonder, 'is this the mission or not?' " Chase said during a tour for the media yesterday of the stadium. "The fans, the people I’ve talked to, have convinced me, it is an important mission. The fact is, I have 40 years, Brenden has 18 years, the ongoing theme is, we’re going to give this our best shot.”

Brenden is Brendan Kelly, who is experienced in baseball operations, including a nearly eight-year stint with the Buffalo Bisons, and whose wife is a schoolteacher in Batavia. He's the new assistant general manager for the Muckdogs, one of three recent full-time hires by Chase, who has had to rebuild the Muckdogs' staff after the Rochester Red Wings lost its contract to run the team.

The new management team comes into a situation that has them scrambling to get ready for the season, which opens June 18. The office was stripped of all useful equipment and furniture and what Chase first walked into was an office and clubhouses filled with broken chairs, tables, miscellaneous junk, no ticketing system, and disconnected phone lines.

"I’m blown away by how filthy it was," Chase said. There was trash everywhere, a lot of broken things. We discovered that if it has a plug on it and it’s still here, it’s broken."

The city has painted the offices and clubhouse and put down new carpet -- part of anticipated maintenance for Dwyer and included in the city's budget -- but everything else is up to the league to handle.

"It’s a good thing we open on June 18 instead of April 6, that’s for sure," Chase said.

The Batavian has received calls and emails over the past week or so from fans trying to find out when they can buy tickets. With the phone disconnected, they can't get through to the office; and the website, run by Minor League Baseball, hasn't been updated.  

Chase is still putting together the promotional calendar (firework nights will be on Saturdays this season, meaning eight shows, which Chase says is in response to fan feedback) and he's still looking for a sponsor for pocket calendars. He may need to get those printed without a sponsor, he said.

It's really only been the past four days that Muckdogs' office has been staffed but there has been a steady stream of fans coming in, Chase said. He said fans will need to be patient while staff gets operations reestablished.

"I say we’re starting (baseball operations) at zero and we started six months late," Chase said. "Someone else said, ‘you’re not starting at zero. You’re starting at minus three and six months late.’ So people need to be patient. If they want the same old routine, disorganized unprofessional approach, we could probably do that today, but we’re going to bring in better standards and a more professional approach to what we do and that takes time.”

Chase said he's received a lot of fan feedback that they were dissatisfied with the baseball experience at Dwyer, that things seemed disorganized and not focused on the in-game experience. That will change this season, Chase said.

“I want to change the mentality of the ballpark," Chase said. "When those gates open on June 18 at six o’clock, Brenden and I are going to be at the gate. When the game is over on the 18th, we’re going to be at the gate. I got a lot of complaints that in-game presentation was sloppy; (they) weren’t paying attention — there’s got to be a professional attitude and that’s what we’re going to bring here. I don’t think it’s been here in 10 or 20 years, by the way.”

Muckdogs staff probably won't be able to sell tickets until the beginning of May but the new, lower season ticket price is only $175 if paid before June 1.

That's the fan experience, but Chase also needs to be concerned about the player experience, and player safety, and the quality of the game the young professionals who walk onto the Dwyer field are able to perform.

As bad as things are on the operations side of Dwyer, the field is perhaps even worse, Chase said.

The pitcher's rubber and home plate are not aligned. If a pitcher used the rubber as a guide, a properly thrown pitch would zip five feet behind the back of a left-handed hitter. 

Second base is aligned with neither the rubber nor home plate.

The grass in front of the pitcher's mound was repaired before last season but the repair didn't take because it was right before opening day, according to Chase.

The infield isn't level -- the visual evidence during our tour is the large puddles of water on the first base side, and a person standing in the outfield can see a small rise in the dirt to the left of second base.

The lip of the back of the infield, where the grass meets the dirt, is higher than it should be, and the entire back of the infield slopes down into the outfield at an elevation of more than nine inches in places.

That just isn't acceptable on a professional field, Chase said. 

The outfield looks flat from the stands but when you stand on it, the small dips and raises in the sod are clearly visible. The grass itself is not suitable for baseball.

"It’s like walking on golf balls," Chase said. "Right now, if you were to hit a ball on this field, if it wasn’t muddy, if it wasn’t soft, you’re probably going to get it in the chops, and the whole outfield is that way."

Longtime groundskeeper Don Rock, who has publicly lobbied for his old job back after the league took over ownership, and has received fan support, won't be coming back, Chase said. He acknowledged that Rock was probably not given the proper equipment to do the job but said the league needs to bring in a grounds crew with more knowledge and experience.

The league and a consultant are assisting in the search for a new head groundskeeper.

As soon as the field is dry enough and when it looks like there will be at least a 10-day period of dry enough weather, work will begin to fix all the problems with the field, Chase said.

The infield dirt will be replaced with same dirt used at Marlins Park in Miami (the parent club of the Muckdogs). The lip will either be lowered or extended to make it level with the outfield. And the pitcher's rubber and second base will be aligned with home plate. The city is going to roll the outfield and the grass will be overseeded, which hopefully with make fielding groundballs a little less treacherous.

Sponsorship signage in the outfield, Chase also revealed, will be brought up to modern Minor League park standards.

Part of the city's scheduled maintenance for Dwyer has been the replacement of the roof of the front of the stadium and fixing the outfield scoreboard.

Although one problem for Chase with the scoreboard is there's no longer a computer with the proper software in the Wayne Fuller Press Box to run it. That's just one more thing he will need to figure out before opening day.

Chase just returned from a four-day meeting of NYPL executives, which was his chance to update them on the situation in Batavia.

"My mission there was really to get them to understand what’s going on here," Chase said. "For them, for everybody, it’s a weird situation, that the league owns the team. So when I tell them, ‘I have nothing.’ I don’t have a tape dispenser. I don’t have a stapler. I have nothing. I didn’t have a desk until a couple of days ago. They didn’t understand what is going on, so I was trying to get them up to speed, and then the punchline is, ‘I’m spending your money.’ They don’t like to hear that.”

For all the troubles that need attention at Dwyer, Chase said it's the response of the fans that make it all worthwhile.

"The community has been fantastic," Chase said. "The people that I’ve met are very nice. They’re cordial and they express an excitement about baseball. A lot of them have told me they’re relieved to know baseball is back. From that point of view, it’s great. The condition of the facility is shocking."

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January 30, 2018 - 10:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, news, batavia, muckdogs, notify.

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Ben Hayes, commissioner of the New York-Penn League, bristles at the idea that has persisted for 10 or more years that he, and the league, want to take professional baseball away from Batavia.

That simply isn't true, he said, during a press conference at the Quality Inn & Suites, Batavia, yesterday, where he introduced Dave Chase as the new general manager of the ballclub.

When asked with a question premised on the idea that Hayes or the league is looking to move the club, Hayes shot back, "It always starts with the assumption that the league wants to move the club. That is the part that I have a hard time with. Is the community supporting the club to the extent that it can? Can it make it on its own? That is really the question.

"This is going to be a really important year. Let's see if we strip it down and we go back to the basics, can Batavia support this ballclub? And if it can, fantastic."

In Dave Chase, the league is bringing in a baseball man through-and-through, with more than 40 years experience both in running organizations and in running the media operations that keep an eye on how baseball organizations operate. He's also been a commission of a college baseball league. He loves baseball and its history.

"Just for the record, guys, the only sport I recognize is baseball," he said. "The other ones just fill up the calendar."

And the baseball played outside of the major markets is the baseball that defines the sport and the nation, he said.

"I don't know if it's still there but at one time when you walked into the gallery Hall of Fame there was a quote above the entrance that said, 'To understand America, study,' and it says, 'baseball.' They left out a piece of the quote. It's 'to understand America study small-town baseball,' and that's what minor league baseball is. So when we talk about the national pastime being baseball, and I do recognize it as the national pastime, it's minor league baseball. I think don't think we're talking about Major League Baseball."

Both Hayes and Chase said repeatedly they hope the fans in and around Batavia embrace the Muckdogs and that Chase will do everything he can to ensure a quality fan experience.

As GM of a minor league team, Chase said he has many constituencies to serve. First is the Miami Marlin farmhands. There are also the fans, league officials, other franchises in the league, and corporate sponsors. He wants all of them to be happy with the team on the field and the experience in the ballpark.

For the Marlins, the priority is getting the field into shape and improve the clubhouses.

Chase and Hayes took a look at the field yesterday morning and they walked the outfield. They're not happy with the condition, they said.

"It looks like some of the maintenance that had been done in recent months or year were not done correctly," Chase said. "As a result, the playing surface of the infield is really rough. I would not want to put my son on it to field a ball and I wouldn't charge a baseball in the outfield either."

Work can't begin 'til spring and Chase indicated he's going to need to have some conversations with the baseball coaches at Genesee Community Collete, Notre Dame, Batavia High School, about field availability this year so that there is time to get the field ready for opening day June 18.

And he wants to meet with the coaches anyway, just as members of the local baseball community.

"I want to hear from other folks who are engaged in baseball," Chase said. "I want to hear from them because what is good for a part of baseball is good for baseball in the long run."

He also wants to hear from the fans.

"I want to hear what they like and do not like," he said. "I'm a one-man show at the moment so I may not be able to respond to them right away but my goal is to talk to them and for them to come and see me. Once we get the office cleaned up a little bit, we will invite people to come out and just talk baseball."

Some of the improvements needed at the ballpark -- cleaning up the office, new infield lights, new equipment in the concession stand -- is an expense the league will need to initially shoulder, Hayes acknowledged. He understands that the city may not have the funds available for infield lighting, but the current lighting doesn't meet league standards. 

Hayes said he has various options to fund upgrades and operations for the Muckdogs in 2018, to make up for any revenue shortfall, but in the long run, if the team ever is sold, those deficits will be covered out of the share of sale proceeds that will go to the Genesee County Baseball Club.

The club, a community nonprofit, has owned the franchise for decades, but after the NYPL declined to allow the Rochester Red Wings an extension on its 10-year operating agreement, the league took over operations of the franchise. The Red Wings are entitled to 50 percent of the sale price; the league would get 10 percent; and the Club 40 percent. But Hayes said costs above revenue will be charged to the Club.

The amount of money the Club gets will play a role in the Club's ability to help recruit and retain a team in one of the region's college summer leagues. 

Chase, who ran such a league, is mindful that is an option for local baseball fans.

"When you run out the New York-Penn, which is a quality short-season Class A league, we think Batavia has a good chance of supporting that, but if they can't, then some other baseball would have the option of coming in here," Chase said, and that option would be a college summer league.

When it comes to the quality of baseball, fans, he said, wouldn't know the difference.

"The young men who play the game, play as hard as ever and the fans get their summer fix of baseball," Chase said. "That that would be the next step. But we're not there yet. I think if the league was there that would have happened already."

It's been more than a dozen years since there has been an off-season without a Hot Stove League dinner, a favorite event with core Muckdogs fans, and when asked about it, both Chase and Hayes perked up and said they had just been discussing such an event at lunch. It may happen yet this off-season, Chase said.

Hayes said he picked Chase to run the club because of his experience and expertise.

"David has been in the business for four decades," Hayes said. "He's operated clubs from the low end to the high end and he knows what the values of professional baseball are and what the important things are."

There are two ways to look at Hayes hiring somebody like Chase. One is, the league wants to improve the financial position of the Muckdogs so the team can stay in Batavia. The other is to improve its curb appeal to help attract a new owner.

"There is a third option, too, and that is can we make this a stable market and can we keep it here," Hayes said. "And I don't think that that question has been completely vetted."

Surprisingly, Hayes said the first priority isn't to make the Muckdogs profitable. He said it was to get the fans more engaged with the team

"Financial viability really is not what I would say the number one," Hayes said, "It is very close to number one, but my closest number one is to make sure that as this situation stabilizes."

When it was suggested that there was a subtext to comments by Hayes that there was a dissatisfaction with how the Red Wing ran the ball club for the past 10 years, Hayes said that isn't the case at all.

"I think that they handled it and they did the job they did," Hayes said. "We've got to take a look at it and see if we can do the same thing if not better. If we can, great, and if we can't then the proof is in the pudding. Two people tried and we brought in two people who can operate a club properly. If neither one of them can do it, then maybe the market can't support it. Maybe that question will answer itself. This is a year for the city to show itself."

January 26, 2018 - 9:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, news, muckdogs, batavia, notify.

davechasemuckdogs.jpgDave Chase is the new general manager of the Batavia Muckdogs and the way Chase sees it, it's a sign of the New York Penn League's commitment to Batavia that a veteran baseball man with his level of experience has been hired to be the team's general manager for 2018.

This season running the Muckdogs will be the 41st in baseball for Chase. His career includes stints with six minor league baseball teams, work in a baseball broadcast booth, a term as commissioner of the Prospect League, 14 years as director of the Minor League Baseball Museum, and 17 years as publisher of Baseball America.

"I've done just about everything in baseball," Chase said. "I've taken on teams that were just starting out and those going through internal changes, so when I heard the New York Penn League was taking over the franchise in Batavia, I reached out to Ben Hayes (president of the NYPL) in early December and told him if he needed somebody to come and unlock the gates every couple of days, I'd be happy to do that."

Chase said he's been hired to do more than just unlock the gates. When asked about the NYPL's commitment to Batavia, he noted the team could have been moved this season or the league could have hired an inexperienced manager to come and unlock the gates on game days.

"My marching orders from Ben Hayes is to make sure we present a solid fan experience and a solid experience for the Marlins players," Chase said. "That could have happened in other places. That could have happened in other places in 2018. But Batavia is where the NYPL wants to be."

Chase steps in to run a team that has had the executioner's ax hanging over it for more than a decade, with every mid-June opening game bringing fans to the ballpark wondering if this could be the final year for professional baseball in Batavia.

In a short conversation, Chase didn't talk like a man coming in to be a caretaker for a final season in Batavia. Though neither did he pretend he could speak for Hayes and the league's directors.

"My primary focus is to take care of the Miami Marlins players and make sure they have a quality experience in Batavia," Chase said. "It's also my job to re-establish the team in the mind of the fans."

For the past 10 season the Rochester Red Wings have operated the Muckdogs but in October, the league declined a request by the Red Wings and the Genesee Genesee County Baseball Club to continue that arrangement.

In December, the Club announced it transfered control of the franchise to the league. If the team is ever sold, 50 percent of the proceeds will go to the Red Wings (which gained a 5-percent share of the sale price during its 10 years of operation of the team), with the league getting 10 percent, and the Club will receive the remainder of the proceeds. The Club retains ownership of the team name and logos.

Chase hasn't visited Batavia yet -- he arrives Sunday and will hold a press conference Monday -- and asked if this was a turnaround effort, he said it was partly that but also partly like running a startup business.

He said it is his understanding that "there's not much left in Batavia."

He noted that there are apparently needs at the ballpark to be addressed, citing specifically the playing field and clubhouses. 

He said the team's loyal fans can expect him to work to deliver a quality ballpark experience.

"I met my wife in Durham (N.C.), so I understand the power of the ballpark," Chase said. "Baseball is not like any other sport. It's all about community. It's about bringing the community together. There are not many cities in the country like Batavia and the team has been there for a very long time, since 1939. We want to make sure the Batavia fans understand this is their team. We want to honor that tradition."

December 14, 2017 - 11:06am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, muckdogs, baseball, news, notify.

Press release:

It is with a powerful sense of sadness and loss, tempered by pride in our past and the hope of a faithful and resilient people for the future, that the Genesee County Baseball Club (GCBC), the nonprofit that has owned the Batavia Muckdogs of the Class A New York-Pennsylvania Professional Baseball League, announces that control of the franchise has been transferred to the New York-Penn League.

The transfer was officially approved by the GCBC's 23-person all-volunteer board.

The league is seeking a buyer for the franchise. Under terms of the transfer, the Rochester Red Wings, who have managed day-to-day operations of the club since 2008, will receive 50 percent of any sale price, and the GCBC will receive the other 50 percent, minus legal fees and the 10 percent share of sale proceeds that will be kept by the league. The name “Muckdogs” will remain property of the GCBC.

Batavia is the last of the original cities of the New York-Penn League, which was founded at a meeting in the Hotel Richmond in Batavia and began play in 1939 as the PONY (Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York) League.

The ongoing geographic expansion of the league, which now stretches from Aberdeen, Md., to Burlington, Vt., and from Staten Island to Morgantown, W.Va., has made it tremendously difficult for the smaller Upstate New York cities that once formed the heart of the league to survive. Lodging and travel costs have become prohibitive for small-market teams in the western part of New York State.

The sole remaining longtime Upstate New York franchise is in Auburn, which entered the league in 1958.

Brian Paris, president of the Genesee County Baseball Club, thanked the Rochester Red Wings:

“We are deeply grateful to the Red Wings for their absolutely pivotal role in preserving NYP League baseball in Batavia for these last 10 years — which included the franchise’s fourth league championship in 2008. Naomi Silver, Gary Larder, and the rest of the Red Wings organization are great people and have been a pleasure to work with.”

Paris also praised the Batavia fans, noting that for years, the team had annually ranked in the top half of the league in per-capita attendance.

“Batavia has a great core of fans,” he said. “Dwyer Stadium is the friendliest ballpark in America.”

He saluted the hundreds of local businesses that have supported the team over the years, noting that “in best grassroots fashion, small businesses have been the advertising backbone of this team.”

It is not yet clear where the franchise will play ball in the summer of 2018. That decision is up to the league. But Paris expressed the hope that when June 2018 rolls around, a team called the Batavia Muckdogs—whether as a member of the NYP League or perhaps a summer league for top college players--will take the field at Dwyer Stadium.

December 6, 2017 - 6:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, muckdogs, baseball, news, notify.

In The Batavian's attempt to interview Ben Hayes, president of the New York-Penn League, we reached out to Minor League Baseball.

A communications official with Minor League Baseball was able to get in touch with Hayes and we've just been informed that Hayes will not agree to an interview.

He said he would not comment further on the future of the team (he has made no comment to date), according to the Minor League Baseball spokesman. 

Hayes referred all questions to Brian Paris, president of the Genesee County Baseball Club, owners of the Muckdogs franchise.

The phone line for the NYPL office in St. Petersburg, Fla., will now accept phone messages so we left Hayes a message explaining that only he can state why the league won't work with the Rochester Red Wings as operators of the franchise and share his ideas for the future of the team in Batavia or elsewhere.

Last week, The Batavian broke the news that the NYPL had blocked the Red Wings from a contract extension to continue operating the team. The extension was needed because the original 10-year deal expired Oct. 31.

Meanwhile, the Muckdogs are on the 2018 NYPL schedule but there's no clear indication from the league how the team will operate in 2018.

We couldn't reach Paris tonight. 

Last week, Paris said he is working with Hayes regarding the future of the team and the 2018 season and said he had a good working relationship with Hayes but didn't have a definitive answer on the NYPL's plans.

November 30, 2017 - 10:26am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, notify, muckdogs.

The New York-Penn League has blocked a proposal for the Rochester Red Wings to return to Batavia in 2018 as the operators of the Batavia Muckdogs.

This past season was the end of a 10-year agreement and sources say the league said it would not approve an extension.

What that means for the future of the Batavia Muckdogs is unclear. The 2018 NYPL schedule has already been released and it includes the Muckdogs.

Brian Paris, president of the Genesee County Baseball Club, the community group that owns the team, wasn't immediately available for comment.

Naomi Silver, president, and CEO of the Red Wings confirmed this morning that the Red Wings would not operate the team in 2018. She said he had no idea what the league or the owners planned for 2018.

"We offered to stay but the league could have prevented us from operating the team 10 years ago and they allowed us to operate it for 10 years, so I can't really fault them," Silver said. 

The agreement between the Red Wings and Genesee County Baseball includes a provision that if the team is sold, the Red Wings would receive 5 percent of the proceeds for each year the organization ran the team. That agreement, Silver said, survives this decision by the league.

Silver said it was a pleasure for the Red Wings to operate the team this past decade.

"I hope things work out," Silver said. "It's a wonderful community. It's just not as well-populated a community that it has to be, to be able to support a team and so you can't fault the community."

UPDATE 10:32 a.m.: The office of the New York-Penn League is in St. Petersburg, Fla. A call to the league's phone number this morning went to voice mail for league president Ben Hayes. No messages can be left because the mailbox is full.

UPDATE 10:50 a.m.: Brian Paris said it's unclear who will operate the team in 2018, perhaps the league, but there is nothing settled. 

"We're currently working with the league to determine the outcome for the Muckdogs," Paris said. "The hope is that we'll be playing and we will have a season in 2018."

He said he has a good working relationship with the league and Ben Hayes.

"We're working with the league and we're excited about hopefully making an announcement in the near future as to the outcome," Paris said.

Asked if the league could just shut down the team, he said he doesn't know.

"I think the league is in the business of promoting baseball and they're going to do what is best for promoting baseball in the New York-Penn League," Paris said.

UPDATE:  Don Rock, the Muckdog's groundskeeper, left the following comment below:

I would like to start out by saying THANK YOU to Naomi Silver and the Rochester Redwings organization for being there for all of us the past 10 years. I have worked as the groundskeeper for the past 16 years with my 1st year in the office, for a total of 17 years and all this is a major heartbreak to me. I AM DEVASTATED, to say the least. I hope things work out because I LOVE MY JOB very much. After hearing the news, I went and sat in the grandstands and cried. I was and still am very upset. The stadium has been my life.

We've made repeated calls to the NYPL office in St. Petersburg, Fla., and have not been able to reach anybody.

September 6, 2017 - 11:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, muckdogs.

After tonight's final home game of the 2017 season, we spoke with Brian Paris, president of the Genesee County Baseball Club, a community-based group that co-owns the Muckdogs with the Rochester Red Wings, for his thoughts on the season and the chances the Muckdogs will be back in Batavia for 2018.

The Muckdogs lost tonight to Auburn 6-3 in a game delayed by rain and attended by 494 fans on a night before school starts. The team is 30-44 and plays one last game in Auburn in a matchup that will determine whether the Muckdogs can avoid finishing in the cellar.

August 18, 2017 - 12:35am
posted by Billie Owens in sports, muckdogs, baseball, batavia.
Thursday’s game between the Batavia Muckdogs and Mahoning Valley Scrappers was postponed due rain and unsafe field conditions. The game will be made up as part of a double-header on Monday, Aug. 28th.
 
The Muckdogs will play two seven-inning games, with the first game starting at 5:05 p.m. Gates will open at 4 p.m. Any person with tickets to the Aug.17 game can exchange their tickets for any other regular season game, subject to availability.
August 16, 2017 - 12:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, batavia, baseball, sports.

Press release:

Due to a tremendous response from the community, the Muckdogs 2017 Youth Baseball Clinic to be held on Aug. 30th is completely filled up and registration is now closed. We will accept any mailed registration forms postmarked on or before Aug. 16th.

For those who did not sign up in time, please keep an eye out for the Muckdogs’ Youth Clinic in 2018.

August 9, 2017 - 9:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, baseball, sports.

Press release:

The 2017 New York-Penn League All-Star roster will include three players from Batavia. They will send infielders Lazaro Alonso and Marcos Rivera and pitcher Sam Perez to the game to be held Tuesday, Aug. 15th at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, home of the Tri-City ValleyCats.

Alonso, an international free agent signed in 2016, has played in 36 games for the Muckdogs this year and has been one of the Muckdogs best power hitters all season. Alonso has 19 RBIs, which is tied for eighth in the NY-Penn League, to go along with a .240 batting average, five doubles and 25 walks (third in the NYPL).

Marcos Rivera was an international free agent signing by the Marlins in 2014 and has started 36 games at shortstop for the Muckdogs this season. Rivera’s 11 doubles is currently tied for second in the league and his .417 slugging percentage is inside the top 20 in the league. He is currently batting .254 with 19 runs scored, 15 extra-base hits and 18 RBIs.

Sam Perez was selected in the 5th round of the 2016 draft out of Missouri State. The right-hander has started nine games this season and has compiled an ERA of just 1.88, which is fourth in the league for qualifying pitchers. Perez has a record of 3-1 and has racked up 33 strikeouts in 48 innings pitched.

Batavia currently holds the sixth place spot in the Pinckney Division with a record of 16-30. The Muckdogs sent four players to the 2013 All-Star game, four in 2014, six players in 2015, and two in 2016.

August 8, 2017 - 3:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, muckdogs, batavia.

Press release:

Join us at Dwyer Stadium Aug. 30th for our youth baseball clinic!

Kids ages 6-14 will receive a day of on-field instruction from the Muckdogs players and coaches on Aug. 30th from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Children will learn from the pros in the areas of hitting, fielding, pitching, catching, base running and bunting.

Later that evening, campers will be able to come back to Dwyer for a private autograph signing with the team 30 minutes before the gates open (5:30 p.m.) and then be recognized on the field prior to the Muckdogs game vs. the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Cleveland Indians affiliate).

Campers will also receive a special T-shirt not available in the team store, a clinic photo, two tickets to the Aug. 30th game, as well as lunch, all for only $40.

Registration forms are available at Dwyer Stadium and online at muckdogs.com. Space is limited and all registrations and payments must be turned in by Monday, Aug. 21st.

August 4, 2017 - 5:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, batavia, sports, news.

Press release:

Today’s game between the Batavia Muckdogs and Lowell Spinners has been canceled due to wet and unsafe field conditions. As the two teams do not meet again this season, this game will not be made up at any time during the season. Any person with tickets to today’s game can exchange their tickets for any other regular season game, subject to availability.

July 29, 2017 - 9:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, muckdogs, batavia, news.

A fire alarm sounded at Dwyer Stadium in Batavia a few minutes ago and City Fire responded. The scene commander reported to dispatch, "Unable to locate the source of the alarm, other than the visitors' bullpen claims it's the heat they're throwing. Based on the score board, I'm not buying it." 

Batavia leads State College in 7th inning 8 to 4.

July 21, 2017 - 1:10pm

Press release:

For the second year, UR Medicine’s Wilmot Cancer Institute (WCI) will host Survivors Night on Friday, July 28 at Dwyer Stadium with the Batavia Muckdogs. Anyone who has been impacted by cancer is invited, including patients, survivors and caregivers.

The game starts at 7:05 p.m. and fireworks will follow. 

More than 15.5 million cancer survivors are living in the United States today and that number is expected to exceed 20 million by 2026. In Genesee County alone, approximately 400 people are diagnosed with cancer each year. The purpose of Survivors Night is to unite those impacted by cancer to celebrate cancer survivorship.

“Cancer is something that touches almost everyone at some point in life and Survivors Night is a way for us all to come together for a fun family night to celebrate life beyond cancer,” says Tiffany Paine-Cirrincione, associate director, Advancement and Community Events for Wilmot Cancer Institute.

“We encourage anyone in the community who is a cancer survivor or patient, or who has loved or cared for someone with cancer, to join us.”

Tickets for the game cost $4 each, and participants receive a Wilmot Warrior Walk T-shirt for each ticket purchased. They can be purchased at WCI Batavia, 262 Bank St., Batavia. Questions can be directed to Karen Soria at (585) 344-3050.

July 17, 2017 - 9:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, muckdogs, sports.

img_20170714_203118265_hdrmuclkdpg.jpg

Photo by Tim Motyka, head coach of the Batavia Minor League Red Sox, which was the youth baseball team last night to take the field with the Batavia Muckdogs.

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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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