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.