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April 7, 2021 - 5:51pm
posted by Press Release in muckdogs, batavia, sports, baseball, video.
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Griffin Della Penna, the voice of the Batavia Muckdogs, interviews Manager Joey Martinez.

Video submitted by the Batavia Muckdogs.

Previously: LIVE: Interview with Batavia Muckdogs Manager Joey Martinez

March 24, 2021 - 3:22pm
posted by Press Release in muckdogs, baseball, sports.
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Press release:

The Batavia Muckdogs are excited to announce the addition of Batavia native and Class of 2019 graduate Griffin Della Penna as their play-by-play broadcaster for the upcoming 2021 season.

Della Penna is no stranger to baseball in this community, from his early days playing at nearby MacArthur Park with the Little League Red Sox to being a batboy for the Muckdogs in 2017. He then went on to be a three-year starter, captain, and Honorable Mention AGR selection with the Batavia Blue Devils baseball team, helping lead them to their first Section V Championship in 21 years.

He currently studies at Canisius College, where he is a double major in Journalism with a concentration in Sports Broadcasting and Strategic Communication with a 3.84 GPA. Throughout his two years in Buffalo, Della Penna writes for “The Griffin” school newspaper, covering Men’s and Women’s Basketball and Soccer, along with being a contributing writer for Pickin’ Splinters, an independent high school sports blog. He also operates the camera for Canisius ESPN-3 broadcasts with plans to work his way up to the broadcast booth soon.

After contemplating a walk-on spot with the Division 1 Golden Griffin baseball team, Griffin made a career-oriented decision instead to accept a position as the director of Scouting & Analytics with the team using his baseball knowledge in hopes to win a MAAC Championship.

By joining the Muckdogs organization, Della Penna’s goal is to provide fans with a personable and interactive experience during the broadcasts in addition to adding content that will give fans an in-depth look to get to know the players and coaching staff in weekly shows like “Meet the Muckdogs.”

“As a 19-year-old college sophomore, not many aspiring broadcasters are given such an amazing opportunity like this," Della Penna said. "I am honored to be chosen and appreciate the flexibility to gain valuable hands-on experience in the field while producing a broadcast that fans will enjoy."

Della Penna will be the first voice of the Muckdogs as they transition to the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL). The Batavia Muckdogs are comprised of collegiate athletes with NCAA eligibility from around the country. The club will join the Auburn Doubledays, Niagara Power, and Jamestown Tarp Skunks as the newest additions to the PGCBL, joining 16 other organizations all across New York since the league’s inception in 2010.

"We are excited to add someone like Griffin to our team with great experience and passion for the game of baseball. Since taking over the team we have met many local community leaders, businesses, and fans and know how amazing this community is at supporting locally. With Griffin growing up in the area and his love for baseball we knew this was a perfect fit. Griffin is excited to get to work and we are excited to start playing baseball at Dwyer stadium this summer. Congratulations Griffin and Go Muckdogs!" - Owners Robbie & Nellie Nichols.

Submitted video.

February 24, 2021 - 12:19pm
posted by Press Release in sports, baseball, muckdogs, batavia, Diamond Dance Team.

Press release:

The Batavia Muckdogs are proud to announce that there will be in-stadium entertainment this year as Le Beau Salon presents the Diamond Dance Team!

The Diamond Dance Team will be featured during the breaks in the ball game showing off their dance routines and keeping the crowd entertained with their abilities. The dance team has been a part of CAN-USA Sports baseball in Elmira and it is a tradition that has been passed down year after year. 

CAN-USA Sports owners Robbie and Nellie Nichols are quick to tell the story: “We want young people to be engaged at the ball park and giving them an opportunity to be a part of this historic franchise will be a great way to do that. The Diamond Dance Team will not only be an avenue for dancers to showcase their talent, but it will also allow parents and family members to see their loved ones perform in front of people in a unique environment.”

The Muckdogs first took the field in 1998 and captured three division titles in 2008, 2010, and in what would be their final season of 2019. Batavia also brought a League title back to Dwyer Stadium in 2008. 

The Diamond Dance Team will be managed by KMS Dance Studio and tryout information will be available through KMS. 

Season Tickets are on sale now! You can call (607) 734-7825 or email [email protected] and reserve your spot at Dwyer Stadium for the first pitch and everyone that follows!

February 22, 2021 - 1:50pm

Submitted photo and press release:

Chiropractor Noah Hoy, pictured above left, has been named as the Team Chiropractor of the Batavia Muckdogs for the 2021-2023 seasons.

Hoy says he's “excited to work for the 'dogs and help them perform at the highest level on the field."

The Batavia Muckdogs, owned by Robbie Nichols (above, right) are now part of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, which hosts D1 MLB prospects from across the country.

"I’ve been going to games since I was a little guy and it’s cool to know I’ll be working with a team I grew up with,” Hoy said. 

Games for the upcoming season are expected to begin at the end of May.

To keep track of all things Muckdogs, visit their new Facebook page.

Hoy is currently accepting patient appointments at Mazurkiewicz Family Chiropractic, located at 184 Washington Ave. in the City of Batavia.

January 30, 2021 - 2:31pm
posted by Press Release in GLOW Academy, sports, baseball.

Press release:

It's that time of year to start planning for warm weather and the sights and sounds of baseball.

Batavia Youth Baseball is proud to continue our partnership with GLOW Academy. We are please to offer several divisions: T-ball, 8U coach pitch, 10U minors, 12U 50/70 and, new this season, 15U 60/90.

We are excited to get started and hope you are as well. Please feel free to message us with any questions.

Registration is open. Please click on this link to sign up and please share. Thank you!

Questions? Contact Dan Utter via email:  [email protected]

January 22, 2021 - 1:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, sports, baseball, batavia.

The addition of the Batavia Muckdogs to the Perfect Game Colligate Baseball League has apparently prompted the college-ball team in Niagara Falls two switch allegiances, the Niagara Gazette reports.

The Niagara Power will move from the New York Collegiate Baseball League to the PGCBL in 2021.

Patrick Tutka, executive director of the Power, said the move was "win-win-win," especially after the Batavia Muckdogs, formerly of the professional New York-Penn League, agreed to join the PGCBL. The Muckdogs give the PGCBL five former NY-Penn League teams, along with Newark, Geneva, Elmira and Jamestown.

In addition to the PGCBL offering one more nearby potential rival, the PGCBL teams generally play in better facilities, Tutka said.

"The facility quality is much better," Tutka said. "We'll be playing in all former minor league stadiums, while most of the other places (outside home games at Sal Maglie Stadium) we were playing were high school or college fields.

It looks like the PGCBL will have 15 teams in the league for the 2021 season, all in New York.

January 19, 2021 - 3:49pm
posted by James Burns in Batavia Muckdogs, sports, dwyer stadium, baseball.

bataviamuckdogs.pngWhen was the last time an actual owner of the Muckdogs was at Dwyer Stadium? There is one there today.

Things continue to change for the new Muckdogs under the ownership of Robbie Nichols. He's at Dwyer stadium talking to fans and helping sell season tickets until 6:30 this evening. 

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General Admission seats are just $99.

Reserve box seats are $199.

Reserved seats come with waitstaff so you don’t miss a pitch. 

If you can't make it down to Dwyer Stadium today, please call or email the Batavia Muckdogs at (607) 734-7825 or [email protected]

Nichols has been in town this week meeting with local businesses, talking to fans and he also has plans to reach out to the area's Little Leagues to talk with them about the Muckdogs being a more active part of the community.  

The Muckdogs are finalizing this season's plans and now have a new official Facebook page you can follow for more updates on the coming season. 

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January 12, 2021 - 8:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, muckdogs, batavia.
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The Muckdogs will bark again.

True, no longer will the team be comprised of players affiliated with a Major League Baseball team but the majority of players in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League are legitimate professional baseball prospects.

As many as 30 current major league players have passed through the league previously, said Robbie Nichols, the former professional hockey player who already owns a PGCBL team in Elmira and will own the expansion PGCBL Muckdogs in Batavia.

The Genesee County Community Baseball Club, which owns the Muckdogs trademark, has agreed to let Nichols use the team name.

PGCBL is a "wooden bat league" -- a league comprised of amateur players who play or will play Division I or Division II college baseball.

A couple of advantages of collegiate ball over low-level minor league ball, Nichols said, is that the players with a team tend to spend the entire season with a team, so fans get to know them and Nichols said his organization -- CAN-USA Sports -- is committed to fielding a team with about four players from the local area.

The PGCBL regular season consists of 60 games from late May until the end of July. The playoffs and championship are in the first week of August.

Season tickets are on sale now and start at $99. There is also a VP ticket package for $199. Existing Muckdogs season ticket holders will have priority to retain the seats they had in previous seasons.

January 8, 2021 - 5:46pm
posted by Press Release in new york penn league, baseball, muckdogs, sports.

Press release:

In 1939, the New York-Penn League (NY-P League) was founded in Batavia, NY (formerly known as the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York (PONY) League), and has been the oldest, continuously operated CLASS A league in professional baseball.

As one of the founding members of the League, the Batavia club has proudly provided affordable, family entertainment for the Batavia community and Western New York for decades.

Unfortunately, Major league Baseball has announced it will no longer continue to offer Major League Baseball club affiliations to Batavia and most of the other clubs in the New York-Penn League.

The result of Major League Baseball’s action means the end of professional baseball in Batavia.

Major League Baseball’s announcement was part of other sweeping changes being made to the player development structure of the Minor Leagues, which includes the elimination of the Rookie classification and the NY-P League’s Class A – Short Season classification of professional baseball.

In sum, Major League Baseball believes these classifications are no longer needed for developing its players.

NY-P League President, Ben Hayes, recently stated, “The elimination of this historic League as part of Major League Baseball’s player development system is truly heartbreaking for the NY-P League’s fans, communities, club employees, and club owners.

"Sadly, most of the NY-P League’s clubs played their final professional baseball games in 2019, and neither they nor their fans knew at the time that it would be their last professional baseball season.

"The elimination of these classifications of professional baseball by Major League Baseball will result in thousands of players, who would have had an opportunity to develop and compete to play in the Major Leagues, will no longer get the chance to live their dream.

"I’ve been working with Batavia Interim City Manager, Rachael Tabelski, over the past several months to ensure the Batavia community will continue to enjoy the play of live baseball at historic Dwyer Stadium.”

During its professional baseball history, the Batavia club enjoyed four NY-P League championships, and Batavia’s fans saw numerous players who went on to have exceptional Major League careers, including Steve Blass, Doc Ellis, Cito Gaston, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and many others.

In 1961, the Batavia club made history when the Pittsburg Pirates named Gene Baker as the Batavia club’s manager, making him the first African American to manage a professional baseball club.

Prior to the 2008 season, the club was operated by Genesee County Baseball Club, a nonprofit community-based organization. From 2008-2017, the club was operated by the Rochester Red Wings, and in 2018 and 2019 by a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NY-P League.

In 2019, the Batavia club won the Pickney Division championship and competed for the NY-P League championship, increased its attendance by 42 percent, and won an award for the best natural turf field in the NY-P League.

December 9, 2020 - 7:19pm

Major League Baseball Enterprises Inc., a multinational corporation based in New York City, is killing off professional baseball in Batavia.

That's an oversimplification but that is likely the end result.

The New York-Penn League, founded in Batavia in 1939, is breaking apart -- though a smaller independent league may survive -- and since the NY-P owns the Muckdogs, the league in its new form, if it survives at all, won't have the wherewithal to operate a baseball club in Batavia.

Today, MLB announced that its Major League teams have selected their affiliates for the 2021 season and Batavia is not on that list.

Only four NY-P teams are on the list.

Some NY-P teams have chosen to join what will be known as the MLB Draft League. The new league will consist of collegiate players who compete on a limited schedule from May until the All-Star break when the MLB will conduct its annual amateur draft.

For more than a year, MLB and MiLB have been in negotiations over a new operations agreement, with the number of Minor League teams being reduced by at least 40 franchises.  That plan also would have eliminated the Muckdogs as a Major League-affiliated team.

The plan announced today goes a step further by eliminating the MiLB completely. MLB teams will have license agreements (they'll no longer be known as franchises), with each affiliated team and the Minor League system will be operated out of the MLB offices in NYC.

It's unclear if the owners of the 120 teams being offered license agreements will agree to the MLB terms. They just received the proposed contracts today.

Red Wings Gave it Their Best Shot

In 2008, the Genesee County Baseball Club, owner of the Muckdogs at the time, entered into a 10-year operations agreement with Rochester Red Wings. The Red Wings operated the team at a loss for those 10 years but the agreement gave them a 50-percent ownership stake in the team.

In 2018, the NY-P would not allow a new operations agreement and took over ownership of the team with an agreement that would allow the NY-P to recover its operating losses from any eventual sale of the club. The GCBC, a community-owned organization, would receive any money left from the sale that wasn't paid out to the Red Wings or the NY-P.

It is unclear if any of the financial stakeholders in the Muckdogs will be compensated for MLB's apparent unilateral elimination of the team.  

Ben Hayes, commissioner of the NYPL, said he's asked the question directly and hasn't gotten an answer.

Naomi Silver, chief executive officer of the Red Wings, said she also doesn't know whether the Muckdogs owners will be compensated for the loss of the team. 

An attorney who specializes in antitrust and business competition law, Luke Hasskamp, with Bonalaw, based in Los Angeles, said Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball are both protected by an antitrust exemption that prevents those harmed by MLB's actions from filing an antitrust claim. 

Major League Baseball is a legal monopoly.  

Where to Go from Here?

The legal options for the Muckdogs stakeholders are limited, he said. The last affiliation agreement the Muckdogs had with a Major League team, the Miami Marlins, expired after the unplayed 2020 season, so there may not be a breach-of-contract claim. 

Other legal options don't seem to apply to the Muckdogs, such as claims that the stakeholders made financial commitments and investments based on a promised continued relationship. Since the Muckdogs have been under a cloud of financial hardship -- making them a target for acquisition and relocation -- there are no apparent promises of continued play in Batavia.

The commissioner's office, with its new plan for player development, is not specifically eliminating the Batavia Muckdogs. The lack of an affiliation with a Major League club, however, along with the upheaval in the NY-P caused by the new alignment, makes it impossible to operate the Muckdogs as a professional baseball team, causing its estimated $6 million value to evaporate. 

Asked if the stakeholders could claim the MLB unjustly deprived them of appropriate compensation for making the Muckdogs as a financial asset valueless, Hasskamp compared the idea to eminent domain, but said since MLB is a private organization any such comparison does not legally apply.

"It’s an interesting argument, not one I have thought through much, but it’s challenging, in my opinion, not only because MLB isn’t a public entity because also, as you pointed out, MLB isn’t really taking property," Hasskamp said. "It’s just taking action that will impact the value of others’ businesses. This may be relevant to a party’s damages."

At the end of that email to The Batavian, Kasskamp said, "One other thought: It will be interesting if this stirs any greater interest in Congress to revoke baseball’s antitrust exemption. These contractions are going to impact a number of communities / congressional districts, and more than 100 congressmen noted their displeasure when the contractions were first announced."

Will Schumer Keep Fighting for Batavia?

On a couple of recent visits, we've asked Sen. Charles Schumer, a die-hard baseball fan, if he would pursue legislation to revoke MLB's antitrust exemption. He didn't give a direct answer. He just promised to keep fighting to save teams like the Batavia Muckdogs and Auburn Doubledays.  

This afternoon, we asked a member of his staff for a statement and clarification on Schumer's position on the antitrust exemption and didn't get a response.

Today, in a phone conversation, Hayes offered no hopeful take on the future of the Muckdogs given today's announcement, other than to say there is still much that is unknown about the MLB plan and how Minor League team owners will respond to the license offers.

Silver said the team owners haven't even had a chance to fully review the contracts and discuss the best course of action. She said she's hopeful the Red Wings will be made whole for their losses incurred while operating the Muckdogs.

"We're sad to think there will be no Muckdogs baseball in Batavia," Silver said. "We worked hard for 10 years to try and save the team."

She noted that Batavia is not the only community suffering a loss of a team because of the MLB's decision.

"Batavia is not being singled out," she said.

Tabelski: Games Will be Played at Dwyer

While the prospect of a professional baseball game ever again being played in Batavia seems dim, that doesn't mean there won't be organized baseball played at Dwyer Stadium in the coming years.

Rachael Tabelski, interim city manager, said she has been contacted by representatives from collegiate leagues (often called wooden bat leagues) and semi-pro leagues looking to move into Dwyer. She said the city has yet to respond to those inquiries because there is still a contract in place with the NY-P that gives the league control of what baseball is played in the stadium. Unless and until that contract is resolved, the city can't find a new tenant. 

There will be a tenant in Dwyer again, Tabelski said. 

"As somebody who grew up going to Clippers and Muckdog games, it's very sad to think about losing the team," she said. "I think it's very difficult to look at losing the baseball team we've loved, but there will still be an opportunity for baseball in this town."

And the next team to make Batavia home could very well be called the Muckdogs. The Genesee County Baseball Club has retained the rights to the Muckdogs trademark (it was recently renewed).

November 20, 2020 - 6:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, muckdogs, news.
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At a press conference in Medina yesterday, Sen. Charles Schumer announced that the Rochester Red Wings will become an affiliate of the Washington Nationals. The Nationals will move their AAA affiliate from Fresno, Calif., to Rochester.

He said he continues to fight to save the Muckdogs, the Doubledays, as well as the entire New York Penn League. We asked about Congress using its power to exempt Major League Baseball from its anti-trust exemption and he didn't answer the question directly.

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October 6, 2020 - 4:19pm
posted by Press Release in sports, baseball, Athletes Edge 15/16U baseball team.

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Press release:

Two weekends, two cities, two titles. The Athletes Edge 15/16U baseball team recently completed a successful stretch of games in which the team went 7-0-1 in winning tournaments in Oswego and in Pennsylvania's Beaver Falls. The team is comprised of 15- and 16-years-olds from several Genesee County schools. 

Legends of the Fall Tournament, Oswego

The Big Orange defeated teams from Syracuse and East Rochester on their way to the title. In game 1, Kyle Porter (Oakfield-Alabama) led the Athletes Edge 15/16U Big Orange to victory over Syracuse SportsZone Black on the hill. Porter surrendered one run on zero hits over one and two-thirds innings, striking out two in relief of Gianni Ferrera (Byron-Bergen).

Bodie Hyde (Oakfield-Alabama) threw one inning and recorded the last three outs to earn the save. Athletes Edge Scored the winning runs in the top of the seventh on hits by Jimmy Fanara (Batavia Notre Dame) and Bodie Hyde. 

In game 2, Jaden Sherwood (Batavia Notre Dame) threw a complete game 1 hit shutout against Syracuse SportsZone White, striking out six batters over five innings. Vincent Grazioplene (Batavia), Alex Johnson (Batavia), and Brayden Smith (Oakfield-Alabama) each had two RBIs in the 10-0 victory. 

The tournament semifinal, a seven-run third inning led Athletes Edge 15/16U Big Orange to a 10-1 victory over SportsZone White. Bryceton Berry (Attica) earned the victory on the pitcher's mound allowing two hits and one run over six innings, striking out six. Vincent Grazioplene hit a solo home run and Jessie Reinhart (Batavia) was 2-2 with a double and two RBIs

In the championship game, Ryan Fitzpatrick (Batavia Notre Dame) scattered three hits while striking out seven over seven innings in a close 3-1 victory over Diamond Pro. Barry and Reinhart each had RBI singles in the first inning, Fitzpatrick doubled in both at bats, scoring a run. 

Northeast Baseball Tournament, Beaver Falls, Pa.

The Athletes Edge 15/16U Big Orange came together to overcame multiple injuries to key players to come away with a hard-earned championship outside of Pittsburgh. Gianni Ferrara (Byron-Bergen) sustained an injury stealing a base in the top of the first inning of the opening game, Vincent Grazioplene would sustain an injury in the tournament’s semifinal on a collision at home plate, and Jimmy Fanara would suffer a leg injury running out a grounder in the Championship game.

The Big Orange defeated the Steel Town Maulers in the opening game 8-7. Bodie Hyde earned the victory in relief of Ryan Higgins (Le Roy). AE scored four runs in the final two innings to earn the comeback victory. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a two RBI double, Vincent Grazioplene was 2-3 with an RBI and a run scored, and Jessie Reinhart was 1-2 with two runs scored. 

AE would move on to face the Steel Town Dawgs in the second game of pool play. Both teams were evenly matched in a game that would end in a 1-1 tie after nine innings as the game was called due to darkness.

Kyle Porter pitched seven and two-thirds innings, only surrendering four hits and one run. Bodie Hyde pitched the final inning and a third, all under “shootout” rules as teams in the eighth and ninth innings began with a runner on second base. 

The two teams would face each other again the next day in the tournament semifinal and once again the teams would find each other tied at one in the final inning. Vincent Grazioplene drew a walk to open the inning and Bryceton Berry would be hit by the next pitch advancing pinch-runner Sean Alexander (Oakfield-Alabama) to second.

Ryan Fitzpatrick would lay down a bunt that loaded the bases. Kyle Porter followed with a sacrifice fly to deep left field that allowed Alexander to tag up at third and score what would become the winning run.

Bryceton Berry started, allowing five hits and zero runs over four and two-thirds innings, striking out six; Bodie Hyde would again earn the victory in relief as he allowed two hits and one run over two and a third innings, striking out three and walking one. 

The championship game starting assignment would once again go to Fitzpatrick, who would pitch five innings, allowing two runs on two hits, striking out two and walking one for a 10-2 win. Jay Antinore was two for three with two RBIs, Jessie Reinhart was two for four with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored, and Bryceton Berry was one for three with a triple. 

Athletes Edge continues their fall season this Saturday with a doubleheader at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at Williams Park in Batavia.

October 5, 2020 - 12:19pm

Photo and information from Audra DelPriore:

The Spartans Baseball 13U Travel Baseball team successfully completed their very first tournament together in Oswego, for the "Get Your Pink On," operated by Champions Events, in support of Breast Cancer Awareness.

The team is a new creation from towns all across Genesee County. The young men have only been together as a team for the last month and showed up to battle against other teams from around New York State, all while leaving the tournament with smiles on their faces.

The Spartans Organization is welcoming sponsorships for the upcoming year, if you are interested, please find us on Facebook under Spartans Baseball, or call/text (585) 813-2763.

Our team is Coach David Schnaufer, Coach Sam Vigiano, Coach Michael DelPriore, Sean Pietrzykowski, Austin Humphrey, Anthony Abbatiello, Hayden Williams, Owen Shultz, David Schnaufer III, Brayden Lang, Mason Vigiano, Anthony Pellegrino, Jaxon DelPriore, Max Siewert, and Leo Egloff (absent).

October 1, 2020 - 3:16pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, baseball, aces/inferno.

Aces/Inferno Baseball is looking for one or two players to complete their summer 2021 rosters in a couple ages.

For more information or to register for an appointment see:  www.teamacesbaseball.com or contact Rich Wozniak at:  [email protected].

 

July 23, 2020 - 2:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in baseball, Aces, sports.

Aces will hold tryouts for its 2020 Fall and 2021 Summer Teams by appointment only.

For more information or to register for an appointment see  www.teamacesbaseball.com or contact Rich Wozniak at [email protected].

 

July 21, 2020 - 3:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, baseball, United Travel Baseball.

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This past weekend, United Travel Baseball's 12U team, based in Genesee County, played in the Lancaster Legends Classic and beat the Clarence Red Devils, 9-3 to claim the Gold Bracket Championship.

The team is comprised of players from Batavia, Alexander, Oakfield, and Pembroke and include: Landen Santini, Austin Humphrey, David Schnaufer, Jayden Bridge, Hayden “Meat” Schroeder, Mason Vigiano, Jaxon DelPriore, Leo Egloff, Mason Wells, Nolan Ball, Kylan Ball, and Anthony Pellegrino.

The Team is coached by Jason Ball, Joey Santini; Statistics -- Mike DelPriore; and Equipment Manager -- Dom DelPriore.

July 1, 2020 - 12:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, muckdogs, batavia, notify.

One thing is certain: There will be no professional baseball in Batavia in 2020.

The decision is final, according to numerous news reports that say the Minor League Baseball season is canceled because Major League Baseball teams will not furnish the minors with players in 2020. 

If there is an MLB season, it will likely start later this month, with only 60 games on the schedule. Teams would be limited to 60 eligible players. The 20 players beyond the standard 40-man roster would practice and workout on "taxi squads."

New York Penn League President Ben Hayes, in an exclusive interview with The Batavian a week ago, was still hopeful at that point that there would be a 2020 season for his league and the Muckdogs. We've not been able to reach him for comment today.

While it's quite possible there will never again be a professional baseball game played in Dwyer Stadium, last week Hayes was also hopeful that wouldn't be the case.

Prior to the pandemic hitting, the future of baseball in Batavia didn't look good. The MLB is trying to force the MiLB to accept a contraction, eliminating 42 minor league teams, including the entire NYPL. While there was talk of creating a "dreamers league" of low-level prospects, and Batavia could be a potential spot for such a team, there was no indication at that stage of negotiations on whether Batavia would be part of those plans.  

An ESPN column suggests that the 2020 cancellation and pandemic have effectively eliminated whatever leverage the minor league teams might have had to stop the contraction. Several teams were in a precarious situation financially, not just including the 42 slated for elimination, and now the financial situation is much worse for those teams.

Last week, Hayes said he has communicated his desire to MiLB negotiators to see at least one more season of NYPL baseball, asking that the contraction be delayed until after the 2021 season, which would give cities like Batavia a farewell tour with their teams.

June 24, 2020 - 4:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, muckdogs, sports, baseball, notify.

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It would be "very, very sad" way for baseball to end in Batavia and 41 other minor league cities if the baseball season were canceled and a new agreement between Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball eliminated those small franchises, said Ben Hayes, president of the New York Penn League.

Professional baseball in Batavia was under threat of extinction before a pandemic hit, and news reports have indicated Minor League Baseball has conceded to the MLB's request to consolidate leagues across the nation. Still, Hayes said today that negotiations continue and nothing has been finalized.

Even better news, he isn't giving up on playing NYPL baseball in 2020. The season is indefinitely postponed, but Hayes said he and league owners and officials want players in parks and fans in seats this season if at all possible, including in Batavia.  

The NYPL operates in eight states, and there are only two stadiums so far that are in regions where COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted enough to allow fans and ballplayers into ballparks.

"There's nobody at the Major League level or the Minor League level that has said this season is over and done," Hayes said. "Nothing has been canceled at either the full-season or short-season level."

If a decision was made to play ball, the MLB has suggested it would take players two or three weeks to get ready for the rigors of professional baseball.  

Hayes is currently traveling around the league, including a planned stop in Batavia, and league owners have been holding regular conference calls so they can be ready for the day when there can be baseball again.

Every team is developing plans to ensure social distancing is maintained; there is plenty of personal protective equipment for personnel; there are plans for thorough and regular cleaning and sanitizing in place, and to ensure that hotels and busses are safe and clean. 

"Everybody has a plan right now," Hayes said. "We're following the guidelines to make sure our players are safe but also our fans and stadium staff or safe. Right now, it's just a waiting game."

If the season is washed out, Hayes said he has already communicated with the Minor League's negotiating committee to request that any new agreement that could potentially eliminate teams would be delayed at least a year so that fans in those cities losing their franchises could get a farewell season before shutting down.

"That's my hope," Hayes said. "We voiced that to our representatives on the negotiating committee," Hayes said. "There are 42 clubs out there that if that plan were to go through, they would have never gotten a chance to have a last season, and that would be very, very sad."

As for the current operations of the Muckdogs, if you call the office, the phone is disconnected. It's not possible to get in touch with General Manager Brendan Kelly.  

Hayes said shutting down operations was purely a cost-saving measure and not an indication of the status of the ballclub.

"We're just trying to save money," Hayes said. "We're trying not to accrue costs simply because of the financial situation of the Muckdogs."

Meanwhile, except for the city mowing the infield and outfield grass, the playing surface is not being maintained. Weeds are sprouting up all over the diamond that Cooper Thomas has beautifully manicured over the past couple of seasons. 

None of that is a worry, Hayes said. 

"We can get that back in shape in two or three weeks once we get a grounds crew in there," Hayes said. 

The weeds maybe a little bigger but the situation now isn't much different than it would be in a typical year when crews start preparing the field for high school players in the spring.

"It's amazing what an edger and a lawnmower and a little bit of fertilizer and weed killer can do," Hayes said. "It makes a huge difference and you can really turn a field around quickly."

Whether Thomas will return in 2020 to lead that effort -- assuming the NYPL gets to play baseball -- is up in the air, Hayes said. He would love to have Thomson back and Thomas wants to come back, he said, but President Trump's current moratorium on worker immigration because of COVID-19 could prevent Thomas from making the trip from Australia to Batavia.

Top Photo: Weeds growing in the Dwyer Stadium infield.

muckdogsfiedljune2020-2.jpg

Yesterday, the Dwyer Stadium scoreboard was lit up with "Reds 0 / Pirates 0 / PPD."

June 17, 2020 - 6:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, baseball, sports, video, muckdogs.
Video Sponsor

While Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was in Pavilion today, we asked her if she was still involved in trying to save the Batavia Muckdogs.

May 8, 2020 - 11:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, baseball, Batavia HS, batavia.

Tribute to Batavia High School's 2020 baseball team by Nickie Fazio.

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