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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.

muckdogsfiedljune2020.jpg

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.

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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.
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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.

April 21, 2020 - 10:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, baseball, sports, notify.

Minor League Baseball appears to be ready to accept a deal with MLB, Baseball America reports, that would eliminate 42 franchises and wipe out short-season Single-A baseball, ending an 81-year history of the New York Penn League that began in Batavia.

With a pandemic threatening the 2020 baseball season, Dwyer Stadium may have hosted its last professional baseball game on Sept. 6, 2019.

We don't know yet, of course. If there is 2020 baseball, the new deal -- which BA indicates isn't final yet -- wouldn't take effect until 2021.

There's no indication in the article how team owners would be compensated for the loss of their properties. The Batavia Muckdogs are owned by the NYPL but the Genesee County Baseball Club, a community group, and the Rochester Red Wings still have a financial stake in the team.

April 14, 2020 - 4:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in poetry, news, baseball, video.
Video Sponsor

Paul Spiotta, the voice of the Muckdogs and a member of Batavia Players, reads "Casey at the Bat" by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, in memory of his friend, local sports icon, the late Wayne Fuller.

February 1, 2020 - 10:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, muckdogs, notify, batavia.

Major League Baseball officials are apparently spreading false information about the Batavia Muckdogs as part of a negotiating tactic to destroy professional baseball in 42 communities, including Batavia.

Daniel Halem, MLB's deputy commissioner, said in a letter to a Minor League Baseball official that the Muckdogs have been sold and are being relocated to another city.

That is not true, City Manager Marty Moore said. Moore has spoken both with the Muckdogs general manager and Ben Hayes, president of the New York Penn League. The league owns the team.

Moore said city officials and club officials are excited about the upcoming 2020 season after the team's most successful season in many, many years in 2019 when attendance averaged 1,165 per game, up from 785 the previous season.

In Halem's letter to MiLB's Pat O’Conner, he wrote:

The recent information we learned about the Batavia affiliate not only proves this point but, frankly, calls into questions whether MiLB is truly pursuing a strategy in the “best interests of our 160 community partners.” Batavia is a failing affiliate, with both facility and economic issues, that was put into receivership by the NY Penn League (which essentially owns and operates the team). New York State officials requested that MLB officials meet with Batavia community officials to discuss how to preserve baseball in Batavia. After we set up the meeting, we learned for the first time from multiple sources (but not MiLB) that the NY Penn League sold Batavia — presumably for millions of dollars — to an owner who intends to move the team to another city. While this transaction certainly benefits the NY Penn League owners who may split millions in proceeds by selling an asset with no intrinsic value, we fail to see how it is in the “best interests” of the citizens of Batavia or MLB owners, whose minor league players endure unreasonable travel burdens because MiLB permits its affiliates to hopscotch around the country for purely economic reasons.

Moore said at no point have MLB officials contacted him or anybody else in the City of Batavia.  

Contrary to Halem's letter, if the team is ever sold, its "intrinsic value" would be split between the NYPL, the Rochester Red Wings (who operated the team for 10 years in exchange for equity in the club), and the Genesee Community Baseball Club, a community organization that would return its share of the proceeds to the community.

December 4, 2019 - 2:18pm

Press releases:

The Batavia Muckdogs today praised the newly created Save Minor League Baseball Task Force that has been organized by members of Congress to prevent Major League Baseball (MLB) from eliminating 42 minor league franchises, nearly one quarter of all minor league teams around the country.

“We appreciate the support of Rep. Lori Trahan (D.-Massachusetts), David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and the members of the task force in standing up for Minor League Baseball and speaking out against MLB’s effort cast off thousands of jobs, reduce affordable, family-friendly entertainment and undermine grassroots support for our great game,” said Muckdogs General Manager Brendan Kelly.

The Batavia Muckdogs have been identified as one of the 42 franchises facing elimination under the MLB proposal.

Minor league teams are vital to the social and economic lives of millions of Americans; they support scores of local businesses and jobs, provide accessible entertainment, help promote tourism spending and donate tens of millions of dollars in charitable contributions.

“With this proposal, MLB is willing to break the hearts of dozens of communities across the country,” Kelly said. “We are going to resist this plan and are gratified that so many in Congress are willing to join with us.”

***************

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, Dec. 3 Representatives Lori Trahan (D-MA), David McKinley (R-WV), Max Rose (D- NY), and Mike Simpson (R-ID) announced the official formation of the bipartisan Save Minor League Baseball Task Force.

At the group’s inaugural meeting, interested Members heard from Minor League Baseball (MiLB) President Pat O’Conner and several Minor League team owners. The group discussed strategy to continue the momentum on this urgent issue.

The Save Minor League Baseball Task Force will advocate on behalf of the communities that stand to be mostharmed by MLB’s plan to eliminate 42 minor league franchises. They will closely monitor ongoing negotiationsbetween MLB and MiLB as well as discuss potential legislative action if and when such a remedy becomes necessary.

“I am proud to launch this important Task Force with my co-chairs; Representatives McKinley, Rose, and Simpson," said Congresswoman Trahan. "Together along with our colleagues we will make perfectly clear that Congress is ready to defend ourcommunities, which stand to lose out in MLB’s proposal to slash the number of Minor League teams. The Lowell Spinners and other minor league teams across the United States provide critical economic and cultural benefits to the communities they call home, and Congress must have a voice in this conversation,”

"Baseball is America’s pastime, and minor league teams have a major impact on small communities across our country,” said Congressman McKinley. “While we understand the MLB has concerns: the idea that doingaway with 42 teams is the only solution is not reasonable. We look forward to working with MiLB and MLB tofind a compromise that will preserve affiliated baseball in these cities.”

“Major League Baseball can look at all the ‘sabermetrics’ it wants, but what they don’t understand is the serious impact that losing these baseball teams will have on our communities,” said Congressman Rose. “You won’t see it in any formula, but my colleagues and I have all seen the impact teams like the Staten IslandYankees can have on the faces of the children who show up at the ballpark every year. I’m proud to join this effort to urge the MLB to reconsider.”

“Baseball is America’s pastime and that pastime should not be exclusive to a select number of cities," said Congressman Simpson. "Minor League Baseball is at the heart of many small and rural cities in our country. To deprive those communities of baseball would not only deny them access to our national heritage, but it would also harm local economies that depend on minor league baseball organizations. I am proud to join my colleagues in starting this task force toensure baseball stays vibrant in communities like Idaho Falls and Boise."

A statement from MiLB: "Minor League Baseball values the support of Representatives Trahan, McKinley, Rose and Simpson and the entire Task Force for America’s pastime and for recognizing our positive contributions to their communities andlocal economies as well as dozens of others across the country. While it is our hope to negotiate a fair agreement with MLB, the overwhelming support from elected officials on both sides of the aisle, at all levels ofgovernment, has been tremendous and shows that baseball helps to unite our nation."

The formation of this task force follows a Trahan-McKinley led bipartisan effort along with 104 of their colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to urge MLB to abandon its plan to eliminate 42 Minor League teams.

November 20, 2019 - 2:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, notify, muckdogs.

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Major League Baseball should not end its affiliation with the Batavia Muckdogs, or any of the other 41 minor league teams reportedly on the chopping block without sitting down and listening to local community leaders and minor league executives, Sen. Charles Schumer said during a telephone press conference with Upstate news media today.

"This plan presents some real potential problems for New York State," Schumer said. "We don't know how real it is, but the newspaper reports are very disconcerting. So I am calling today on the MLB and Minor League Baseball to sit down and talk with the community leaders and with team owners to ensure that all the relevant parties can provide feedback and propose constructive solutions before any final decisions are made."

The proposal to eliminate or demote 42 minor league teams is potentially an issue for members of Congress to take up because Major League Baseball enjoys an exemption from the Sherman Anti-Trust Act based on a ruling by the Supreme Court in 1922. Congress has the power to overturn that exemption.

Responding to a question from The Batavian, Schumer declined to comment on how he might respond to any proposal to lift the exemption.

"As for the antitrust exemption, we all know it exists," Schumer said. "Let's see what Major League Baseball has to say. Let's see how quickly and willingly and cooperatively they are willing to sit down with us before we comment on that particular proposal."

The current proposal -- as leaked to The New York Times -- would move 42 teams currently affiliated with major league teams to an independent "Dream League." Schumer acknowledged that it's unclear what MLB means by a "Dream League."

Besides Batavia, teams listed as candidates to lose a major league affiliation are Binghamton, Auburn and Staten Island. Three New York teams -- the Tri-City Valleycats, Hudson Valley Renegades and Brooklyn Cyclones -- would be promoted to AA leagues. That proposal, Schumer noted, would mean the end of the New York Penn League, founded in Batavia 80 years ago.

Complicating matters for Batavia is that the Muckdogs are now owned by the New York Penn League.

For decades, the Muckdogs were owned by the community, run by the Genesee County Baseball Club with a volunteer board of directors. The team has been perpetually for sale for several years. If it ever were sold, some of the proceeds would be returned to the GCBC.  

Club President Brian Paris said last night that any proceeds from the sale would be used for the community's benefit.

So the Muckdogs are, in the true financial sense of the word, a community asset.

Attempts to reach Ben Hayes, NYPL president, to try and clarify how the MLB proposal might affect this community asset have been unsuccessful.

Schumer said the first order of business is getting MLB to listen to the concerns of the communities affected by this proposal. He is seeking a meeting with MLB Commissioner Rob Manafort, whom Schumer hopes will understand the concerns of Upstate communities because he's originally from Rome. 

Loss of the NYPL would be especially devastating for baseball fans in Upstate New York, Schumer said. The Dream League, whatever that might be, Schumer said, might be a sufficient attraction to make professional baseball viable in Upstate.

"The New York Penn League short-season schedule has been ideal for New York baseball fans," Schumer said. "The games get started in mid-June after the colder spring weather; They last through the hot summer months when baseball's at its best, in my opinion."

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul has also weighed into the debate defending baseball in Batavia, stating, "If you’re in Batavia or anywhere nearby, you love the Muckdogs. I’ve been to many of their games. I’ve thrown out opening pitches. My husband and I slip in there at least once or twice a year to catch a game, so it’s part of the identity of the community and especially these small towns. I mean Batavia has a lot going for it, but part of it is being associated with a Minor League Baseball team."

Photo: File photo by Jim Burns.

November 19, 2019 - 5:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, muckdogs, baseball, sports, notify.

It's early in the negotiations and officials with Minor League Baseball are working hard to save all the minor league ball clubs from the chopping block, a spokesman for Minor League Baseball said this evening.

"The game of baseball is just as important to Batavia and Auburn as it is in Charlotte or Indianapolis," said Jeff Lantz. "We want to see baseball grow and thrive and be a part of all of our communities."

He said it's unfortunate that word leaked that Major League Baseball floated a proposal to eliminate some minor league teams, and even more unfortunate that this week a list of teams MLB is proposing to be cut was leaked. Both Batavia and Auburn were on a list of New York Penn League clubs that could be scrapped if MLB is successful in reducing the number of minor league teams from 160 to 120.

"That's not good for anybody," Lantz said. "It's not good for Minor League Baseball. It's not good for the fans, and it's not good for the fans of Batavia and Auburn."

He said it's early in the process and MLB and its officials are meeting this week to negotiate. They'll meet again at the Winter Meetings in a couple of weeks to try and hammer out a deal.

"We'll find out their (MLB's) concerns," Lantz said. "I don't think there are any concerns that can't be addressed through negotiations and finding out the best way to go."

Asked if MLB holds all the cards, Lantz said, obviously, the Appalachian League (of) MLB owns all the franchises and can do with them as they please, but the rest of the teams have separate owners so their status does become a point of negotiation.

The Batavia Muckdogs are owned by the New York Penn League now, but the team's former owner, a community group -- Genesee County Baseball Club -- would receive a part of the proceeds if NYPL ever sold the club. If the club were sold and moved, members of the club have floated the idea of using the funds to start a baseball team in one of the leagues that provides summer baseball for college-level players.

Lantz referred questions about the team's ownership status and how that might play out in these negotiations to league president Ben Hayes.

The Batavian has been unable to reach Hayes although we've tried for the past couple of weeks.

General Manager Brendan Kelly said he was not authorized to talk about the status of the minor league clubs. We were also unable this evening to reach club President Brian Paris.

That said, Lantz confirmed, there will be a 2020 season for the Muckdogs in Batavia. The current contract between MiLB and MLB runs until Sept. 15, 2020.

"The good news is, that gives us 11 months to try to negotiate a deal," Lantz said.

Lantz said one thing that is helping the cause of Minor League Baseball is politicians speaking out to help save the teams in the communities they represent. He cited specifically a member of Congress from Massachusetts who got more than 100 other members of Congress to sign a petition to send to MLB asking MLB to protect these teams.

Sen. Charles Schumer has come out strongly in favor of keeping ball clubs in Batavia and Auburn.

“America’s favorite pastime should not become part of Upstate New York’s past," Schumer said. "It’s no secret that New York’s minor league teams are institutions within their communities, which is why I implore MLB to reconsider any such plans and will be reaching out to them directly to advocate for our New York teams."

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who along with her husband, Bill, is a big fan of the Muckdogs and has attended several games over the years, also sent out a couple of Tweets in support of protecting minor league teams in New York. In one, Hochul wrote, "Foul ball!? @MLB - please say this isn’t so. As the birthplace of baseball and home to the Baseball Hall of Fame, these teams are big economic drivers for our small towns and part of New York’s identity & culture."

UPDATE 8:25 p.m.: Genesee County Baseball Club President Brian Paris said he's had no conversations at this point with Ben Hayes or Minor League Baseball about the future of the Batavia Muckdogs, though he is mindful of the fact that the club has a financial stake in the outcome of negotiations. He noted that Major League Baseball enjoys an antitrust exemption, which could limit the leverage of ball club owners but, citing a Baseball America article, noted that terminating as many as 40 franchises could jeopardize baseball's always tenuous hold on its exemption (which is authorized by Congress). If the Muckdogs are ever sold, Paris noted, it's the intention of the club's board of directors that any proceeds from a sale (about half the value of the club, less operational losses sustained by the NYPL since the league took over) would be used to the benefit the community.

October 6, 2019 - 5:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, sports, batavia, baseball.

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Press release:

Army Staff Sgt. Bellavia of Western New York has been invited to throw out the first pitch at tonight's Washington Nationals baseball game against the the L.A. Dodgers (Oct. 6). The game in D.C. begins at 7:45 p.m. and will be aired on TBS. The two teams are tied at 1-1. 

Shortly after receiving the Medal of Honor at the White House on June 25, Bellavia threw out the first pitch at the Mets/Yankees game on the Fourth of July. 

Coming up
This Saturday, Oct. 12, Bellavia will be honored by the Niagara Falls community with a key to the city and present the talk "Duty 1st with David Bellavia: Serving Country and Community" at the Rapids Theatre. Tickets to the 3 p.m. event are $22 and will benefit a new nonprofit created by Bellavia called Deuce Deuce Relief Fund.

This inaugural fundraiser and Deuce Deuce benefits soldiers from Bellavia's prior Task Force in Iraq (Task Force 2-2), who may be experiencing hardship or require other assistance. 

Tickets are available online through EventBrite, with a link at DavidBellavia.com.

Photo: Submitted by Duty 1st courtesy the New York Mets. The photo is from the Mets v. Yankees game earlier this year.

UPDATE: Video below courtesy Duty 1st.

September 7, 2019 - 6:08am
posted by Billie Owens in muckdogs, sports, batavia, baseball.

Submitted photo and press release:

LOWELL, Mass. -- The incredible, award-winning and division championship season for Batavia Muckdogs came to an end Friday night as the Muckdogs fell to the Lowell Spinner, 4-3 in extra innings.

Joe Davis, who hit a walk-off-home run on Thursday night to stun Batavia, drove in the winning run in the 10th on an infield fielder's choice. The runner from third beat the throw home for the win.

Lowell (Red Sox) will take on Brooklyn (Mets) in the New York-Penn League best-of-three championships. It was a banner year not just for the Muckdogs, but the entire Miami Marlins minor league system.

Batavia had a game plan to get the most out of every pitcher on the staff as seven pitchers held Lowell to four runs while giving up 12 hits. Jackson Rose struck out two in 1.2 innings, then lefty Andrew Miller shut Lowell's runners down going an inning with a strikeout and no runs.

Miller's runners were stranded when Geremy Galindez came in and struck out two over 1.2 innings. Josh Simpson tossed two outs without giving up a run. M.D. Johnson had a two inning stint with two strikeouts and Brock Love continued his dominating season with four strikeouts in two innings. Evan Brabrand took the hard-luck loss, giving up the run in the 10th after two intentional walks with the winning run on third and one out.

Troy Johnston had two hits including a RBI double. Nic Ready also had a RBI double and J.D. Orr had a hit, two walks and stole two bases while scoring.

Harrison Dinicola, Nasim Nunez and Andres Stormes had hits.

There was one tough call against the Muckdogs in the bottom of the sixth with two outs. Batavia appeared to strikeout the final batter of the inning but the umpire believed the batter did not swing and the next pitch resulted in a RBI single tying the game.

Batavia finishes the season as Pinckney Division Champions and won Field of the Year from the New York-Penn League, an honor which will be presented again during the minor league winter meetings and awards.

Photo: Brock Love had a strong outing for Batavia, striking out four in two innings.

September 6, 2019 - 11:45am
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, baseball, sports, batavia.

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Press release:

Joe Davis hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the Lowell Spinners over the Batavia Muckdogs 2-1 in game two of the New York-Penn League playoffs.

With Brooklyn defeating Hudson Valley as both series are tied 1-1. The final game in both series will be Friday night. Batavia is at Lowell, Mass.

If Batavia and Hudson Valley win, the Muckdogs will have home field advantage in the championship series and play Sunday in Hudson Valley, with Monday and Tuesday games in Batavia. If Brooklyn wins, Batavia would host Brooklyn here on Sunday.

Lowell managed both run-off home runs, and received a record-breaking pitching performance by Yusneil Padron-Artilles, who struck out 12 in a row. The old record in the major leagues (Tom Seaver) was 10 and the minor league record was also 10.

Batavia had strong pitching as starter Julio Frias went 4.2 innings giving up one run and struck out five. Bryan Hoening was almost perfect going 3.1 innings, striking out seven and giving up just one hit. Joey Steele struck out one in the ninth and took the loss.

Lowell had just four hits. For Batavia, Milton Smith II was 2-for-3 and Nasim Nunez doubled and scored on a groundout from Dalvy Rosario.

Photo: Batavia starter Julio Frias went 4.2 innings and struck out five.

September 5, 2019 - 10:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, video, baseball, sports, batavia.
Video Sponsor

A couple of years ago players throughout the New York Penn League complained about the field at Dwyer Stadium and League President Ben Hayes wasn't happy with the situation.

On Wednesday night, less than two years after the Muckdogs hired Cooper Thomson as the team's new head groundskeeper, recruiting him from Australia, Hayes was on the field before the Muckdog's first post-season game since 2010 in an absolutely poetic mindset about the state of the field today.

"That's what makes baseball so special," Hayes said before Batavia's opening playoff series game against Lowell, which Batavia won 4-1. "When you see it on TV and you see how beautiful the outfield looks and how beautiful the infield looks, you know the beauty of that is an art and it's hard to find an artist like that."

Hayes announced to the fans before the game that Cooper, his assistant Joe Mogavero, and the rest of the crew were being credited with maintaining the NYPL "Field of the Year," and that Cooper was being named Groundskeeper of the Year.

"The guy has been president for a very long time and we talked early on in the piece about this field then the need for change in this field," Thomson said. "He's ecstatic with the changes and I'm glad that I can bring it to him and the team and make sure that Batavia isn't at the bottom anymore and we're setting the standards."

Previously:

September 5, 2019 - 10:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, baseball, sports, batavia.

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Press release:

It was a banner night for the Batavia Muckdogs, on and "on" the field.

The Muckdogs won game one of the New York-Penn League playoffs with a 4-1 victory over the Lowell Spinners. The two teams play in Lowell, Mass., Thursday.

In the other series, Hudson Valley defeated Brooklyn, 5-4.

Before the game, New York-Penn League President Ben Hayes presented Batavia Muckdogs groundkeeper Cooper Thomson with the New York-Penn League Turf Manager of the Year and the coveted Field of the Year award.

Off the field, the Muckdogs had a crowd of 1,872, the fifth largest of the season at Dwyer for the playoff win.

Lefty Easton Lucas, a 2019 Miami Marlins 14th-round draft pick out of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., got the start and went three innings with shutout baseball allowing two hits and striking out four without a walk.

Lucas left the game with a 1-0 lead and Eli Villalobos earned the win, throwing 3.2 innings of perfect baseball with five strikeouts, no runs, no hits, no walks. Villalobos is a 14th-round Marlins draft pick out of California's Long Beach State.

Brock Love earned the hold by thawing 1.1 innings with three strikeouts and one hit. Evan Brabrand, as he has all season for Batavia, tossed the ninth to get the save.

At the plate, Nic Ready blasted a two-run home run and had two hits. J.D. Orr had a hit and a run, Troy Johnston had an RBI single and scored plus stole a base, Albert Guairmaro had two hits and an RBI and Milton Smith II had a single and stole a base.

Batavia shortstop Dalvy Rosario played outstanding defense and had two hits, a run and stole a base.

Photos by Jim Burns.

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September 3, 2019 - 11:34am

Submitted photos and press release:

When Labor Day started, the Batavia Muckdogs knew a win would get the team in the playoffs, but they needed help from Mahoning Valley.

As the Muckdogs were taking care of business in Auburn, Mahoning Valley in Ohio took a 2-0 lead over West Virginia, the team tied with Batavia on top of the New York-Penn League Pinckney Division.

The first subdued celebration took place when the Muckdogs realized West Virginia lost, 2-0. A few minutes later, a fly ball harmlessly fell in the glove of Troy Johnston, Batavia had a 7-0 win over Auburn and won the division, the first title in nine years.

Batavia will host Lowell in a best-of-three playoff series on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. Tickets for season ticket holders are on sale now for only $5 each. Tickets at all levels will be $1 off the regular game-day price. The box office will be open, the website is muckdogs.com and the phone number is 585-483-3647.

The pressure to win was off the offense on Monday thanks to the pitching of Edgar Martinez. The hard-throwing 22-year-old righty was signed by the Miami Marlins out of the Dominican Republic. He went a season-high six innings throwing shut out baseball giving up just two hits and one walk while striking out six.

When he left the game, Batavia had a 5-0 lead thanks to home runs from Nic Ready and Troy Johnston plus a triple from Dalvy Rosario.

"I felt emotional, but I had to keep my emotions in check knowing it was a big game to pitch … it was my turn, I had to do my job," said Martinez, who added his fastball and slider were working. "I felt good after six innings and wanted to keep going but I knew my pull pen would pick me up. My fastball and slider were working well."

Johnston, who belted the two-run home run in the third inning, said the Batavia fans helped the team after losing two straight before Monday. He also said the Marlins are putting winning teams together.

"It was frustrating at the times, but we thank the fans for sticking with us and their support, we really thank them as they really pushed us over the edge to win a league title," said Johnston. "We traveled really, really well. It almost felt like World Series Game 7 as more than half the fans were your home team and it was awesome to see.

"This was a lot of games and it came down to the wire. We have a close-knit team and it's really exciting we could come together and win a championship like this," Johnston continued. "It's really important, I think, that the Marlins noticed this. It's important to teach guys how to win, if you don't know how to win then you can't be successful. This team really knows how to win and helpfully we carry this on to the playoffs and the championship game."

Johnston, a 17th-round pick of the Marlins this year out of Gonzaga University (Spokane, Wash.), turned on a 3-1 fastball and blasted it well over the right field fence.

"It was really exciting, I worked a 3-1 count which is a pitchers count and he threw one down the middle. It felt good, I knew it off the bat and it's good to get the team ahead," Johnston said. "I was talking to the Auburn Doubledays bull pen the whole game, so it was a little scoreboard watching and playing the game!"

Batavia manager Tom Lawless was spent part of the 2016 season as the manager of the Houston Astros. After his successful Major League Baseball career, which included a home run in the World Series, he has been a manager and coach. He said it's exciting to win, no matter the level.

"Winning is the same. It's hard to win, that's the way I look at it," said Lawless. "When you start a season and you end up winning the division, it takes a lot. It takes a lot on a daily basis to perform like you are supposed to every single game, whether it's a short season or a long season, if you can grind it out and make the playoffs, then it becomes a short-season. And you go out and do your best."

Lawless said the team may have tired a little down the stretch, as the Muckdogs lost two straight before Monday.

"We played so hard against West Virginia. I think after that we came out flat, but the boys stepped up to the plate today and got going and the pitching did the rest for us," Lawless said. "It's baseball, you never know. You leave after Spring Training and your goal is to play at the end of the year, be in contention and play well. We struggled the last two weeks scoring runs and I think the guys were tired.

"Give them credit, they could have packed it in, but they scored runs and both sides of the baseball showed up. The pressure is off, they made the playoffs," Lawless continued. "This team (Auburn) showed they can score runs and they beat us a couple times handily and we won some close games, in this game, anything can happen

As for the performance of his starter, Lawless said of Martinez, "He attacked the strike done, he got a lot of outs early in the game, which is why he could keep pitching in the game."

Brock Love tossed a perfect seventh then Joey Steele shut down Auburn the eighth and got a strikeout, then Evan Brabrand retired all three batters in a row in the ninth. Brabrand, the closer, has a 1.29 ERA this season.

Catcher Mikey Hernandez is in his third year of professional baseball and said this is his first playoff team.

"It was great to be a part of this, everyone has bought into this, especially the pitching staff. Everyone knows their roles and their job," Hernandez said. "This pitching staff, we have a lot of pitchers and a lot of experience. It's great as a team to see how successful they are."

J.D. Orr had a two-RBI double for Batava, his ninth of the season while the home run was Ready's 10th of the season and he has 47 RBIs. Johnston's HR was his third while Rosario hit his 15th double and Andres Sthormes had his second double. Albert Guaimaro continued his hot streak with a single.

Top photo: Edgar Martinez fires a slider on Monday against Auburn. He threw six scoreless innings for his fourth win of the season, which won the division for Batavia.

Bottom photo: The Muckdogs celebrate winning the Pinckney Division title.

September 2, 2019 - 10:51am
posted by Billie Owens in muckdogs, batavia, sports, baseball.

Submitted photo and press release:

It was a wild Sunday in the New York-Penn League Pinckney Division as the first-place Batavia Muckdogs fell to Auburn, 3-1 and West Virginia, which is tied with Batavia for first, lost to Mahoning Valley, 11-1.

As a result the teams are tied with 40-35 records. Batavia is at Auburn on Labor Day at 1:05 p.m. and West Virginia is at Mahoning Valley at the same time.

Auburn took a 3-0 as Pedro Gonzalez tossed five innings of no-hit ball with six strikeouts.

Batavia scored as Dalvy Rosario doubled and scored on a J.D. Orr RBI.

But that was all the Muckdogs could muster. The pitching staff was solid as Jackson Rose took the hard-luck loss, going 4.2 innings with five strikeouts, no walks and a hit.

Josh Simpson went 2.1 innings with a strikeout and Jonakier Villalobos went two innings with a strikeout.

Orr stole two bases to give him 29 on the season while Milton Smith II stole his 20th base.

If the Muckdogs make the playoffs as the division winner or the wild card champion, playoff tickets will go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Call 585-483-3647 for information on 2020 season tickets.

Photo: Batavia's Sean Reynolds used his 6-foot-8 frame to leap, snag this ball over his head then reach bag to tag Landerson Pena of Auburn.

September 1, 2019 - 2:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, muckdogs, baseball.

Submitted photo and press release:

A fan will win a $500 airline voucher today for Allegiant Airlines at the Batavia Muckdogs game at Dwyer Stadium.

Gates are at 4:05 pm. and first pitch is at 5:05 p.m.

Batavia General Manager Brendan Kelly announced other specials as well today including $2 Sahlen's Hot Dogs, $3 for all 16 ounce beers and $4 for the Eli Fish craft beer selection.

There are also new autographed items in the team store and the 2019 trading cards are going fast.

Fans have a chance to hold their current seat or reserve your favorite seat for the 2020 season for only $50! That will hold your seat until April 1. To get the low early-bird pricing, pay in full by Oct. 15.

The ticket office is open or call 585-483-3647.

September 1, 2019 - 11:26am
posted by Billie Owens in muckdogs, baseball, news.

Submitted photo and press release:

The wild 2019 New York-Penn League season will come down to the last day for division winners and the wild card as seven teams fighting for two spots are separated by one game.

Batavia and West Virginia each have a 40-34 record in the Pinckney Division while Hudson Valley, Aberdeen, Brooklyn and Staten Island are in the mix as well.

Batavia lost, 12-5 to Auburn on Saturday night, while West Virginia swept Mahoning Valley.

A crowd of 2,133 packed Dwyer Stadium Saturday for Fan Appreciation Night as the Muckdogs attendance has reached 42,101 (average of 1,169) for the season with today's game left at 5:05 p.m. In 2018, 29,005 fans attended games in Batavia.

Nic Ready hit his 30th double of the season for Batavia while Troy Johnston singled and drove in his 33rd run of the year. Jack Strunc (RBI, his 17th), Albert Guaimaro (RBI, his 16th), J.D. Orr and Dalvy Rosario had hits. Harrison Dinicola drove in his 12th run of the season.

Edison Suriel tossed a perfect inning with a strikeout and newest Muckdog, lefty Andrew Nardi threw a perfect inning with two strikeouts. Nerd was a 16th-round draft pick of the Miami Marlins this year out of Arizona. The 21-year-old is from West Hills, Calif. The Muckdogs also added the second round pick of the draft by the Marlins, Nasim Nunez to the roster. Nunez,19, was drafted out of Collins Hill High in Georgia. He is a switch-hitter.

The gates open at 4:05 p.m. today and there will be autograph alley. There will be autographed team helmets and other items for sale. It is the final home game of the regular season. The Muckdogs end the season at 1 p.m. on Labor Day in Auburn.

The box office will be open at noon today.

M.D. Johnson delivers a pitch to the plate with Jack Strunc playing second. Johnson struck out two in 1.2 innings.

August 31, 2019 - 12:47pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, muckdogs, BHS Section V champs, baseball, batavia.

Press release:

The Batavia Muckdogs want to see a big crowd for tonight's 7:05 game against the Auburn Doubledays; it's Fan Appreciation Night with a post-game Disney-themed fireworks show presented by Ferrellgas.

The Muckdogs are in the midst of a heated playoff race and look to PACK THE PARK with great ticket and food and beverage specials!

To celebrate Fan Appreciation Night, all general admission tickets will be only $5.

Food and beverage specials will include $2 hot dogs, $2 peanuts, $1 chips and $3 craft beer cans.

The Batavia High School 2019 Section V championship team will be honored as well.

In addition, the team will host a post-game launch a ball contest with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the Willie Bee Foundation. Fans will have the opportunity to purchase six tennis balls for $5 for the chance to win round-trip airfare on Allegiant Air and other great prizes.

Tickets are available now online at Muckdogs.com or can be purchased at the Dwyer Stadium Box Office until the seventh inning on today.

About the Willie Bee Foundation

The Willie Bee Foundation is a not for profit charitable organization that benefits local families that have a child facing life threatening ailments by proving monetary, medical and social support services.

About the Muckdogs

Recognized as the birthplace of the New-York Penn League and one of it’s founding franchises, 2019 marks the 80th season of professional baseball in Batavia. Operated by Batavia Muckdogs Inc., the Muckdogs are the Class A Short Season Affiliate of the Miami Marlins and the only professional sports franchise in Genesee County.

Submitted photo of BHS 2019 varsity baseball team and coaches -- Section V champions -- first published June 1.

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