UPDATE MAY 27: Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time! The proposed sale of the Batavia Muckdogs is off. It would have created the first pro baseball team to have majority Black ownership, but the deal fell through because other entities (perhaps the Orioles, the Eastern League or the Carolina League — or all three) refused to waive their territorial rights to Waldorf, Maryland, which is where the franchise would’ve moved.
The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle newspaper has the full report.
ORIGINAL REPORT: It’s been a common occurrence across the baseball landscape to have a franchise in an independent league take up residence in a ballpark vacated by affiliated Minor League Baseball. Many notable parks have been saved from the wrecking ball because an indy team became a tenant.
The tables could turn, because a New York Penn League (NYPL) club could be moving to an indy park. The Batavia Muckdogs, who’ve had a for-sale sign out for many years, could be sold to a group of investors based in Washington, D.C. According to Baseball America, these prospective owners would like to move the Muckdogs to Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, currently the home of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the independent Atlantic League.
In so doing, the Muckdogs would become the first team in the sport to have majority Black ownership.
While this would solve the dilemma of what to do with the unprofitable franchise in Batavia (home of Dwyer Stadium, which opened in 1939 — see photo), there are a number of obstacles to this move.
First, Waldorf is a suburb of Washington, D.C., and both the Nationals and Orioles could object to having another affiliated team in their territories. One assumes this could be overcome, because the Nationals are likely to become the franchise’s big-league parent, while the Orioles could appreciate having another NYPL franchise fairly close to their affiliate in Aberdeen, MD.
Another hurdle could come from the Double-A Eastern League, High-A Carolina League or Low-A South Atlantic League, all of which operate at a higher level than the NYPL and could consider Maryland in their footprints. Higher levels are given first choice on new markets.
The Atlantic League might not be keen on losing the Waldorf market, as the Blue Crabs have done well there. Rick White, the president of the league, told myCentralJersey.com that the report saying the team would have to find another place to play “was premature.”
One aspect that is not in dispute is that the sport would like to see minority ownership of franchises, and this appears to be an excellent way to make that happen.