Announcement of Morgantown minor league team to come Monday - - Times West Virginian

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Announcement of Morgantown minor league team to come Monday


MORGANTOWN — Minor league baseball is coming to Morgantown.

The official announcement that the Jamestown (N.Y.) Jammers of the New York-Penn League, a Pittsburgh Pirates Class A farm club, will come to play in West Virginia University’s new stadium that is scheduled to be completed next year will be made today at a 4 p.m. press conference at the WVU Coliseum.

That Jamestown would make the move was reported first here in March, 2013, when Pat O’Conner, president of minor league baseball, and Ben Hayes, president of the New York-Penn League, appeared at a press conference held to help push through the passage of the new stadium.

Among those in attendance at the press conference will be WVU athletic director Oliver Luck along with select baseball, city, county and state officials.

The New York-Penn League is a short season minor league with the season running from mid-June until September 1. With the late start they won’t conflict with WVU’s season at the new $22 million stadium being constructed at the University Town Centre.

A recent economic analysis showed the baseball team generated $3.5 million a year for the economy in Jamestown, where it has been located for the past 20 years, and it is expected to do the same or better in Morgantown.

The Jammers are owned by the Rich family, who made their fortune in the frozen food business.

Rich Products markets more than 2,000 frozen food items that are sold in more than 110 countries; it has kitchens and bakeries around the world, including about 50 locations on six continents.

The business is run by Robert Rich out of Buffalo, New York where he also owns the Triple-A minor league Buffalo Bisons. Rich is said to be worth $3 billion and was listed 592nd on Forbes list of global billionaires, according to Wikipedia.

It isn’t known if local ownership will come forward to purchase the team.

“In short, we’re just thrilled about the potential opportunity to relocate here,” Hayes said when visiting for the earlier press conference.

O’Conner saw the use of the stadium and minor league tenant as an asset not only to the community but to the school.

“You will see a tremendous spillover into the academic side,” O’Conner added. “You are creating a laboratory for students to learn game operations, business, marketing. We do that well across the board in minor league baseball with internships and programs that allow students to learn the game hands on in a working environment.”

The New York-Penn League has been in operation since 1939 and has featured a number of future Hall of Fame players such as left-handed pitcher Warren Spahn, second baseman Nellie Fox and third baseman Wade Boggs, along with other stars such as Don Mattingly.

The league normally is the starting place for players out of the June draft, often their No. 1 picks.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel