Capito helping lead effort protecting minor league clubs

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bipartisan U.S. House of Representatives group introduced a measure last month asking Major League Baseball to reconsider a proposal that would eliminate or demote 42 minor league teams nationwide.

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate introduced a similar resolution.

The effort — spearheaded by Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. — encourages Major League Baseball to continue discussions to preserve teams’ affiliations and existence.

Major League Baseball officials want to replace its deal with the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues at the end of the year because of costs. Thirteen teams would close and 29 other clubs would lose their affiliation if Major League Baseball’s deal goes through.

Three of the affected teams are based in West Virginia: the West Virginia Power in Charleston, the Bluefield Blue Jays and the Princeton Rays.

“For dozens of years, minor league baseball’s legacy and tradition has run deep in West Virginia,” Capito said in a press release. “The game has fostered players on their way to the majors and in pursuit of their dreams of playing professional baseball. The franchises who call West Virginia home enhance our towns by providing affordable entertainment to families and partnering with schools and sports leagues to promote the national pastime.”

The resolution notes the economic and social impact of minor league teams, specifically 40 million people who attended a game in the last 15 years.

“I hope that this resolution will continue to encourage dialogue and partnership so that the relationships that have been built over decades can continue,” Capito said.

During the Presidents Day recess, Capito visited the Bluefield Blues Jays facility to discuss the impact of the proposal.

U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., is leading the House’s effort alongside Reps. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho; Lori Trahan, D-Mass.; and Max Rose, D-N.Y. The co-chairs of the Save Minor League Baseball Task Force introduced their resolution on Jan. 28.

“Doing away with 42 teams is not a reasonable solution,” McKinley said last month. “We are hopeful that MiLB and MLB can find a compromise that will preserve the 42 MiLB teams and address MLB’s concerns.”

The Senate measure has received bipartisan support, including from Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, as well as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

“(Minor league baseball) has a rich history in #WV and has introduced countless youth to our national pastime. That’s why I’m proud to cosponsor a resolution in support of keeping our Minor League teams, including @BluefieldJays @PrincetonRays & @wv_power,” Manchin tweeted Thursday.

Gov. Jim Justice previously announced opposition to the proposal. He spoke to Manfred in December about the proposed deal.

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