Going to bat for Minor League

Ryan co-sponsors resolution to stop teams from striking out

NILES — U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan is crying foul over consideration by Major League Baseball to scrap its affiliation with 42 minor league teams, including the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

Ryan, D-Howland, joined 66 other House members — including Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Bainbridge Township — in going to bat to introduce a bipartisan resolution Tuesday urging MLB to maintain its current minor league structure.

There is discussion that MLB may eliminate development contracts starting in 2021 with certain minor league teams, including the Scrappers, that play at Eastwood Field in Niles as part of the New York-Penn League.

“The Mahoning Valley Scrappers are a pillar of our community and provide an affordable and fun way for families to spend time together,” said Ryan, a member of the House’s Save Minor League Baseball Task Force. “These minor league teams are an integral part of American baseball. Not only do they offer a pipeline to the MLB, they stand as a cultural cornerstone in communities like mine.”

Jordan Taylor, the Scrappers’ general manager, said the team “greatly appreciates Congressman Ryan’s support as we fight to keep the” Scrappers an affiliated minor league team past the 2020 season.

“The Mahoning Valley Scrappers have been an important part of the community for over 20 years, and the potential loss would have significant economic and cultural impact on our community,” Taylor said.

The House resolution reads, in part, that the “abandonment of 42 minor league baseball clubs” would “devastate communities, bond purchasers and other stakeholders that rely on the economic stimulus these clubs provide.”

Ryan was among 105 House members who signed a letter Nov. 19 to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred in opposition to the plan to eliminate the 42 minor league teams and for him to “ensure the continuation of affiliated baseball in our communities.”

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine — who, along with his family, owns a North Carolina minor league team not among the 42 on the chopping block — wrote Manfred a Jan. 17 letter urging him to reconsider the plan to eliminate Minor League Baseball teams.

“Though I fully realize that baseball is a business, I think this shrinkage in Minor League Baseball — and the possible elimination of all the teams in Minor League Baseball — is a horrible business decision,” DeWine wrote.

More than 4 million fans have visited Eastwood Field since it opened in 1999. In 2019, about 99,000 people attending Scrappers games.

Also in 2019, Minor League Baseball completed its 15th consecutive season with an attendance of more than 40 million and it was the ninth-largest single season total in its 100-year-plus history.



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