(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD) joined Reps. Lori Trahan (D-MA) and David McKinley (R-WV) and a bipartisan coalition of 103 House Members in opposing Major League Baseball's (MLB) plan to eliminate 42 Minor League teams. This bipartisan effort follows recent reporting by the Boston Globe and others that the MLB’s proposal would disband short-season leagues, eliminating 42 affiliated teams in total -- including Maryland's own Frederick Keys and Hagerstown Suns -- and would shrink the number of affiliated minor league teams by 25 percent.
In a letter written to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, with every team copied, the Members of Congress underscored the damage this move would cause to the communities where the at-risk teams are located.
The Members wrote: “The abandonment of Minor League clubs by Major League Baseball would devastate our communities, their bond purchasers, and other stakeholders affected by the potential loss of these clubs. We want you to fully understand the impact this could have not only on the communities we represent, but also on the long-term support that Congress has always afforded our national pastime on a wide variety of legislative initiatives.”
According to an October 18, 2019 report in Baseball America, 25 percent of Minor League teams may lose their Player Development Contract (PDC) for the 2021 season and beyond. The following list of teams are being targeted for elimination by MLB: Lancaster JetHawks (CA), Grand Junction Rockies (CO), Rocky Mountain Vibes (CO), Connecticut Tigers (CT), Daytona Tortugas (FL), Florida Fire Frogs (FL), Idaho Falls Chukars (ID), Burlington Bees (IA), Clinton LumberKings (IA), Lexington Legends (KY), Frederick Keys (MD), Hagerstown Suns (MD), Lowell Spinners (MA), Great Falls Voyagers (MT), Missoula Osprey (MT), Billings Mustangs (MT), Burlington Royals (NC), Auburn Doubledays (NY), Batavia Muckdogs (NY), Binghamton Rumble Ponies (NY), Staten Island Yankees (NY), Mahoning Valley Scrappers (OH), Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (OR), Erie Seawolves (PA), State College Spikes (PA), Williamsport Crosscutters (PA), Chattanooga Lookouts (TN), Elizabethton Twins (TN), Greeneville Reds (TN), Jackson Generals (TN), Johnson City Cardinals (TN), Kingsport Mets (TN), Orem Owlz (UT), Ogden Raptors (UT), Vermont Lake Monsters (VT), Bluefield Blue Jays (VA), Bristol Pirates (VA), Danville Braves (VA), Tri-City Dust Devils (WA), Princeton Rays (WV), West Virginia Power (WV), and Beloit Snappers (WI).
The MLB plan was offered in spite of the fact that Minor League Baseball (MiLB) just completed its 15th consecutive season with an attendance above 40 million; and it was the ninth-largest single season total in MiLB’s 100-plus year history. Many of the Minor League clubs would fail without a PDC—leaving as many as 1,200 players out of work. The plan is a betrayal of the fans, players, municipalities, stadium vendors and employees who have supported these clubs for decades.
You can view the final letter HERE and see the text below:
November 18, 2019
Dear Commissioner Manfred,
We are writing to express our firm opposition to Major League Baseball’s radical proposal to eliminate numerous Minor League Baseball clubs. If enacted, it would undermine the health of the minor league system that undergirds talent development and encourages fan loyalty. It would particularly be felt in areas far from a major league team or where tickets to a major league game are cost-prohibitive.
Tens of millions of fans attend Minor League Baseball games each season. These professional baseball clubs are vital components of our communities because they provide affordable, family-friendly entertainment to members of our communities, support scores of allied businesses, employ thousands of individuals, donate millions of dollars in charitable funds, and connect our communities to Major League Baseball. A number of these Minor League clubs operate at a loss but continue to persist due to strong fan support and club ownerships’ commitment to their communities and America’s Pastime.
The abandonment of Minor League clubs by Major League Baseball would devastate our communities, their bond purchasers, and other stakeholders affected by the potential loss of these clubs. We want you to fully understand the impact this could have not only on the communities we represent, but also on the long-term support that Congress has always afforded our national pastime on a wide variety of legislative initiatives.
For over a century, Congress has taken numerous actions specifically designed to protect, preserve, and sustain a system and structure for both Major and Minor League Baseball to flourish.
You are the most important steward of the great game of baseball and tasked with ensuring the popularity and love of it across the world. Reducing the number of Minor League Baseball clubs and overhauling a century-old system that has been consistently safeguarded by Congress is not in the best interest of the overall game of baseball, especially when Major League Baseball’s revenues are at all-time highs.
As members of Congress who recognize the tremendous value of the Minor League system, we ask Major League Baseball to strongly reconsider its proposed course with Minor League Baseball and do all that it can to ensure the continuation of affiliated baseball in our communities.
Representatives Lori Trahan, David McKinley, Mark Pocan, David Trone, Tim Ryan, Max Rose, David Loebsack, Joe Courtney, Jamie Raskin, William R. Keating, Deb Haaland, Susan Wild, Joseph Morelle, Cindy Axne, Marcy Kaptur, Joe Cunningham, TJ Cox, Veronica Escobar, Peter A. DeFazio, Chrissy Houlahan, Lauren Underwood, Brian Higgins, Elissa Slotkin, Sean Patrick Maloney, Joseph P. Kennedy, III, Suzan DelBene, Ann McLane Kuster, Peter Welch, Anthony Brindisi, Chris Pappas, David Price, John Yarmuth, Kathleen M. Rice, Joyce Beatty, Andy Levin, Doris Matsui, Abby Finkenauer, John Garamendi, Lloyd Doggett, Alma S. Adams, Ph.D., Steven Horsford, Kurt Shrader, Jimmy Panetta, David N. Cicilline, Jose Serrano, Marc Veasey, Dina Titus, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Suzanne Bonamici, Antonio Delgado, Marcia L. Fudge, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, James E. Clyburn, Susie Lee, Jerry McNerney, Terri Sewell, Betty McCollum, Paul D. Tonko, Chellie Pingree, Anthony G. Brown, Donald McEachin, Elise Stefanik, Rob Bishop, David P. Roe, M.D., Scott R. Tipton, Denver Riggleman, John Moolenaar, Andy Barr, Chris Stewart, Mike Simpson, Mark E.Green, MD, Brian Fitzpatrick, Michael R.Turner, Glenn "GT" Thompson, David Kustoff, Jim Banks, Steve Womack, Chuck Fleischmann, Fred Keller, Doug Lamborn, H. Morgan Griffith, Tim Burchett, Mike D. Rogers, Kevin Hern, John Katko, Rick Crawford, Mark Amodei, Mark Walker, Brett Guthrie, Carol D. Miller, Robert Aderholt, Tom Reed, Robert J. Wittman, Mike Kelly, French Hill, Greg Gianforte, David Joyce, Markwayne Mullin, Ted Budd, William R. Timmons IV, Christopher H. Smith, Michael Waltz, Richard Hudson, Ken Calvert, Brad R. Wenstrup, and Kevin McCarthy.