(WVNS) — When word broke the Appalachian Baseball League was no longer going to exist, teams, community members, and managers were crushed, including Rocky Malamisura, General Manager for the Blufield Blue Jays.
“Bluefield, as well as the other teams within the Appalachian League, were on the contraction list which was devastating for us to comprehend we could lose baseball in the Appalachian league after being around for well over 100 years,” Malamisura said.
Luckily for the Appalachian League, they are still going to be playing baseball, just in a new format.
On Tuesday, September 29, 2020, Major League Baseball and USA Baseball announced the Appalachian League will become the First Collegiate Summer League in the Prospect Development Pipeline; a wooden bat league for college athletes which will include 10 teams and 300 athletes.
“The Prospect Development Pipeline which has been in place for a few years. It is spectacular, they have an opportunity to showcase their talents to get some education along the way, in terms of what it takes to get to the professional level as well as playing at the college level,” Mike Gaski, President of USA Baseball said.
The decision to join the league was a no brainer for presidents and managers, especially ones who wanted to keep baseball alive in their towns.
“Everybody immediately said we are in. Before the pitch was even halfway through, it as welcomed and encouraged and just continued to get better as we talked it through,” Harold Reynolds, MLB Network Analyst said.
Some even think this league could potentially be better than their old league. Malamisura said they will have the chance to rebrand and rename their teams, too.
“It will be very high quality of baseball. In ways it may actually be better in what we had with the affiliated baseball,” Malamisura said.
This is because they are not dealing with contracts through the MLB. Even U.S. Senator Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) said she is thrilled baseball is coming back to these communities.
“Overall, I think it is an exciting way for families to join together and an affordable way to watch great baseball and get an appreciation for baseball,” Senator Capito said.
The league is set to begin in 2021.