Representatives Trahan and McKinley Lead Bipartisan Call for Major League Baseball (MLB) to Abandon Harmful Reorganization Effort
Washington, November 19, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Lori Trahan (D-MA) and David McKinley (R-WV) led a bipartisan effort with 104 of their colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to urge Major League Baseball (MLB) to abandon its plan to eliminate 42 Minor League teams. This effort follows recent reporting by the Boston Globe and others that the MLB’s proposal would disband short-season leagues like the New York-Penn League in which Lowell plays, eliminating 42 affiliated teams in total 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 nearly 25-year affiliation between the Lowell Spinners and the Boston Red Sox would end if the radical reorganization proposed by the MLB comes to pass.
“The Lowell Spinners and other minor league teams across the United States provide critical economic and cultural benefits to the communities they call home. I was alarmed by news that the MLB is considering a reorganization that will wipe out the Spinners and 41 other minor league teams across the country. The Spinners bring enormous pride and joy to the Greater Lowell Community and the City has invested heavily in LeLacheur Park and surrounding infrastructure, providing an affordable, fun night out for families in the region. I am proud that my friend, Rep. David McKinley, and 104 of our colleagues in the Congress have joined forces to stand up for our communities. Together we are sending a clear, bipartisan message that the MLB plan is way off base, and the People’s House is ready to standup for Minor League Baseball,” said Congresswoman Trahan.
“Minor league baseball is an important part of the fabric of communities in all corners of America. These clubs employ thousands of people, donate millions of dollars to local charities, and provide families with affordable entertainment. This proposal to fundamentally change the minor league system would be a blow to small towns in West Virginia and across the nation. I am proud to help lead this effort to protect minor league baseball and the communities it serves,” said Congressman McKinley.
“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,” the Members wrote in a letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.
“Congresswoman Lori Trahan has stepped up to the plate and connected big time for the Lowell Spinners and all of Minor League Baseball,” said Spinners owner Dave Heller. “Writing a letter that, in less than two weeks, has garnered the signatures of more than one hundred Members of Congress, in a bipartisan manner, is incredibly impressive and speaks volumes about the support Minor League Baseball has in the Merrimack Valley and all across our great country. We appreciate Congresswoman Trahan’s outstanding work and her tireless support of our national pastime. I know everyone in Minor League Baseball feels a little better about our chances of protecting these 42 teams with Lori Trahan on our side.”
On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, Congresswoman Trahan spoke on the House Floor in support of the Lowell Spinners. The Lowell Spinners are a Class A Short Season Minor League Baseball affiliate of the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball (MLB).
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.