Vermont Team...Passion for baseball

I grew up in Northern Vermont where baseball was an after though to hockey. My father had moved to Vermont with my grandparents in the early 1970's from Long Island, NY and previously Brooklyn, NY.

Whenever I'd go to my grandparents house I'd hear amazing stories from my Grandfather about the great Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants and New York Yankees. He told me about sneaking into games and about how when they couldn't sneak in they find money to get in to watch the greats play.

These stories became like fairy tales to me because it was something I knew I'd never see, especially growing up in northern Vermont. We were about two hours from Montreal, and at the time the Expos were still putting a decent product on the field, so every year we'd make the trip north.

What most Vermonters settled for was minor league baseball. Vermont had the Vermont Reds and then the Vermont Mariners both teams relocated out of Vermont. In the mid 1990's the Jamestown Jammers were relocated to Vermont and became the Vermont Expos.

The Vermont Expos had and still have a huge local following. After the Expos moved south to Washington they became the Vermont Lake Monsters (a fan vote name), and eventually lost their affiliation with Washington which was picked up by Oakland this past season. Oakland...3,044 miles away.

Recently, Major League Baseball has sighted major issues with Vermont's ballpark, Centennial Field. Upgrades were made to the park but it still isn't where it needs to be. Prior to the renovations there was a threat Vermont would lose their team. The field is owned by the University of Vermont who dropped their baseball program a few years ago.

During my high school years I was more concerned with picking girls and playing sports then attending games, but as I got older I realized how much I enjoyed watching minor league baseball. It was affordable, fun and their was a sense of family between the fans and the players.

After I graduated from the University of Vermont I moved to Long Island, NY. Long Island is the home of one of the most successful minor league organizations the Long Island Ducks. Every year the Ducks outsell their seating capacity of 100% (Once the game sells out they sell standing room tickets). They provide a fun family environment with great baseball. They have a huge fan base and much of the revenue generated is from the local community.

Every time I go to game their I'm reminded why I love baseball.

The Ducks are a member of the Atlantic League the most successful independent league in baseball. Many former major leaguers have graced Atlantic League fields including Hall of famer Rickey Henderson, Carl Everett, Edgardo Alfonso, and former Rookie of the Year Angel Berroa to name a few.

Leagues like the New York-Penn League where Vermont currently plays is that it is one of the lowest forms of minor league baseball less than 10% of players in the NY-Penn League will make it to the majors, while most Atlantic League rosters are filled with former MLBers. Currently the Ducks have 13 former Major Leaguers on their 25 fan roster. They also have four former major league players as their coaches.

Recently, the Atlantic League decided to expand to south placing teams in Sugarland, TX, and Loudoun, VA. They are also trying to get a team in Nassau County on Long Island, NY (recently the vote to build a new arena and ballpark with public funds was voted down).

In past years the Atlantic League has help provide public and private funding to build new start of the art ballparks for their teams.

With all the problems going on in Vermont with their ballpark, team wouldn't you think an Atlantic League team would be a good fit?

Before I get ahead of myself their are rules and guidelines that are followed between Major League Baseball and Independent League teams. Certain territories are off limits because of agreements with Major League Baseball (Let's forget about that for a second).

I personally think that putting an Atlantic League team in Vermont would be a great idea. Here's a team that would be self sufficient, and would have the support of the league to help them get a new ballpark which would help the Burlington area; giving it a major venue for concerts and events.

Not only that the level of baseball would increase and would go from having low level minor leaguers to former MLBers.

I'd like to hear peoples thoughts on this.

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