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Elephant Rumblings: New Pioneer League team to keep baseball in Oakland

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Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics
Ballers executive VP Don Wakamatsu (at right) in Oakland as Rangers Bench Coach in 2018.
Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

Happy Wednesday, Athletics Nation!

Professional baseball won’t be over in Oakland when the A’s move, as a new team of Ballers is coming to town in 2024.

The Oakland Ballers introduced themselves on Tuesday as the newest Pioneer Baseball League team. They will be the first West Coast team in the PBL, which currently includes teams from Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Utah. I still have a foul ball I snatched from the 28th consecutive game won by former Pioneer League team the Salt Lake Trappers back in 1987.

Melissa Lockard at The Athletic did a fine writeup on the new team yesterday. The Ballers were founded by East Bay natives Paul Freedman and Brian Carmel, who have secured $2 million in seed funding from more than 50 investors, and plan to roll out a public ownership offering similar to that of the Oakland Roots soccer franchise.

“Baseball is a sport with deep roots in this country and a rich legacy in the East Bay. That could never be owned by one person,” said Freedman in a team release.

The Ballers are clearly following a far more community-engaged—or rooted, if you will—mode of operation than any MLB franchise. They have worked closely with leaders of the “Sell” movement like Oakland 68’s president Jorge Leon.

Somewhat ironically, the Ballers are in talks to play their home games at the Laney College Baseball Field. Before Howard Terminal, building at Laney was another of several plans that never came close to fruition for the Oakland A’s.

Mayor Thao was credited as supporting the team’s efforts to get off the ground; she congratulated the team on Tuesday.

Can the “Sell” movement make a grand statement next year by getting more fans out to B’s games than the A’s can draw to the Coli? We shall see.

Congratulations and thanks to everyone who brought the Ballers to Oakland are in order! Here’s to a successful inaugural season in 2024.

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