In 1939, the New York-Penn League (NY-P League) was founded in Batavia, NY (formerly known as the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York (PONY) League), and has been the oldest, continuously run Class A league in professional baseball. . As one of the founding members of the league, the Batavia Club has proudly provided affordable family entertainment for the Batavia community and Western New York for decades. Unfortunately, Major League Baseball has announced that they will no longer offer Major League Baseball club membership to Batavia and most other clubs in the New York-Penn League. The result of the Major League Baseball action means the end of professional baseball in Batavia.
The Major League Baseball announcement was part of other major changes made to the minor leagues’ player development structure, which includes the elimination of the Rookie classification and the NY-P League’s Class A – Short Season classification of professional baseball. In sum, Major League Baseball believes that these classifications are no longer necessary to develop players.
NY-P League President Ben Hayes recently said: “The elimination of this historic league as part of Major League Baseball’s player development system is truly heartbreaking for NY-P League fans, communities, club staff and club owners. Unfortunately, most of the NY-P League clubs played their last professional baseball games in 2019, and neither they nor their fans knew at the time that it would be their last professional baseball season. Elimination of these ratings of professional baseball by Major League Baseball will result in thousands of players, who would have had an opportunity to develop and compete to play in the Major League, will no longer have the chance to live their dream. I’ve been working with Batavia Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski for the past few months to ensure that the Batavia community will continue to enjoy live baseball at the historic Dwyer Stadium. ”
Throughout his professional baseball history, the Batavia Club enjoyed four NY-P League championships, and Batavia fans saw many players who continued to have exceptional Major League careers, including Steve Blass, Doc Ellis, Cito Gaston, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and many others. In 1961, the Batavia Club made history when the Pittsburg Pirates appointed Gene Baker as the manager of the Batavia Club, making him the first African-American to lead a professional baseball club. Prior to the 2008 season, the club was run by the Genesee County Baseball Club, a nonprofit community-based organization. From 2008-2017, the club was run by the Rochester Red Wings, and in 2018 and 2019 by a wholly owned subsidiary of the NY-P League. In 2019, the Batavia club won the Pickney Division championship and competed for the NY-P League championship, increased attendance by 42% and won an award for the best natural turf field in the NY-P League.