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Minor leagues considered by state leaders

From STAFF REPORTS

NASHVILLE – They might not be taking the field at the moment, but minor league baseball players and their league has been a topic of conversation for the Tennessee House of Representatives.

In March, the House passed H.R.6020 which requires an “evaluation by the Government Accountability Office of the social, economic, and historic contributions that Minor League Baseball has made to American life and culture.”

Back in February, State Senator Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) and Senator Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) introduced a resolution in the Tennessee General Assembly urging Major League Baseball to maintain affiliation with all current Minor League Baseball teams. Senate Joint Resolution 889 officially expresses the State of Tennessee’s deepest concerns about the effects of cutting ties with Minor League teams on its communities. It also references the impact such a move would have in damaging fan loyalty and limiting opportunities for talented athletes to achieve success as professionals.

“We wanted to express our strongest objection to any move to eliminate these Minor League teams which are such an integral part of our communities,” said Sen. Crowe.  “Such action by Major League Baseball would not only harm fans, but countless businesses and residents who depend upon them for employment and revenue.  That is not to speak of the negative impact it will have on the next generation of kids who enjoy the game as a result of exposure to these Minor League teams.”

The action comes after part of a renegotiated Professional Baseball Agreement proposed severing ties with forty-two minor league teams, including the Elizabethton Twins, Greeneville Reds, Johnson City Cardinals and Kingsport Mets. 

Crowe and Lundberg also signed a letter to Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred urging Major League Baseball to save the minor league teams.  The letter was signed by 10 other members of Tennessee’s Northeast Legislative Delegation.

The letter states, “The community pride that comes from having a Minor League team is profoundly seen in our communities.  Baseball, American’s favorite pastime, draws people from all walks of life together in a way that no other activity can.  This bond created by this support, translates from the local Minor League team all the way up to the Major League parent team as well.”

In addition to Crowe and Lundberg, lawmakers signing the letter include Sen. Steve Southerland (R-Morristown), Sen. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains), Rep. Timothy Hill (R-Blountville), Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Johnson City), Rep. Micah Van Huss (R-Gray), Rep. David Hawk (R-Greeneville), Rep. Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville), Rep. John Crawford (R-Kingsport), Rep. Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport) and Rep. John Holsclaw (R-Elizabethton).

“We need to continue to advocate the importance of these Minor League teams to Major League Baseball and both this resolution and letter aim to help in these efforts,” added Crowe.  “We are asking them not to turn their back on our communities and take away the opportunities of local citizens to experience family-friendly entertainment.”

After the house passed H.R.6020 regarding minor league baseball, Congressman Phil Roe, who has voiced his support for the league and is a member of the Save Minor League Baseball Task Force released the following statement:

“Minor League baseball plays an important role to the quality of life for towns all across the country, particularly our communities across East Tennessee. With four teams calling the First District home – and a fifth right across the border in Virginia – no area of the country would be more directly affected by MLB’s plan to restructure minor league baseball than East Tennessee. I’m proud to see such overwhelming bipartisan support for legislation that aims to preserve America’s pastime for generations to come.”

For more information on the bill, go to https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6020.