A new era in the storied-history of Jamestown baseball began today as the Jammers agreed to a two-year player development contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Jammers will serve as the Pirates' Class-A affiliate in the New York-Penn League for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
Partnering with Pittsburgh gives the Jammers a great regional partner and will provide the many Pirates fans in northern Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier with a fantastic opportunity to see the exciting young prospects in the organization.
"We're extremely pleased to align the Jammers with an organization that is widely regarded as having some of the most exciting young players in all of minor league baseball," said Bob Rich Jr., President/Owner of the Jamestown Jammers. "As the launching pad for the beginning of so many promising careers, Jamestown is the perfect place for area Pirates fans to see the future of their favorite team."
"The Pirates are pleased to affiliate with the Jamestown Jammers and as importantly re-establish a professional relationship with Bob and Mindy Rich and their outstanding leadership team headed by Jon Dandes," said Neal Huntington, General Manager of the Pirates. "The Pirates have a quality history with the Rich family from our prior Triple-A affiliation in Buffalo and we look forward to building on that relationship with a New York-Penn League affiliation." Along with the Jammers, Rich Baseball Operations also operates the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons of the International League and the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals of the Texas League. From 1988-1994, the Bisons were the Triple-A affiliate of the Pirates in the American Association.
The Jammers and Pirates will hold a formal introductory luncheon in Jamestown at a date and location to be announced.
This will actually be the third time that Jamestown has served as an affiliate of the Pirates. The first affiliated team in Jamestown's history was the 1939 Jamestown Jaguars of the six-team PONY League (Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York). They served as the Pirates affiliate under manager Micky LaLonge. The Jaguars and Pirates played to a 1-1 tie in an exhibition game played at Celoron Park on Chautauqua Lake that year.
The 1957 Jamestown Falcons were also affiliated with the Pirates in the eight-team NY-Penn League. That squad went 28-35 and featured first baseman Donn Clendenon and second baseman Julian Javier. Clendenon played nine of his 12 Major League seasons with the Pirates. He finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 1962 and was named Most Valuable Player of the 1969 World Series for the champion New York Mets. Javier played 13 seasons in the Major Leagues and was an All-Star with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1963 and 1968.
The 2013 season will be the Jamestown Jammers' 20th year under the ownership of the Rich family. In 1994, Bob Rich purchased the Niagara Rapids and moved the club to Jamestown. The Jammers have had four major league affiliates since 1994. The Detroit Tigers served as the club's big league partner for the first five years followed by three seasons with the Atlanta Braves. For the last 11 years, the Jammers have served as the Class-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins.
The Pirates' top minor league team is the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians of the International League while their Double-A affiliate, the Altoona Curve, play in the Eastern League. Pittsburgh's Class-A affiliates include the Bradenton Marauders of the Florida State League and the West Virginia Power of the South Atlantic League.
The Pirates Class-A affiliate in the New York-Penn League for the last six seasons has been the State College Spikes. This past season, the Spikes featured 18-year-old Luis Heredia, who entered the season rated as Pittsburgh's fifth-best prospect according to Baseball America. Heredia ended the season by going 4-2 with a 2.71 ERA while allowing two earned runs or less in 11 of his 14 starts. State College also featured pitcher Clay Holmes, who was selected by Pittsburgh in the ninth round of the 2011 draft. Holmes ended the season by being named the Spikes Pitcher-of-the-Year while allowing an earned run in just one of his first seven starts.