More Coverage from WVUSports.com
Pirates' GM Talks Morgantown Baseball - Read
Rich Baseball Coming to Morgantown - Read
Pirates' NY-Penn Affiliate Coming to Morgantown - Read
Oliver Luck: Celebrating Baseball in Morgantown - Read
Monday Afternoon Announcement - Watch
News conference photo gallery - Look
It’s not every day a major league general manager is in town, but that was the case on Monday afternoon when Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington was here for the announcement that New York-Penn League baseball is coming to Morgantown.
Huntington said the Pittsburgh Pirates are thrilled to now be a part of the Morgantown community.
“To play in a first-class facility and the (Pirates owner Ogden) Nutting relationship with WVU going all the way back years, our relationship with (Jamestown Jammers ownership group) the Rich Family going back years, our personal relationships going back years, it’s just a tremendous opportunity.”
Morgantown will now be the starting point for many aspiring Pittsburgh Pirates.
“The majority of our players playing here have just been drafted or are coming out of high school or have been signed out of our Latin American program,” he said. “For some, this will be their first experience playing professional baseball under the lights.”
Huntington pointed out that Pirates baseball extends far beyond the city of Pittsburgh within the region and the Pirates affiliate system is starting to reflect that with franchises nearby in Charleston, West Virginia, Altoona, Pennsylvania, and now here in Morgantown.
“It’s great because our players will get a sense of what our fan base is,” said Huntington. “As soon as they walk into Morgantown they are going to get a feel of what being a Pirate fells like and what a Pirates fan feels like in the sense of the passion people have for the team and the organization.
“The ability to start their career here and then go down the road to Charleston and go to Bradenton (Florida) and our facility down there, then go to Altoona and maybe spend a short period of time at Triple-A, and then get to the big leagues, it’s a great opportunity for a young player to understand the fan base and understand the passion of the fan base.”
In return, Huntington believes having a minor league team located in North Central West Virginia can equate to more fans making the short drive up Interstate 79 to watch Pirates games at PNC Park in the near future.
“It is Pirate country and there’s an opportunity to extend our connection to it stronger here,” Huntington said. “Hopefully it will result in some fans coming up to Pittsburgh and we’re working hard to put the best team on the field that we can that warrants this fan base for their years of patience, because it is a fantastic fan base.
“We don’t just talk about Pittsburgh when we talk about our fan base and it’s fun to see Pirate gear coming out all over the country. We are looking forward to Pirate gear popping up all over here in Morgantown,” Huntington concluded.