The city of Oakland is scheduled to have a new baseball team in May 2024, the Oakland Ballers, an expansion team in the independent Pioneer Baseball League, city and team officials will announce Tuesday.
In their own words, "Oakland is stealing baseball back."
"I think the A’s are thinking that we’re not going to fight and we’re just going to let pro baseball die," said Jorge Leon, founder of the Oakland 68’s, a non-profit Oakland fan group. "This will send out a strong signal, with or without you, we’re not going let tradition die in Oakland."
While the A’s have one more year at the Oakland Coliseum and must find a place to play until they move to Las Vegas in 2028, the Oakland Ballers are being founded, which could help alleviate the pain of the A’s move.
Paul Freedman and Bryan Carmel, founders of the Ballers, have scheduled a 2 p.m. ET news conference Tuesday with Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, and U.S Congressional candidate Lateefah Simon to introduce the team. They’ll be joined by Oakland artist Mistah FAB and Leon.
The Ballers are hoping to play their inaugural season near Laney College in downtown Oakland, the site where the A’s once hoped to play among their stadium proposals over the years.
"I’m excited," Leon said. "I think this announcement is going to be a surprise to a lot of people, how fast someone can come back and help Oakland keep its tradition."
Don Wakamatsu, the former Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers manager who spent 19 years as a coach and manager in the big leagues, will become their executive vice president of baseball operations. Micah Franklin, who spent 17 years as a player and scout, will be their manager. And former big-league pitcher Ray King will be the pitching coach.
The Ballers will become the Pioneer League’s first West Coast franchise, already raising more than $2 million from investors while starting a fundraising campaign to invite others to become part-owners of the team.
"We’re going to do our part to pack the place every night," Leon said. “Our emphasis will be to draw more than the actual A’s games. It will be saying, "Look at what you’re missing out on by leaving. It won’t necessarily ease the pain, but it will feel good to draw more than the A’s, showing it’s all about the community and approaching it the right way. It’ll show the inability of the A’s ownership to get things done here.
"And if it all goes well, and they don’t renew the lease with the A’s, let the Ballers play in the Coliseum, baby."
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Oakland baseball will live on in Pioneer League with Oakland Ballers