Tuesday , June 19, 2018 - 5:26 PM1 comment
OGDEN — The 25th season of Ogden Raptors baseball is also a milestone for league brass.
Jim McCurdy is also in his 25th season as Pioneer League president, having helped usher baseball back to Ogden and presiding over the rookie league for two-plus decades.
A former owner of minor league baseball teams, McCurdy — a renowned lawyer in sports law and a professor emeritus at Gonzaga University — says his league enjoys unusual stability.
“We’re fortunate in this league because we have eight great operators of the teams and longstanding relationships with our major league clubs,” he said. “This will be the 15th season that we’re playing with the same set of major league parent affiliates without a change.
“One former general manager at the major league level saw me at the spring meetings and said, ‘That’s just amazing.’ That rarely happens.”
Ogden reaching 25 seasons — including 21 straight as the league-leader in attendance — is an important component of the Pioneer League.
“Having anchor clubs like the Ogden Raptors with its attendance and fanbase ... is essential to the league,” McCurdy said.
After all, the Ogden Reds were an inaugural member of the Pioneer League in 1939. In the 1960s, the connection to the Dodgers began to run deep as Tommy Lasorda and several major leaguers played in the city.
“It was nice to see Ogden return ... 25 years ago, we got together to bring baseball back to Ogden. We thought it was a very important move for the league,” McCurdy said.
Amid news of Orem’s preliminary plans to relocate to Pueblo, Colorado, McCurdy confirmed another move in the Pioneer League is fully approved after being announced one year ago.
The Helena (Montana) Brewers will move to Colorado Springs for the 2019 season.
“This is a move where we’re picking up another anchor market. It’s a triple-A market,” he said. “We see it as an overall positive for the ownership and the league.
“There’s always some sadness in leaving. We’re a family in minor league baseball and Helena is a wonderful city.”
The owners of the Helena club also own the current triple-A team in Colorado Springs, which is relocating to San Antonio.
With that move, Idaho Falls will shuffle to the Pioneer League’s North Division next season (with Billings, Great Falls and Missoula) while Ogden and Orem will play in the South Division with Grand Junction and Colorado Springs.
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