The Batavia Muckdogs are Saved… for 2008

The St. Louis Cardinals' short-season affiliate in the New York-Penn League will be operating in 2008 now that a new management agreement has been signed.

As many fans already know, the St. Louis Cardinals' short-season New York-Penn League affiliate, the Batavia Muckdogs, have been in financial straits that put their continued existence in jeopardy. (We looked into the situation last December here.)

The tide turned for the better with Wednesday's announcement that the management of the Rochester Red Wings, the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, will also run the day-to-day operations of the Muckdogs for the 2008 season.

Formal ownership entities are the Genesee County Baseball Club, the non-profit owners of the Muckdogs, along with Rochester Community Baseball Inc., owners of the Red Wings.

The Batavia club, the only original member of the league, founded in 1939, reportedly lost money to the tune of six digits last season and still had unpaid debts over the winter totaling $150,000. The complicated ownership arrangement of the club and Dwyer Stadium meant both the public and private sector had a hand in the team's problems as well as a stake in its future.

To enable the management announcement, the Batavia City Council approved this week a pair of five-year leases which allow Batavia Regional Recreation Corporation, the operator of Dwyer Stadium, to lease the park to a private company.

While the new management agreement retired the outstanding debt, it is a one-year contract with multiple one-year extensions contingent upon the approval of both parties. Therefore, the future of baseball in Batavia and with the Cardinals is not set beyond 2008.

Specifically, the Cardinals' two-year Player Development Agreement with the Muckdogs expires after this season, making the long-term prospects of both parties remaining together unclear.

In recent years, the Cardinals have wanted to maintain a presence in the league, despite enduring significant change. This is evident by the organization remaining there after the long-time franchise in New Jersey was sold and moved to State College, PA over the winter of 2005-2006. The alignment of that ownership group with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization meant the Cardinals had to move again after just one year in Happy Valley.

Long-time Cardinals NY-P skipper Mark DeJohn will be back to lead the 2008 Muckdogs, who play their first game on Tuesday, June 17 at the Auburn Doubledays. Their first home game at Dwyer Stadium will be the next night, on Wednesday, June 18.

Read the detailed press release here.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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