It's been an eventful week for Jamestown Jammers general manager Matt Drayer.
At the beginning, his New York-Penn League team was affiliated with the Miami Marlins. Within a couple of days that affiliation had switched to the Pittsburgh Pirates. And by the end of the week, Drayer was a father for the second time.
But before preparing for diaper duty, Drayer had to prepare for the switch in affiliations.
The State College Spikes of the NY-P League had been affiliated with Pittsburgh, but the Pirates and Spikes did not renew their player development contract. Meanwhile, the Jammers, owned by Rich Baseball Operations, didn't renew their PDC with the Miami Marlins and instead joined up with the Pirates.
''I heard about this Sunday evening,'' he said on Tuesday morning. ''There was a lot going on Sunday evening and yesterday (Monday) finalizing everything.''
When asked who makes the change, the major league team or the minor league affiliate, Drayer said,''It depends on the situation. Sometimes it's the minor league affiliate and sometimes it's the parent club. That decision fell on my boss, John Dandes (president of Rich Baseball Operations), and Bob Rich (owner of Rich Baseball Operations) and they decided to make the switch and they informed me.''
So for the first time in 11 years, the Jammers are not affiliated with the Marlins.
''We enjoyed our time with the Marlins, but we had a chance to connect with a regional major-league team,'' Drayer said. ''The Pirates, with a strong fan base in the area, I think it's going to be a great fit. For the fans, for the Jammers, for the Pirates, I think it's a win-win situation.''
Was Drayer surprised or not?
''A little bit of both,'' he said. ''We were with the Marlins 11 years and we had a fairly good relationship with the Marlins, but I can see it will be nice to have a new affiliate, a change and a new product to tie into the local fan base.''
He added, ''The Marlins have a good product, but it's kind of tough to sell Marlins baseball in Western New York. We don't have a lot of Marlins fans here. Your fan base is Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Yankees. If you can tie into one of those teams, it will be great for us.''
Drayer began working for the Jammers in 1999, which was the first year of a three-year stretch affiliated with the Atlanta Braves. And that was a good affiliation at the time.
''The Braves in the 1990s were like the Yankees,'' Drayer said. ''They were an outstanding major league team, a lot of fans. People just loved the Braves, it just kind of took off. Same thing with the Cardinals, they're another historic team that has fans everywhere. Or the Cubs. There are certain teams that no matter where you go, they're going to have fans.''
The Jammers were affiliated with Detroit from 1994-98 and that was popular with the area fans because the Tigers had that ''national appeal'' locally. That mostly came from Detroit being a Jamestown affiliate from 1940-42, 1944-56 and 1961-64.
Jamestown's other affiliates have been the St Louis Cardinals in 1943, Los Angeles Dodgers from 1965-66, the Boston Red Sox from 1968-70 and the Montreal Expos from 1971-73 and 1973-93. The Pirates were the first in 1939 and then again for one season 1957.
Now it's the Pirates again and that means change in uniforms, but not in the front office where the Jammers' staff remains the same.
''Everything is the same, we're just going to have different players and different management group on the field,'' Drayer said.
But it is a different experience for the Jamestown native.
''This is something I've never experienced (as a general manager), doing a re-affiliation,'' he said. ''It's something new, it's something different.''
After State College lost the Pirates, they gained the Cardinals, who didn't renew their PDC with the Batavia Muckdogs. So now Batavia is a team without an affiliation and the Marlins are without an NY-P League team. So that appears to be a match yet to be completed.
Before the Marlins were affiliated with Jamestown, their first farm team was at Erie in 1992 when it was in the NY-P League. Then they were in Elmira from 1993-95 and Utica from 1996-2001.
''Why are the Marlins in the New York-Penn League? The same reason Tampa Bay is in the New York-Penn League, why the Oakland A's are in the New York-Penn League,'' Drayer said about the league's attraction. ''They see the talent from the other teams that come from this league and they want in. They like the league. We've got a lot of high draft picks in this league, so we're the premiere league for upcoming talent and that's one of the reasons the Marlins wanted to stay in this league.''
Now the Pirates will be sending their prospects to Jamestown, and that means they'll be playing in quaint Diethrick Park instead of top-notch facility like they had in State College. Or the ones in places such as Staten Island and Brooklyn.
But coming to Jamestown can be a plus.
''A lot of the front-office staff like it because when they played baseball and they went through the minor leagues, that's the way it was,'' Drayer said. ''It wasn't Jumbotrons and it wasn't the state-of-the-art this or that. You're here to play baseball. If you can't play baseball, you shouldn't worry about any of the other things.''
He noted, ''I know (former Jammers manager) David Berg really enjoyed the area and the facility and things like that when he was here because he played in the Penn League. He said, 'That's the way minor-league baseball should like.' But he also could see how things were progressing. That's way it was, that's the way it's progressing.''
The major-league affiliates liked it here.
''They always like Jamestown,'' Drayer said. ''It's a small town, we have the dorms right next to the facility so it's easy for the players to come and go. It was a safe environment for their players.''
And now that environment will be for future Pirates instead of future Marlins.