Three anniversaries will be celebrated on opening day for the Jamestown Jammers at Russell E. Diethrick Jr. Park on Friday.
For one, it is the 75th anniversary of the New York-Penn League, which started as the Pony League in 1939. Secondly, it is the 75th anniversary of Jamestown having a professional baseball team. The third anniversary, according to Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, is the 20th anniversary of the Rich family owning the Jamestown team.
"We have a very good, responsible ownership group in place. We are blessed to have one of the best owners of a professional baseball team in the country," Teresi said. "These are pretty significant anniversaries. We are one of only two of the original charter cities that remain today (in the New York-Penn League). The only two remaining is Jamestown and Batavia."
The Jamestown Jammers will open the 75th season of professional baseball in the city Friday when they host the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in New York-Penn League action at 7:05 p.m. at Diethrick Park.
"No pun intended, we have a very long and 'rich' baseball tradition here in Jamestown," Teresi continued.
There is an active group of community leaders working to increase attendance at Jammers games this summer. The team's first game is scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. Friday against Mahoning Valley at Russell E. Diethrick Jr. Park, located at 485 Falconer St., Jamestown. Following the game there will be a fireworks display, which will be one of many promotions during the team's 38 home games this season.
Matt Drayer, Jammers general manager, said there are several family-fun promotional events scheduled. He said some events will be new this year and some are revamped ideas from past seasons. One new idea is the Touch-A-Truck night that will be one of two promotions for Saturday's game. The other promotion is a CSEA magnet schedule night. The Touch-A-Truck event will start at 4 p.m. Drayer said large construction trucks, emergency vehicles and Army trucks will be on the field for children to see up close. Drayer said some other promotions this year will be $1.50 nights during Tuesday home games and Pittsburgh Pirates Parrot night on Saturday, July 26. The Jammers are the Class-A short-season affiliate for the Major League team located in Pittsburgh.
"We are making an effort to have a larger footprint in Warren. They are a strong Pirates community."
Jamestown Jammers general manager
"The Touch-A-Truck night is something we haven't done before," he said. "We were able to work with another local entity the chamber (of commerce) to market the Jammers, and the chamber, to have a nice, family-friendly event."
Diethrick, who is a member of the community subcommittee working on increasing attendance, said the group has been working on promoting the Jammers in Warren County, Pa., because there are a lot of Pirate fans across the state border.
"We are making an effort to have a larger footprint in Warren. They are a strong Pirates community," he said. "We've been talking tickets and community use of the stadium with advertisers. It is growing in momentum."
To coincide with the plan to attract more Pennsylvania residents, earlier this year a Pirates alumni luncheon was held at the Conewango Country Club in Warren with special guest speaker Steve Blass, said Drayer. Blass is currently a member of the broadcast team for the Pirates. Also, Blass was one of the World Series heroes for the Pirates when they beat the Baltimore Orioles in seven games in 1971. Blass had complete-game victories in both games 3 and 7 to help win the fourth World Series for the Pirates, who started playing professional baseball in 1887.
"We had a great turnout, more than 200 people attended," Drayer said. "It re-energized the Warren area to let them know they have a minor league team just north. We're trying to encourage the Warren community. Trying to let them know we are here."
Teresi said the group is working hard to encourage more people to attend games because Jamestown is now one of the smaller markets in the New York-Penn League. He said 20 to 25 years ago, Jamestown was one of the larger markets. However, with teams now in Brooklyn; Staten Island; Albany; Aberdeen, Maryland; and Youngstown, Ohio; that has changed.
"We have a long, rich history in a town that loves baseball. We are quite interested and committed to doing what it takes," Teresi said. "We recently completed an economic impact study, and the Jammers bring in $3.5 million to boost the local economy every year."