MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The Jammers are officially on their way out of Jamestown.
Rich Baseball Operations announced Monday the relocation of its short-season Class-A New York-Penn League franchise to Morgantown, W.Va., during a news conference at the West Virginia University Coliseum.
The team, which will change its name, will play in the new complex for the university's Big XII baseball program and will serve as a Class-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, competing from mid-June through Labor Day each summer.
"We're extremely excited to find a state-of-the-art home for our team here in Morgantown, West Virginia, and to partner with everyone at West Virginia University," said Bob Rich, chairman of Rich Products Corporation and owner of the team.
Rich Baseball also owns the Buffalo Bisons and the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, a Class AA affiliate of the Blue Jays. The Jammers' two-year player development deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates expires at the end of this season, though Rich still has one year left on a stadium lease with the city.
The move also comes after several area nonprofit officials worked with the Jammers to boost attendance, which has sagged in recent years, by reaching out to the Warren, Pa., area.
"On behalf of West Virginia University, we're delighted to have Rich Baseball as part of the sports fabric of West Virginia," said Oliver Luck, West Virginia University athletic director. "We're looking forward to a long and productive relationship."
Rich Baseball Operations has won three Baseball America Bob Freitas Awards for having minor league baseball's top operation as well as the 1992 John H. Johnson President's Trophy for the best managed franchise. Rich Baseball has owned the NY-Penn League franchise since the 1989 season.
As a Class-A affiliate of the Pirates, Morgantown baseball will give their fans the first glimpse of Pittsburgh's future stars. Before the top prospects appear for the Pirates, they'll play in Morgantown - just 70 miles away from PNC Park.
"The Pirates are thrilled to be affiliated with the new partnership between West Virginia University and Bob and Mindy Rich," said Robert Nutting, principal owner and chairman of the board of the Pittsburgh Pirates. "The Nutting family has a long history with WVU, and we are delighted to continue our relationship with the Rich family, Jonathan Dandes and their outstanding business team. We look forward to Pirates' fans having access to the beautiful WVU campus and first-class ballpark, as well as having the opportunity to see the Pirates of tomorrow begin their professional careers in Morgantown."
The team will hold a naming contest for fans to help with the selection of the club's new moniker this fall.
A website for the team, MorgantownProBaseball .com, launched Monday.