VESTAL, N.Y. (WSKG) – Last week, mayors from across the country started a task force to save minor league baseball in cities like Binghamton.
This comes after the New York Daily News reported last year that Major League Baseball may eliminate 42 minor league teams in 2021. Among the threatened are the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets.
Also under threat is the New York-Penn League, which has been in existence since 1939 and has had teams in Hornell, Elmira, Binghamton, Oneonta and Corning.
The mayors created the task force at a national conference in Washington D.C. Binghamton Mayor Rich David is on it and said he hopes, at the very least, the group can make some noise.
“For example, me being a mayor in New York State to make sure that we’ve got Congressman [Anthony] Brindisi, and Senator [Chuck] Schumer, Senator [Kirsten] Gillibrand,” David said. “And the same thing in South Carolina and the same thing in Ohio and the same thing in Michigan and in other states where Minor League Baseball is impacted.”
David hopes millions of public-and-private dollars already spent on improvements to NYSEG Stadium, where the Rumble Ponies play, means the team won’t go anywhere. “Frankly, had we not taken those steps several years ago, we would have lost the team back then,” he claimed.
At the same time, David said local interest in the team may also be a factor. For several years, Binghamton has ranked at, or near, the bottom of the Eastern League in attendance. “We talk about this a lot,” David said. “If the baseball enthusiasts of the Southern Tier want to have a team, you’ve got to come out and support the team.”
While the proposal to eliminate several minor league teams is just a proposal, several U.S. Senators and Congress members have pushed back. That includes Congressman Brindisi, Senator Schumer and Binghamton-area State Senator Fred Akshar.
David added the mayors’ plan may include pressuring federal representatives to look at Major League Baseball’s anti-trust exemption, which allows the it to act as a monopoly.