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Diary of a Mad Sportswriter: Saratoga Phillies moving to Oneonta

Diary of a Mad Sportswriter

Stan Hudy is a sportswriter for The Saratogian and Community News. He covers high school and youth sports in the Saratoga County area as well as writing a weekly book review on sports books. He's not just a "stick and ball" sportswriter, he's willing to take on any sport as well as any subject.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Saratoga Phillies moving to Oneonta

Happy Valentine's Day, baseball just broke my heart.
What started as a story from the Oneonta Daily Star Friday night became a reality Sunday afternoon as the Saratoga Phillies, a NYCBL affiliate was approved to move to the former Oneonta Tigers stadium, leaving the Spa City after a six-year stay.

The Phillies have had a challenging era in Saratoga, sharing East Side Rec field with a host of other organizations where tensions ran high regarding who had the "rights" to use the field, the care of the field by the city, condemned bleachers down the third base line and rain was a four-letter word throughout last summer.

But through it all, some of the best talent in college played in front of sparse crowds, all admitted for free, in June and July, winning an NYCBL title in 2006, and that's when my newspaper finally took notice.

We blew the 2006 season, didn't even know who they were. After another sports editor change, we knew and it made my summer. College baseball, the same I enjoyed on vacation at Cape Cod with my wife, we were a pair whenever possible down the third baseline loving every night of it.

We produced a stellar preview section two years ago, a nice preview piece last year and I was already thinking about 2010. Now it is just a fond memory. The Glens Falls Golden Eagles are too far north and out of our coverage area, so the soda pop leagues will prevail, Cal Ripken, Babe Ruth, American Legion and Little League rejoice...I'm all yours.

Damashke Park is a former A-level stadium, not a field, with lockers, great sight lines and of course, beer.

The move fits well for co-owners Keith Rogers and Dan Scaring, with the extra income, they anticipate hiring a GM to run the operation, operate the field and play the role of owners, not cashiers, salespeople, recruiters and more. They just have to do it down I-88.

I'll link to my story here from The Saratogian.

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At 11:36 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This team was never marketed - not the way it should. Amsterdam markets the Mohawks and gets everyone involved - sponsors, local media and fans. There's a reason why they drew over 5,000 fans a game a couple times last season and led the league in attendance. They created a buzz, something that was sorely missing in Saratoga. Good luck to the Phils in Oneonta.

At 10:28 PM , Blogger Stan Hudy said...

Amsterdam has always published top numbers in attendance and the Coors Party Deck didn't hurt the facility. Covering several games there, some of the attendance numbers are eye-popping, almost to the point of questionable.
Whether they were always accurate or not, the facility, the libations, promotions and product on the field continues to draw for the NYCBL champs.

At 8:34 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What also helps Amsterdam is that they have a strong season-ticket base. They are sold out for the 2010 season and their 3-4 Fireworks Nights draws about 5,000 which inflates the average daily attendance. They just had a Mohawks Hall of Fame Induction dinner that drew 300 people including former Met Howard Johnson. The Party Deck helps, but they are getting a commitment from the community. They are pouring in another $1.2 million into Shuttleworth Park so the facility will only get better. I'm a big NYCBL fan because it's comparable to A-level baseball with a player or two who could play at AA or AAA. The Mohawks give it that Minor League feel with all the "other" stuff - promotions, etc. that makes the Tri-City Valley Cats a success.

At 10:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is sad ... now the only thing we get to read in that rag Saratogian until track season is t-ball kids who have an easier time wetting their pants than hitting a baseball. Hope you guys still cover the Valleycats

At 3:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure we are next in Webster over in the Western Division. They built a new field in the middle of nowhere with no seating, no marketing, no concessions... little league is run better in this town. The baseball was terrific.. I never saw more than 25 people at a game. Most of these were relatives/friends of the players. A resource wasted.


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