Ed note: Everyone say hi to Ryan, one of several new contributors who will be joining us in the next few weeks!
Rumors are swirling that this upcoming season for the Appalachian League will be its last, thanks to MLB; I still believe that we need the rookie ball Appy League—and the Elizabethton Twins that have been quietly thriving in it for two decades now. You may or may not know but Elizabethton has won eight Appy League championships since 2000. Notable Twins stars to play for Elizabethton over the years include Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, A.J. Pierzynski, and Kirby Puckett.
Being able to see these guys play for a summer before they made it as all-star players in the MLB had to be truly something special. The true fans that just love the game of baseball appreciate what the Appalachian League has done for the communities in southern West Virginia, southwest Virginia, northeast Tennessee and Burlington, North Carolina for so many years now.
A typical summer afternoon/or evening watching a Appalachian League game consists of paying $6 per ticket and getting to possibly see one of the future superstars of Major League Baseball. For people who cannot afford the admission to a MLB game go the minor league stadium just wanting to watch the game we’ve loved since being little kids.
Baseball at this level really does look like its played for the true love of the game. I probably don’t need to tell you how little players are paid at the rookie level (its not a lot,) but this is the dream coming true of becoming a professional baseball player. They know and we know that most of the players in the league will never make it to the MLB, but this league means much more than just seeing who’s going to be the next World Series MVP.
The Elizabethton Twins have been in existence since 1974. Every year they have played at Joe O’Brien Field (capacity of 2,000). They have won twelve league championships and have been the most dominant team since entering the league. The eight championships since 2000 proves that Elizabethton has done its part in preparing players for the next level and potentially even the MLB. Rookie ball is a long way from the major league but the first step in getting there is easier being in Elizabethton.
So, we need to keep the Appalachian League! Let the kids get the opportunity to see the next Kirby Puckett. Let them experience the pure love of baseball. Let them be kids and sit on the cars in the parking lot waiting for a foul ball or home run to come by. It’s more than just the winning history Elizabethton has established. It is about the fans that come and support the professional baseball team that is in the community.
Come to a Appy League game this summer and you will experience what the game means to the small communities around here. Pay the $6 fee at the gate and tell me the feel you get of guys playing baseball for the love of the game. Let me know what you think seeing kids being kids throwing baseball around and waiting for the next foul ball to be hit their way. Let me know how the kids react when a player throws them up a ball. Let me know how it feels when you transport back in time being a kid. Experience what the game of baseball really means. We need the Elizabethton Twins! We need the Appalachian League!