The City of Oakland wants baseball, and it looks like they’ll be getting baseball one way or another, thanks to the new Oakland Ballers.
Following Major League Baseball’s unanimous approval of the relocation of the city’s Athletics (“A’s” for short) to Las Vegas, Nevada, the Ballers (“B’s” for short) have announced they will join the Pioneer League, a partner league of MLB outside the Minor League’s affiliation system, for the 2024 season.
“Oakland is stealing baseball back,” reads the Ballers’ official website. “Our team was ripped away from us, but now we’re reclaiming baseball for the people of Oakland. The Oakland Ballers will stay in Oakland forever and build a team alongside fans to make the Town a championship city once again.”
The Ballers playfully reference the Oakland A’s logo with a similar (but much darker) green and gold colour scheme with a focus placed upon the abbreviated team nickname. The Ballers logo features “B’s” in white placed within a series of green, white, and gold circles, the full club name of OAKLAND BALLERS arched above and below the B’s in white. Their cap is all green with a white “B’s” on the front of the crown.
According to ESPN, the team was founded by a pair of local high school friends, Paul Freedman and Bryan Carmel, who raised $2 million to help fund operations and expand seating at Laney College’s baseball stadium. Former Seattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu is on board as the Ballers’ executive vice president of baseball operations, and former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Micah Franklin will serve as manager.
“We believe that the true value of a sports team is its power to bring people together,” continues the message on the Ballers’ website. “We are dedicated to delivering a joyful, community-focused experience for Oakland and the entire East Bay.”
The Pioneer League was an affiliated Minor League Baseball organization up until the Major Leagues re-structured everything in 2021. The league will have eleven teams for 2024 spread out across Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and now, with the addition of the Ballers, California.