Teams to rebrand as Appalachian League transforms into a collegiate wood-bat league

The 10-team league will be revamped ahead of the 2021 season

There is a new future on the horizon for local minor league baseball teams.

ROANOKE, Va. – Say goodbye to the Pulaski Yankees, Danville Braves and the other familiar monikers of the Appalachian League.

But don’t worry, the actual teams are not going anywhere!

Major League Baseball and USA Baseball jointly announced a new format for the league, on Tuesday, which will feature the nation’s top rising college freshmen and sophomores in wood-bat play each summer.

As part of the change, the league’s current 10 teams will change their names and logos to incorporate symbols and images important to their communities.

Rather than being part of Minor League Baseball, the Appalachian League will become a part of the Prospect Development Pipeline, the collaborative effort between MLB and USA Baseball that establishes a player development pathway for amateur baseball players in the United States.

Betsy Haugh, General Manager in Pulaski, said the organization is excited for the new concept.

“The people in Pulaski and the surrounding areas that come out to Calfee Park in the summer really want a team that they can call their own and cheer for night in and night out, and we’re still going to be able to provide that for them," Haugh said.

The upcoming 2021 season will be 54 games long and feature an All-Star Game.

Teams will design their own names and logos working creating local identifies for the first time.

“It’s going to be really exciting for us to finally have something that is unique, something that we own ourselves, and bring that to the New River Valley," Haugh said.

MLB and USA Baseball will work with NCAA to ensure athlete eligibility requirements are met.

“The communities of the Appalachian League have supported baseball since our founding in 1911. We are grateful to MLB and USA Baseball for bringing this exciting opportunity to our fans and look forward to welcoming players, coaches, MLB scouts, and fans into our cities next summer,” said Appalachian League President Dan Moushon.

It’s a sigh of relief for ownership in Pulaski who has invested millions of dollars in upgrades at Calfee Park over the last few years, winning the minor league president’s award in 2019. Haugh said there’s more upgrades on deck and they’re ready to play baseball next year.

“Knowing that we’ll have a team in place for 2021 and beyond, like I said gives us a little bit of security to do those things and continue to make Calfee Park the best atmosphere it can be for our fans," Haugh said.

Here’s a some people had to say about the new Appalachian League:

“For years, Minor League Baseball teams have provided affordable family entertainment for Virginians and fostered players who became Big League stars. This new Appalachian League format will continue that tradition, ensuring that high-level baseball will continue being played in our state for the long-term. I look forward to seeing the next generation of big league stars, and cultivating the next generation of baseball fans, right here in Virginia.”

US Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia

“I am delighted that MLB and the Appalachian League have come to this agreement. I’ve called for baseball to remain in communities like Bluefield, Danville, Pulaski, and Bristol — this format will do just that with high-quality competition on the field for these communities to enjoy for years to come.”

US Sen. Tim Kaine, Virginia

“The Danville Braves have been an integral part of the Danville community and I am pleased to see them enter this new chapter. I am happy that baseball will remain in Danville with the creation of this new league.”

US Rep. Denver Riggleman, Virginia's 5th District

“Danville has had a long tradition as a baseball community and is extremely excited about keeping quality baseball in the city. We greatly enjoyed having the Danville Braves as part of our community and are sad to see them leave. However, we are appreciative of MLB and USA Baseball providing this opportunity for continued baseball in Danville. We look forward to a new team as part of the community.”

Danville Parks and Rec director Bill Sgrinia

“Minor League Baseball has a storied history in the Town of Pulaski and we so are proud and excited that our community will be a big part of preserving and improving America’s pastime. The new Appalachian League format ensures high-level baseball will continue being played right here in Calfee Park for a long time to come. I look forward to seeing the next generation of big league stars come through our town, and as a community of baseball fans, we are committed to supporting these players and our teams.”

Pulaski County administrator Jonathan Sweet