The Triple-A National Championship faces an uncertain future after the event’s sponsor and television partner opted not to renew their contracts once they expire following this year’s game in Columbus, Ohio.
Triple-A Baseball, which is a separate entity from Minor League Baseball and puts on the National Championship and Triple-A All-Star Game, will continue to pursue a new sponsor and television contract for its postseason game, International League President Randy Mobley said. However, Mobley said, team owners will discuss potential courses of action if they are not able to secure new contracts when they gather for the All-Star Game next week in Columbus. This includes the possibility of not holding the game in the future.
Minor league baseball is full of hard-working people you rarely see, whose efforts behind the scenes make the games happen day after day, year after year. There are few people who have filled that role as long, and as well, as International League President Randy Mobley.
Mobley has spent nearly four decades working in Triple-A baseball, first with the Columbus Clippers and then the International League, taking over as president in 1990. He has helped the sport grow from mom-and-pop operations struggling to turn a profit to a multi-million dollar industry. Mobley is a three-time winner of Minor League Baseball’s Warren Giles Award for outstanding service by a league president and was named Baseball America’s first Executive of the Year.
What follows is my conversation with Mobley about his career and the state of minor league baseball. The transcript has been edited in sports for length and clarity.
Can you explain a little bit what it is you do as a league president? What are your main responsibilities?
It is primarily a role of supporting the clubs in anyway that you can. They are the ones that are in the trenches doing the heavy lifting. But in anyway we can, we support them. And in those cases, we can bring a perspective from this office where there are not too many things that you haven’t seen before, or some version of it. And again that allows us to bring some perspective. I’ll use a lease negotiation as an example: If you’ve got a ballclub and a landlord in discussion, you know that they are anxious to know how things have happened in other cases. “How has somebody done this? Or have you ever seen this?” And we can support the clubs in that way.
Art Silber has had plenty of chances — and reasons — to give up on his dream of a new ballpark for the Potomac Nationals. For more than two decades, Silber has rolled out replacement plans for Pfitzner Stadium, the P-Nats’ ballpark in Northern Virginia that has been considered out-of-date for just as long, only to see each project collapse.
Silber said he will soon announce a new proposal for a ballpark, a little over a year after his latest — and most promising — bid fell through. Silber said he has been in talks with several Northern Virginia communities interested in hosting his Carolina League franchise. He plans to announce his new project in the next 60 to 90 days.
Silber wouldn’t reveal the locations he’s considering, however last summer he called Fredericksburg, Va., a “very viable” market, according to the Free Lance-Star. Fredericksburg has previously flirted with other minor league teams, including as a landing spot for the Hagerstown Suns in 2014.
Silber, a Brooklyn native and lifelong Jackie Robinson fan who used to wear No. 42 while coaching first base for the P-Nats, remains optimistic about building a new ballpark — even if history has given him reasons to not be. “I’m 77 now. I believe that we will celebrate my 80th birthday in a new ballpark.”