The West Virginia Power will no longer maintain an affiliation with Major League Baseball.
The announcement on Wednesday came after the Seattle Mariners made a decision on reducing the number of minor-league affiliates across the country. The team had been one of Seattle’s Low-Class A affiliates in its South Atlantic League since 2019.
U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito issued a statement about the MLB announcement, calling it “disappointing.” She said she was committed to finding new partnerships that would eventually bring professional baseball back to the state’s capital.
“The decision to cut the West Virginia Power’s affiliation with MLB is disappointing and marks the end of a long and storied tradition. However, this is not the end of baseball in Charleston,” she said. In fact, I have been given the assurance by the MLB that we will have baseball in our state’s capital city. As I have throughout this entire process, I will continue to work with the teams, the cities, MLB, and everyone else involved to form partnerships that will enable families to hear ‘Play Ball’ again at Power Park.”
Capito’s U.S. Senate counterpart, Joe Manchin, also pledged in a statement that baseball wasn’t over in the city.
“West Virginia’s baseball teams are pillars of our communities, providing countless West Virginians with quality family time and a lifetime appreciation for the American pastime,” Manchin said. “I have fought for over a year to save our teams across the state, and I am saddened that the West Virginia Power did not receive an invitation to be an affiliate from the minor league system. While this news is disappointing, I will continue to work with the West Virginia Power, MLB, and other parties to find a home for the Power for the 2021 season. This isn’t the end of baseball in Charleston, and I look forward to seeing our team play again soon.”
Gov. Jim Justice expressed optimism that all was not lost for the team to return to playing next year.
“Obviously, there still remain financial obstacles between the owners of the West Virginia Power and the MLB. As recently as this afternoon, we were on the phone with Major League Baseball and we are continuing our steadfast work with the city, county, team owners, and the MLB,” Justice said in a statement. “We have been assured by the MLB that this situation is going to get resolved and that professional baseball will be played in Charleston in 2021.”
Justice added: “As I’ve said before, I truly believe that Minor League Baseball is a critical part of West Virginia’s future. I am confident that the Power will prove what a fantastic partner they can be and we will all continue to work this until there is a solution.”
West Virginia has been home to four Minor League Baseball affiliated teams. Two of those teams, in Bluefield and Princeton, will join the MLB and Baseball USA-supported Prospect Development Pipeline.
This league is aimed at young college athletes. The Morgantown Black Bears will be part of a newly formed league consisting of five teams mostly made from the former New York-Penn League.