The West Coast League franchise that will begin play in Port Angeles, WA next season will be known as the Port Angeles Lefties. Controlled by Matt Acker, the franchise will begin play out of Civic Field and will take the Kitsap BlueJacket’s place in the summer collegiate circuit.
Civic Field will receive upgrades that will provide new seating areas and amenities including areas for groups and corporate functions.
Acker purchased the WCL’s Kitsap BlueJackets in 2015, and was joined by Dean Reynolds as part of the ownership group. The Lefties maintain the WCL membership of the BlueJackets, transferring it to Port Angeles. The league will therefore remain at 11 teams in 2017.
The BlueJackets were a founding member of the WCL in 2005 and were a valuable member of the league through 2016. The BlueJackets who have played 13 seasons at Gene Lobe Field (2004-16) will be based in Bremerton, Washington next season as a member of the Pacific International League. Matt Acker remains the owner of the BlueJackets.
“Kitsap is a great community but what works best in the WCL model is being able to put on an event and see future stars and we can do that in Port Angeles,” says Acker.
Acker notes that the smaller setting of Port Angeles will help the Lefties become an integral part of the community whereas Kitsap is challenged by its proximity to the Seattle area and the triple-A Tacoma Rainiers.
He continued saying, “Port Angeles’ location is beautiful and the weather is great. There is lots to do while at the same time having a small town atmosphere so our players will really feel a part of the community.”
Located on the tip of western Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, Port Angeles is home to approximately 20,000 residents and will provide players an authentic Pacific Northwest summer experience while playing in the West Coast League, the premier summer-collegiate wood bat league West of the Mississippi.
Mayor Downie and Parks and Recreation Director Corey Delikat both addressed the gathering and expressed their anticipation for what Lefties baseball will bring to the City of Port Angeles.
Delikat recounted his first meeting with the Lefties ownership group.
“The first thing I asked Matt (Acker) was ‘Why Port Angeles?’” Said Delikat. “He said ‘Why not Port Angeles? There is a vibrancy and energy about Port Angeles, and this is the community we want to be part of.’”
“It was then that I was sold on a West Coast League team coming to Port Angeles,” said Delikat”
Acker points to a strong relationship with the City of Port Angeles Parks and Recreation and Downtown Association for helping make Lefties baseball possible.
Acker addressed the story behind ‘Lefties’ being adopted as the franchise’s identity.
“Dean Reynolds and I spent countless hours going back and forth on this,” said Acker. “The advice we received from Zachary Fraser [Chief Operating Officer of the WCL’s Walla Walla Sweets and Yakima Valley Pippins] was to come up with a story. We’ve come up with the story of ‘Lefty’, it’s a great story for us to have and hope that it will continue to grow with us.”
The team’s mascot will be the Olympic Marmot, though the word ‘marmot’ will not be on the mascot.
The Lefties will have a tireless commitment to the community especially when it concerns local youth players.
“I am most excited to involve the kids in the community,” says Acker. “I believe the more kids we are teaching and enabling them to participate in baseball, the larger talent pool we are going to have and the more fans we are going to have.”
The Lefties will run youth camps throughout the year to promote and teach the game to the next generation.
Members of the Lefties front office were also announced on Thursday including:
General Manager: Ryan Hickey
Owner, Marketing Director: Dean Reynolds
Owner, Concession Director: Jake Oppelt
The Lefties also introduced Tacoma Community College assistant coach Zach Miller as the club’s first head coach.
Following a successful collegiate playing career, Miller’s coaching career began in 2010 as a pitching coach for Salem Post 9 American Legion. Miller became the head coach of Central High School in Independence, Oregon in 2012, holding that role until 2016 when he accepted his current role as assistant coach at Tacoma Community College.
Miller pitched collegiately at Washington State University (NCAA Div. 1; Pac-12) out of high school in 2006, played at Green River Community College under then-head coach Matt Acker in 2008, and then pitched two years at Western Oregon University (NCAA Div. 2), graduating in 2011.
The Lefties have a busy offseason ahead as they prepare for their inaugural season at Civic Field. Upcoming announcements include things like releasing renderings of the team’s mascot, various partnerships, as well as an upcoming announcer contest, where the team will search for and name their public address announcer for home games at Civic Field.