A sale of the Visalia Rawhide (High A; California League) is almost final, as Top of the Third is nearing an agreement to sell to First Pitch Entertainment.
At a Visalia City Council meeting on September 3, team president Tom Seidler revealed that Top of the Third was close to an agreement to the sell the Rawhide to First Pitch Entertainment, an entity backed by the father-son combination of Elliot and Sam Sigal. This comes after Top of the Third, which has owned the Rawhide since 2002, announced last fall that it was putting the team on the market.
As for the prospective new ownership, it will bring some background in Minor League Baseball to Visalia, as Sam Sigal previously served stints as a broadcaster for several MiLB teams. More from The Sun-Gazette:
“They’ll be great owners for years to come,” Seidler told the council.
First Pitch Entertainment is also a family company run by father-and-son duo Elliot and Sam Sigal. Elliot, the elder Sigal, retired as chief scientific officer of research and development for pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb. After growing up in the Midwest, Elliott said he and his wife now live in the Monterey area and have spent the last two years looking to fulfill their son’s dream of owning a Minor League Baseball team. Their search covered teams in a dozen cities but began and ended with Visalia.
“Visalia is impressive with its support for baseball,” Elliott said. “We see a lot of neighborhoods with a lot of pride in ownership.”
Sam was a Minor League broadcaster for seven years calling more than 200 games including the New York-Penn League Championship Series, three different playoff series and a no-hitter. During that time he called games for three different franchises as the voice of the Tri-City ValleyCats, a Single-A affiliate of the Houston Astros in Troy, N.Y., Johnson City Cardinals, a Rookie-Level affiliate of St. Louis Cardinals in Tennessee, and Hickory Crawdads, a Single-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers in North Carolina.
At the same meeting where the pending ownership change was announced, the Visalia City Council approved a 10-year lease extension for the Rawhide, contingent upon completion of the sale. Top of the Third is credited with leading several successful initiatives for the Rawhide, including 2009 renovations to Recreation Park.
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