A team managed by Marshall University Athletics is partnering with the summer-collegiate Appalachian League to host a team at Jack Cook Field, starting in the 2024 season, replacing the Princeton Whistlepigs in the 10-team league lineup.
The team, which will have its name and logo unveiled at a later date (it will work off a Tri-State name, apparently), will play its first game at Huntington’s Jack Cook Field on June 4, 2024, against the Pulaski River Turtles.
Thursday’s announcement and schedule release officially marks the return of the Appalachian League to Huntington for the first time in 30 years, when the Huntington Cubs played at St. Cloud Commons from 1990-94.
The $23-million ballpark, set to open in 2024 for the Marshall University season, is named for Jack Cook, a captain for Marshall’s baseball team in 1949 and later was named Marshall’s interim baseball coach in 1955 before serving as head coach from 1967 to 1989. During his time coaching the Herd, Cook compiled an overall record of 422-344-3 while leading Marshall to one of its most successful seasons in history–the 1978 season when the team finished No. 17 in the final poll and was one win away from the College World Series. In that season, Cook was a finalist for National Coach of the Year honors.
“We did a ton of research and wanted what was best for our region, our ballpark and our community,” said Marshall Director of Athletics Christian Spears via press release. “That made the decision to go with the Appalachian League a no-brainer. With the backing of the MLB and their support, we knew this was best for us all.”
“We are thrilled that the Appy League will be returning to Huntington and looking forward to partnering with Marshall University and the rest of the Huntington community on this new team,” said Brian Graham, Executive Director of the Appalachian League, via press release. “Marshall’s new baseball facilities will provide players with one of the best summer collegiate experiences in the country and furthers our goal of making the Appy League the destination for elite college players in the summer.”
Multiple players from Marshall and surrounding schools are expected to take the field, giving Marshall fans continued opportunities to support their favorite players who represented the Thundering Herd.
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