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New for 2024: Oakland Ballers

Pioneer League 2021The MLB Partner League Pioneer League is expanding to Northern California for the 2024 season, with the Oakland Ballers (the B’s–get it?) and a yet-to-be announced team on tap.

The Ballers will play in the newly planned Pacific West Division, perhaps as a precursor to a second league.

“I am so excited to usher in the next chapter of the Pioneer League’s future with our expansion to Oakland, California,” said PBL President Mike Shapiro vis press release. “Launching our first club in Oakland underscores the PBL’s spirit of innovation and commitment to providing the very best fan and player development experiences. The richly diverse Oakland community, with its historic baseball heritage, is a perfect first step for the PBL’s expansion beyond its foundational roots in the Mountain West states.”

The Ballers and the club’s Co-Founders, Oakland natives Paul Freedman and Bryan Carmel, were introduced at a press conference attended by Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, rapper Mistah F.A.B. and the team’s manager, former MLB player and coach Micah Franklin. Additionally, Ray King, also with major league pitching and coaching experience, will assume the role of the Ballers’ Pitching Coach.

“I strongly believe that the real value of a sports team is in its relationship to the community it serves,” said Paul Freedman, co-founder of the Oakland Ballers, via press release. “Baseball is a sport with deep roots in this country and a rich legacy in the East Bay. That’s why with the Oakland B’s we intend to build a team committed to honoring that legacy and our community. With the Oakland Bs, we are going to bring joy back to the game and give Oaklanders something to be proud of,”

The Oakland Ballers have obtained $2 million in initial funding from nearly 50 investors linked to Oakland and the wider East Bay region.

Also part of the front office: the appointment of Don Wakamatsu, former Seattle Mariners manager, as the EVP of Baseball Operations for the Ballers.

No announcement on where the team will play in 2024: don’t be surprised if the Laney College ballpark is in play at the start, though there are rumors the team may seek a larger venue depending on what happens with the A’s and MLB in 2025 and beyond. In addition, the league announced a second Northern California team is in the works: look for the team to be placed in the general Sacramento area.

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