After this year, the Orioles will end their long relationship with the Bluefield Orioles of the Appalachian League.
Here is a statement from Andy MacPhail:
“On behalf of the Orioles, I wish to express our deepest appreciation to the town and residents of Bluefield for their support of the Orioles organization and over a thousand players who have worn the Bluefield Orioles uniform in the last 53 seasons. While extremely difficult, we believe the decision to end our affiliation with Bluefield is in the best interest of the franchise moving forward. The history of Orioles baseball is not complete without Bluefield, and we have enormous respect and gratitude for the club and the community that helped launch the careers of legends such as Cal Ripken Jr. and Boog Powell. We hope and expect that the next organization in Bluefield enjoys as long and as productive a relationship as we have enjoyed.”
It appears the O’s just felt they didn’t need three short-season teams and another Major League club will take over as Bluefield’’s parent club.
This move will likely mean the O’s go from seven to six minor league U.S affiliates.
The Orioles have had a team in Bluefield since 1958 and that is currently the oldest continuous affiliation with the same Major League team of any franchise in the minor leagues. Bluefield’s last game as an O’s affiliate will be Tuesday night when they host Princeton at historic Bowen Field.
Bluefield was one of just two minor league teams that was affiliated with the same Major League club continuously since 1961. Lakeland of the Florida State has been with Detroit since 1960.
This does not mean the end of baseball in Bluefield. The O’s could not end their relationship before another Major League club signed on to become Bluefield’s parent club for 2011.
Machado note: On another note, Manny Machado’s first pro hit was a home run. He hit a two-run homer in the 6th today for the Gulf Coast League Orioles.