Daytona Beach, FL - Could this be the end of the Daytona Tortugas?
If a new proposal from the MLB were to be accepted, that could be the case.
And that proposal wouldn't just affect the Tortugas. According to a report from the New York Times, there are 41 other MiLB teams that could face the chopping block in 2020. That's thanks to a planned reorganization that's meant to make the league "more efficient."
"In the first draft, Major League Baseball actually looked at contracting 42 different clubs from 42 different communities," said Ryan Keur, the Tortugas president to News Daytona Beach. "From our standpoint, we're pretty surprised."
Keur contended that the team's sanctioning body, Minor League Baseball, is fighting the proposal. When he spoke to News Daytona Beach, he mentioned that he was in Clearwater at a meeting with fellow minor league clubs and the league's president, Pat O'Conner.
"We're fighting pretty hard, we're definitely going to be fighting for all 160 (teams)," said Keur. "This changes the landscape of professional baseball all around."
A release sent earlier today (November 19th) from the owners and staff of the Tortugas echoes the same sentiments Keur expressed about the proposal, they're prepared to fight tooth and nail to keep the team alive.
MLB touts the legacy of #42 annually while trampling on his legacy in Daytona.— Daytona Tortugas (@daytonatortugas) November 19, 2019
Official Statement from Daytona Tortugas Front Office:
➡️https://t.co/rlwdn3wTwF#StandWithTheJack #KeepMiLBinDaytona pic.twitter.com/N5vLQUFdeP
In the release, which almost serves as an angry letter to the MLB's executives, the staff says that they're shocked and disappointed that Daytona is included in the MLB's latest list of "contractions."
"Contraction is Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred’s euphemism for a city that has apparently outlived its usefulness to our national pastime," said the owners.
The owners then went on to say that the wholeheartedly reject the MLB's "way of thinking" and they plan on fighting to keep baseball in Daytona Beach, Volusia County and beyond.
"We also stand with the other 41 communities across this country that have been placed on Major League Baseball’s 'hit' list by league executives whom are too short-sighted to realize that baseball is played -- and fandom cultivated -- in the cornfields of Iowa, in the sandlots of Tennessee, in the mountains of West Virginia and yes, on the playgrounds and baseball fields a block or two from The World’s Most Famous Beach."Owners and Staff of the Daytona Tortugas
The team also pointed out the irony of 42 teams being placed on the MLB's "hit list," since 42 is a number synonymous with baseball in Daytona Beach. That number served as the player number for Jackie Robinson, the namesake of Daytona's ballpark and the player who "broke baseball's color barrier."
Support from the local community has been overwhelming, according to Keur. He claims that in just the past 72 hours he's received nonstop phone calls, emails and texts sounding off support for Daytona's team.
"It's pretty amazing what this ballpark means to this community and what this team means to the community," said Keur.
At the end of their statement, the Tortugas said that professional baseball will be played at the Jack in 2020, and they need all of the "386" to stand with the Jack and make their voices heard.
"2020 is going to be something special," said Keur.