Playing in the Minors


Playing in the minors

This week, our editorial board opines about the possibility of professional baseball coming to Napa (Spoiler alert: We like the idea). If you happen to detect a little extra excitement in our editorial this week, there is a good reason: I wrote the editorial and I happen to love baseball. Especially baseball of the minor-league variety.

I grew up in an area bereft of major league baseball. My baseball-crazy father had his heart broken twice by teams – once in 1960 when his beloved Washington Senators left for Minneapolis to become the Minnesota Twins, then again a decade later when the replacement Senators left for Texas to become the Rangers.

For long decades, my father mourned his beloved team and fumed as the owners of the Baltimore Orioles blocked successive efforts to get a new team in Washington even as the Orioles tried to position themselves as the team Washingtonians should root for (for the most part, Washingtonians didn’t fall for it).

The only remaining outlet for his baseball passion was minor league baseball. It happened that in 1978, a team came to Alexandria, Virginia, my home town. They played what’s known as Single-A baseball, the lowest level of the Major League farm system (the Double-A and Triple-A leagues are progressive steps up toward a coveted spot in the Major Leagues). The Dukes were, at various times, affiliated with the Seattle Mariners and Pittsburgh Pirates and spent a couple of years without any Major League affiliation.