One of the longest-running relationships in minor league baseball is nearing an end.
The Oneonta Athletic Corp., headed by veteran baseball official Sam Nader, announced today at short-season Oneonta’s Damaschke Field the sale of the Tigers to an ownership group headed by Double-Huntstville and Midland owner Miles Prentice. The deal is pending approval of the New York-Penn League, Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball.
OAC has owned the Oneonta club since 1968, when Nader and nine other investors purchased it for $10,000. Nader’s relationship with minor league baseball in the area dates back to the 1940s, when he served as PA announcer for the Can-Am club.
Nader, who turns 89 on July 8, expressed sorrow in parting with the Tigers.
"I lost part of my life," he said. The team "was an important part of my life. A member of my family."
Nader said a key to the deal was Prentice’s agreement to keep the team in Oneonta through at least the 2010 season, when the team’s lease at Damaschke Field expires.
Prentice was not immediately available for comment.
Oneonta has struggled to keep pace as the New York-Penn League continues to move out of its original small towns into bigger markets. The Tigers drew just 49,118 fans in 35 openings—a 1,403 average that bested only Batavia, which nearly folded last offseason, in the NYPL.
Nader said that they have had several offers for the team over the years, including three during negotiations with Prentice, but he turned them all down largely out of a desire to keep the team in town. Despite a variety of challenges, Nader thinks baseball can be a success in small towns like Oneonta.
Triple-A Rochester took over operations of Batavia last offseason in an attempt to keep the Muckdogs from going under due to severe debt. Red Wings president Naomi Silver said at the time she felt the Muckdogs could be a success with the assistance of her team’s marketing and sales staffs.
"Yes, (Prentice) can make a go of it," Nader said. "It will be difficult but that is where baseball belongs and there should be more effort to keep baseball in us little communities . . . More help from baseball period."
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