On Wednesday, in front of local business leaders, representatives from American Legion Post 284, members of law enforcement and the community, city officials along with new ownership group Collegiate Baseball Experience announced that Coastal Plain League baseball is coming to Shepherd Stadium in 2020.
"There's a lot of buzz and excitement throughout the city on social media and just everywhere," said Colonial Heights Mayor T. Gregory Kochuba to open the ceremony. "I will tell you that excitement carries over to city council."
On Monday, Kochuba and city council voted unanimously to approve the leasing agreement between the City of Colonial Heights and CBE for the usage of Shepherd Stadium. Kochuba as well as Colonial Heights City Manager Doug Smith thanked city council, the Recreation & Parks team and CBE for working together over the last several months to get a deal done that would be a good fit for both the City of Colonial Heights and for the franchise.
"From a personal standpoint, what I'm excited about is to hear the sound of a baseball hitting a wooden bat," Kochuba explained. "That's like music to my ears."
Virginia House of Delegates Speaker of the House Del. Kirk Cox echoed the sentiments of Kochuba and Smith; praising city officials for their work and reiterating how exciting this opportunity is for the Tri-Cities area. But he stole the show momentarily when the whipped out an old pair of cleats; declaring he wanted to throw out the first pitch.
"They're a little muddy, but I'll make sure I don't slip," exclaimed Cox. "I can't sing, I can't dance, but I can throw out a first pitch!"
Chris Martin, Founder of Collegiate Baseball Experience, was about as enthusiastic as Cox as he took the podium.
"It's been a dream of mine for a long time," said Martin. "The energy and passion everybody has shown to this point has been astounding."
Martin went on to announce the launch of 'Tri-Cities Baseball 2020', the official website and social media platforms associated with the development of the team, and gave details of a team naming competition that launched with the site.
"Our name is extremely important. We want the community to come up with a great name and we can choose a name that everybody can be proud of."
The event closed with the Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer of the Coastal Plain League Justin Sellers impressing those in attendance with information about the CPL that would wow even the casual baseball fan.
"We've had over a hundred kids drafted (into the MLB) each of the last five years and we've average about 10.6 Major Leaguers," explained Sellers. "So out of a 32-man roster that you'll see before you next year, there's a good chance two to five of them will play professionally."
With names like Goochland's Justin Verlander, Chris Taylor and Chad Pinder, the CPL has seen its share of stars. With a lot of work and a little luck, the next young star could come from the Tri-Cities area.
For more information about Tri-Cities Baseball 2020 and Collegiate Baseball Experience, go to www.tricitiesbaseball2020.com and follow Tri-Cities Baseball 2020 on Facebook and Twitter