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Strasburg lands VBL franchise for 2011 season


By Jeremy Stafford - jstafford@nvdaily.com

STRASBURG -- The Valley Baseball League announced Tuesday, when it released its 2010 schedule, that team owners have approved the purchase of the floundering Fauquier Gators franchise by Strasburg Community Baseball Inc.

The Strasburg-based group, a nonprofit organization comprising a six-member board of directors, with room available for a seventh member, will move the Fauquier team to Strasburg.

The Strasburg team, which as of yet is without a mascot, will begin play in June 2011 as part of the town's 250-year anniversary celebration; the 12-team league will field only 11 teams this summer.

Jay Neal, a member of Strasburg Community Baseball Inc., said the Fauquier team has not yet been purchased, but that an agreement should be reached within a week.

"It was a wonderful opportunity to pick up a team, and there are a bunch of us who have been interested in doing that for years," said Neal, a graduate of Strasburg High School. "And it's the worst time in the world, economically ... but you can't always pick when your opportunities [come] up.

"But Strasburg is a wonderful place for a team."

The rest of the board members are Richard Wilson, Frank Conner Jr., Mike Whittle, Jan Bane and Butch Barnes.

Barnes will coach the Strasburg team, which will play at First Bank Park in Strasburg.

Neal said that, being a nonprofit group, any money that Strasburg Community Baseball Inc. brings in from the team will be donated to the Strasburg High School baseball and softball programs, as well as the Strasburg Little League baseball and softball teams.

In keeping with the tradition of Strasburg High School, Neal explained, the Strasburg team will wear purple.

VBL treasurer Jim Phillips said the Fauquier team recently folded because it lacked the personnel to remain active.

The purchase agreement for the team stands at a light sum of $5,000, money that was donated to Strasburg Community Baseball Inc. by Homewood of the Shenandoah Valley.

"Since they got here, they've been extremely interested in getting involved in community affairs," Neal said.

For Phillips, the prospect of having a Valley League team in Strasburg, when there's already area teams in Woodstock, Winchester, Front Royal and New Market, will hardly be a detriment to the league.

"They got a lot of baseball-minded people," Phillips said of Strasburg, "and, of course, with the history of Strasburg and sports, it's going to be a very good franchise for the league."



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