Charlottesville team to join Valley League in 2015

By Brad Fauber

The Valley Baseball League is returning to Charlottesville after a 40-year absence.

Charlottesville Community Baseball Inc. announced on Wednesday that it will operate a new team in the Valley League next summer. The team, which has yet to be given an official name, will play its home games at Charlottesville High School.

“It’s extremely exciting. We’ve been working on this for nine months now to get to this point,” team general manager Joe Koshansky said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “It’s nice to be able to tell the community that they are going to have more college baseball after [the University of Virginia’s] season ends next year.”

Barring any other changes, Charlottesville’s addition would return the Valley League to the 12-team, two-division format that it had used in recent years, said Valley League president Donald Lemish. The Rockbridge Rapids organization ceased to exist following the 2013 season and the league is currently operating under an 11-team format.

Charlottesville will join the South Division along with Covington, Harrisonburg, New Market, Staunton and Waynesboro.

“The great thing is the fact that Charlottesville is right in the middle of the footprint of the whole league. That is excellent,” Lemish said in a phone interview.

“I think it’s going to be a marriage made in heaven,” added Lemish, who praised the work of Koshansky and team president Greg Allen.

Koshansky, who played college baseball at the University of Virginia from 2000 to 2004 before spending an eight-year professional career as a member of the Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants organizations, cited U.Va. baseball’s growing success as a bonus for Charlottesville’s VBL franchise.

“I think this community has really embraced baseball and the opportunity to give them more college baseball in the summer is something that we’re excited about,” Koshansky said.

Charlottesville’s new team has also gotten full support from U.Va. head baseball coach Brian O’Connor, who played a season in the Valley League during his college career at Creighton. Koshansky, who played for O’Connor during his senior season in 2004, also played in the VBL with the Staunton Braves in 2003 and 2004.

Koshansky said the first phone call regarding the creation of a new Valley League franchise in Charlottesville was made in August before the process began taking off a few months later.

According to Lemish, prospective VBL teams must complete an application and pay a “rather substantial” franchise fee before they can be added to the league. Lemish added that franchises must also become an incorporated 501(c)(3) organization, and establish a board of directors and a location for its home games before joining the Valley League.

Charlottesville Community Baseball Inc. completed that process last November, and Lemish said the team could’ve joined the Valley League this season if the organization chose to.

“We probably could’ve done that, but looking at all the organizational details we had to take care of, we felt like we should take that extra time … to make sure we provided the community with the best experience possible,” Koshansky said.

Plans are currently in place to make improvements to Charlottesville High School’s baseball field and develop sponsorships, and the Charlottesville franchise unveiled its new Facebook (Charlottesville Baseball 2015) and Twitter (@CvilleBase2015) accounts on the heels of the official announcement on Wednesday morning to help raise awareness of the team’s creation.

A contest to determine the team’s official name will also be conducted, and Koshansky said he hopes to have the name unveiled by late fall or early winter.

The town’s previous Valley League franchise was nicknamed the Hornets and competed in the 1960s and 1970s before ceasing operations in 1974.

“We welcome back the Charlottesville franchise with open arms,” said New Market team president and VBL executive vice president Bruce Alger. “We’re just tickled to death that we’re expanding back into that area.”

Alger added that he was thrilled to have an accomplished former Valley League player in Koshansky come back and make such a valuable contribution to the league.

“As long as [Koshansky] doesn’t pick up a bat or step on the mound it will be OK. That was one of the stipulations,” Alger said with a laugh.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com