Cannons are set to make their mark

The Charles Town Cannons of the summer Valley Baseball League had information of all kinds for the Charles Town Rotary Club during a presentation before the group at noon on Feb. 27.

The Cannons are one of 12 teams in the collegiate Valley Baseball League that has a long history in the Shenandoah Valley. Located last year in Luray, Va., and known as the “Wranglers,” the franchise was bought in 2012 by Donald and Brett Fuller and relocated to Jefferson County.

Representatives of the Cannons told the Rotarians of the facts concerning the franchise, the team’s needs and what the summer schedule will look like coming into the first season in the county. The team will use Sager Field at Jefferson High for all of its 22 home games. The Valley League presents an overall 44-game schedule that begins this summer for the Cannons on May 31 and continues until July 25.

Sager Field has already seen the imprint of the Cannons, who have torn down the age-old concrete bleachers and installed metal bleacher seating areas on both the first base and third base side of the field.

An improved irrigation system will also be in place when the Cannons open their season at 7 p.m. on May 31 against the Strasburg Express at Sager Field.

Following the completion of the regular season, a three-tiered playoff system takes place during the first 10 days or two weeks of August. The top four finishers in each division qualify for the playoffs.

As the only West Virginia-based franchise in the league, Charles Town will be in the North Division of the circuit along with Aldie, Front Royal, Winchester, Strasburg, and Woodstock. The Aldie franchise was located in Haymarket last summer and was relocated for the 2013 season.

All five of the other North Division teams will be played a total of six times.

The South Division has teams in New Market, Harrisonburg, Waynesboro, Rockbridge, Covington, and Staunton. Each of those six teams will be played only two times. The schedule also calls for two “add-on” games to round out the 44-game slate.

Cannons’ representatives pointed out that the franchise is a nonprofit organization and needs community business and individual help to maintain the team.

While before the Rotary Club, Cannons’ speakers told of the need for “host families” that house the team players for the summer. The host families were called one of the most important aspects of the organization. Team officials or representives disseminated information regarding host families and asked those in the community interested to call Stacy Locke at (304) 856-1625 or email the Cannons at www.charlestowncannons.com for any information. The team’s mailing address is: Charles Town Cannons, Inc.; 68 Auburn Road; Berryville, VA 22611 and the fax phone number used to reach the team is (304) 856-1619.

The team will have a “Cannons Kids Club” where a $5 membership cost will entitle the child to several discount items, including reduced admission prices. Regular admission prices will be $5 for adults, $3 for senior citizens, and $2 for ages 12 and under.

A call for community volunteers was made and the team made known it will need people to staff everything from its ticket booth to the concession stand and for 50/50 raffles.

Pages of information regarding sponsorship of advertising banners and signs as well as other advertising modes were offered. The facts regarding print advertising in the Cannons team program and nearly a dozen additional methods and means of getting paid promotions and sponsorships were handed out at the meeting.

Rosters all around the Valley League look much like that of the Cannons with players coming from NCAA Division I schools in significant numbers as well as many coming from Division II teams, junior colleges, NAIA schools, and Christian College Association members.

All the players have remaining collegiate eligibility.

The Cannons have contracts from athletes at places like Florida International, Missouri, Stetson, Furman, Liberty, Alabama State, Jacksonville, George Mason, and Central Arkansas — all NCAA Division I schools.

Other schools sending 2013 players to the Cannons are Florida Southern, Texas-Pan American, Northeast (Texas) JC, and Neosho County CC.

The Valley Baseball League had its beginning in 1923 and was sanctioned by the NCAA in 1961.

The Charles Town Cannons have their beginning in 2013. And they are asking for the community’s help in making their first season at Sager Field a success.

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