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June 9, 2014

In Our Opinion: Local sports teams deserve support

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The Daily Star

---- — Summer is the traditional domain of baseball, but we’re lucky in Oneonta to have another sport to enjoy this season as well. 

The Oneonta Outlaws baseball team and the Oneonta Stallions football team have both begun their 2014 seasons. Both teams are locally owned and managed, and offer family-friendly games at reasonable prices. 

The Outlaws are part of the New York Collegiate Baseball League, meaning that college-age players from all over come to the area to play at Damaschke Field. Local families serve as hosts for these young men.  

There is still nostalgia for the days of the Oneonta Yankees, when children would line up to collect autographs from the minor-league players in hopes of meeting a future Bronx Bomber. A similar scenario was true when Oneonta became a Detroit Tigers affiliate.

While the links to the Yankees and Tigers were severed years ago, Damaschke Field is still playing host to players who make it up to the big time. Outlaws alumnus Mike Fiers got off to a strong start after being called up to pitch for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2012, although injuries have sent him back down to the minor leagues. 

More than the potential stardom of any Outlaws player, though, this baseball league offers us the chance to enjoy America’s pastime right here in our own backyard. Owner Gary Laing has done a lot of work to make the experience of going to an Outlaws game something that can be affordable and enjoyable for all fans, young or old, rich or poor, and we’re proud to see the tradition of Oneonta baseball continuing. 

Despite a rough start to their season (the first two games were called on account of rain), the Outlaws have built up a respectable record during their time in Oneonta. The team went 29-16 last year, sweeping the Hornell Dodgers to win its second NYCBL title in three years. 

The Oneonta Stallions have also worked over the past few years to build a new and different tradition. The team’s home games at Wright Stadium, on the Hartwick College campus, also aim for a family-friendly atmosphere, and the team features local players, including Oneonta High graduate Noble Champen. The Stallions donate to charity and host an annual benefit for families in need. 

The Stallions have come a long way from the rocky early days, when the team struggled to score points, let alone win games. More recent seasons have given fans more to cheer about. This year’s roster includes 27 players from last year’s squad, which made its first playoffs appearance last season and put together a 7-4 record — the team’s first winning season. 

So if you’re looking for something to do this summer, take in a ball game — football, baseball, or both. Sure, there’s a chance you might see some future stars, but more importantly, you might also just have a good time.