September 29, 2006 – Daily News Record
Written By Dustin Dopirak The surprising move gives the NCAA-sanctioned baseball league 11 teams for 2007 HARRISONBURG — Dave Biery didn’t think it was going to happen, but he apparently helped make it work. Valley Baseball League owners voted Thursday night to expand from 10 to 11 teams for the 2007 season, adding the Warrenton-based Fauquier Gators, who will move from the Clark Griffith League. Biery, the Valley League’s commissioner, said last month that he did not expect the NCAA-sanctioned summer circuit to add an 11th team without a 12th because of the scheduling conflicts that would arise with an odd number of teams. "I didn’t think it would happen," Biery said Thursday. "But we had a very lengthy discussion about it, and hopefully we’ll be able to add another team in the 2008 season. I think the optimal number for the league is 12, and we’d like to get there for the 2008 season." According to Harrisonburg Turks owner Bob Wease, Biery ended up being the reason the expansion measure passed. The VBL’s 10 owners each get a vote on all league matters; Biery gets a vote only in case of a tie. Wease said that the vote was 5-5 and Biery voted for expansion to break the tie and add Fauquier to the league. Biery refused to discuss the vote count. Thursday’s decision was good news for Fauquier owner Cecil Campbell. The Gators had been pushing to join the Valley for six years, and started turning up the heat last season. "I thought I was going to get rejected again," Campbell said. "I talked to [Valley League treasurer] Jim Phillips. I called him today. I said, ‘Jim I need some help, buddy. We got an established ballclub. We got a strong community. We got a good youth league coming along with us. We have to have some direction for our future.’ Him and Dave Biery and [VBL vice president] Todd Thompson got it done. They got it done. We’re extremely excited." The move is a step up for Fauquier. Though the Clark Griffith League is a respected circuit that just finished its 61st year of existence, the VBL is considered one of the premier collegiate summer baseball leagues in the country, a notch below only the prestigious Cape Cod League. The VBL’s next objective is to add a team along the league’s southern flank in 2008. That team would most likely end up in Lexington, where Buena Vista resident Jim Yates is trying to head an ownership group for a Valley League squad. For 2007, meanwhile, the VBL plans to scrap its two-division format and have just one division. The scheduling ramifications were the biggest reason VBL owners were uneasy about adding an 11th team. That will require at least one team to be off each night, which will force some creative scheduling. But Biery said that was nothing the league didn’t have to deal with before. "We played several years with seven teams back in the olden days," Biery said. "And there was a concern about rainouts. But I can’t imagine a situation worse than what we had last year when we had five days in a row where all five games were rained out. But we made all of those games up, and we didn’t even have to make the season any longer." There was concern among the owners about whether Fauquier would still be available next season, which also fueled Thursday’s affirmative vote. "That was one of the reasons we voted them in," Wease said. "They were wanting to leave the Clark Griffith League and looking for another league to get into. We were worried that they might have jumped into another league somewhere else."