Loudoun Rangers Packing Bags

1/27/05 – Loudoun Connection

Loudoun Rangers Packing Bags Loudoun Connection – Sports, Page 25 Jeff Graham One year in Loudoun County was evidently enough for the Loudoun Rangers. Members of the Valley Baseball League (VBL), the Rangers will be moving to Haymarket after team officials judged the team’s existing home field — Mickie Gordon Memorial Park outside Middleburg — to be unfit for league play. Valley Baseball League (VBL) owners unanimously approved the move at a league meeting on Jan. 20 and approved Pat Malone as the franchise’s majority owner. Malone acted as the team’s general manager during the 2004 season and will remain in that capacity in 2005. "It’s a shame that things did not work out in Loudoun," Malone said. "I just couldn’t, in good conscience, move forward with Mickie Gordon." The Rangers will be renamed the Haymarket Battle Cats and will play its home games at Battlefield High School this season. THE RANGERS were one of two new teams to play its inaugural season in the VBL — a Major League Baseball-sponsored wooden bat league for college players — in 2004. Yet the team’s stay in Loudoun appeared doomed from the beginning. The team finished in last place in the VBL’s Northern Division with a record of 15-28. At 20 games played at Mickie Gordon, the Rangers finished just 4-16 and struggled to draw even 30 fans for games. In addition to poor attendance, the team went without many of the amenities afforded other VBL teams, including post-game meals and team buses for road games. Malone said Mickie Gordon also didn’t not have sufficient concession stands or bathroom facilities. "People had to use an outhouse," Malone said. The fact that the team’s former majority owner, Bob Dobkowski, lived out-of-state in Florida didn’t help matters. In October, Malone became majority owner of the team, while Dobkowski will remain part of a minority-ownership group. Malone said after abandoning Mickie Gordon, he hoped to keep the Rangers in Loudoun County and targeted Stone Bridge High School as a possible relocation site. "They wouldn’t work with us," Malone said. Next, Malone researched some sites in Fairfax County, specifically fields at Westfield, Chantilly and Centreville high schools. In the end, however, Prince William County’s Battlefield High School earned the nod. "They rolled out the red carpet for us," Malone said. The new majority owner said the team’s colors will be purple, black and silver, the same colors as the high school, which opened last year and features a ticket box office, two bathroom facilities and a concessions stand. Battlefield High School Principal Jack Parker and Director of Student Activities David Davis could not be reached for comment. Despite the thrill of finding a new location, Malone did regret the fact that the team’s stay in Loudoun lasted just one season. "There are a lot of great baseball fans in Loudoun," Malone said. "I’m sorry we couldn’t continue to bring Valley League baseball to those folks." VBL PLAY will begin this June and Haymarket will celebrate its opening night on June 4. Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, Sean Connaughton, is scheduled to throw out the first pitch.