SUMMER EXPOSURE Valley League All-Star Game Set for ESPNU

Valley League All-Star Game Set for ESPNU

By Greg Madia
Daily News-Record

Harrisonburg, VA – The Valley Baseball League is going national. “It’s pretty spectacular, isn’t it?” JayNeal, the executive vice president of the VBL,
said Wednesday.

Neal said ESPNU is going to televise the Valley Baseball League All-Star Game – set for Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park in Harrisonburg — along with a pre-game show starting at 7:00 p.m.

“I’m pretty sure it’s the first time a (National Alliance of College Summer Baseball) league has been broadcasted nationally,” Neal said. “So the visibility for the league is great.”

According to Neal, the idea to put the VBL, on television stemmed from Graham Knight, a fan of the Winchester Royals and local filmmaker who has credits with ABC, FOX, PBS and TBS among others. Knight’s production company, Isomer Media, helped the league develop its online streaming platform and sell advertisements for it, too, as all VBL games are available via Facebook Live.

Knight said he realized the potential for the VBL and its 11 clubs to have another revenue stream as the league and its teams try to remain properly supported.

“I’m monetizing the broadcast rights for the benefit of the teams in the league,” Knight said. “So by getting advertisers like Sheetz and Subway to come in and sponsor our live streams, we’re getting money back to these teams.”

The number of viewers on the VBL’s Facebook Live game streams is what led to ESPN’s interest, Neal said.

Isomer Media will produce the game on Sunday and Knight will direct it, Knight said. The production, thought it will look like any other EPSN telecast with the same network graphics, will simply be distributed by ESPN and shown on ESPNU.

Knight said he went back-and-forth between ESPN and VBL to make sure all aspects of Sunday’s All-Star game worked for both sides. He added the two parties are still in discussions about ESPN televising the league’s championship series later this summer.

“ESPN is very rigid in terms of production value,” Knight said. “They have guidelines. They send out teams to do inspections and do reviews, so that it’s all up to their production value and everything matches their specs. They send out a detailed package on what you have to do and how you have to deliver it.”

Knight said Craig Orndorff, the radio voice of James Madison women’s basketball, and Matt Atkins, the play-by-play man for the Harrisonburg Turks’ live stream, will be in the booth for Sunday’s ESPNU telecast.

Atkins isn’t the only one who will be there representing the Turks.

Harrisonburg had five of its players — Jed Bryant (Wingate), Jacob Ferris (Eastern Kentucky), Alex Hoppe (UNC-Greensboro), Josh Madole (UNC-Greensboro) and McCann Mellett (Wingate) — selected to play in Sunday’s event.

Three players from James Madison baseball — Carson Bell (Front Royal), Tre Dabney (Front Royal)and Lliam Grubbs (Staunton) — spending their summer in the Valley were also named VBL all-stars.

photos compliments of Daniel Lin / DN-R

“It’s nice to get some national airtime, and it’s huge for recruiting,” Neal said. “Guys will have their parents get to see them play on ESPNU and when the different teams are recruiting players next year, they can talk about visibility. Coaches can say, “We were on ESPN,” This is huge for the Valley League and huge for the NACSB.”