Valley League Excited to Return to Charlottesville

Brian O'Connor's first taste of life in the commonwealth of Virginia came as a member of the Harrisonburg Turks of the Valley League.

O'Connor -- who just completed his 11th season as head coach at UVa last week -- played for the Turks in 1990, following his freshman season at Creighton University.

On Wednesday, O'Connor was among the group who officially announced the Valley League's return to Charlottesville, beginning with the 2015 season.

"This is a baseball town," O'Connor said. "People love baseball, and I think this is a terrific fit. For young players from across the country to be able to come here to Charlottesville, Virginia, and play baseball in the summer, is going to be an awesome opportunity."

"I almost can't say how exciting it is," said Don Lemish, the league's commissioner. "I came into the league three years ago, and from the day I came in we talked about," Gee, I wish we could get Charlottesville back in the league." And when I had my first conversation with Joe (Koshansky) and Jeff Burton, I've got to tell you, I just about jumped out of my window, thinking this is going to be the greatest thing that's happened to the Valley League."

Koshansky spent two summers (2002 and 2003) playing for the Staunton Braves of the Valley League during his college career at UVa. The former Colorado Rockies infielder will serve as general manager for the as-yet-unnamed team in Charlottesville.

"I think it's a fantastic fit," he said. "The Valley League has a great reputation, and we've got a pretty big market here in Charlottesville, with a lot of baseball fans here. And it's something that I think, frankly, we were missing."

The team will play at Charlottesville High School, with renovations like bullpen mounds and a new batting cage in the works for the Black Knights' home field. The addition of a team in Charlottesville will give the Valley League -- which is sanctioned by the NCAA -- 12 teams, with a geographic footprint stretching from Northern Virginia to Covington -- and even into Charles Town, WV.

"Charlottesville is in the center of our whole footprint," said Lemish. "And to have somebody join the league at that situation, rather than at one end or another end, it just makes a perfect fit. And I think that's why everyone is so excited that they're coming in."

A contest will be held, probably in the fall, to come up with a name for the new franchise. Charlottesville's last Valley League team, the Hornets, last took the field in 1974.

"It hasn't necessarily sunk in yet," said Koshansky. "But I think once we get the first game under our belt, and we see the support we get from the fans, I think that's going to be extremely exciting. It's really, I'm really happy to be a part of that."

"People want a winner. They want to support baseball," said O'Connor. "And this gives a chance for all those people in our community that love the sport of baseball, now their season has been extended by two more months. So it's going to be a lot of fun, and a great opportunity for this community."

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