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New ‘Oakland Ballers’ Baseball Team Aims to Keep the Sport in the City

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A woman speaks at podium with a line of people behind her.
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao speaks during a news conference at Laney College in Oakland on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023. A new independent league baseball team called the Oakland Ballers is set to begin play next spring and embrace the loyal A's fans who are heartbroken about their club's planned departure to Las Vegas. (Jeff Chiu/AP Photo)

With the announcement of a new baseball team coming to Oakland next spring, the Oakland Ballers have much to do before they step up to bat next year, including crowdsourcing, outfitting Laney’s College Baseball Field and building a roster.

The Oakland Ballers, an expansion independent club in the Pioneer League, represent a community-led effort to keep baseball rooted in Oakland after the Oakland A’s all but guaranteed their move to Las Vegas earlier this year.

Co-founders Bryan Carmel and Paul Freedman have been focused on getting a management team together and are now looking at outfitting Laney’s baseball stadium with more seats.

“Laney stadium does not have that many seats at the moment, maybe a couple hundred. We have plans in motion [for] much more capacity in the matter of a thousand,” Carmel said.

The Oakland Ballers, nicknamed the Oakland B’s, are backed by 50 local investors, with $2 million in funding behind them, and founders say they will begin crowdsourcing early in the new year.

Sponsored

Former bench coach for the Oakland A’s and longtime baseball legend Don Wakamatsu is the newfound vice president of the Ballers baseball operation and is in charge of scouting players for the team. With experience playing in both minor and major league baseball, Wakamatsu said the B’s have a unique opportunity being in the Pioneer League, which is independent of the MLB.

“You don’t get an opportunity to put an independent club in a metropolitan city. It’s one of the 10th largest markets. That’s where we think we’re going to succeed,” he said.

Wakamatsu added that they’ll be scoping out players locally and nationally until around May 10, when the Oakland B’s will need a tentative roster to play in June.

Oakland’s Mayor Sheng Thao is in full support of the Oakland Ballers.

“We are stepping up, and giving our community a sense of hope, and showing our young people that you can be resilient. This is our territory, this is our town, and we’re taking baseball back,” Thao said.

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