Losing the A’s to Las Vegas prompted the launch of a new baseball franchise in Oakland.
The Ballers, or B’s, will begin play in spring 2024 as the first West Coast team in the Pioneer Baseball League and vowed to “stay forever” in a formal announcement Tuesday morning.
“I strongly believe that the real value of a sports team is in its relationship to the community it serves,” said Paul Freedman, co-founder of the Ballers. “Baseball is a sport with deep roots in this country and a rich legacy in the East Bay. That could never be owned by one person. That’s why with the Oakland B’s we intend to build a team committed to honoring that legacy and our community. With the Oakland B’s, we are going to bring joy back to the game and give Oaklanders something to be proud of.”
The B’s are headed by Don Wakamatsu, EVP of Baseball Operations for the Ballers and a former professional baseball player who went on to become the first Asian-American manager in MLB history with the Seattle Mariners. Manager Micah Franklin spent 17 seasons in baseball as a player and scout. And former MLB reliever Ray King was named pitching coach.
Oakland’s city council and mayor applauded the arrival of the new team after fighting to keep the Athletics from leaving for Las Vegas, a move sealed with a relocation approval vote of MLB owners earlier this month.
“Oakland worked tirelessly to keep the A’s home. Unfortunately, the desires of fans was not the driving force in this decision. That’s why it’s important for Oakland to build something new, that will prioritize the people who make Oakland great. Sports are incredible community builders and it is critical that we continue to foster initiatives like the Oakland Ballers to ensure our city always has a space for joy and fun to give us the fuel we need to move forward,” said Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas.