Tag Archives: independent baseball

Upsets? Underdogs? Not on THIS Island.

Tonight’s game between the Road Warrior Black Sox and the Washington WildThings was the reason Indy Ball Island was created.

The two teams played the first game in a best of 3 semi-final playoff series to determine which team will move on to the championship series next weekend. The league, created by the WildThings with help from Joe Torre and the Black Sox, was thrown together as a 4 team/1 stadium deal to bring baseball to Western Pennsylvania during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two teams (the WildThings and the Slammin’ Sammies) are ran and operated by the WildThings. The other two teams (Road Warrior Black Sox and Baseball Brilliance Sox) were put together through Joe Torre, PJ Phillips and the Black Sox Road Warriors touring league.

The Black Sox players do not get paid. In fact, the players usually pay a fee to be in the Black Sox camps. They are also tasked with finding and paying for housing. The guys often struggle to find affordable living arrangements for the entire season, so they bounce around from place to place while trying to scrape up enough money to pay for food. Some even take on jobs as Uber or Door Dash drivers just to make ends meet in between practice and games.

They are often seen as the underdogs. The guys who didn’t have a chance to make it. The guys who weren’t good enough.

Winning a game against THE team that created the whole league would be an upset. They aren’t supposed to win. They aren’t the guys the (socially distanced) fans are there to see. No. They’re the nobodies.

But not to me… Not on this island.

We don’t believe in upsets and underdogs here. Why? Because I know their stories. Everyone has one. And to still be playing baseball for no pay in the middle of a pandemic, you have to have something else too…

Heart.

Passion.

A true love for the game.

Now don’t get me wrong, every baseball player in indy ball must possess these things. But these guys might just have a little more.

They have a chip on their shoulders. A desire to prove everyone wrong. I’ve been in the dugout with the Black Sox players over the years. I know the passion that they have for the game of baseball.

I’ve followed these players for years. I’ve seen all their highs and lows play out in leagues like the Pecos and Pacific through their social media and nightly box scores. These are “my boys.”

I’ve helped some of them link up with Joe and the Black Sox. I’ve fed some of them when they came to town as visitors in the Frontier League. I’ve watched them get called up and been there to let them vent when they got released.

They are the ones I root for. The players who I cheer for. The ones I want to see succeed.

They don’t want to be considered “the Cinderella story.” No, they just want to be seen as winners.

And tonight… the Black Sox were winners. The team defeated the WildThings 16-5. If they win tomorrow, they will “upset” the home team and move on to the championship series.

During the 9th inning, I turned to one of the Black Sox players who played in the earlier game as part of the Baseball Brilliance team and said… “This is why I created Indy Ball Island. For nights like this.”

I’m proud of you boys.

If you know… you know.

Change the culture.

Atlantic League Adds Gastonia, NC For 2021 Season

Atlantic League of Professional Baseball Expands to City of Gastonia, NC

Team Owner Brandon Bellamy Eager To Bring ALPB Excitement to Gastonia Community

(July 28, 2020, Gastonia, NC) – The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) announced today it is expanding to the City of Gastonia with a team ownership group led by Brandon Bellamy, CEO of Velocity Companies, Inc. Gastonia becomes the second Atlantic League location in North Carolina, joining High Point, where the Rockers began play in 2019.

“We are delighted to bring Atlantic League baseball to Gastonia, a city that has shown tremendous ingenuity and resolve, particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ALPB President Rick White. “Under Mr. Bellamy’s ownership, this club and the ALPB will provide the community with best-in-class baseball and exceptional entertainment for years to come.”

In partnership with the City of Gastonia, Bellamy and The Velocity Companies will collaborate on economic development projects tied to the ballpark, which are expected to include residential, retail, hotel, and office space properties, a potential $100M investment opportunity for the City.

“When we learned of this incredible project, we realized it was an opportunity not just to own a team but also to connect with a community that deserves to be showcased,” said Bellamy. “The City of Gastonia has a strong entrepreneurial history, and we are excited to be a part of its continued growth. We look forward to becoming a good neighbor and making a lasting impact in Gastonia.”

The city’s 5,000-seat multi-use ballpark, which will be managed by the team, is under construction according to Atlantic League facility specifications and will host family-friendly programming, provide an intimate fan experience with sports and innovative gatherings, and offer a unique field configuration. The venue will serve as a community recreational asset open to all for its inaugural season in 2021, offering year-round access, anchored by ALPB play, plus entertainment events, community-based sports, and recreational activities. It will function as the centerpiece of the Franklin Urban Sports and Entertainment (FUSE) development, a transformative redevelopment project for the City of Gastonia.

“We are excited to have Mr. Bellamy join us in our continued efforts to create a great place that our community can be proud of,” said Gastonia’s Mayor Walker Reid, III. “This is a milestone for our city and an example of how economic development partnerships invigorate a community and prove to be mutually beneficial for all parties.”

City Manager Michael Peoples added, “This project required all of us to think outside of the box and work together for the City’s future. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Mr. Bellamy and the Atlantic League as we reimagine what Gastonia is capable of achieving.”

###

About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)
With eight teams in the Mid-Atlantic and Texas, the ALPB is a leader in baseball innovation and a player gateway to Major League Baseball. Through its exclusive partnership with MLB, the Atlantic League tests Major League Baseball rules and equipment initiatives. The Atlantic League has sent more than 950 players to MLB organizations while drawing more than 42 million fans to its affordable, family-friendly ballparks throughout its 23-year history. For more information, please visit AtlanticLeague.com.

About the Ball Club
The Gastonia baseball team will operate under the formal entity NC Gas House Gang, LLC and is majority owned by Velocity Companies, LLC CEO Brandon Bellamy (www.thevelocitycompanies.com). Among other investors, Mr. Bellamy is joined by ARCTRUST Properties, Inc. CEO Robert Ambrosi (www.arctrust.com).

About Brandon Bellamy
Brandon Bellamyis a passionate and purpose-driven real estate entrepreneur and currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The Velocity Companies. Over the past 30 years, Mr. Bellamy has excelled in real estate investment, real estate development, and private fund management. Mr. Bellamy couples a unique knowledge of market-rate and affordable housing development and a superior understanding of financial engineering to impact existing and developing communities. During his tenure at The Velocity Companies, the firm has developed and consulted on projects located in the Mid-Atlantic and the Carolinas with an aggregate asset value exceeding $500 million. For more information, please visit www.thevelocitycompanies.com.

About the City of Gastonia
Gastonia, NC, just minutes west of Charlotte, is one of the area’s best places to live and work with an ideal combination of location, size, and livability. Gastonia is the largest of Gaston County’s 15 municipalities and one of the largest cities in the Charlotte metropolitan area. Selected as an All-America City three times, Gastonia’s desirable quality of life is the result of its beautiful natural surroundings, friendly neighborhoods, responsive government, and vibrant business environment.