The Boys Are Back In Town

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Greetings from The Booth!

Well, here it is, Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of Summer! It is, of course, a time of grillin’ and chillin’, and maybe even that first big trip to the beach. But let’s take a moment this weekend and remember what Memorial Day is all about. In some way, please honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy in the USA. Attend a Memorial ceremony, or simply fly the Red, White, and Blue.

This week, college baseball players will converge on the Shenandoah Valley to hone their craft, as another season of Valley League Baseball is about to begin on May 31st. The VBL, in case you are unaware, is an NCAA-sanctioned league that was formed in 1897, when it was actually a Class-D minor league. The Valley League currently has 12 teams, with clubs in Winchester, Charlottesville, Front Royal, New Market, Covington, Strasburg, Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, Purcellville, Woodstock, and Culpeper.

The VBL is not called “The Gateway To The Majors” for nothing. Players who have gone on to “The Show” include Rick Honeycutt, Wayne Comer, Jimmy Key, John Kruk, Dan Pasqua, Steve Swisher, Johnny Oates, and one-time Washington National Daniel “Hits” Murphy. For area fans, the Valley League offers a chance to watch some great baseball at affordable prices, and say “I saw so-and-so when…” For players, it’s a chance to continue playing beyond the college season and maybe get a look-see by a pro scout.

What I really wanted to talk about, though, is housing. A Valley League tradition over the years has been the bonding of players and host families who house players every Summer. The stories are many of the lifelong friendships that are formed with these families and the players. This year, there is a housing crisis in some VBL communities, including the Winchester Royals. As of a few weeks ago, the team had found housing for only 15 of the 35 Royals players. In the event that host families cannot be found for all 35, Manager Mike Smith will have to release some of his roster and recruit local players. That’s a great opportunity for local players, but would make for a watered-down Royals squad. There is a certain talent level in the VBL, after all, and a majority of Valley League players come here from top-level college programs.

I’m not sure of the reason for the housing crisis this year. Maybe it’s the economy, and adding a few more members to an already strapped household is not feasible. Maybe it’s our ever-growing mistrust of strangers. I don’t know. I do know that for many families who have provided housing over the years to Valley League players, the positives have outweighed the negatives. So, if you can help, please contact a VBL team near you.

For schedules, team info and more, visit and get out to a game or two this Summer!

Until the next visit from the Booth…PLAY BALL!


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