Professional baseball fans in Lexington will be able to double their fun in 2022.
Just as Chicago has the Cubs and White Sox and New York has the Mets and Yankees, Lexington will field two independent minor baseball teams under a deal announced Thursday by the Atlantic Professional Baseball League.
The difference will be that the two Lexington teams will operate under the same ownership group.
Lexington-based Stands LLC, owner of the Lexington Legends, will also field the new team, currently referred to as the “Kentucky Team.” A nickname will be announced soon, the league said.
The new team will share the Lexington Legends Ballpark with the Legends, who have played there since the stadium was built in 2001. The stadium’s turf surface will be converted to artificial turf, according to Andy Shea, CEO of Stands LLC. The new team will play a full schedule in 2022, which will include games against the Legends.
“The Kentucky team” will become the 10e ALPB staff, which will enter its 24e season in 2022. The Legends joined the independent ALPB in 2021 after losing their long-standing affiliation with Major League Baseball and winning the championship. The title was Lexington’s third in a row after the South Atlantic League Championships in 2018 and 2019 before the 2020 minor league baseball season was canceled due to COVID-19.
The addition of the Kentucky squad, at least for 2022, allows the ALPB to create a balanced 10-team schedule.
The league fielded eight teams in 2021 – the Long Island (NY) Ducks, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, the Lancaster (Pa.) Barnstormers and the York (Pa.) Revolution in the North Division, and the Lexington Legends, the High Point (NC) Rockers, Gastonia (NC) Honey Hunters and Charleston (W.Va.) Dirty Birds in the South Division.
A ninth franchise, in Staten Island, NY, has been added for 2022. A 10e the city will join the ALPB in 2023 when Hagerstown, MD, joins.
“The addition of the Kentucky club will provide travel benefits to our league schedule,” Atlantic League president Rick White said in a press release. “The league is grateful to Stands LLC CEO Andy Shea and the entire Legends organization for their generous offer to welcome a second team to their stadium.”
Shea said the Legends are eager to share their home with another team.
“One thing we’ve learned about this great city is that there is room for more baseball in Lexington,” said Shea. “Our fans deserve high quality in every game on the league calendar.”
Shea jokingly added an ulterior motive.
“Plus,” he said, “a second Kentucky team doubles the odds of the Atlantic League trophy staying in Lexington for another year.”
The league plans to announce its 2022 schedule by the end of this week.
This story was originally published November 11, 2021 12:00 p.m.