Trenton Thunder owner Joseph Plumeri called the New York Yankees "despicable" for dumping the Class AA Eastern League team in favor of a new affiliation with the tonier Somerset Patriots.
"While this community built the Yankees organization up and set minor league baseball attendance records, it seems the Yankees were only focused on trying to cut culturally diverse Trenton down in favor of a wealthy, higher socioeconomic area in Somerset," Plumeri said Saturday.
Daily Voice reported Friday that the Yankee organization was adding the Somerset Patriots and Hudson Valley Renegades while dropping the Thunder and Staten Island Yankees.
The moves, which had recently been rumored, are part of a restructuring throughout major league baseball following the expiration of its Player Development Agreement with the minor leagues amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Last night we learned through the media that New York Yankees management has made the calculated and ungracious maneuver to leave the urban setting of Trenton for the affluent confines of Bridgewater Township, leaving one of the finest facilities according to Major League Baseball without an affiliate," Plumeri said.
"For the last 18 years, Trenton has served as the Yankees’ AA affiliate with many of the contributors to the Major League team's recent success having first worn the Thunder’s navy and gold, and had their Louisville Sluggers picked up by Rookie, Derby, and Chase – our team’s bat dogs, on their way to the Bronx," the jilted owner said.
"‘This is about more than baseball," he added. "The Thunder is a pillar of the Trenton community. This move by the Yankees removes a key source of income for Trenton. My heart breaks for the thousands of stadium workers, fans, and residents of this great city.
"Despite repeated assurances that the Thunder would remain its Double-A affiliate over the last 16 months, the Yankees betrayed their partnership at the 11th hour," an angry Plumeri said. "By doing so, the Yankees have misled and abandoned the Thunder and the taxpayers of Mercer County, who have invested millions of dollars over the years to ensure that Arm & Hammer Park remains one of the premier ballparks in America.
‘On behalf of my fellow owners, Joseph Caruso and Joseph Finley, I want to thank Trenton and all of the Thunder faithful, along with our sponsors and our partners. To all Thunder players past and present -- we thank you for your inspiring teamwork, your community involvement, and for bringing your very best to the diamond every day. You helped Trenton make memories on and off the field.
‘My father knew Trenton’s character, and he wanted to develop a franchise that could be shared for generations to come. We know the character of Trenton -- it represents what the Yankees purport to be but are most certainly not.
"The Yankees' actions are nothing short of despicable. They may be abandoning Trenton, but we are not. We will continue to invest in Trenton and its people because Trenton deserves it – maybe more than any other place in America.”
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