Originally created 09/12/98

Jackets narrow parent choices

Saying goodbye to the Pittsburgh Pirates may seem like the end of an era for fans of the Augusta GreenJackets.

For general manager Chris Scheuer, it's just the beginning of one.

"People sometimes think that if there is change, there has to be some kind of controversy or bad vibe," Scheuer said. "To me and (owner) Mike Savit, it's a good thing to get a breath of fresh air going here."

On Thursday, the Pirates signed a new affiliation agreement with the Hickory Crawdads of the South Atlantic League, ending a relationship with the Augusta franchise that lasted 11 seasons.

Less than 24 hours later, the Jackets were closing in on an agreement with another major-league club. Scheuer said on Friday he hopes to have a deal done by early next week.

"We're narrowing down a couple of situations, and everything is going to happen real quick," Scheuer said. "I thought things could happen (Friday) but it looks now like it will happen probably by Monday or Tuesday. We want to make sure we work out the best possible deal for our fans. We want a team that will be appealing to them. That's our top priority."

There are currently 10 major-league teams seeking new affiliation agreements at the full-season Class A level: Cubs, White Sox, Reds, Rockies, Astros, Royals, Twins, Yankees, Phillies and Padres.

Of that group, the White Sox (formerly Hickory), Reds (Charleston, W.Va.), Rockies (Asheville), Phillies (Piedmont) and Yankees (Greensboro) were affiliated with SAL teams in 1998.

Scheuer said he has been in contact with several teams which had SAL affiliates last season, and several more with farm clubs in the Midwest League.

A Chicago native, Scheuer said he has talked with Cubs officials, but believed the Cubs were leaning toward renewing their longstanding affiliation with Rockford, Ill., of the Midwest League.

The other intriguing possibility for Augusta is the Yankees. In 1963, the Yankees pulled their farm club out of Augusta, moving the team to Shelby, N.C., beginning what would be a 25-year absence of baseball in the city.

Greensboro general manager John Frey said on Friday that an agreement with New York had not been reached.

"We haven't negotiated with any other teams, but there are a few issues that we want to resolve before we sign another contract with the Yankees," Frey said. "It is our hope, however, that we will be back with the Yankees next year."


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