The Management...

Princeton Rays manager Danny Sheaffer (left) and Bluefield Blue Jays manager Dennis Holmberg (right) meet with the umpires at the plate prior to a Mercer Cup baseball game this past summer at Hunnicutt Stadium.  The fierce Appalachian League rivals battled not only for the coveted  Mercer Cup, but fought for surpremacy in the East Division, both in regular season play and in the East Division playoff series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BLUEFIELD — Two sports organizations that enhance Mercer County’s quality of life will be recognized early next year for their contributions to the cities of Bluefield and Princeton.

The entire cast of Radio Active is pleased to announce that the Bluefield Baseball Club inc. and the Princeton Baseball Association inc. are the 2018 recipients of the show’s William Myers “Community Spirit” award, Radio Active’s host Craig Hammond said.

The two organizations operate the Bluefield Blue Jays and Princeton Rays professional baseball teams. Cast members Russ Hatfield, Matt Deal, Mike Akers, Pete Sternloff, and Hammond unanimously selected these two community entities.

The annual award is presented in memory of William Myers, a long-time community servant who dedicated his life to making the region a better place to live. Myers, who passed away in 2000, is the father of Bluefield Daily Telegraph Editor Samantha Perry.

The radio station has been presenting the William A. Myers Community Spirit Award since 2004. Myers’ wife, Nancy C. Myers, passed away in March of 2006.

During the 2018 Appalachian League seaso the Princeton Rays and the Bluefield Blue Jays  — brimming with talent and skippered by veteran managers Danny Sheaffer and Dennis Holmberg, respectively — were two of the most successful teams in rookie league baseball. Princeton ultimately bested Bluefield in the the hotly-contested Mercer Cup regular season rivals series, but their battle for supremacy in the Appalachian League spilled over into the post-season.

The P-Rays won the East Division regular season championship but had a tooth-and-nail battle with Bluefield in the East Division playoff series. The divisional playoff went to three games, with Princeton coming back from a 4-0 deficit  in Game 3 to win 6-5 and clinch an Appalachian League Championship Series showdown with Elizabethton.

“This past season our region was treated to the most exciting baseball in recent memory. Year after year the Jays and Rays hit the trifecta: affordable family entertainment, economic impact, and growth in tourism.

“In addition, both teams operate the best concession stands in the league. What more can you ask?” Hammond said.

Tourist traffic into Mercer County increases when the fans of teams playing against the Rays and the Jays arrive at the local ball fields, Hammond said.

“Every time I got to a ball game, I meet fans from the visiting team who come to Bluefield and Princeton, and that’s a wide area,” he stated.

“I’ve seen fans from Greeneville (Tenn.), Kingsport, Elizabethan, Bristol, and Pulaski. And with the Appalachian League, we get folks from all over, because professional baseball is really a tourism enhancer. That’s why the Asheville (NC) professional team is called the Tourists because it enhances tourism in the area.”

The awards will be presented in early January when the plaques are ready, Hammond said.

Radio Active, a community affairs program, airs each weekday morning from 9:07 a.m. to 10 a.m. on WHIS 1440 AM and 97.3 FM.

 

—Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com