Jamestown Jammers

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1994-2014

The Jamestown Jammers of Jamestown, New York, played 21 seasons in the New York-Penn League. The team came into being following the 1993 season, when the Niagara Falls Rapids moved about 100 miles south to Jamestown. The city’s College Park (later named Russell Diethrick Park) had been vacated following the same season, when the Jamestown Expos moved to Vermont. This meant that Jamestown had an unbroken chain of New York-Penn League baseball, albeit with a different identity.

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The new team called itself the Jammers and introduced pinstriped uniforms with red caps featuring an ambiguous animal. The creature was sort of like a smaller, grayer cousin of Taz from Looney Toons. Presumably, many baseball fans shrugged and thought “well, that’s a Jammer, I guess.”

Starting in 1994 and continuing for five seasons, the Jammers were affiliated with the Detroit Tigers. front.jpgFuture MLB manager Dave Roberts played on the inaugural team, and a few other notables passed through, including Francisco Cordero, Gabe Kapler, and Brandon Inge.

For three seasons (1999-2001) the Jammers were in the Braves’ system. To my mind, there were not any standout players during this time. There were not any notable changes to uniforms or other branding either, so we’ll just skip right ahead.

In 2002, the Jammers linked up with the Florida Marlins, and kept up that affiliation for 11 seasons. During this time, the team fielded several future All-Stars, including Jason Vargas, Gaby Sanchez, Brad Hand, AJ Ramos, Marcell Ozuna. In 2011, the  late great Jose Fernandez pitched one game (his second pro start) for the Jammers, en route to Miami.

Jamestown Jose
Jose wearing the grape cluster

In 2006, the team retroactively brought clarity to the Jammer identity mystery. They redesigned their entire visual identity, including team colors, uniforms, and logos. Gone were red and black with the Taz-like character, and in were green and purple. The new logo was an anthropomorphic cluster of grapes (as in grape jelly/jam) rendered in both purple and green versions. For the rest of their years, they stood as one of a handful of new food identities, alongside teams such as the Montgomery Biscuits and Modesto Nuts. [MLG Note: for quite a while, I thought the grape cluster was a blackberry, in reference to delicious blackberry jam.]

Following the 2012 season, there was a minor shuffling of PDCs in the New York-Penn League, and the Jammers broke with the Marlins and linked up with the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Meadows) This seemed innocuous at first, but in the following year, news came out that there would be a team in the league moving to Morgantown, West Virginia–though the exact team that would be moving was unclear. The Batavia Muckdogs and Auburn Doubledays were floated as possibilities, but Jamestown seemed to be the obvious candidate, considering that Pittsburgh is the closest MLB city to Morgantown by a wide margin. It may have been mere coincidence, but those suspicions bore out.

Following the 2014 season, the team relocated, and are now known as the West Virginia Black Bears. Though it is outside the realm of affiliated minor league baseball, and thus outside the realm of the DIA, the Jamestown Jammers identity does continue in the summer collegiate Perfect Game League.

 

Ephemera

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The early Jammers also had a rarely-used pinstripe cap
MILB - 2004 Jamestown Jammers
Vargas in 2004
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The green grapes
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The purple grapes, flipped with a J

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