The Coastal Plain League is no stranger to the Tri-Cities.
Once in Petersburg, there will soon be an expansion team just down the road in Colonial Heights.
Now in its 23rd season, the league has 26 franchises playing on the East Coast in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The league features college players who play in the summer to stay sharp, and has produced 1,650 professional players and 124 Major Leaguers, according to a CPL press release.
Two notable alumni are 2011 American League MVP Goochland native and Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander and 2017 National League Championship Series MVP and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Chris Taylor.
The Petersburg Generals were founded in 2000 and played through the 2016 season before being sold for $100,000 and moved to Georgia. They are now called the Macon Bacon. Two eventual major leaguers played for the Generals: pitcher Brett Campbell (Nationals, 2006) and infielder Don Kelly (parts of nine seasons with the Pirates, Tigers and Marlins). Kelly is now the first base coach for the Houston Astros.
CPL Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Justin Sellers recently announced the expansion for the 2020 season. “We’re looking forward to being up there and bringing our brand to Colonial Heights,” he said.
Chris Martin, the owner of RISE baseball, has been instrumental in getting a CPL team back to the area. According to a press release, he has been in talks with Colonial Heights about using the recently remodeled Shepherd Stadium as the team’s home.
RISE baseball helped produce a professional baseball player from the Chester area, pitcher Nick Conner, who played one season with the Washington Nationals. He’s now an instructor at the Chester-based Ironbridge Baseball Academy.
“We’re not only excited about working with the league, but we’re excited to bring baseball back to the Tri-Cities area,” Martin said. “Baseball means a lot to the people of the Tri-Cities and the surrounding counties, and we want to put together a team they’ll be proud of and create an unforgettable fan experience each and every game.”