Quails minor-league baseball team will play in Albany this summer

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Albany City Manager Alfred Lott is excited. So is Peach State League founder Bill Larsen.

But will Southwest Georgia embrace minor-league baseball one more time?

The Albany Quails sure hope so.

Larsen and Lott both confirmed to The Herald on Friday that the Quails -- who will become the sixth minor-league baseball team in recent history to call Southwest Georgia home -- will play in Albany this season, though the final details of the newly formed partnership between the city and the Peach State League will be finalized early next week, including game dates.

"The plan is to play those 15 games (on a trial basis). And we're happy to have baseball back, even if it is in a limited capacity," said Lott, referencing the PSL's original proposal to play a shortened schedule in Albany its first season in an effort to gauge whether there's enough interest to support a team after others clubs have failed in the past.

The league, which is in its first year, opens its inaugural season June 19 with teams in three cities -- Macon, Milledgeville and Warner Robins -- that are already on board on a full-time basis.

"Right now -- this weekend, as a matter of fact -- we're finishing up all the stuff that needs to be done (to get the team off the ground)," Larsen said. "Everything from uniforms, to grounds crew. The whole deal.

"The team (playing in Albany is a go), as far as we're concerned."

Suzanne Davis, Director of the Albany Recreation and Parks Department, has spearheaded the push to bring minor-league baseball back to the city. However, she's been out of the office for most of the week and wasn't available for comment Friday.

However, in an e-mail to The Herald last month, Davis outlined the Peach State League's proposal, and Lott confirmed Friday that -- as far as he knew -- "those plans haven't changed."

Davis wrote in late April: "The Peach State League is proposing to use Paul Eames Stadium for 2010 and possibly 2011. The proposal is for 15 games in 2010 and then 42 games in 2011, based upon the response that they receive in 2010 ... The dates that the Peach State League are proposing for 2010 are: July 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, July 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, and August 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. The proposed game times are: weekday games starting at 7 p.m., Saturday games starting at 6 p.m., and Sunday games starting at 2 p.m. These are just proposed dates and would have to be examined by ARPD to ensure that they do not conflict with any (American) Legion baseball (games) or otherwise prescheduled game(s)."

Those dates, and more, will be part of the final details Larsen and the PSL will hammer out over the weekend.

Then, by early next week, minor-league baseball will officially be back in Southwest Georgia.

But whether this franchise can succeed where others before them have failed, remains to be seen.

Lott, who is an avid baseball fan, is rooting for it to be a hit.

"We're looking forward to it and I hope (the Quails) get a good reception," he said, before adding, "and I hope they market themselves effectively and have a stand-up reputation."

That, of course, has been the issue with teams in the past. The most recent league to target Albany was the South Coast League in 2007, but it folded after only one season. Other teams that have called Southwest Georgia home in the last 20 years include the Albany Alligators, the South Georgia Waves, the Silver Bullets and the Albany Polecats.

There have been other franchises that have come and gone since the early 1900s, most notably the Albany Cardinals, who were here the longest (1936-1958).

The new minor-league franchise adds a second professional outfit to the Southwest Georgia sports landscape after the Albany Panthers -- an arena football team, which play in the Southern Indoor Football League -- began their inaugural season this year.

Lott says he sees the addition of baseball back into Albany's pro sports fold as a great thing for the area.

"Now we'll have arena football and minor league baseball," he said Friday. "That's quite a bit for a small town in Southwest Georgia."