Despite losing MLB affiliation, Volcanoes promise that there will be baseball in 2021

Alexander Canario laces a double for the Volcanoes in a game from 2019 (File).

For just over a year, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes organization found themselves in limbo, wondering if they would lose their Major League Baseball (MLB) affiliation with the San Francisco Giants.

On Wednesday, Dec. 9, the Volcanoes discovered that they had been officially axed from the Northwest League (NWL), ending their 26-year relationship with the Giants and Minor League Baseball (MiLB). The Boise Hawks were the other team that was eliminated from the NWL.

The Volcanoes have been affiliated with the Giants since their inception in 1997 — the organization began in Bellingham in 1994, but was moved to Salem-Keizer in 1997. 

Volcanoes CEO Mickey Walker said that the Giants never contacted the Volcanoes about the change. The organization found out via Twitter that the Eugene Emeralds will be the Giants new Single-A affiliate. 

“It was unfortunate news to say the least. It was heartbreaking,” Walker said. “We are extremely disappointed that it’s ending.”

Despite the loss of MLB affiliation, Walker promises that there will be baseball at Volcanoes Stadium next season. 

“No matter what, we’re going to be playing baseball in 2021,” Walker said. “We are excited for what the future may hold.”

After nearly a week of silence, MLB contacted the Volcanoes organization on Monday to discuss the possibility of a partnership moving forward. Earlier this month, MLB announced the addition of two college wood-bat leagues that some of the eliminated Minor League clubs would now be associated with — the MLB Draft League and the Pioneer League

The MLB Draft League will comprise six east coast teams and the Pioneer League features teams from Idaho, Utah, Montana and Colorado — Boise will be joining the Pioneer League. 

Walker said that the organization hopes to have a plan for the team’s future by the end of the year. He also said that the potential league the Volcanoes would play in next season won’t be similar to the collegiate wood bat leagues that the MLB just established — which rules out the chance of the team playing in the Pioneer League or the West Coast League, which features the Portland Pickles and Corvallis Knights. 

“We’re not ready to go public with our plan because we might have to make some changes. It all depends on what MLB’s role will be,” Walker said.

In the meantime, the Volcanoes created a GiveSendGo account where loyal fans can donate money to the organization — ticket vouchers for future games are available for those who donate. 

“The community has always stood by us and we are thankful that they continue to do so,” Walker said. 

In their 23 years of existence, the Volcanoes have proven to be one of the best short-season Single-A teams in the country, producing 112 MLB players as well as multiple all-stars, a Cy Young Award winner (Tim Lincecum) and a National League MVP (Buster Posey). Walker is thankful to the Giants for the last 23 years, but has high hopes for the future of the organization.

“It was a very fruitful relationship for more than two decades. We are so thankful for the incredible memories as a Giants affiliate. But we look forward to making many more memories,” Walker said. “There will still be high level baseball in Salem-Keizer for years to come.”