With the announcement that the Elmira Pioneers of the Can-Am League would be folding up shop for the 2006 season, it was another sad day for fans of old ballparks and people who live in small towns. Each season more and more minor league teams migrate towards the big cities and metropolitan areas, while small towns like Elmira lose their team with little hope of ever seeing professional baseball again. I understand that the reasons are all financial, but to me this is still a disturbing trend. It seems awfully unfair that small towns, many of which have a deeper connection and greater appreciation of their team, can't enjoy the baseball experience just because they aren't able to pack 3,000-4,000 fans into their ballpark. For many of these towns, pro baseball offers one of the few entertainment options. In the big cities, while the crowds might be big, would they really miss the team if it weren't around ?
So Dunn Field will be without professional baseball for the first time in many years. Sure, the city has promised to try to get a collegiate league team. Big deal. That's simply not the same as having a professional team. But unfortunately, with the current trend in minor league baseball, small towns will only be able to host these type of teams. How long before the collegiate leagues start migrating towards the big cities as well ? Fortunately there are still a couple of minor league (the Appy League and Pioneer League) which seem content on holding on to a piece of the past by not selling out. Hopefully these leagues will never change.