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Article from the 02.21.02 edition of the Tyler Morning Telegraph:

BASEBALL MISSING IN TYLER FOR 2002

In spite of recent efforts to the contrary, Tyler Roughnecks general manger Charlie Chitwood says there will be no minor league baseball in Tyler for the 2002 season.

There was already no joy in Tyler, for the Roughnecks had moved out.

And now, in spite of recent efforts to the contrary, Tyler Roughnecks general manger Charlie Chitwood says there will be no minor league baseball in Tyler for the 2002 season.

"Local ownership is a must," Chitwood said. "You've got to have a year of preparation. Considering the amount of money it takes to establish a franchise, there's just no reason to get behind the 8-ball in getting ready for a season."

Chitwood and Texas Independent Baseball chairman and CEO Carl Bell - who was ultimately responsible for moving the Roughnecks to Jackson, Miss., in January - had worked with the idea of brining another team to Tyler as part of the All American Association for the 2002 season.

But local businesses didn't share Chitwood and Bell's optimism for a team this coming season.

The stability of the independent All American Association was one of Chitwood's main concerns with regards to immediately bringing in another team.

"The situation with the league is tenuous at best," Chitwood said. "It may turn out to be a stable and thriving league, but it has to turn a corner first."

The league's volatility concerning team relocation also put a strain on potential local investors.

"The move of the franchise was purely a business decision," Chitwood said. "I, along with others, still believe Tyler is a viable market for minor league baseball. However, there must be a consistent effort, a timely effort, before there will be another team here.

"Local ownership is simply a must."

The Roughnecks' Tyler office will be vacant at the end of the month and all 2002 season ticket deposits will be refunded.

Texas Independent Baseball, which owns the Roughnecks, announced in January the organization will move the Tyler franchise to Jackson, Miss., to compete in the Central League, formerly the Texas-Louisiana League, in 2002.

The Roughnecks finished third in the six-team AAA last season, compiling a 39-32 overall record. Tyler finished behind the Albany Alligators after losing two games to one in the first round of the playoffs.

The Roughnecks were the first Tyler team to make the playoffs since the Tigers in 1954.

Tyler, which has played host to two independent clubs in recent years, ranked third in attendance (575) among the six All American Association teams in 2001, behind Fort Worth and Montgomery (Ala.).










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