SALEM, Va. -- The Salem Avalanche, a Class A Advanced Carolina League baseball franchise, today announced that it will bear the name of the 2004 and 2007 World Champion Boston Red Sox, and will now be called the Salem Red Sox.
As part of the announcement, team officials unveiled a new logo that features the Red Sox brand and marks, including the team's iconic dangling socks against a backdrop of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountain range, a symbol that is synonymous with the Roanoke Valley. The new uniform will be officially unveiled at a Salem Red Sox fan celebration at the Tanglewood Mall on Sat, Nov. 15.
Fenway Sports Group, the managing partner for the ownership group that acquired the team in December 2007, recently announced that the Salem baseball franchise signed a player development contract with the Boston Red Sox and now serves as the club's top Class A (Advanced) affiliate. The organization has played under the name the Salem Avalanche since 1995, and was most recently affiliated with the Houston Astros.
"We're thrilled to bring Red Sox Nation and everything associated with it to the Roanoke Valley," said Fenway sports group president and Red Sox chief operating officer Mike Dee. "This is not merely a cosmetic change but a change in the organization's culture. This will be reflected in all aspects of our organization as we deliver on our commitment to field a championship-caliber baseball team, provide an unparalleled fan experience, and operate a franchise that continues to grow deep roots into the community."
This announcement marks the sixth time that the Boston Red Sox will hold an affiliation with a Carolina League team, but only the third time the franchise will bear the Red Sox name. Previous clubs include the Wilmington Blue Rocks (2005-06), the Lynchburg Red Sox (1988-94), the Winston-Salem Red Sox (1961-84), the Raleigh Capitals (1958-60) and the Greensboro Patriots (1953-57).
"The Red Sox brand is one of the strongest in the game of baseball today," said Salem Red Sox general manager John Katz. "To link the Red Sox name to the Salem franchise further builds on the rich history of hardball in the Roanoke Valley. We look forward to ushering in the next era of Red Sox baseball."
Chad Epperson, who for the past two years managed the Lancaster JetHawks, the Red Sox's top-level Class A Advanced affiliate in the California League, will manage the 2009 Salem Red Sox. With a career record of 364-331 (.524), Epperson led his team to a 76-64 record last year and a berth in the California League Championship Series. Epperson was named California League Manager of the Year during each of his two seasons in Lancaster.
Since the current ownership group, led by John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino and Mike Dee took over the Boston Red Sox, the franchise has built a Minor League system that rivals any in Major League Baseball. According to Baseball America, the Boston Red Sox farm system was ranked second in 2008, a dramatic improvement from the system they inherited in 2002, which was ranked 28th at the time.
Under the leadership of Red Sox senior vice president/general manager Theo Epstein, director of player development Mike Hazen, vice president, player personnel Ben Cherington and the Red Sox baseball operations staff, players from the team's farm system have played instrumental roles in helping the club win two of the past four World Series titles. Many current Red Sox stars, including Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon, Manny Delcarmen, Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury, were drafted by the Red Sox and have made appearances on the team's Class A Advanced affiliate rosters.
"Salem is an ideal fit for the Boston Red Sox," said Hazen. "The area's commitment to baseball has created a great environment for developing top-notch players, both on and off the field. Given our commitment to developing home grown talent, our goal is to provide our fans with a chance to witness some of the league's future stars before they graduate to the big leagues. We are committed to bringing our winning tradition to the Roanoke Valley and developing a team that the fans can be proud of."
Fans can preview the new Salem Red Sox uniforms on Sat, Nov. 15, at the team's fan celebration at Tanglewood Mall. The free event will be held at 11 a.m. in the atrium adjacent to JC Penney, and features photo opportunities with the 2004 World Series Trophy. Boston Red Sox prospects Jason Place and David Mailman will be on hand to model uniforms and sign autographs, and fans will have their first opportunity to meet their new field manager, Chad Epperson.
The 2009 Salem Red Sox open their season April 9 when they host the Frederick Keys at Lewis-Gale Medical Center Field. Season tickets and 10th-Man Flexplans are now on sale by visiting the Salem Red Sox's new home on the Web at www.salemsox.com or by calling the administrative offices at 540-389-3333.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.