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ALTOONA, Pa -- The Pittsburgh Pirates and Altoona Curve announced an extension in their Player Development Contract through the 2014 season, extending what has become one of the strongest affiliations in all of Minor League Baseball.
The announcement was made by Curve general manager Rob Egan at a press conference at Blair County Ballpark on May 23.
The agreement is for a four-year extension to the club's current affiliation with the Pirates, which was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2010 season.
"This is another great day in Altoona Curve history," said Egan. "We're extremely fortunate to be able to ensure our fans we'll be the Double-A affiliate of the Major League team they passionately root for, the Pittsburgh Pirates."
Since their inception in 1999, the Curve have been affiliated with no other Major League parent club except the Pirates.
"The Altoona Curve and Pittsburgh Pirates have forged one of the strongest bonds that a major league team and a minor league affiliate can have and that very few organizations are able to enjoy," Egan said. "The primary reason the Curve and Pirates have had such a strong bond is because both parties have done right by one another for the first 11 years. It's extremely exciting to know that this partnership will continue for at least the next five seasons."
The new extension will ensure that affiliation through the franchise's first 16 years of existence.
"The Pittsburgh Pirates have a long and proud history of building championship clubs from the players developed at our Minor League affiliates," said Pirates President Frank Coonelly. "Our affiliations with strong and vibrant Minor League organizations, like the Altoona Curve, are critical to our plan to again win championships in Pittsburgh.
The strong partnership between the Pirates and Curve began on Sept. 15, 1998 when the visionary for the team, owner Bob Lozinak, was able to secure the initial affiliation with Pirates' management.
"We are extremely fortunate to have such respected and knowledgeable baseball people in the Lozinak family steering this great franchisem" said Coonelly. "The Pirates are very happy to be associated with such a fine baseball family and look forward to continuing what has been an incredibly productive relationship with the Curve and the entire Altoona community."
The Altoona Curve have seen 75 players reach the Majors during the team's first decade, many of whom have gone on to play for the Pirates. On the current Pirates roster, 11 of the 25 active players are Altoona Curve alumni. Additionally, three players on the Pirates' 40-man roster are on the current Altoona roster.
"Altoona Curve fans and Pittsburgh Pirates fans are among the best in baseball," said Lozinak. "Frank Coonelly, [general manager] Neal Huntington and [director of player development] Kyle Stark have a great vision and plan to see the Pirates succeed in future years through Minor League development. We're happy to be associated with that and help them in their endeavor."
Many current and former Pittsburgh stars such as Nyjer Morgan, Zach Duke, Paul Maholm, Matt Capps, John Grabow, Jack Wilson and the recently-traded Nate McLouth all excelled at Blair County Ballpark at one point in their professional careers, forging a rare bond for both parties mutual fan base.
"Having the Altoona Curve as an affiliate is instrumental in helping us accomplishing our goals at the major league level," said Stark. "Our players will play in front of large, passionate crowds, they'll continue to be involved in a baseball-oriented community off the field and they have one of the finest facilities in the country at their disposal.
"These are just some of the many amenities the Altoona Curve and this region offer the Pittsburgh Pirates," Stark added. "They are essential in developing championship caliber players."
Highlights of the Altoona-Pittsburgh affiliation