Hickory, NC- The Texas Rangers today announced that the organization has purchased the Class-A Hickory Crawdads of the South Atlantic League from Hickory Baseball, Inc.
The Rangers have had a player development agreement with the Hickory Club since 2009, a period in which the Crawdads have won three division titles and the 2015 South Atlantic League championship.
"The Texas Rangers are proud and honored to make this announcement today," said Neil Leibman, Chairman of the Texas Rangers Ownership Committee. "We are acquiring a franchise that has thrived under the stewardship of Don Beaver and his ownership for the last quarter century, and we are committed to continuing that legacy. We pledge to be a great community partner with the City of Hickory, and we look forward to a long and successful relationship."
"On behalf of the ownership group, we would like to thank the fans for 25 years of tremendous support," said now-former majority owner Don Beaver. "I've truly enjoyed owning the team alongside Charles Young and of course, my brother Luther. Without the great partnership with the city of Hickory and the vision of George Murphy and the stadium committee, Crawdads baseball wouldn't have become a reality.
"We hate to sell the team but it's the right thing to do to ensure that baseball stays in Hickory. The Rangers are a first-class organization that we've been able to experience first-hand the last nine years. The future of the team couldn't be in more capable hands."
The franchise will formally be Hickory Baseball LLC with Leibman serving as CEO. Mark Seaman, who has overseen Hickory's day-to-day operations as General Manager since October 2007, will continue in that role.
Beaver initially purchased the Gastonia Rangers and moved the team to Hickory where the Crawdads made their debut in 1993 as an affiliate of the Chicago White Sox before switching to the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1999-2008. Over the nine seasons in the Rangers farm system, the 'Dads have compiled a .533 winning percentage that included 14 straight winning halves from 2010-16 and featured several top prospects, some of whom are current members of the Texas Rangers.
The Crawdads play at L.P. Frans Stadium with a capacity of 3,959. Despite having one of the youngest teams in the South Atlantic League, Hickory finished just 2.0 games out of a playoff spot in the second half of the 2017 season with a 37-33 record.
A formal press conference with representatives from the Texas Rangers, Hickory Baseball, Inc., and the City of Hickory is expected to take place in Hickory within the next few weeks.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.