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Medford Rogues gain new owner, new league

After months of speculation following an October announcement that the Great West League was suspending operations for the 2019 season, the Medford Rogues found a new home Wednesday as well as a new owner.

Rogues general manager Dave May announced Wednesday that Medford will join the Golden State Collegiate Baseball League for the coming season, and that local businessman Treg Scott will take ownership of the collegiate wood-bat summer baseball team Dec. 31 after purchasing the franchise from Consolidated Sports Holdings International of Washington.

Scott and May developed a friendship over the last 12 years after coaching youth baseball together and playing on the same adult league baseball team here in the Rogue Valley. When CSH International made it known that it was actively looking to sell its GWL franchises — the company recently ceased operations and folded its Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox program — May contacted a handful of familiar parties with the opportunity, and Scott was the most aggressive in brokering a deal.

“It’s one of those things that just came up and it didn’t look like it was going to happen unless I jumped in,” said Scott, “and so I thought it was worth giving it a shot.”

A former track star in college, Scott is a member of the Arizona State University Athletics Hall of Fame and is also the owner of Engineered Products Company and several online hardware companies. Scott was a season ticket holder and a Rogues corporate partner in 2018. His son, Shea, appeared in 16 games for the Rogues last summer after excelling at Ashland High School, but May said will take on a greater off-field role moving forward, along with Scott’s daughter Bryn, who is a junior at AHS.

“Treg’s done a lot for youth sports in general here in the valley,” said May, who will remain on staff as chief operating officer. “He’s just a really good guy and he just didn’t want to see it fall apart. He just loves sports and has lived in the area and wanted to do whatever he can to keep this going for the Medford Rogues nation.”

The Rogues were founded in 2013 and competed in the West Coast League for three seasons before joining the Great West League in 2016. Medford captured the GWL regular season championship in each of the first two seasons and went on to play in the GWL Championship Series each time, winning in 2017 after falling short during the debut season against the Chico Heat.

This past season, the Rogues had the league’s third-best record but lost in the playoffs to the Lincoln Potters. Medford’s season was marred by seven canceled games due to poor air quality brought on by fires in the region, but the program has always been one of the top-tier franchises in terms of attendance since its inception.

“I’ve been witness to the fan support,” said Scott, “and not only that but, as Dave calls them, the community partners and the sponsorships that the local businesses here have provided the team. For the size of the community, the level of support is really amazing and I look for that to hopefully continue, and Dave and I will work hard to foster those relationships and to build some new ones as well.”

Neither Scott nor May said they expect many changes to the fan-friendly and competitive product that Medford Rogues fans have been accustomed to over the years, just some tweaks here and there to try and improve on everything moving forward.

“I think we’ll bring sort of a different viewpoint than the past ownership and definitely a better understanding of the local baseball community,” said Scott, who splits his time these days between Ashland and Las Vegas. “With that in mind, I think we’ve got a lot to add to what’s been done there. It seems to me they’re off to a good start but we’re going to take a look at really every phase of the operation and see where we can make improvements. I’m looking forward to getting that started because it’s going to be a big process.”

Aligning with the Golden State Collegiate Baseball League, which was founded in 2012 and features franchises in California and Nevada, seemed to be a win-win proposition for all. The Rogues obviously needed a league to be part of so they could maintain fan interest and help fill out their schedule, and the GSCBL gets a proven commodity in Medford that will only serve to raise its level of play.

The GSCBL consists of one division with each franchise playing a 42-game league schedule, with the hope of adding more nonleague games to reach around 50 games for the summer. That flexibility was important for Scott and May, as well as a proposed schedule that would allow Medford to play the bulk of its games at Harry & David Field each summer. May said the schedule he submitted for league approval included about 32 home dates and 18 road dates.

“I was actually excited about the Golden State League because it was a bit more well established than our previous (Great West League),” said Scott, “and it also gives our fans a wider variety of teams to come out and see. I’m excited to see the variety of teams and ballplayers that we’ll have coming through the valley and playing at Harry & David.”

Top Speed Baseball out of Santa Rosa, California, went 39-3 in league play and 43-3 overall this past summer to earn its fourth straight GSCBL title, edging out the San Francisco Seagulls. May said Top Speed finished the year as the No. 8 team in the country for summer league programs, while San Francisco was 23rd.

Also in the GSCBL are the Reno Rams, California Bees, Sacramento Heat and South Bay Storm. Medford’s addition brings the league to seven teams, with the potential of Yuba-Sutter possibly becoming an eighth franchise should negotiations continue to develop.

“We think that this league is going to continue to climb up to get to West Coast League or Cape Cod League status,” said May.

May said there was a proposal for the Rogues to attempt to gain re-entry into the WCL, but it just didn’t seem feasible at this time or offer the same perks as being part of the Golden State one.

“This league just offers us a lot more flexibility than what the West Coast League would have,” said May. “That and with the travel costs when you consider (the WCL) stretches into Canada and overall costs associated with just joining that league, the Golden State is a much better fit for all of us. We’re excited here in Medford for this.”

Southern Oregon’s love of top-tier baseball has extended from its role as a minor league affiliate for the Oakland A’s, most notably as the Southern Oregon Timberjacks, before turning to amateur wood-bat play from 2001-12 as the Southern Oregon RiverDogs (later renamed RiverDawgs). The Rogues have carried that torch at the upper level since 2013 in the summertime to complement the efforts of American Legion programs, highlighted by the Legion AAA Medford Mustangs.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@rosebudmedia.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

Game 1, Medford Rogues vs. Chico Heat at Harry and David Field on Friday, June 29. [ / PHOTOS BY: LARRY STAUTH JR]