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Rockbridge Rapids joins Valley League for 2009 Season

Beginning with the 2009 season, the Valley Baseball League will field 12 teams with the addition of the Rockbridge Rapids. The announcement was made in a special ceremony on Friday, July 11, 2008 in Lexington, Va.

The Rockbridge Rapids will be based in Lexington and will play home games under the newly installed lights at Cap’n Dick Smith Field on the historic campus of Washington and Lee University. The name Rockbridge comes from Rockbridge County in Virginia, which includes the neighboring cities of Lexington and Buena Vista.

The addition of the Rapids will be the first for the Valley League since welcoming the Fauquier Gators as the 11th franchise for the 2007 season. Fauquier moved to the league from the Clark Griffith League in Northern Virginia, meaning that Rockbridge will be the first newly-formed franchise to join the league since Woodstock and Loudoun County (now Haymarket) were welcomed in 2004. With the addition, the league will have doubled in size from six to 12 teams since the beginning of the 2001 season.

The Rockbridge Rapids will compete in the South Division of the Valley League along with the Covington Lumberjacks, Harrisonburg Turks, New Market Rebels, Staunton Braves, and Waynesboro Generals. The North Division will remain unchanged with the Fauquier Gators, Front Royal Cardinals, Haymarket Senators, Luray Wranglers, Winchester Royals, and Woodstock River Bandits. The league currently plays a 44-game schedule beginning in early June or late May with playoffs beginning in the last week of July and extending into early August.

Constructed in 1999 at a cost of $1.8 million, Smith Field includes permanent seating for 350 spectators and plenty of lawn seating for fans. It includes a 1,056 square foot building, which houses a press box, concession area and restrooms. The facility also features sunken dugouts with bathrooms, water fountains, storage areas, two enclosed bullpens, a 2,340 square foot building with indoor hitting cages, and a state-of-the-art public address sound system.

The outfield fence measures eight-feet high, except in right field where it is 16 feet high. The field is 400 feet to straight away center, 320 to right, 330 to left, 365 to right center and 370 to left center. Beyond the left center field fence is a 36 foot long scoreboard.

The field is named in honor of Richard A. (Cap’n Dick) Smith, ’13, an outstanding Washington and Lee University Captain (1913), Baseball Coach (1922-1952) and Athletic Director (1921-1954).

The Valley Baseball League has been in existence for over 60 years. The league became an NCAA-sanctioned league in 1961 and still operates under the same guidelines, although the NCAA no longer has direct involvement with summer leagues. The league adopted wooden bats in 1993. The VBL is funded in part by a grant from Major League Baseball and is a member of the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball, a national affiliation of summer leagues. The league has produced well over 1,000 professional baseball players, including a record 79 former players drafted in the most recent Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in June, 2008.

The Rockbridge team will be operated by Rockbridge Baseball Club, LLC, a Virginia Limited Liability Company. The team has already begun assembling a coaching staff and players for the 2009 season and continues to actively seek host families and others who wish to be involved with the organization.

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