Minor League Baseball Teams And Their Owners
In the United States, there are 209 Minor League Baseball Teams that play in nineteen different leagues scattered across the United States, the Dominican Republic, and Canada. These leagues are grouped into five different categories with the most prestigious of these categories being Triple-A. The other categories of Minor League Baseball include (in descending order of prestige):
Consisting of thirty teams, Triple-A is the highest category of Minor League Baseball. All thirty of these teams are directly affiliated with a Major League Baseball team. Triple-A teams play a total of 144 games per season, not including the playoffs. These teams have rosters of 40 players who can then be called up to the MLB team with which their team is affiliated. Though some players eventually move up into the Major League, some players are “career minor leaguers” and spend their entire playing career in the Minor Leagues. The Triple-A is divided into two leagues: Triple-A East and Triple-A West. Twenty teams compete in Triple-A East, while ten teams compete in Triple-A West. The Triple-A East teams include:
- Columbus Clippers (Affiliated with the Cleveland Indians)
- Indianapolis Indians (Affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates)
- Iowa Cubs (Affiliated with the Chicago Cubs)
- Louisville Bats (Affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds)
- Omaha Storm Chasers (Affiliated with the Kansas City Royals)
- St. Paul Saints (Affiliated with the Minnesota Twins)
- Toledo Mud Hens (Affiliated with the Detroit Tigers)
- Buffalo Bisons (Affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays)
- Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies)
- Rochester Red Wings (Affiliated with the Washington Nationals)
- Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Affiliated with the New York Yankees)
- Syracuse Mets (Affiliated with the New York Mets)
- Worcester Red Sox (Affiliated with the Boston Red Sox)
- Charlotte Knights (Affiliated with the Chicago White Sox)
- Durham Bulls (Affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays)
- Gwinnett Stripers (Affiliated with the Atlanta Braves)
- Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Affiliated with the Miami Marlins)
- Memphis RedBirds (Affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals)
- Nashville Sounds (Affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers)
- Norfolk Tides (Affiliated with the Baltimore Orioles)
The Triple-A West teams include:
Albuquerque Isotopes (Affiliated with the Colorado Rockies)
El Paso Chihuahuas (Affiliated with the San Diego Padres)
Oklahoma City Dodgers (Affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers)
Round Rock Express (Affiliated with the Texas Rangers)
Sugar Land Skeeters (Affiliated with the Houston Astros)
Las Vegas Aviators (Affiliated with the Oakland Athletics)
Reno Aces (Affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks)
Sacramento River Cats (Affiliated with the San Francisco Giants)
Salt Lake Bees (Affiliated with the Los Angeles Angels)
Tacoma Rainiers (Affiliated with the Seattle Mariners)
Triple-A Team Owners
Oftentimes, the owners of a team have a profound impact on the culture and identity of the club. Though some clubs are operated by the same individuals who operate their associated Major League team, other teams have separate owners. To allow you to learn more about all thirty teams playing in the Triple-A, we have listed all of their owners and some additional information about these individuals below.
Columbus Clippers- Franklin County Government
The government of Franklin County acquired the Columbus Clippers for $25,000 in the 1970s, and this purchase has proved to be an extremely profitable investment. The team generated 12.4 million dollars worth of revenue in 2015. Though it is rather unusual for a county government to own a semi-professional sports team, this set-up has worked very well for both the Franklin County Government and the Clippers. Because the county owns the team, the revenue generated from ticket sales is not subject to the federal income tax, allowing the Clippers to sell their tickets at a relatively low price. This benefits the community, as it gives them a low-cost form of entertainment and makes this team more accessible to residents. Additionally, this form of ownership allows the club to reinvest most of its revenue back into the club.
Indianapolis Indians- Indians, Inc.
Led by Max B. Schumacher, Indians, Inc. is based out of Indianapolis, Indiana. It is an independent corporation with an estimated net worth of 13.65 million dollars. The primary purpose of Indians, Inc. is to promote the activities of the Indianapolis Indians. This is extremely beneficial for the team because they are the first priority of their owners. As such, their owners do everything in their power to ensure the success of the club, and they constantly seek to improve the team.
Iowa Cubs- Racoon Baseball, Inc.
The majority owner of the Iowa Cubs is Racoon Baseball, Inc., and specifically, their chairman, Michael Gartner. Racoon Baseball Inc. has owned the Iowa Cubs since 1999 despite the fact that they primarily participate in the restaurant industry. However, despite the difference in the industry, the Cubs generated 3.57 million dollars in profit for Racoon Baseball in the span of one calendar year.
Louisville Bats- MC Sports Acquisition
MC Sports Acquisition is a subset of Manhattan Capital LLC. The primary purpose of MC Sports Acquisition is to purchase Minor League teams in order to generate profit for the teams’ investors. The primary executives of MC Sports Acquisition are Stuart and Jerry Katzoff. MC Sports Acquisition purchased the Bats in 2015.
Omaha Storm Chasers- Alliance Baseball
In 2012, Alliance Baseball, along with their CEO, Gary Green, acquired the Omaha Storm Chasers. The interest of Green and his team in the club was sparked when Forbes.com listed the Storm Chasers as one of the top twenty Minor League Baseball franchises. Alliance Baseball has made it known that they intend to maintain a close relationship with the Kansas City Royals, the Major League Baseball team with whom the Storm Chasers are associated.
St. Paul Saints- Marvin Goldklang
Marvin Goldklang is very familiar with the ownership of professional and semi-professional sports teams. In addition to being the majority owner of the Saints, he is a partial owner of three other Minor League Baseball teams: the Fort Myers Miracle (Low-A), the Hudson Valley Renegades (High-A), and the Charleston RiverDogs (Low-A). Goldklang is also a minority owner of the New York Yankees. Additionally, one of the minority owners of the Saints is actor and comedian, Bill Murray,
Toledo Mud Hens- Toledo Mud Hens Baseball Club Inc.
Toledo Mud Hens Baseball Club Inc. is a nonprofit organization that owns both the Mud Hens and the Toledo Walleye, a professional hockey team that plays in the East Coast Hockey League.
Buffalo Bisons- Robert E. Rich Jr.
In addition to being the owner of the Buffalo Bisons, Robert E. Rich Jr. is the majority owner of the Rich Products Corporation. The Rich Products Corporation produces frozen foods and is based in Buffalo, New York. Rich purchased the Bisons in 1983 when they were struggling to stay afloat in Double-A. Since then, he has seen them into Triple-A, where they now generate 7.5 million dollars in income annually and have become the thirteenth most valuable team in the Minor Leagues. Rich has demonstrated his interest in and dedication to baseball through his positions of Chairman of Bison Baseball Inc., Chairman of Northwest Arkansas Baseball Inc., and Chairman of Morgantown Baseball Inc. Additionally, Rich is the former Commissioner of the National Baseball Congress.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs- Joseph Finley and Craig Stein
Joseph Finley and Craig Stein made the decision to purchase a Minor League Baseball team after taking a trip to watch the Reading Phillies. Enamored with the experience provided by this team, Finley and Stein decided to bring a Minor League team to the Lehigh Valley. One year later the two men purchased the London, Ontario franchise who participated in the Eastern League and moved the team to the United States. This proved to be an extremely prudent decision by Finley and Stein, as the IronPigs generate an impressive annual revenue of 15 million dollars, which makes them the fourth most valuable team in the Minor Leagues.
Rochester Red Wings- Rochester Community Baseball Inc.
In 1956, the St. Louis Cardinals made an announcement that they would be moving the Red Wings franchise out of Rochester. Desperate to save their local baseball organization, members of the community, led by Morrie Silver, rushed to buy stock in order to purchase the team and its stadium. With help from local individuals and businesses, Rochester Community Baseball Inc. was able to raise the funds needed, which became known as the “72 Day Miracle”. The fact that the community was willing to rally together in order to ensure that they would have a baseball team in their city shows just how important the sport is to Rochester. As such, the Red Wings have a deep connection with their city, and their club has a very strong culture.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders- SWB Yankees, LLC
SWB Yankees, LLC is a joint business venture between Yankee Global Enterprises and SWB Investors, LLC. Before SWB Investors became involved with the RailRiders, their stake in the team was owned by Mandalay Baseball Properties. Yankee Global Enterprises also owns the New York Yankees, the RailRiders’ Major League Baseball affiliate. SWB Investors, LLC is a local group that is responsible for taking care of the day-to-day operations of the RailRiders. Yankee Global Enterprises and SWB Investors both own a 50% share of SWB Yankees, LLC, which means that they own an equal share of the RailRiders.
Syracuse Mets- The New York Mets
The Syracuse Mets are owned and operated by their Major League Baseball affiliate, the New York Mets. The New York Mets acquired the team, formerly known as the Syracuse Chiefs, in 2019. Before being purchased by the Mets, the Chiefs struggled to generate enough revenue to provide the needed resources for the team. Additionally, before this acquisition, the Chiefs were affiliated with the Washington Nationals. Because they were now acquiring a new team in Triple-A, the New York Mets ended their affiliation with the Las Vegas 51’s in 2018.
Worcester Red Sox- Larry Lucchino
Before purchasing the Worcester Red Sox, Larry Lucchino served as the president of the Baltimore Orioles, the president and CEO of the San Diego Padres, and the president and CEO of the Boston Red Sox. During his time with the Boston Red Sox, Lucchino created the Red Sox Foundation to give back to the community. In addition to dedicating a great deal of his time to the game of baseball, Larry Lucchino is also a lawyer. Lucchino, along with his partners, purchased the Worcester Red Sox in 2015, and in 2018, they pledged to keep the team in the region for the next thirty years.
Charlotte Knights- Don Beaver
Don Beaver has been a lifelong baseball fan, and he even pitched in the 1952 Little League World Series. Beaver has always believed that North Carolina needed a baseball team, and in 1997, he purchased the Knights. However, due to the inopportune location of the team’s stadium, very few people attended games, putting the team in a terrible financial situation. Despite this, Beaver did not give up, and in 2014, the team moved to downtown Charlotte. After their move to the BB&T Ballpark, the Knights have led Minor League Baseball in attendance and now have a dedicated fanbase. None of this would have been possible without the dedication and tenacity of Don Beaver.
Durham Bulls- Capitol Broadcasting Company
The Capitol Broadcasting Company takes great pride in preserving the traditions of the Durham Bulls. The Bulls have always been known for their family-friendly and affordable environment. Additionally, the Bulls are involved in the Durham community philanthropically, through efforts such as Habitat for Humanity and the Durham Bulls Youth Athletic League. Capitol Broadcasting Company purchased the team in 1990, and shortly after that, they funded the construction of their new stadium, Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Gwinnett Stripers- Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves are very involved in the activities of their Minor League affiliates, as they own five out of the six teams. The only team affiliated with the Braves that is independently owned is the Augusta GreenJackets, the Braves’ Low-A club. This illustrates the Braves’ interest in the development of new players and their desire to help players move through the organization.
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp- Ken Babby
Before acquiring the Jumbo Shrimp, Ken Babby purchased the Akron Aeros, the Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. After this acquisition, he renamed the team the Akron RubberDucks. In 2016, Babby then acquired the Jumbo Shrimp, who was known at the time as the Jacksonville Suns. After purchasing the team, Babby spent 1.8 million dollars to renovate the team’s stadium, the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. As a result of his efforts with the RubberDucks and the Jumbo Shrimp, Babby was named to the Sports Business Journal’s “40 under 40” list in 2016.
Memphis RedBirds- Peter B. Freund
In 2016, Peter B. Freund purchased the majority share of the RedBirds from the St. Louis Cardinals, the RedBirds’ Major League Baseball affiliate. Though the Cardinals retained minority ownership of the team, Freund became the primary owner. Even before acquiring the RedBirds, Freund had some experience owning Minor League Baseball teams. He is the primary owner of the Williamsport Crosscutters, the Class-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, and he is a co-owner of the Charleston RiverDogs, the Class-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.
Nashville Sounds- Frank Ward and Masahiro Honzawa
The Nashville Sounds are owned by Frank Ward and Masahiro Honzawa of MFP Baseball. Both Ward and Honzawa have experience in the Real Estate industry. Ward is a lifelong baseball supporter, baseball card collector, and fantasy baseball player. His knowledge and love of the game have proved extremely valuable to the club when paired with the knowledge of real estate possessed by himself and Honzawa.
Norfolk Tides- Maryland Baseball Holding, LLC
Maryland Baseball Holding is familiar with owning and operating semi-professional baseball teams, as they own both the Bowie Baysox and the Frederick Keys in addition to the Norfolk Tides. All three of these clubs are affiliated with the Baltimore Orioles. The president of the Tides, Ken Young is also the head of Maryland Baseball Holding. Young, who purchased the Tides from the New York Mets in 1993, has described himself as a “hands-on owner” and attends several games every season.
Albuquerque Isotopes- Albuquerque Baseball Club
In 2001, a group of businessmen decided to purchase the Calgary Cannons and bring the team to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2003. However, they demanded that the existing stadium in Albuquerque, which was known as Albuquerque Sports Stadium, be renovated before this could occur. Because they wanted a baseball club in their city, government officials agreed to these demands. After the move to Albuquerque, the Cannons were given a new name of “The Isotopes”.
El Paso Chihuahuas- MountainStar Sports
The El Paso Chihuahuas were previously known as the Tucson Padres, as they are the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. In 2012, MountainStar Sports Group purchased the Padres and expressed their intent to move the team to El Paso. After this purchase, MountainStar Sports Group held a contest to determine the name of the team. The finalists of the contest were Aardvarks, Buckaroos, Chihuahuas, Desert Gators, and Sun Dogs. Eventually, the name Chihuahuas was chosen, and the team debuted this name in September 2012.
Oklahoma City Dodgers- Peter Guber
Before becoming the owner of the Oklahoma City Dodgers, Peter Guber was a minority owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. This sale marked the first time that the Los Angeles Dodgers owned their Minor League Baseball affiliate. Previous to the sale, the Oklahoma City Dodgers were known as the Oklahoma City RedHawks. Guber is also the chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment.
Round Rock Express- Ryan Sanders Baseball, LP
In 2000, the Round Rock Express was founded by Ryan Sanders Baseball, LP. The club began as a Double-A team before moving up to Triple-A in 2005. Ryan Sanders Baseball, LP is owned by Hall of Fame pitcher, Nolan Ryan, his two sons, Don Sanders, and his two sons. Sanders is a businessman who is based in Houston. Nolan Ryan and his son, Reid, are both involved with the Express’ Major League Affiliate, the Houston Astros.
Sugar Land Skeeters- Bob and Marcie Zlotnik
In 2006, Bob and Marcie Zlotnik acquired the Sugar Land Skeeters. Both individuals were once one-third owners of the club before they took over total ownership. Before purchasing the Skeeters, Bob and Marcie Zlotnik both worked for sports and entertainment companies. They are also both extremely passionate about the game of baseball.
Las Vegas Aviators- Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club
In 2013, the Las Vegas 51’s, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets, was purchased by the Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club. This group was made up of the Howard Hughes Corporation and the Play Ball Owners Group. In 2018, when the New York Mets acquired the Syracuse Mets, the 51’s needed to find a new Major League Baseball affiliate, and they signed a two-year player-development contract with the Oakland Athletics in 2019. After this, they changed their name to the Las Vegas Aviators, which was a tribute to Howard Hughes, a pioneer in the aviation industry.
Reno Aces- SK Baseball
In 2007, the Reno Aces were purchased by SK Baseball, led by their owner Stuart Katzoff. Stuart Katzoff is a president and managing partner at Manhattan Capital, LLC. Manhattan Capital, LLC owns the Louisville Bats, through MC Sports Acquisition, illustrating Katzoff’s extensive involvement with Minor League Baseball.
Sacramento River Cats- Susan Savage
Art Savage purchased the River Cats in 1998 when the franchise was based in Vancouver, Canada. They relocated to Sacramento prior to the 2000 season. In addition to owning the River Cats, Savage was the CEO of the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League from 1990 until 1997. After Savage died in 2009, the ownership of the River Cats was transferred to Art Savage’s wife, Susan Savage.
Salt Lake Bees- Gail Miller
Gail Miller is a businesswoman, who is the chairwoman of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies. Miller took over as chairwoman after the death of her husband, Larry Miller. Before selling her share in 2020, Miller was also the majority owner of the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association. With an estimated net worth of 1.9 billion dollars, Miller is the wealthiest person in the state of Utah.
Tacoma Rainiers- The Baseball Club of Tacoma
In 2011, the Baseball Club of Tacoma took over ownership of the Rainiers. The group, led by Mikel Thomsen, consisted of fifteen partners. Approximately six months before the deal was finalized, Thomsen was approached about joining a group that would purchase the team; however, no group was formed. Despite this, Thomsen was very interested in purchasing the team. As such, he took on the responsibility of creating the group that eventually went on to acquire the Rainiers.
In the United States, Minor League Baseball has become a large part of our national identity. Learning more about the owners of the teams that play Minor League Baseball can help you to better understand the history and the culture of the clubs. We hope that this article has allowed you to learn more about your favorite Triple-A teams.
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