Daines applauds deal making Montana minor league teams part of new MLB Partner League

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), who worked to save Montana’s Minor League Baseball teams when Major League Baseball (MLB) announced it would cut ties with 42 minor league teams across the country, on Monday applauded an agreement by MLB and Montana’s minor league teams that retains professional baseball in the state.

“Professional baseball in Montana helps bring our communities together and drive our local economies,” Sen. Daines said. “I’m very glad that after months of negotiations, MLB and Montana’s minor league teams have come to an agreement to allow Great Falls, Missoula, and Billings to continue playing professional baseball in their communities. It was my privilege to fight for the future of Montana’s minor league teams, and I look forward to seeing the success of the league.”

Beginning in 2021, the Pioneer League, which includes the Billings Mustangs, Missoula PaddleHeads, and Great Falls Voyagers, will be designated as a Partner League with MLB, according to a statement released on Nov. 30 by Sen. Daines’ office.

All of Montana’s minor league teams will maintain their existing team names and brands and will collaborate with MLB on operating expenses, marketing, ticketing, and fan engagement opportunities, and they will put in place a procedure for players to transfer to MLB clubs, according to the statement.

Sen. Daines this year has sent several letters to baseball league commissioners urging that an agreement be worked out between MLB and the minor league teams.

Most recently, Sen. Daines sent a Sept. 30 letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Connor requesting that they reach an agreement to preserve Montana’s three baseball clubs and provide MLB clubs the option of having up to five Minor League Baseball (MiLB) affiliates.

“Montana has a rich tradition of professional baseball for over 70 years and I strongly urge MLB and MiLB to continue supporting professional baseball in Montana and across the United States,” the senator wrote.