UNIVERSITY PARK The State College Spikes agreed to a two-year extension of their Player Development Contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, continuing their affiliation through the 2016 season.
The team announced the agreement Wednesday with John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ senior vice president and general manager, in attendance at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
The Spikes have been a Cardinals affiliate since agreeing to a two-year contract in September 2012.
“To me this is just the perfect partnership,” Spikes general manager Jason Dambach said. “In my career in baseball, having seen partnerships and affiliations all across the United States and knowing similar situations, this is as good as it gets, and it was very important for us to continue with the Cardinals.
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“We don’t just look at this as a two-year announcement. We look at this as a partnership that will continue for a long, long time, and that’s a way that I think both sides are viewing it.”
The Spikes’ lone winning seasons in their history have come with the Cardinals. In 2006, State College went 39-36. Last season, the Spikes finished 48-27, won the Pinckney Division title and fell in the New York-Penn League championship series to Tri-City.
State College was also a part of the St. Louis organization for its first season in 2006. The New Jersey Cardinals were sold and relocated to State College for that season.
“I can’t tell you how excited we were when it got relocated here,” Mozeliak said. “Obviously, it’s a beautiful ballpark, great location, etc. But unfortunately at that point, there were some decisions that had to be made and the affiliation had to split at that point, but to be welcomed back and to continue our affiliation here in State College is wonderful. In terms of why those decisions were made, that’s really sort of water under the bridge.”
State College was affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2007-12.
The Spikes then moved on from their partnership with Pittsburgh. They quickly had a deal in place to become a part of the Cardinals’ organization again.
“Certainly the options were limited,” Dambach said. “But fortunately the Cardinals were one of them, and I think they would feel the same way about us. And the deadline where you could start talking to potential major league affiliates was at midnight on a Saturday night and we talked to (then-Cardinals farm director) John Vuch at 12:01.
“And probably by 12:07, we had an affiliation agreement. It was really simple.”
Dambach said the process was similar to renew their affiliation for the next two seasons. He said beyond the success on the field, the Cardinals and Spikes understand what each side needs.
Mozeliak praised the Spikes’ facilities and staff. Dambach said the Cardinals have been supportive of State College’s promotional, marketing and community efforts.
Though the Cardinals and Spikes could have explored options in the fall, both knew this was the right fit. Mozeliak said St. Louis was thrilled to return for the last two seasons and the organization is excited to continue the affiliation.
“If you think about what minor league baseball’s all about, it’s about development, it’s about having players prepare for the major leagues,” Mozeliak said. “And even though this is an entry-level team, it certainly does a very first-class job in allowing these young men to experience what professional baseball’s all about.”