‘Betrayed’ Trenton Thunder owner blasts Yankees for abandoning team

The Yankees’ decision to sever ties with their Eastern League affiliate in Trenton, N.J., has left the team’s owner fuming.

After learning of the Yankees’ plans to move their Double-A team to Somerset, N.J., as part of a minor league realignment, Trenton Thunder owner Joseph Plumeri ripped the organization on Saturday, claiming it “misled” his community.

“Despite repeated assurances that the Thunder would remain its Double A affiliate over the last 16 months, the Yankees betrayed their partnership at the 11th hour,” Plumeri said in a statement. “By doing so the Yankees have misled and abandoned the Thunder and the taxpayers of Mercer County, who have invested millions of dollars over the years to ensure that Arm & Hammer Park remains one of the premier ballparks in America.”

The Yankees defended their decision by saying Somerset provided better working conditions.

“We thank the great city of Trenton and the Thunder owners for 18 years of collaboration and we wish them well,” the Yankees said in a statement. “But this decision was made strictly on the basis of what we believe to be the best facility to develop our young players.”

Trenton became the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate in 2003. The relocation comes amid a restructuring of minor league baseball that will leave fewer teams with major league affiliations. In addition, the Yankees are shifting their Single-A affiliate from Charleston, S.C., to Wappingers Falls, N.Y., where they will become the Hudson Valley Renegades (previously a Rays Single-A affiliate). The Yankees have also ended their working agreement with Staten Island, following the elimination of the short-season New York-Penn League.

It’s unclear if the Trenton franchise will have a major league affiliate following the Yankees’ departure. Among the possibilities is joining the independent Atlantic League, which previously had a team in Somerset.

“While this community built the Yankees organization up and set minor league baseball attendance records, it seems the Yankees were only focused on trying to cut culturally diverse Trenton down in favor of a wealthy, higher socioeconomic area in Somerset,” Plumeri said.

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