LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) – Just two years ago, the future looked bleak for minor league baseball in Lexington, due to a change in Major League Baseball and farm teams. But now it appears the city will have two teams in 2022.
The Lexington Legends began play in 2001 as the Class A affiliate of the Houston Astros and won the South Atlantic League title during their first year of existence.
In 2013, they changed their affiliation to the Kansas City Royals, and won two more SAL championships, in 2018 and 2019.
Then came contraction, as Major League Baseball dropped 40 teams at the end of the 2019 season, and the Legends found themselves without a major league affiliation or even a league, forcing them into independent status.
While the 2020 MLB-affiliated minor league season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legends put together a team that included former Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips and other players with Kentucky ties, and whomever else they could find, last summer.
They played a round-robin tournament called the Battle of the Bourbon Trail with the Florence Freedom and the Florence Y’Alls, and the Lexington Leyendas, playing their games in both Lexington and Florence; along with special events such as a home run derby. Along the way, Phillips became a part-owner of the Legends, which is a unique arrangement, to say the least.
For the 2021 season, the Legends became a member of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball with similar situated teams and won the Atlantic League title.
Now has come the news that a second team will play in Lexington for the ALPB, making it a 10-team league.
Currently only referred to as the Kentucky team (KY), the club will be listed on the league’s official 24th Championship Series Season schedule for2022 when it is released later this week.
The club is also owned by Lexington-based Stands LLC, the same group that owns the Legends, and plans to announce a team name shortly. The club will play a full Atlantic League schedule while co-occupying the home of the defending ALPB Champion Lexington Legends. The two clubs will also play each other in select matchups.
“The addition of the Kentucky club will provide travel advantages in our league schedule,” said Atlantic League President Rick White. “The league is grateful to Stands LLC CEO Andy Shea and the entire Legends organization for their generous offer to host a second team in their ballpark.”
Shea, who noted the agreement was made easier by the earlier decision to install an artificial turf field in Lexington, said the Legends look forward to sharing their home with another team.
“One thing we’ve learned about this great city is that there is room for more baseball in Lexington,” Shea said. “Our fans deserve high quality in all the games in the league’s schedule.”
But he has an ulterior motive. “A second Kentucky team doubles the chances that the Atlantic League trophy stays in Lexington another year.”