Oakland Ballers have a (very) new rival

(Image courtesy of Yolo High Wheelers.)

The Oakland Ballers may have a regional rival before they play their first baseball game.

The independent Pioneer Baseball League on Tuesday unveiled the Yolo High Wheelers, the second West Coast team to be added to the minor league this offseason.

The High Wheelers plan to play their first home game at 3,500-seat Phil Swimley Field at James M. & Ann Dobbins Baseball Stadium at University of California, Davis on May 21.

“We’re excited to be stewards of the Pioneer’s League second California team and are honored to be kicking off what we believe to be an exciting rivalry between the Oakland Ballers and the Yolo High Wheelers,” Paul Freedman, co-founder of the High Wheelers and the Ballers, said in a statement.

“We have always believed in the power of sports teams to bring communities together. In the future we look forward to passing the reins to local residents who share our passion for using sports teams as a vehicle for strengthening communities,” Freedman said.

The Pioneer League has entered into a community benefits agreement with UC Davis and Yolo County, allowing UC Davis students and other community members to explore careers in professional sports. The High Wheelers will use the team to provide a “learning laboratory” for students to gain real world experience and have access to unique internship and employment opportunities.

The team said the partnership will provide significant benefits to the broader local community, including yearly renovations of baseball facilities in underserved areas, promotion of local small businesses, ticket donations, support for youth sports in Yolo and Solano counties, and player participation in educational opportunities.

“This collaboration represents a significant stride in fostering community engagement and promoting the spirit of baseball within our university,” said Davis Mayor Josh Chapman. “Together, we aim to create memorable experiences for our students, faculty, and the entire Yolo County community.”

The name “High Wheelers” celebrates the city of Davis’ status as a worldwide hub for bicycling and home to the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame.

The team’s colors will be black, yellow and orange.

Tickets will be available “soon,” the team said, with updates to follow at highwheelers.com.

Freedman and partner Bryan Carmel — who’s also his partner with the Wheelers — unveiled the Oakland Ballers in November. Until the recent addition of its two newest members, the Pioneer League competed exclusively in Midwestern states like Montana, Idaho, Colorado, and Utah.

The Ballers will play 48 home games in a 96-game schedule at Laney College, where the stadium on campus will be renovated to hold about 3,000 fans.

Freedman and Carmel raised $2 million in funding from nearly 50 investors, They plan on using crowdfunding to give fans the chance to own part of the team.

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