Teams merge or move frequently in pro sports.
The Cleveland Barons merged with the Minnesota North Stars. The St. Louis Cardinals moved to Arizona. The Los Angeles Rams relocated to St. Louis.
But teams merging or moving is not common in amateur baseball. The only merger in recent memory has occurred this spring as the St. Mathias Saints combine with the Brainerd Braves to play Victory League baseball.
The team, which will be based in Brainerd and retain the Braves' nickname, opens the season 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Adamson Field against the Aitkin Barnstormers.
With St. Mathias fielding another team (the Devils), most of whom will be high school and college players, many former Saints will move to Brainerd.
"We only had five to seven guys coming back," Braves manager Derek Owen said. "When I talked to (former Saints manager Jamie LaDouceur) about their situation we thought, 'What about combining?' We decided it would be best for both of us far, as far as numbers go."
Numbers can be a good and bad problem. The Braves have signed 20 players. Owen realizes it may be difficult to keep everyone happy, but at the same time, a team needs depth. Numbers will allow the Braves to schedule more exhibition games.
"It's good to have a numbers problem, then again it's not," Owen said. "If you've got two pitchers, at the most, they kind of carry you all summer. With us it's been one. Now we'll have five or six pitchers.
"It doesn't matter how many players you've got, about a dozen show up for games. I know I've got to miss a couple games. When you can't miss because you're that ninth guy, that's when it gets out of hand.
"Teams need role players. You can't have no bench. That's what we've been dealing with in the past, nobody to come off the bench."
The pitching staff includes Chase Nelson of Pequot Lakes, who pitches for St. Cloud State University, and former Braves and Brainerd High School standout Tony Whitlock.
Whitlock returns after a two-year absence. He helped Brainerd to the 1995 state high school title and the Braves to the 2000 Class C state championship.
"Chase, obviously, will be one of our top pitchers," Owen said, "and we're banking on Tony too. Tony looks like he's back to the form he used to be in."
Derek Owen, Chase Nelson, Nathan Foss, Nick Engebretson, Todd Szymanski, Nate Huber, Matt Aberle, Mark Malinowski, Jamie LaDouceur, Brett Thompson, Andy Johnson, Tony Whitlock, Thor Wicklund, Mike Innes, Justin Bundy, Ryan Windschitl, Brad Streiff, Chad Kilgore, Ronn Hess, Ben Houle
17-QUAMBA (2) noon
18-AITKIN, 1:30 p.m.
24-CUYUNA, 6:30 p.m.
1-HOLDINGFORD, 6 p.m.
8-at Sauk Rapids, 1 p.m.
9-at St. Stephen, 1:30 p.m.
16-at Fort Ripley, 1:30 p.m.
20-BEMIDJI, 7:30 p.m.
22-HARDING, 7:30 p.m.
30-OPOLE, 7:30 p.m.
31-at St. Wendel, 1:30 p.m.
4-MARBLE, 7:30 p.m.
6-at Cuyuna, 1:30 p.m.
12-FORT RIPLEY, 7:30 p.m.
13-at Aitkin, 1:30 p.m.
18-SAUK RAPIDS, 8 p.m.
19-JORDAN, 3 p.m.
27-at Avon, 1:30 p.m.
3-vs. Harding at Pierz, 7:30 p.m.
8-BRAINERD BEES, 7:30 p.m.
15-at Bemidji, 7:30 p.m.
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