The New York Yankees have announced that the Somerset Patriots have been selected as their Double-A affiliate.
“This is a dream come true for everyone in the Somerset Patriots family,” said team Chairman Emeritus Steve Kalafer. “The first baseball game my father took me to was at Yankee Stadium and I continued the tradition, taking our sons Jonathan and Josh to their first games there as well. Our love for baseball and the New York Yankees came from those special days and has remained with us throughout our lives. I’ve always looked at the Yankees as the gold standard in baseball and sports as a whole. It is how we’ve modeled the way we’ve conducted our business at the Somerset Patriots since day one. We are forever grateful to Hal Steinbrenner and the entire Steinbrenner family, as well as the management of the New York Yankees. Our ‘call up’ to join one of the most recognizable and prestigious brands in the entire world is a milestone for us.”
The Somerset Patriots are a founding member and the longest continuous playing team in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball that began in 1998. The team plays its home games at TD Bank Ballpark, located in Bridgewater Township in Somerset County, New Jersey.
The Somerset Patriots have been a model of success on and off the field for over two decades. The franchise has welcomed over 7,500,000 fans to the ballpark, averaged over 360,000 fans per season, and drew over 5,200 fans per game since their home opened in June of 1999. The Somerset Patriots led the Atlantic League in attendance for the past three seasons.
“We are proud of our time in the Atlantic League and bringing professional baseball to our community, as well as other underserved areas of minor league baseball,” said Somerset Patriots Co-Chairman Jonathan Kalafer. “We helped the league grow to what it is now, the premier independent league in the country that has a groundbreaking partnership with MLB, and a very bright future ahead. We’d like to thank everyone at the Atlantic League for helping us along our journey, especially league founder Frank Boulton, the late Joe Klein, and President Rick White.”
During their time in the Atlantic League, the Somerset Patriots won a league-high six championships, appeared in the postseason 15 of the 22 seasons of play, and won over 1,500 regular season games. The team has helped hundreds of players return to Major League Baseball organizations, including 21 that either made their MLB debut or returned to the big leagues after their time in Somerset.
“As you can imagine, this is a bittersweet day for the Atlantic League,” said ALPB President Rick White. “On one hand, it’s tough losing a league-founding member that has been a model of success for over two decades. On the other, the league is thrilled for the Kalafer family and the Somerset Patriots. The Yankees are getting an extraordinarily well-run organization at one of the country’s most beautiful ballparks. We will miss the team and our friends at the organization, but at the same time congratulate Steve Kalafer and his family, the staff of the Somerset Patriots, and the New York Yankees on their exciting new partnership.”
The Somerset Patriots partnered with the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders and Bridgewater Township to bring baseball to Central New Jersey. The very unique public-private partnership demonstrated how franchises can work hand and hand with their communities in a mutually beneficial way. To date, the Somerset Patriots have paid over $21.1 million to Somerset County for their occupancy at TD Bank Ballpark, making it one of a few, if not the only, tax-payer neutral minor league ballparks in America.
“We’ve known for a long time that our hometown team, the Somerset Patriots, were always our very own Yankees,” said Somerset County Freeholder Director Shanel Robinson. “They’ve hit a home run for Central New Jersey for over 20 years. This makes all of us in Somerset County proud that others are seeing what this team is and will be. Congratulations to the Kalafer family, everyone at the Somerset Patriots, and all of the fans. We can’t wait to play ball.”
Just as important is the work the organization has done in the community. In over 20-plus years of operation, the Somerset Patriots have donated over $5,500,000 to charities throughout the Central New Jersey market and have been a positive force in the community. The team’s foundation works year-round to support education and sportsmanship programs in schools, at the ballpark, and throughout the area.
“This is an exciting time for the Somerset Patriots, our family, our great fans, and the entire community,” said Somerset Patriots Co-Chairman Josh Kalafer. “We have worked hard for a long time to build a reputation of excellence in everything that we do. We never imagined that it would lead to this amazing opportunity, but we are very appreciative for the chance to be part of the New York Yankees organization.”
The Somerset Patriots will begin the 2021 season as a member of the New York Yankees family. More details will be made available in the coming weeks.
“We wouldn’t be here today without the tireless work of so many people over our existence,” said longtime Somerset Patriots President/General Manager Patrick McVerry. “All of our staff, coaches, players, marketing partners, and fans have helped us build something very special that made the baseball world take notice. We’ve accomplished so much together and can’t wait to witness what the future holds.”