Rotarians John Lloyd of the Speaker's Committee and President Cheri Krull welcome speaker Frank Fanning, the Tarp Skunk General Manager. 
 
John Lloyd introduced today’s speakers with a personal anecdote. In 1959 he was playing baseball for Penn State Behren. One game they played at JCC, he got a home run because they couldn’t find the ball in the tall grass of the outfield!  
 
John then introduced Greg Peterson to tell us about Jamestown baseball. Greg reminded us that baseball first came to Jamestown in 1939. Last Wednesday, Jamestown’s new baseball franchise had a press conference to announce their name. Within minutes, Jamestown’s Tarp Skunks were the rage on twitter and other social media. All the stations in Buffalo announced the name. Sirius Radio also talked about it. In 4 days, more paraphernalia have been sold than any prior season. Even Greg was sporting a “Don’t funk with the Skunk” t-shirt.
 
Greg went on to relate the unlikely story of how baseball returned to Diethrick Park in 2020. The Jamestown Jammers were owned by Mike Zimmerman for 4 years. The team was in a collegiate league for amateurs, the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. The team won the championship in 2018. Even so, Mr. Zimmerman decided to sell the franchise.  This left Jamestown without baseball in 2019. With nothing to lose, Mayor Teresi asked Mike Zimmerman to give Jamestown the franchise—and he agreed! His stipulation was that it must be a community group and Jamestown Community Baseball LLC, a non-profit, was born with Russ Diethrick leading the way. A slate of investors provided the funding necessary to get the team off the ground. “This is the first time since the 1960’s that there has been a locally owned franchise, owned partially by Russ Diethrick.” Mr. Peterson observed.
 
Greg pointed out another interesting connection. In the early years, the team was known as the Falcons and was owned for a time by the Braves. Jim Fanning was Director of Minor League Operations for the Braves. Jim then moved to the Montreal Expos as general manager when that expansion team was founded. While there, he bought the Jamestown franchise.
 
To tie these interesting facts to the present, Greg announced that Frank Fanning, son of Jim Fanning, is now the General Manager of the Jamestown Tarp Skunks. He introduced Frank and also Ripley native Kyle Hammond, Operations Assistant.
 
Frank immediately began to regale the group with Tarp Skunk successes to date.  
 
The impact of Wednesday, January 22, when the name was announced, is huge. 2.4 million people were reached on social media! Big name sports media professionals, such as Darren Rovell of the Action Network tweeted about the new franchise and its name. Sports Logo.net and Politico carried it. The web site went down on the 23rd due to volume. It helped that there was even a live skunk at the rollout. 
 
Where does the name come from? Howard Ehmke, a pitcher who pitched in the 1929 World Series, was from Silver Creek. He was the father of the infield tarpaulin. He founded a company to make the tarps, Ehmke Manufacturing Company. And tied to the tarps in Diethrick Field are the skunks that like to hide out in them when they are rolled up. So, it just seemed fitting to the new management that they should celebrate a local baseball great who also invented a major item of baseball paraphernalia and a cute furry animal that has often caused consternation and amusement at the ball park. Plus, it would make a splash and launch a new era for Jamestown baseball like no other.
 
Anyone who would like can buy “Skunk Junk” at the Jock Shop right now. It is shipping everywhere. Check out #dontfunkwiththeskunk. In one day paraphernalia sales outstripped the entire 2016 season.
 
The Team Manager is Jordan Basile and he has put together a roster of 30 already. Check it out on-line.  He will fill out the roster just before the season starts on May 29.
 
The Jock Shop is working on the uniforms right now, and they will also create a stir. The Tarp Skunks are proud that all their merchandise is made in Jamestown. They are committed to supporting the local community. The management team is planning quite a promo schedule. The mascot will start making public appearances in April. Overhead Door has agreed to sponsor 25 appearances of the mascot for non-profits to help them with their events.  
 
With the amazing digital exposure, local companies are clamoring to join in the effort. Ecklof Bakery is working on a Tarp Skunk cookie. Forte has launched a Tarp Skunk drink. There will be much more to come. The team is reaching out to businesses within an hour to attract funding and fan enthusiasm.
 
Mr. Fanning reminded us that this is a New York league. It is well established with 13 teams, all with collegiate players. 1,300 players have gone on to play in the majors. There will be 27 games at home starting May 29 and going through July. Go to Tarpskunks.com or call 716-705-5600 to see the schedule or to buy season tickets.
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