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West Coast League - Portland, OR

Our chat with Rob Neyer, Commissioner of the West Coast League based in Portland, Oregon.

When was the WCL founded and what is its mission?

The current version of the league was founded in 2005. I've been with the league for just the last five years, so when it comes mission, I will just share our current mission statement:

Provide affordable, fan-friendly baseball experiences while fostering professional, innovative development for college ballplayers.

We do realize that's essentially two missions, which violates the cardinal rule of mission statements. But we just didn't feel like we could have one without the other, and I think we do stick pretty closely to those.

How did you become involved with the league?

I can't say that I know, exactly! I do know that I gave a talk at a banquet here in Portland, where I live. Someone saw me that evening, and a week or two later I went out for brunch with my friend Rob Nelson (a famous gum magnate) and his friend Dan Segel, who essentially runs the (now) dynastic Corvallis Knights in the West Coast League. Dan asked me if I'd be interested in taking over as Commissioner of the League, I didn't have anything going on that summer - I was just finishing a book, with nothing planned afterward - and I thought the job sounded ... well, interesting for sure. After a conference call with most of the board of directors, they offered me the job. This was almost exactly five years ago, and somehow I'm still here.

How does the West Coast League aim to impact the communities in its footprint?

Well, that might be a question best answered by the people who run the teams, as you'd probably get a different answer from all 13 of our ownership groups. But I think it's safe to say that nobody came into the league to make a billion dollars. Nearly everyone is motivated by a) great affection for the sport, and b) sincere desire to build something positive in their communities. But of course everyone's got different ideas about how to do that..

Who are famous alumni or people associated with the organization?

Right now? Probably Shane Bieber and Adley Rutschman, followed by Mitch Haniger, Marco Gonzales, and Steven Kwan. Going back, there's Chris Davis, Jacoby Ellsbury, James Paxton, and many dozens of other notable major leaguers

How can people support the West Coast League?

If you live in the Northwest or will be visiting during the summer ... go check out some West Coast League baseball! With 16 teams ranging from central Oregon and the Willamette Valley up through Washington, British Columbia, and all the way up to Edmonton, we've got beautiful scenery and stadiums just about everywhere. It's an exciting brand of baseball featuring the best collegiate summer talent in the entire western half of North America. And if you can't visit, all our teams have great-looking gear; just check for all the details.

What does "Support Local Baseball" mean to you?

It means a million things. First thing that comes to mind, though? The men who coached my youth baseball teams, especially the two of them who didn't have sons on the teams; they were just volunteers who cared enough about kids, and the game, to make that commitment for a few months every spring. The second thing that comes to mind is a local group, Friends of Baseball. For many years now, they've been busting their behinds to provide opportunities for under-served communities here in Portland, and they continue to expand their work and their ambition even while some parts of the city seem to be falling apart.

You can learn more about the West Coast League by visiting their website or following on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.


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