BY JAVIER SERNA – Staff Writer
The Mudcats were in the Southern League before Bryant buying the franchise and moving it to Zebulon from Columbus, Ga., in 1991. The Mudcats, who have since had affiliations with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins, have been affiliated with the Reds since the 2009 season.
In September, the Kinston franchise signed a two-year contract extension with the Cleveland Indians, binding the two franchises until the 2012 season.
Kinston will be left looking for a baseball team. According to Kinston Indians spokesman Chris Hemeyer, Kinston is the smallest market in the nation with an affiliated baseball team.
The city has had professional baseball since the early 20th century.
Cam McRae, the Kinston team’s chairman, said he already has spoken with other owners about the possibility of bringing another minor league franchise to Kinston, though he declined to identify possible teams.
“I have a lot of great memories [at Historic Grainger Stadium],” he said. “I hope to have more. It doesn’t mean the end of baseball in Kinston.”
Former major league stars Cecil Fielder and Fred McGriff played for Kinston.
Kinston mayor B.J. Murphy said he felt confident another team would come. The city owns Historic Grainger Stadium.
“I would only be worried if the baseball season was starting tomorrow,” Murphy said. “We’re very fortunate that we’ll have a year to recruit a franchise here.”