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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Burlington & Danville Join the Old North State League




Danville & Burlington are joining the Old North State League, but don't worry they are not leaving the Appalachian League. The two new teams will be owned and operated by Knuckleball Entertainment, who own the Burlington Sock Puppets and Danville Otterbots of the Appy League. They will play a partial schedule this season.


Ryan Keur, Knuckleball Entertainment owner, and Alec Allred, CEO of the Players League, began talk of expanding into the Burlington and Danville markets over a year ago. Allred was the co-founder of the ONSL before moving on to The Players League last year.


“Ryan approached me in November or December with the idea, and we all loved it! Burlington and Danville are great baseball cities, and we can't wait to be a part of their communities. Ryan is an incredible operator, and we know he will add much value to the Old North State League.”


The new teams will call Burlington Athletic Stadium and Dan Daniel Memorial Park home. Sock Puppets GM Anderson Rathbun sees it as an opportunity as an avenue to further that mission and be able to give twice the amount of athletes the experience that we have been able to provide athletes these first three seasons as the Sock Puppets.


“We are always exploring avenues that allow us the opportunity to activate our stadium in a fan-centered, entertainment-focused way. The way the Sock Puppets schedule broke out with a few open weekends and the Old North State League looking to expand into new markets, it was a perfect fit. We see this as an incredible opportunity to try new things that will stimulate the stadium atmosphere and elevate the energy fans will experience when they watch a baseball game here in Sockville.”


The two new teams will announce their names in the next few weeks. They will play a part-time schedule of 13 games and won't be eligible for the ONSL championship. The plan is to transfer to full-time and beyond next season. According to Allred, this was due to finalizing everything between the two sides late in the year.


“The Old North State League had already announced the schedule, and the by-laws were finalized. So we all felt that the best way forward was to go ahead and insert them into the infrastructure and operations and give them league opponents to play in 2024 without the ability to compete for a championship this first year.”


The new teams will be separate entities from the Puppets and Otters, who will play their 24-game schedule in the Appy League. Danville will release the new team's name on February 28, while Burlington will wait until March 7 to unveil their club's new name.


"The addition of an Old North State League team here in Danville is a perfect fit for all involved," said Otterbots GM Austin Scher. "The members of our incredible fan base, which grows by the year, now have even more opportunities to enjoy affordable family fun and high-level baseball. Additionally, folks can look forward to some antics that have never before been seen at this ballpark. It's new. It's wild. It's different, and I think fans across the country will have a new favorite hat in baseball."


The ONSL season will begin on May 18.


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Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunter and his YouTube channel. Email at Marc.Viquez@stadiumjourney.com 


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