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Abilene Welcomes Back Pro Baseball

February 2, 2012 - North American League (NAL) Abilene Prairie Dogs

Abilene, Texas --- After a 12-year hiatus, professional baseball is returning to the city of Abilene.

The North American League announced Thursday that the Abilene Prairie Dogs will play in the 2012 season. The new Prairie Dogs franchise takes its name from the old Abilene pro team that played in the independent Texas-Louisiana League from 1995 through 1999.

"The Prairie Dogs were in Abilene during the 1990s, and were very successful," League President Byron Pierce said. "When their lease expired they moved to San Angelo and became the Colts, but Abilene has always been a good market. We can't wait to bring the Prairie Dogs back."

With the addition of the Prairie Dogs, there are now six teams in the North American League South Division. The Prairie Dogs join the San Angelo Colts, Fort Worth Cats, Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings, Edinburg Roadrunners and McAllen Thunder.

This year the Prairie Dogs will play their home games at Walt Driggers Field on the campus of McMurry University. A deal is in the works to construct a brand new ballpark in Abilene for the 2013 season.

The Prairie Dogs are scheduled to play 32 home games this year. Their home opener is set for 7:05 p.m. on Monday, May 28 against the Colts. Every team in the league will make at least one trip to Abilene.

"The North American League is very excited to welcome the Prairie Dogs," Executive General Manager Mike Babcock said. "I am happy to see pro baseball return to Abilene, and I look forward to watching this new franchise become part of the community and build upon the city's already long and proud baseball history."

Professional baseball in Abilene dates all the way back to 1939 with the Apaches of the old West Texas-New Mexico League. Halfway through the season the Apaches moved, and it was seven years before a new team arrived.

It was the Abilene Blue Sox who took the Apaches' place, emerging in the same league in 1946. The Blue Sox played from 1946 through 1957, and were affiliated first with the Brooklyn Dodgers and then the Kansas City Athletics.

"The city has welcomed this new franchise with open arms, and I am confident the fans will too," Babcock said.

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