ARLINGTON, Texas (WNCT) — The Texas Rangers on Tuesday announced the sale of two of its minor league affiliates, the Down East Wood Ducks and the Hickory Crawdads. The sale means the organization that operates as the Down East Wood Ducks will be leaving Kinston.
The Rangers announced the sale of both teams to Diamond Baseball Holdings, an organization that owns and operates several Minor League teams connected to Major League Baseball. The press release was first posted by Lenoir County Public Information Officer Bryan Hanks on his Facebook page.
The Post & Courier newspaper initially reported the Wood Ducks would move to Spartanburg, S.C. as early as 2025. They would move into a new 3,500-seat stadium to be built in the downtown area. It would include a 5,000-square-foot club room on 16 acres owned by The Johnson Group.
The newspaper also reported the team is moving to Spartanburg with the assistance of a group of public and private entities. That includes the city and county of Spartanburg, OneSpartanburg Inc., The Johnson Group, the state of South Carolina and Diamond Baseball Holdings.
The City of Spartanburg issued a press release Tuesday morning that confirmed the move with more details.
Kinston Mayor Don Hardy told WNCT’s Adrianna Hargrove the Rangers would move the physical team to Spartanburg for play in 2025. Kinston would keep the Down East Wood Ducks name and get a new team to play in Grainger Stadium, similar to what Greenville will be getting with a new Coastal Plain League team that will play at Guy Smith Stadium next season.
The Morehead City Marlins and Wilson Tobs also play in the Coastal Plain League. Those teams will begin play later this week.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon by the City of Kinston, City Manager Rhonda Barwick said, “The City of Kinston has been informed of the sale of the Down East Wood Ducks baseball operations to Diamond Baseball Holdings. We are excited about this new relationship and wish DBH mush success in Kinston. The City Council has agreed to assign the existing Stadium Lease to the new owners and look forward to another great season of Wood Ducks baseball.
“The Council is organizing the Historic Grainger Stadium Commission to serve as an advisory board to support our efforts to make improvements to Grainger Stadium and support a legacy of baseball in Kinston. We encourage everyone to support the Wood Ducks and be sure to come out for next week’s home games.”
Down East has been an affiliate of the Rangers since 2017 and has played in the Carolina League after the team was purchased in August of 2016 and moved from the California League. Down East had a lease with the City of Kinston and Grainger Stadium through 2031.
Last Thursday, Hardy told WNCT’s Caitlin Richards “I don’t foresee them leaving at all” when asked about the future of the Wood Ducks.
“Down East Wood Ducks are amazing. We hope to keep them here forever,” Hardy said. “I don’t foresee them leaving at all, and I look forward to having them in our community for a long time. That’s where we are there.
“You may have heard a lot, but I can assure you that they love being here and we love having them here.”