"Time can tear down a building, or destroy a woman's face..." - Rolling Stones
NEW YORK METS: The Savannah Sand Gnats and 89-year old Grayson Stadium left an indelible impression upon the greater Mets organization.
In May 2015, Savannah Sand Gnats' ownership announced the club's plans to move, and re-brand in South Carolina, citing a lack of municipal cooperation with regards to upgrading their outdated Georgian minor league facility.
Old Municipal Stadium was originally built in 1926. After sustaining extensive damage in 1940, a major reconstruction was completed the following season. By then, the park affectionately became known as "historic" Grayson Stadium - named after a military veteran instrumental in raising the necessary funds for its restoration.
Despite another renovation effort completed between 2007-2009, ownership ultimately determined the antiquated park was no longer a viable venue for their enterprise.
Prior to their affiliation with the Mets, the Sand Gnats had called Grayson Stadium home since 1984, although from 1984 through 1995, they were known as the Savannah Cardinals.
Throughout their time playing in Grayson, they won three Sally League titles. However, following their third flag in 1996, the Gnats then endured a full decade without making the playoffs until reemerging under then Mets overseer Omar Minaya.
During Savannah's nine year affiliation with the Mets, the Sand Gnats made five post-season appearances, but as noted just once under Omar Minaya. In contrast, Savannah qualified for the playoffs in 4 of last 5 seasons during Sandy Alderson's regime, and captured the South Atlantic League championship in 2013.
Enter the Columbia Fireflies whom step into their first season of affiliation with the Mets (albeit the organization's tenth season of affiliation). Their player development agreement (PDA) remains unchanged.
The Fireflies will continue playing in the South Atlantic League Southern Division. Their new home field will be named Spirit Communications Park. It is city owned, said to seat roughly 8,500 patrons, and will be located within a skip from the University of South Carolina.
This season's field manager is once again slated to be Jose Leger. He managed the Gnats last season after spending three seasons at Kingsport.
Once the regular season starts, I'm sure the eyes of Columbia baseball fans will fix their sights on outfield prospect Wuilmer Bucerra.
Recent Savannah Sand Gnats whom now own N.L. Championship rings:
Wilmer Flores - Juan Lagares - Jacob deGrom
Kevin Plawecki - Steven Matz
Honorable Mention > Michael Fulmer