The Alexandria Dukes, one of only three independent minor league baseball teams in the nation, have been contacted by the Seattle mariners and six other major league teams concerning the possibility of affiliation for the 1979 season, The Washington Post has learned.
"We've spoken with the Duke management several times and their team is certainly a consideration for our farm system," said James Gorman, director of baseball operations for the Mariners. "We hope to meet with them in Alexandria some time in August to talk things over."
Eugene Thomas, president of the Class A Carolina League Dukes, said he has received 11 letters from major league teams, seven of which "indicated a definite interest in the Dukes." Thomas added that three of the seven have been in touch on more than one occasion.
If the Dukes negotiate a deal with Seattle, they will likely move up to the AA Eastern League. The Mariners do not own an AA team and, according to Gorman, must have one by 1979.
In addition, the Eastern League lost two of its eight big league connections, Cincinnati and Montreal, this season. It is attempting to replace them before next spring.
"There are a lot of ifs involved," said Gorman. "The Dukes would have to apply and be accepted by the Eastern League. All I can say is that it's a possibility."
The Mariners have kept close tabs on the Dukes, lending them a number of players throughout the season. Relations between the two clubs are reportedly good.
Thomas is proceeding with plans to construct a new stadium which would seat between 5,000 and 8,000 spectators. "The plans are still in their infancy," said Thomas. "But I think things will work out."
Thomas would like to build the stadium on six acres of land recently purchased by Alexandria at Cameron Run. But he must first present his case to the City Council, which is out of session until Sept. 12.
In the meantime, Thomas is "confident that the Dukes will be attached to a major league team by the time next season rolls around."