The enthusiastic fans. The booms of the fireworks that go off after weekend games, and can be heard through the dorms of Montclair State University. And the exciting baseball that the New Jersey Jackals have brought to the Frontier League and Yogi Berra Stadium for two and a half decades. This all ended after Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022.
The team announced on their social media on Aug. 17 that they would be continuing their 2022 season at the stadium, and the team would remain under the current ownership and continue to play in the Frontier League.
The statement ends with the fact that the team is “looking forward to the next chapter.” One person within the organization that is embracing this is Reed Keller, the director of sales and media relations for the Jackals.
You could say Keller is the Jack, or Jackal, of all trades for the Major League Baseball-partnered team. He conducts play-by-play commentary for all of the home games, schedules and conducts player interviews, manages the press box and even hires interns.
But one of his other roles is securing sponsorship opportunities for local businesses, which goes to show how deep the Jackals are in the Montclair community. Keller has felt a unique connection with that community.
“It has been special, and our location has allowed us to tap into many of the communities around Montclair as well,” Keller said. “I believe the best part about Independent Baseball is the access fans have to players, local sponsors and each other. Regardless of where the franchise ends up, we anticipate being able to create that same connection.”
One of the other things that is lost by the Jackals finding a new place to play America’s national pastime is the opportunities for some of our very own Red Hawks. Countless students looking to go into public relations or sports media have interned for the Jackals and get to call games, write articles and get professional work experience while still in school.
Even with this in mind, Keller wants people to know those opportunities will not be lost forever.
“There’s no denying the campus loses convenient internship opportunities and a place to gather after a long day of classes, among other benefits,” Keller said. “The focus, however, will be on providing those same benefits wherever we end up, for Jackal fans old and new.”
One Montclair State student who could be considered a very established Jackal fan is Billy Pinckney, a junior sports communication major, who has been around the organization since he was 10. No, that is not a typo. Pinckney was the bat boy for the team at that age, and now a decade later, he conducts on-camera interviews with players and postgame reports as well.
When Pinckney first joined the family of Floyd Hall in 2013, whose company helped to build Yogi Berra Stadium and the Ice Arena in 1998, they engraved a seat in his honor. This is also done for season ticket holders of the Jackals.
With the organization having such a special place in his heart, seeing the news was not easy for Pinckney to absorb, as the team has meant a lot to his journey as a college student and a Red Hawk.
“The Jackals and Yogi Berra Stadium is where I got my start and greatly contributed to my decision to attend [Montclair State],” Pinckney said. “Being a member of this organization for 10 years has been an honor and I attribute much of my success to the opportunity that the organization gave me.”
Pinckney also emphasized how important Montclair State is to the Jackals.
“The reason why [Montclair State] has Yogi Berra Stadium on campus is due to Floyd Hall and the Jackals organization,” Pinckney said. “[Berra’s] name and involvement with the fan experience during the beginning years created the identity of the Jackals. His retired Jackals #8 is one of the few impacts his legacy has had on Jackals tradition.”
Keller also agrees with this sentiment of the team’s history connecting with Yogi Berra Stadium and that it is something the organization will pay attention to down the road.
“I’ve worked for the Jackals for a few years, but I grew up at [Yogi Berra Stadium] going to Jackals games, so it’s meant a lot to me,” Keller said. “As far as it coexisting with the identity of the team, I would say that it has been a big part of the Jackals and we will look back on that fondly over the last six home games we have this year while looking ahead to what’s next.”
Yogi Berra Stadium has helped form the identity of the Jackals, and has given countless fans in the Montclair area and Montclair State students, alumni and friends something to look forward to during the summer.
The exact plans for where the Jackals will move to will be revealed at some point this month, according to their social media.