Written by Don Liable – Utica OD
The new majority owner of the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs will be a familiar face around Vets Park in Little Falls,come the 2014 season.
Longtime president and general manager of the Perfect Game Collegiate League’s (PGBL) DiamondDawgs,Travis Heiser has been ready for the leap into ownership for sometime. The Canajoharie,New York native has been around the club since the 2007 season, when he served as an assistant coach. “The discussions have been going on for years of me taking over. Basically, I’ve been doing it (running the organization) by myself for the past couple of years,”says Heiser, a full-time elementary school teacher when not at the ballpark.
David Dittmann, the original DiamondDawgs owner, according to Heiser has had to deal with health issues in recent years. Heiser tells of Dittman wanting to keep the team playing in Little Falls, to remain in the Mohawk Valley, when contemplating the next generation of ownership. “Major League Baseball is pricing people out of the game. We (DiamondDawgs) are family oriented and affordable,”Heiser said during our telephone conversation. “He (Dittmann) lives in Rhode Island, which is a four hour drive for him. At 67, it was time for a change.”
Heiser, who played baseball at Fulton-Montgomery Community College and Endicott (Beverly,MA) College, describes Dittmann as an individual that loves taking over a team that wasn’t successful , and making it work. When Dittmann and Heiser first came to Little Falls with a plan seven years back, the team’s new majority owner remembers seeing about 50 fans in the bleachers at game time.
“We wanted to create a fun place for people to come see a baseball game. Dave taught me a lot. Now, he has allowed me to take the next step in life as the sole owner of the team,”Heiser explains.
The DiamondDawgs new owner is quick to point out that he values his employees at Vets Park. “You are only as good as your staff, Basically, we are a family business.”Heiser tells.
People feeling happy about having a collegiate level league in their community is the main focus for Heiser. With this goal comes a need for others to chip in with their interests, as well. Volunteer host families for the players and manager, families cooking a meal for the team, doing what is necessary to allow the players to return to their homes with a wonderful feeling about their experience in Little Falls is essential.
Dittmann isn’t leaving baseball in total. He remains a minority owner with the PGCBL’s Amsterdam Moawks, and will be fielding a team – Plymouth Pilgrims(MA), in the NECBL (New England Baseball Collegiate League) this summer.
“The sale was actually completed a week or so, ago,”Heiser sates. “I’ve heard from family members, friends, ex-players, they have all been very supportive. I also spoke with Tommy John. Sponsors have also been supportive. It has been overwhelming and humbling.”
There will be no resting on his laurels at Vets Park. Heiser is committed to taking the DiamondDawgs to the next level; a championship. He tells of already recruiting to put next season’s roster together. Heiser has a vision, and he’s sticking to it. The reality hitting him of being the owner of the Little Falls -based franchise has re-energized Heiser. “I’m ready to grow the franchise. The DiamondDawgs are the Valley’s team. People want them here as much as I,”. Young, enthusiastic, and dedicated to giving Mohawk Valley residents an entertainment option during summer baseball season can be counted on for a long,long time with Travis Heiser at the helm of the DiamondDawgs.