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Retired baseball player José Bautista buys Las Vegas Lights



Ian D'Andrea, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

A former Major League Baseball player who retired in 2018 after a short stint with the Philadelphia Phillies is the latest athlete to buy into a professional soccer team.

The United Soccer League announced Monday José Bautista’s purchase of the USL Championship team Las Vegas Lights.

“As a soccer fan and former professional athlete, I am excited to be involved with the world’s game,” Bautista stated in a news releasse. “Since my retirement from professional baseball, I have witnessed the incredible growth of soccer in the United States and particularly with the USL, which I’ve been following closely for a couple years. I look forward to sharing my love of sports with the Vegas soccer community. Vegas is the place to be and has emerged as a big professional sports town, and I will do everything I can to push this club forward.”

Over a 15-year career in Major League Baseball, Bautista was one of the most feared sluggers of his era, with 344 career home runs. He played for eight clubs, most notably the Toronto Blue Jays, who recently awarded him the “Level of Excellence” to recognize his outstanding achievements over his ten seasons in Toronto. He was named an MLB All-Star six years in a row from 2010-15 and twice led the majors in home runs, in 2010 and 2011, the same years he won the Hank Aaron Award.

He played 27 games with the Phillies after being traded in August 2018. He hit 2 home runs and knocked in 6 runs in 45 at bats.

“José brings a competitive athlete’s mindset to everything he does, and he will certainly bring new expectations for the club’s performance, on and off the field,” stated USL President Paul McDonough. “Jose’s vision for the sporting side is ambitious, including the acquisition of international players and the forming of an academy. We will support Jose during this transition period and look forward to seeing Lights FC shine brighter than ever in Vegas.”

Lights FC debuted in the USL Championship in 2018. The club, which plays at historic Cashman Field in downtown Las Vegas, has been known for its unconventional matchday experience, coach hires, player signings, and kit designs.

Matthew Ralph is the managing editor of Philadelphia Soccer Now / Brotherly Game. He's covered soccer at all levels for many years in the Philadelphia region and has also written for, NPSL, PrepSoccer and other publications. He lives with his wife and two young children in Broomall, Pa., but grew up in South Jersey and is originally from Kansas.

Copyright © 2024 Philadelphia Soccer Now and Brotherly Game

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