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Former Pittsburgh Pirates slugger José Bautista acquires USL Championship’s Las Vegas Lights

José Bautista played with the Pirates from 2005-08 / David Zalubowski/AP

The United Soccer League (USL) announced today the sale of Las Vegas Lights FC to decorated former Major League Baseball and one-time Pittsburgh Pirates star José Bautista.

As primary investor, Bautista will assume the role of chairman and governor of the club, which competes in the USL Championship along with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.

“As a soccer fan and former professional athlete, I am excited to be involved with the world’s game,” Bautista said through the league’s release.

“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.”

Since his retirement from professional baseball, Bautista has established himself as an active and thoughtful investor, board member, philanthropist and entrepreneur. His on-field prowess and reputation as an ethical businessman has led to partnerships with significant brands, including Audi, Hublot, Coca-Cola, TD Bank, Fanatics, General Mills, The Players Tribune, Silver Jeans, Booster Juice (Canada), Pizza Pizza (Canada) and New Balance.

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 — with his best years coming after he left Pittsburgh, where he played from 2005-08, then emerged as a star with the Toronto Blue Jays. 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.

The Riverhounds will face Las Vegas Lights on June 29, in the City of Lights (time TBA).

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John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

Glory on the Grass

Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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