October 20, 2019

Northern League’s New Eight-Team Lineup Taking Shape With Lake County Hoping to Build and Be Home in Five Weeks

May 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Training camps started opening for the expanded Northern League this week as the eight-team circuit zeroes in on the start of its 18th modern day campaign May 20, but the happiest news might well have been one more step toward getting a shovel in the ground on the new stadium for the fledgling Lake County (IL) Fielders.

Home owners near the new site for the stadium got to air their concerns with the team president and officials from the city of Zion, which is northwest of Chicago. While two representatives of the Stonebridge Crossing Homes Association were to appear at a City Council meeting Thursday to once again discuss such topics as the effect on home values, parking and traffic, The Lake County News-Sun of Waukegan, IL reports there is no indication that a delay in construction will be requested.

“The concept, for lack of a better term, is to build a field, let the team play…with some temporary (seating) facilities, and then build the stadium around the field,” one of the architects, Werner Brisske, told The News-Sun.

That still is the plan although June 11 is only 36 days away, and we have not heard that a shovel has gone into the ground.

Indy Grads Stacked in Double-A Lineup

How is this for a contribution to affiliated baseball from the Independent leagues?  There have been instances in this young season when former Indy players have hit in the 4-5-6 slots for Philadelphia’s Double-A Reading, PA farm club, with at least two others in reserve.

Tagg Bozied, who started his lengthy career in Sioux Falls, SD, hit cleanup with Brian Stavisky (Lancaster, PA, Atlantic League) and Brandon Pinckney (York, PA, Atlantic) following him with Mike Spidale (Kansas City, KS, Northern League) and Keoni DeRenne (York) also available.

Lancaster has its own intriguing 4-5-6 parlay this season with the sons of 1988 Minnesota Twins teammates playing together and sometimes hitting back to back to back.  First baseman Brett Harper is Brian Harper’s son, third baseman Aaron Herr belongs to Tommy Herr and outfielder Joe Gaetti is the son of Gary Gaetti. Tommy Herr also manages the Barnstormers.

Scheppers Could Beat Strasburg to Majors

Stephen Strasburg gets a majority of the ink among players drafted last summer because of his No. 1 ranking and $7.5 million major league contract, but it remains to be seen whether it will be the former San Diego State star or American Association grad Tanner Scheppers who gets to the big leagues first.

Texas, which could use another good arm in the bullpen, promoted Scheppers, the No. 44 draftee, to Triple-A less than a week ago after the 23-year-old tore through Double-A by striking out 19 without a single walk in 11 innings and limiting the opposition to three hits and a .079 batting average.  I would not stew much over the fact Scheppers gave up a home run, two others hits and, yikes, even a walk in his two-inning debut for Oklahoma City. And, just how far has this onetime Fresno State lad come since his four appearances early last season for St. Paul, MN? American Association hitters drew 11walks and collected 17 hits in 19 innings.

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Barnstorming, 2010 Version

Several Independent teams are reaching out to communities in their area to build more fan interest, and, it would seem, in at least one instance the seed-planting might be just as much to test the waters for locating a new franchise.

Both the Northern League and the American Association have expressed interest in recent years of possibly adding the Kansas state capitol city of Topeka to their footprint, so it was doubly interesting to see the NL’s Kansas City (KS) T-Bones and the AA’s Grand Prairie (TX) Air Hogs square off in the first of a two-game series Wednesday night.  Topeka has not had a professional team since 1961.

“This is good, especially since there is some interest in getting a team here and hopefully we can do that,” Topeka native and former major league outfielder Ken Berry told The Topeka Capital-Journal during the game, which drew an estimated 1,400 fans to Lake Shawnee Field and was highlighted by two home runs and a five-RBI night by the T-Bones’ Brian Joynt.

(This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes on Independent Baseball.  Fans may subscribe at www.WirzandAssociates.com, enjoy his blogs, www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com and www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, or comment to RWirz@aol.com.  The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)

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