July 18, 2019

Northern League Making Attendance Statement

August 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Northern League made a major move in 2010 when it got back to a more attractive eight-team operation, and now it is making a challenge that might not have been easy to forecast.

In its 18th season, the Northern is chasing the Atlantic League for the highest average attendance for every time the turnstiles start clicking.  The Atlantic, also with eight teams, will continue to dominate in total attendance well into the future because it plays a much longer schedule, but the fans of the Northern League which ranges from the Midwest on into Canada are only a little over 200 per game behind.

Based on figures reported to Pointstreak, the official statistician for all of the Independent Leagues, Atlantic League teams are drawing an average of 3,970 fans per opening compared to the Northern’s 3,726.  The Northern may be able to close ground even more next season when its new Lake County club in Zion, IL has completed its stadium.

Both leagues have two powerhouse draws, the Atlantic with perennial overall king Long Island, NY (5,902) and Somerset, NJ (5,491) and the Northern with Winnipeg, CA (5,493) and Kansas City, KS (5,376). 

Thatcher, Scherzer Making Indies Look Good

A solid argument can be made that the Independent graduate having the best major league season is lefty Joe Thatcher, a key part of the superb San Diego bullpen that could help carry the Padres into the postseason.

Thatcher, who played his first season and a half for River City (O’Fallon, MO), was signed by Milwaukee right after the Frontier League All-Star Game in 2005, and was in the National League part-time two years later.  He is a major leaguer full-time now, where his key function is to sidearm left-handed hitters to sleep.

Thatcher, 28, pitches frequently (42 games) to get a key hitter out or for an inning, and he has given up only 11 hits and four walks in 26.0 innings while striking out 35.  That adds up to a fancy 1.38 earned run average and a victory in his only decision.

Max Scherzer, who debuted in an Indy league (Fort Worth, TX, American Association), also is having a strong season, especially since a short stint in the minors.  Although injuries probably have derailed Detroit’s postseason hopes, the 26-year-old seems likely to top last season’s nine-win season at Arizona.  He is second on the staff in wins (8-9) with a decreasing 3.86 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 137.2 innings.

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 “Now Batting for the Yankees, No. 3”

Fantasy camps have been popular for a couple of decades now, usually featuring the former star players of individual major league teams.  George Ruthhauser, who surely grew up being called everything from the Bambino on because of the similarity of his name to one George Herman (Babe) Ruth, continues to fulfill a dream of his own with the fourth annual fantasy camp he conducts for public address announcers.

You see, that is his real-life role with the New Jersey Jackals, who play, ironically, at Yogi Berra Stadium in the town of Little Falls.

Nineteen campers ranging in age from nine to 63 signed up for the fun, which ended with one person being selected to work a Can-Am League game alongside Ruthhauser.

I cannot help but wonder if they would have ad-libbed some comment if one of the hitters pointed to a certain area of the outfield where he intended to hammer a home run?

(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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