In 2001, I fulfilled a lifelong dream when I played a total of 3.2 innings with the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League during their inaugural season.
The game is the same one we have all played since childhood. But upon arrival, you realize that it is a different game from the one you played in college.
Any college athlete can be a big fish in a small pond, as I guess was the case during my days at York College in Nebraska.
Professional baseball is a totally different ballgame.
It is a business, a machine that can only succeed if the best players are out there. Especially the independent “scene”, which can be viewed as a revolving door of talent, or a stepping-stone for unsigned draft picks, looking to improve upon their draft value
With the 2010 MLB Draft tomorrow, and another phenom, Bryce Harper, who is regarded as the most highly touted position player ever, is scheduled to make the first pick Washington Nationals, a very happy franchise.
I am very excited to see how this new crop of players can make the transition from college to the pros.
The arrival of a new Indy franchise, one that has gone through the struggles, finally seeing their vision come to fruition, also excites me.
The Normal CornBelters have begun their inaugural season in the Frontier League’s West Division.
To answer the question, “what is a CornBelter”?, the term refers to the franchise’s Illinois location – the Corn Belt
The Frontier League, one of the most tenured Indy leagues in existence, as well as one of the most successful – their attendance topped 1.5 million fans last year. The 12 team league is based mainly in Midwest US.
So why shouldn’t the CornBelters benefit from their surroundings?
When word came from team president Steve Malliet that the stadium name had already been chosen, no one guessed that it was as “corny” as the “Corn Crib”!
You know what, why not!
That is what makes minor league and Indy league baseball so enjoyable. Everyone at the park feels like a kid, and the atmosphere is of a game from a different time.
More specifically, the Corn Crib came to be through a two-year naming rights agreement (automatic renewal) with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB).
“This ballpark is going to be special. It will let people know in a fun and exciting atmosphere all about corn,” Malliet said. “We feel the name and logo of the stadium will give the community, region and state a renewed understanding of how agriculture plays a quiet but essential role in their daily lives.”
The $12 million multi-purpose stadium will be home to the CornBelters, but will be shared with Heartland Community College’s baseball, softball, and soccer program.
Will corn become new craze in the game? Who knows, but after the CornBelter’s first five games have all been decided by two runs or fewer, good baseball appears to Normal.
To follow the CornBelter’s during their first campaign, visit their website by clicking here.
Devon Teeple is an author for the Business of Sports Network, which includes the Biz of Baseball, the Biz of Football, the Biz of Basketball and the Biz of Hockey. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Devon is also available for hire or freelance opportunities.
Devon is a former student within Sports Management Worldwide’s Baseball General Manager Class. Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective and is a intern with The Football Outsiders and contributor with the Plymouth River Eels.
Currently, Devon is a Branch Manager at a financial institution in Southern Ontario Canada. He can be reached at email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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