All the work on the field is done. The game day staff has been hired and trained and come Friday, for the first time since the Pinetoppers came to Macon, Luther Williams Field will have a new resident.

The Macon Bacon of the Coastal Plain League, a college wood-bat Summer league, will take residence in the place that once saw Pete Rose and Chipper Jones play there. The team name was announced at a gathering of invited guests at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in August and by 11:30 p.m. Eastern time, within a few hours, ESPN had picked up on the story and it went national. At the event, the team logo and uniforms were unveiled and mascot, Kevin, was named in February.

The name was chosen from a list of options that included Sould, Heat, Hits and Noise, with the Bacon coming out on top.

The team’s first game will take place Thursday night just down I-16 as they take on the Savannah Bannnas at Grayson Stadium before returning home the following evening to square off against the Lexington County Blowfish. The home opener is sold out and there are fewer than 150 tickets left for Saturday’s contest against Savannah.

Macon becomes the 16th team in the summer college league, which features teams in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Steve DeLay and co-owner Jon Spoelstra combine for more than 60 years of sports franchise operating experience, including leadership roles with teams in the NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball. They are also minority owners of the Savannah Bananas in the Coastal Plain League. The league will have sixteen teams in four different divisions and it’s a Southern version of the Cape Cod League. The level of play is compared to class A professional baseball but the teams are composed of college level players from various Division 1A programs and will have a first and second half of their season. Each team plays a 52-game sdhedule, 26 at home, 26 on the road and teams will play each other in their dvision with one crossover from another division.

Celebrating its 22nd season in 2018, many of the CPL teams play in former minor league stadiums and cities, as well as in newly constructed stadiums that meet Class A standards. Teams in the CPL play in front of large crowds of passionate fans throughout the summer months – as league attendance has averaged above 550,000 fans over the last five seasons. Players come from all over the country to take part in the best summer collegiate baseball experience each year. The teams and league work closely with each player and school to ensure a positive and long-lasting relationship, as well as helping to secure host families and summer employment for our players if desired.

With a schedule (running from late-May to mid-August), annual Pro Scout Day and All-Star Game and championship playoffs system, the Coastal Plain League prides itself in returning players to their respective schools as better, well-rounded individuals who can instantly help their program succeed on and off the field; as well as be successful at the next level of baseball.

Highly ranked and thought of by players, coaches, and baseball publications and scouting notebooks such as Baseball America, Perfect Game Crosschecker, and Ballpark Digest, the Coastal Plain League also ranks high in the eyes of Major League Baseball and its scouts. In fact, heading into the 2018 summer season, the Coastal Plain League has seen over 1,500 alumni drafted by Major League teams; and even more impressive is that there have had 113 alums who have made it to the Majors, with some of the more notable names including former AL MVP, Cy Young winner and 2017 World Series champion Justin Verlander, Ryan Zimmerman, Chris Taylor, Mark Reynolds, Kevin Youkilis and NFL Super Bowl XLVIII champion quarterback Russell Wilson.

“This is what sports is all about,” Spoelstra told the Macon Telegraph and WGXA TV in August. “It’s families. It’s community. It’s having fun at the old ballpark. We’re looking forward to tremendous crowds and entertaining our fans every game.” While some think the name is stupid, others think it’s kind of whimsical if not funny and because the mascot’s name is Kevin, there will be plenty of six degrees of separation jokes flying around.

Several renovations were made to the ballpark, the third oldest still in use in the United States starting in September. The seating bowl had several chairback seats replaced, the wood outfield fence that was knocked down from tropical storm Irma in September has been fixed and other additions include a party deck along the first base line, beer garden-style seating along the third base line, added concessions, bathrooms and a children’s area.

Prior to the Bacon moving in, the ball park was the backdrop for the movies “Bingo Long and the Traveling All Stars,” “42,” “Trouble With The Curve” and the IFC comedy “Brockmeier.” This year, instead of “lights, camera, action,” Friday evening the words “play ball” will fill the air.

(Logo courtesy the Macon Bacon and the Coastal Plain League)

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