Archives for posts with tag: Coastal Plain League

What goes well with pancakes?

Bacon.

That matchup will come to Lexington County, South Carolina when Lexington County Blowfish of the Coastal Plain League will change their name for one night to become the Lexington Pancakes.

The Blowfish… er, Pancakes square off against the Macon Bacon, the league’s newest franchise in a contest in Lexington County on Friday, June 8.

Blowfish co-owner Bill Shanahan said that “with the addition of the Savannah Bannanas in 2016 and the Bacon this year, what a great opportunity of enhance the family fun by creating more ‘sizzle.'”

Shananah went on to add, “When the expansion team, the Macon franchise, announced their new name we just thought, ‘Let’s be the Pancakes!’, and it just got out of hand in regards to all the fun we could have with it. One of our University of South Carolina interns came up with the slogan of “Batter Up” and it just keeps getting more creative.”

There will be a slight change to the home team’s uniform that night. While the Blowfish will take the night off, the team’s colors will remain intact, using the Blowfish navy, maroon, strong orange, tan and luminous vivid amber (yellow). The front of the jersey features “Pancakes” and a syrup-dripping spatula, while the backs will have the slogan “Batter Up” where the player’s name typically is and numbers that are dripping syrup as well.

In addition to the CPL logo on the right sleeve, the jersey will feature a special Lexington County Pancakes patch on the left sleeve that also prominently displays the club’s new mascot. The team will also be using the Pancake theme for other games as well in the upcoming 2018 season that got underway on May 31st.

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

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)

A ballpark that has been sitting somewhat dormant since the Pinetoppers and the Peach State League folded in 2012 will have a new life and a new tenant in 2018. When Macon-Bibb County Commissioners voted to allocate $2,500,000.00 for the purpose of renovating Luther Williams Field, it also meant that a new team will call the facility that saw its first game in 1929 home.

The new tenant? It’s not going to be a minor league affiliate of an MLB club. It’s not part of an expansion of a new professional league that’s being formed. The yet-to-be-named Macon team will be part of the Coastal Plain League, a collegiate wood-bat Summer league in the Summer of 2018. The organization will be owned and operated by Jon Spoelstra and Steve DeLay. The CPL currently has 15 teams in the league that plays from June to early August, when most college players are out of school.

“We’re excited to announce Macon as the newest expansion franchise in the Coastal Plain League,” CPL COO and Commissioner Justin Sellers told the Macon Telegraph, WMAZ-TV and WGXA-TV. “Macon-Bibb has a storied history rich in baseball and we look forward to creating the newest chapter with a CPL team. Additionally, we are thrilled to have Jon and Steve as owners in the CPL and know that their vast experience will ensure the success of this franchise for years to come.”

“We’re thrilled to be part of the Coastal Plain League and bring fun, family oriented entertainment to the city of Macon and Historic Luther Williams Field,” said DeLay. “We’re looking forward to getting the community involved.”

The $2.5 million in renovations will take place before the start of the 2018 season. Luther Williams last played host to a minor league team in 2002 and has since been home to multiple independent ball teams, as well as the site of several films such as Trouble With the Curve, 42 and the IFC sitcom Brockmire.

“Baseball is coming back to Macon-Bibb in a big way and we couldn’t be more delighted to be the next team in the Coastal Plain League,” says Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert. “Our community has shown a resurgence in support for baseball at all levels, and Macon-Bibb County is doing what it can to support that, from improving and upgrading existing facilities to working with local partners to build new facilities and of course, making significant upgrades at our Historic Luther Williams Field.”

Luther Williams Field was added to the National Register of Historical Places, joining such local landmarks as the Hay House, Cannonball House, Fort Hawkins, Sidney Lanier Cottage, Rose Hill Cemetery, Ocmulgee National Monument, Grand Opera House, St. Joseph Catholic Church and dozens of other locations in Macon. In 1994, flooding caused the Ocmulgee River to rise to record levels. When the levee at Central City Park could no longer hold back the flood waters, Luther Williams Field was under water. The flood and the cleanup forced the Braves to play eight of their home games on the road.

There’s a lot of work to be done both on the field itself and with the seating area. Below is a list of things that the new ownership will have to address.

Field

Bullpen Mounds – Need work, 2nd pitching rubber needed, plate area in bullpen needs to be either turf or rubber mat; wood benches in both bullpens

Outfield fence – Redo with treated wood or chain link fence

Move flag pole to left field and add two more flag poles

Batters eye (approx. 10 to 13 feet high)

Resod ENTIRE field, including infield! Game mound needs work BADLY!

Plugs for bases, warning track

Check tarp for holes

Infield dirt, dirt at home plate and basepaths (1st and 3rd) need to be replaced

Seating areas

Bleachers alongside 1st and 3rd base dugouts, additional concesison stand in both areas

Secure gate next to 1st base bullpen, check drainage, especially in dugouts

Grandstand area needs power washing, insect nests need to be removed

Stage on third base side needs to go (possible wasp/yellow jacket hazard, splinter hazard), bush next to stage needs to go (possible wasp/yellow jacket hazard!)

Game operations area near press box stairs need

Press Box

Check ALL electical outlets

Check PA system, put in new sound system if needed

Take down blinds from windows and replace if needed

Check phone/internet lines in press box

Scoreboard – New electronic board!

Fix door on third base side of press box

Recarpet press box

Umpires Room behind grandstand needs to be renovated.

Locker rooms (especially the home locker room) need painting and carpets.

There’s a lot to do. They’ll need to start advertising as soon as possible, meeting as many people and talking about the team and getting host families for the players to live with during the season, as well as office and game-day staff to hire. The quicker people know about the team, the better chance they have at success. Macon is a “word of mouth” town and that doesn’t always work. No matter the name, this team needs to get itself noticed. If nothing else, a team such as this could provide temporary jobs for those that work in the food industry, grounds crew, press box, ticket office and other duties on a baseball team.

When the Braves left to go to Rome in 2002, there would be three independent league teams that would occupy Luther Williams Field (2003 – Peaches; Southeastern League, 2007 – Music; South Coast League, 2012 – Pinetoppers; Peach State League) and those teams, while entertaining and playing some decent baseball, failed as did their leagues. Let’s hope that this team will have a little more success. The organization says they will hold a launch party in Macon later this summer to reveal more information about the team and stadium. For updates as they become available visit http://www.maconbaseball2018.com.