League Stadium to host pro baseball leagueJuly 30, 2020
BY COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG — Baseball in Dubois County isn’t over just yet. In fact, it’s likely to have a longer shelf life than usual this year.
The Liberation Professional Baseball League is set to play in Huntingburg’s League Stadium beginning next week. Tryout camp is scheduled for Aug. 4-7, with the first game being held that final night. The league will consist of four clubs — the California Dogecoin, the Baseball Resume Bandits, the Indiana Barn Owls and the Indy Windstorm. The Dogecoin and Bandits will start the season at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 7.
The Dogecoin are based out in Fairfield, Calif., but the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented them from playing in Fairfield. Dogecoin owner Brian Williams looked at different baseball venues across the country. He checked out affiliated venues with Minor League Baseball being cancelled for the year.
However, Williams is a Hoosier from Marion. The Oak Hill graduate knew about League Stadium, and the venue that’s home to Southridge Baseball, the Dubois County Bombers and had the Jasper Reds and J Cards Baseball this summer will be home to the Liberation League in 2020.
“I had knowledge of League Stadium in Huntingburg and it was something I kind of checked into and contacted the city and stuff and started exploring that,” Williams told The Herald by phone on Tuesday.
Williams likes the history that League Stadium has, but also that it’s different from the stadiums in larger cities, where the virus has been prevalent. He looked to Werner Park, the home of the Omaha Storm Chasers (Neb.) and also Louisville Slugger Field, home of the Bats, but thought League Stadium in Huntingburg was great for stability.
Huntingburg Park Director Larry Altstadt brought the idea to Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner and also the Huntingburg Park Board earlier this month, and the park board approved it at its July 20 meeting.
“It’s a high level of baseball,” Altstadt told The Herald by phone on Tuesday. “A lot of people are asking us when baseball is going to come back to League Stadium. It gives us a little bit of revenue to help with League Stadium itself also, but mostly it will bring some really good baseball play here to our area.”
The Herald reported on July 22 that Dubois County was a hot spot for the virus, and had the largest growth per capita of any county in the state. The Herald gave updated information on Tuesday that the county had 12 new positive cases, and that there have been 11 reported deaths.
Williams learned on Monday about the challenges the county is dealing with.
“We’re taking the virus very seriously, and it’s very tough to kind of plan and we don’t know, sort of, what the different phase is — if they’ll go forward or if it’ll stay in the same phase or regress,” he said. “It is worrisome. Obviously, we don’t want players and we don’t want the community to get sick or to spread the virus or anything like that. So, yeah, that was news to me yesterday, but yeah, it is concerning.”
CBSSports.com reported early Tuesday afternoon that the Miami Marlins had at least 17 positive cases of the virus. Major League Baseball issued a statement on Tuesday that all Marlins games were postponed through Sunday. The team the Fish visited this past weekend, the Philadelphia Phillies, had their scheduled four-game series postponed with the New York Yankees that was set for Monday through Thursday. MLB added that the Marlins were the only one of the 30 teams with positive cases.
The owner of the Dogecoin told The Herald about the steps they will take, in addition to following protocol of Stage 4.5 of up to 250 people from Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Back on Track Indiana initiative, and the statewide mask mandate that took effect Monday.
“We’re going to work through it kind of backwards in a sense,” Williams said. “Basically, the guys are going to wear masks around the stadium, and off the field for the most part. Some guys might wear masks during gameplay, kind of like some of the MLB guys were wearing masks during the games.”
Williams added that different players will be spread out throughout the bullpen. Anybody who comes down with COVID symptoms will be isolated. The league will also create a spreadsheet of those who previously tested positive and when, or those who thought they had it to assess what percentage might have antibodies against the virus.
Each team is set to have a 23-man roster, with approximately 10 to 12 players being available in a taxi pool. Williams declined to name names, but he’s been in touch negotiating with players who have played in the Major Leagues and in Triple-A. Those players are shoo-ins for spots. Different current and former minor leaguers and independent players are also expected. Williams is anticipating somewhere between 150 to 200 people will come to League Stadium for tryouts, as those players will try to get back to the big leagues, make it there or advance their careers.
Altstadt said players are responsible for their own lodging and accommodations. Williams thinks some people might come forward to host players, but added the league doesn’t expect anything from the community on that front.
“There’s a few guys that are going to pull in their parents’ RVs and kind of hit it from that angle,” he said. “Also, we’re reaching out for discounts for the Quality Inn and some of the different hotels around.”
Williams said the league wants to have playoffs and a championship, but the kinks are still being worked out as to what that will look like.
He floated the idea of having the team with the best record against the team with the second-best record play a single game for the championship. Those two teams could have a three-game series, or there could be a best-of-three semifinals between the team with the best record and the team with the worst record, while the second-best record plays the team with the third-best record.
Both Altstadt and Williams anticipate a full season will be played, though the latter said it will also depend on where the state is at trying to fight the virus at that point.
Concessions will be sold, and tickets to a game are $5. Tickets to the upper deck and patio built for the Bombers will cost $8; and Williams is very appreciative that his team and the league will have live games in front of live fans.
“It means a lot,” Williams said. “A lot of places either couldn’t have fans or just logistically wouldn’t work. So, for us to be able to do it means a lot, and for the players, it means a lot. The college players lost their season, as well as the high school players, and a lot of the guys who were training for months and months and months getting ready for the season — they lost their season.
“For the players, it’s definitely a huge thing as well, but, yeah, we’re just very grateful for it,” he continued.
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