Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Since I usually devote most of my Independent Baseball Insider columns to on-field activities, I am taking a little time today to give fans a flavor of some of the other happenings in our game.

Every team gets involved in tons of fund-raising activities, but one of the most effective I've seen this winter was the more than $15,000 raised in Gary to benefit youth baseball and softball in that Indiana community. How did the Northern League's SouthShore RailCats raise the money? It wasn't brain surgery. They got the Chicago Cubs to make Gary one of their preseason publicity caravan stops, and raised the money during the visit by Lou Piniella and Company.

Another Northern League team, the Calgary Vipers, found a way to do a nice turn when they went on a player search to the Dominican Republic. They took more than 30 baseball gloves to distribute to young hopefuls in that country. It may seem somewhat surprising with the attention given to baseball, but many youngsters do not have gloves.

And, what about the unique uses of stadiums during the offseason? Yes, it builds revenue for the teams, but it also provides enjoyable opportunities for residents, even those who may not yet be baseball fans.

Lancaster, PA has developed what it calls The Ice Park at its Atlantic League facility, Clipper Magazine Stadium. A Moonlight Skate is slated for couples Wednesday for Valentine's Day, and Saturday will be the second of two consecutive weeks with free skating lessons. How is that for community service?

In Kansas City, KS, the Northern League's T-Bones have announced they will turn CommunityAmerica Ballpark into an open-air market every Saturday from May-October. Farmers and artisans will offer their goods to fans, some of whom you can imagine will see the ballpark for the first time.

If you do not already know what special activities your hometown Independent Baseball team offers, check out the team website or give the team a call. It may be the offseason to you, but you will find the front office working away.

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