Friday, May 18, 2007


It has been an upbeat Friday morning, and not just because I am relaxed with another Independent Baseball Insider column put to bed last night. I trust you all know that is a bit of journalism speak.

I was anxious to see how last night's launch of the very first South Coast League season went along with the Northern League's start to its 15th campaign. More on those things in a minute.

First came an instant message from Brewers pro scout Brad Del Barba that one of his finds, lefthander Joe Thatcher, had been promoted from Double-A Huntsville to Triple-A Nashville yesterday. Thatcher is one who may well be in the running all summer for Independent Baseball Grad of the Year.

Del Barba signed Thatcher out of the River City (O'Fallon, MO) of the Frontier League in 2005, which was his second season with the Rascals. He has turned into a real prospect as a left-handed specialist for the front-running and impressive Milwaukee club of the National League Central.

At 26, the 6-foot-2 Thatcher allowed only one run to be charged against him in his 14 Southern League appearances this season, and that came in his very first game. An 0.55 earned run average plus only two walks and 20 strikeouts in 16.1 innings was certain to get an organization's attention.

But what about the story from the South Coast League's first game last night at upgraded Luther Williams Field in Macon. This older stadium holds 3,500 fans, but a reported 5,033 crammed in last night and others were turned away as the Macon Music turned back Bradenton, FL, 5-3.

There is no question the turnout was impressive, and so is the attention the new league is getting from The Macon Telegraph and its companion The Telegraph gave the story front page play on both the main news section and in sports. In addition, fans who did not attend can get some of the flavor through both a slide show and video that were promoted on Page 1.

If only every team got that type of support.

Three of the four visiting teams won in the Northern League openers, which drew reasonably well (I did not check on the weather), with crowds ranging from 2,843 up to 5,614 for the Kansas City (KS) T-Bones.

Good news all around with much more to come this weekend now that half of the 10 Independent leagues are under way.

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