The news that the Cubs are moving the Peoria Chiefs to Kane County is disturbing.
Not because Peoria deserves the Cubs, or because one Cubs minor league team in Chicago is enough, it’s because Kane County just isn’t the place for single-A baseball.
Minor league baseball needs to be played in minor league cities where the ball players are icons, supported and for many young women, a ticket to the big city.
I was introduced to single-A baseball about 30 years ago while vacationing in western New York. Out of a desire to do something different, I took a ride into Jamestown, New York – which has the dubious honor of being Lucille Ball’s birthplace – to watch the Jamestown Expos. Yes, the Expos, as in the Montreal Expos. Both teams are gone. The Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals and the Jamestown Expos became the Jamestown Jammers, a single-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins.
But the fun of small town Americana – watching young talent trying hard to make it to the big leagues – hasn’t changed.
Games are played at Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park on the campus of Jamestown Community College (what campus there is). It’s far from the maddening crowd, which is the beauty of it all.
Want a bleacher seat? Sure, $6 and you’re right behind third base. Promotions? Some of the best around – how else can you get the fans out. The Jammers include everything from a ball give way to a Faith and Family night. That’s one the Cubs should include – at this point a little faith couldn’t hurt.
The Jammers also hold family days when admission is a $1 as are hot dogs and soft drinks. So for about $3 (unless you want to make it Miller Time) you can enjoy a ball game where on-field egos and attitudes are not part of the game.
More than the baseball, however, is the fun of being with people who just want to have fun at the old ball park without off-key celebrities singing during the seventh inning, without the ball park being the world’s largest bar and without cross-city rivalries interfering the with fun of the game.
It’s just fun at the old ball park.
The relocation of the Cubs’ single-A team to the Chicago area would give the Cubs a second minor league team in the area. The first of course is on Addison. And while single-A baseball is fun, minor league baseball in the big city just ain’t the same.
Media reports say the move will give Cubs fans a chance to see the future. Based on this year that’s like a dentist saying Novocaine will take away all of the pain.
So why it’s a clever marketing ploy, it’s still not the purest form of single-A baseball.
As for the Jammers – as an affiliate of the Marlins I can’t help but wonder if they’d ever have a “meet the big league manager night”.
Ozzie Guillen in Jamestown, New York? So much for fun at the old ball park.