There will be another reason to sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and spend a summer evening listening to the crack of bats under the lights at Capaha Field in Cape Girardeau. A new team is coming to town.
The Prospect League, a wood-bat summer collegiate team, is expanding from its current 11 teams to 16 and one of those teams is coming to Cape Girardeau in 2019.
No name, logo or mascot has been chosen; the team will work with marketing partners and possibly solicit suggestions from local fans.
Improvements that were made to Capaha Field in recent years, including artificial turf, put this area in the running for an expansion team.
The Prospect League plays in the evening, the Capahas, who are part of the Mon-Clair League, play in the afternoon and neither schedule interferes with the Southeast Missouri State University baseball team’s use of the field. The American Legion also will continue to use the field.
“There are already some great ball programs in Cape,” Retired Redhawks coach Mark Hogan, who has been named the general manager of the new team, said. “We want to add to the options and really enhance the experience for baseball fans and families.”
Hogan also is part of the ownership group that includes Apple Investors Group CEO Andy Patel (and his wife, Anissa) and Montgomery Bank Vice President Jim Limbaugh.
The owners want to make further improvements to the field by adding fencing and replacing benches with chair-back seating.
It was the refurbishing of Capaha Field with a new scoreboard, artificial turf and other improvements that caught the eye of Prospect League Commissioner Dennis Bastien. He called current Redhawks coach Andy Sawyers to pitch the idea of expanding his league to Cape Girardeau.
Cape Mayor Harry Rediger and the City of Cape Girardeau then worked with local interests, the Chamber of Commerce, team owners and other partners to put it all together.
The announcement was made Friday at a press conference at the Cape SportsPlex.
Baseball is a popular family tradition in Cape, but it’s also good for business, said John Mehner, president of the Cape Chamber. “Sporting events of this caliber attract even more regional tourists, and they can make a day of shopping, eating and playing in Cape Girardeau,” he said.
The Prospect League currently has teams in Missouri (Hannibal Hoots), Illinois (Quincy Baseball Gems, Danville Dans and Springfield Sliders), Indiana (Nokomo Jackrabbits, Lafayette Aviators and Terre Haute Rex), Ohio (Champion City Kings and Chillicothe Paints), West Virginia (West Virginia Miners) and Pennsylvania (Butler Blue Sox).
The League was founded in 2009 after merging with the Central Illinois Collegiate League.
The purpose of the league is to:
• Provide family friendly, affordable baseball entertainment to the teams’ communities.
• Provide a summer baseball program for eligible players to give them experience using a wood bat in a competitive atmosphere.
• Provide a venue to allow major league baseball scouts to watch collegiate prospects using wood bats against live pitching in competition.
The 2018 schedule shows teams playing 60 games starting May 30, and ending with a Prospect League Championship Series Aug. 9-12.
“I look forward to the bats cracking in ’19,” Rediger concluded.