Northwoods League Baseball Returns to Michigan July 1
Baseball in "The Mitten" in 2020 has been silent with the contention between owners and players in the Majors, Minor League Baseball on hold, and the lone Michigan team in the Great Lakes Collegiate Summer League from Muskegon waiting another year due to its cancellation.
It all changed June 15th as the Northwoods League announced the latest pod that will start play after the initial beginning in May was put on hold from the COVID-19 pandemic. In a combined statement from the two league-owned teams, the Battle Creek Bombers and the Kalamazoo Growlers, the new Michigan Pod will begin play on July 1st.
A combined six teams will be in the pod, split between the North and South. The Growlers and Bombers will be in the South joined by the Kalamazoo Mac Daddies, which was originally going to be the teams name of the Growlers during their Mac and Cheese Father's Day promotion slated for June 21st. Both the Growlers and Mac Daddies will play at Kalamazoo's Homer Stryker Field. The Bombers will take their respective home at C.O. Brown Stadium in the Cereal City.
The schedule is slated for a total of 60 games (40 games for each team), meaning one team will play the other two teams 20 times. The schedule can be found in the link below.
Southwest Michigan is not the only place that will see baseball this summer. Up north, the current Northwoods League champion Traverse City Pit Spitters, will also return to play July 1st in the North pod, joined by two new teams that will fill a 57-game schedule. Those two teams are the Traverse City Resorters and the Northern Michigan Dune Bears. The Resorters name dates back to a professional team that played in Traverse City from 1910 to 1915. The Dune Bears name pays homage to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, hugging the Lake Michigan shoreline located just west of Traverse City. All games will be played at the newly-minted Turtle Creek Stadium -the formerly-named Wuerfel Park.
The top two teams from the North and South pods will play in a best-of-three championship series to determine the title.
At all three sites, capacity restrictions will be in place along with safety guidelines that will keep baseball fans and spectators safe this summer. In Traverse City, games will be limited to 500, which is just over 10 percent capacity from the normal 4,660 the ballpark can seat. Up to 500 will also be the limit in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. This will allow for social distancing among the fans in the stands. Those looking for tickets will also be asked to sign up on the team's priority lists to get their first opportunities into the games. Sanitization and regular screenings for staff members, players and coaches have also been put in place.
Michigan becomes the third pod in the Northwoods League for the 2020 season. The North Dakota pod, featuring games in Bismarck, began June 15th. The current Northwoods League team, the Bismarck Larks, is joined by the created Bismarck Bull Moose and the Mandan Flickertails. The Wisconsin/Illinois pod will also begin play July 1st with six teams all currently members of the League - the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders, the Green Bay Booyah, the La Crosse Loggers, the Rockford Rivets,, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters and the Wisconsin Woodchucks.