This one comes from Chris Haydock, our assistant director of player development (and a fellow Indiana University graduate, I might add).
Greetings from Detroit! Just checked into an airport hotel on my way back to Los Angeles after a terrific trip to our new affiliate in Midland, MI (the Great Lakes Loons).
I was very fortunate to have our very own Hall of Fame Manager, Tommy Lasorda along on the trip. Tommy and I flew in to help the Loons christen their brand new ballpark (The Dow Diamond). The ballpark itself cost close to $33 million dollars, and was paid for and built entirely by the various foundations of the Dow Corporation (home base is Midland, MI). The team has been set up as a non-profit entity, with all proceeds going directly back to the community.
The entire community in central Michigan is thrilled to have minor league baseball come to town. The enthusiasm and support on Opening Night reminded me of a College Football Saturday. All of the local stores had “Go Loons” signs in their windows, local churches had messages of support on their billboards, and every citizen seemed to have either a Loons sweatshirt, cap or pin on. The City closed down Main St. on Friday afternoon (Opening Day), and held a festival with live bands and foods to commemorate the event.
Tommy again showed why he’s baseball’s greatest ambassador, taking hundreds of pictures and signing autographs for each and every fan that asked him. In addition to throwing out the First Pitch with representatives of Dow, Tommy addressed the packed ballpark and received a thunderous ovation when he referred to mid-Michigan as “the heartbeat of America”.
Although we did not come through with a win (losing 6-2 to the Lansing Lugnuts), our players played hard and showed flashes of why we think this is going to be a special club. Team Manager (and local hero) Lance Parrish and his staff have already done a great job preparing our young players for the upcoming season. For many of them, this will be their first full season (140 game schedule) experience. The season will be a grind, but is just another necessary step in their development as Major League players.
Looking forward to getting back to L.A. tomorrow, but wanted to send our best wishes to all of our great Dodger fans across the country!