If summer is defined by two quintessential things, it may be a taking in a baseball game on a sunny afternoon and a refreshingly cold glass of lemonade.
Now those two worlds will meet just in time for the high days of the summer months.
Although the minor league baseball season of the Lansing Lugnuts was officially canceled June 30, players will still be taking the field at Cooley Law School Stadium in downtown Lansing this summer in the Lemonade League. The wood bat collegiate league is bringing the national pastime to downtown Lansing in July and August.
“Due to factors beyond our control, it was not possible to have a minor league baseball season. The thought of not having baseball here this summer was something we couldn’t fathom,” said Lugnuts owner Tom Dickson. “This community has supported us for over 24 years now — through every up and down our state has been through. We owe it to them to try and activate the ballpark and provide a safe place for community to gather and come together.”
The Lemonade League will officially open its season when the state of Michigan moves to Phase 5 of its MI Safe Start reopening plan from the coronavirus pandemic, with an expected schedule of about 20 games from July through mid-August. Games will last seven innings, resulting in a one-on-one home-run derby in the event of a tie. The Lemonade League will also use yellow baseballs.
The league will consist of players from Michigan State University, Lansing Community College, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, the University of Toledo, Davenport University, Wayne State University, Grand Valley State University, Kalamazoo College, Saginaw Valley State University, Albion College, Ohio Valley University and Olivet College.
Players will be divided into two teams. One will wear the white, black and red jerseys of the Lugnuts. The other team will sport the gemstone-blue and marigold jerseys of the Lansing Locos, the team name for the Lugnuts in 2019 when they played in Minor League Baseball’s award-winning initiative Copa de la Diversión that celebrates the Hispanic/Latino community.
The league will be headed by former Michigan State Spartans player and current Oakland Golden Grizzlies coach Chad Roskelly, serving as the league’s director of baseball. Roskelly will be assisted by coaches Riley McCauley, Pete Romsek and Cullen Turner.
“I am excited that this group of college athletes will have the opportunity to compete in a game setting, after their college seasons were shortened,” said Roskelly. “Many of these players believed they wouldn’t play again until the fall or spring, so for the Lugnuts to provide them with this platform to showcase their skills is awesome.”
The season will include promotions and giveaways as well as post-game fireworks Fridays and Saturdays. The general admission tickets will be $5 for regular games and $7 for premium games, and the stadium capacity will be regulated by the state.
Lugnuts Director of Stadium Events Greg Kigar was the driving force in putting the league together and contacting players interested in competing.
“The Lemonade League will give back to the Lansing-area baseball community and certainly provide a venue for our Michigan-based college players to continue their development,” Kigar said. “To see it come to fruition, with our owner’s support, is extremely exciting. We want to give these guys a summer they won’t forget.”
Baseball players interested in more information about the Lemonade League are encouraged to contact Kigar via email at email@example.com or call (517) 485-4500.