Just when you think things couldn’t get weirder: last Friday’s Lake County Fielders (independent; North American League) game was scrapped because the team failed to provide official Rawlings baseballs and substituted recreational baseballs.
Not all baseballs are created the same, and the professional baseballs manufactured by the likes of Rawlings are of a considerably higher quality than those found at the likes of Dick’s or Sports Authority. The Fielders front office skipped their regular Rawlings order because of uncertainty about their future — a move that raised objections from the Calgary Vipers starting pitcher. Umpires agreed with his assessment of the situation and called the game after an inning and a half.
An announcement is expected today about the future of the team. Sunday’s attendance at Fielders Stadium was listed as 149.
The Fielders have certainly been in the news this season. Opening the 201 North American League season with a 32-game road trip, the team quickly encountered financial adversity. As you’ll recall, the Fielders released 14 players and traded nine others after an open player revolt that also saw coaches Tim Johnson and Pete LaCock resign. The issue: lack of any payments (payroll, per diem, travel) whatsoever this season. Team owners have stopped paying rent at Fielders Stadium because of the temporary condition of the ballpark; the city has demanded $185.000 in back rent.
We’re guessing this whole mess ends up in court. It would not be the first time: This past offseason Ehrenreich and his Schaumburg Flyers (independent; Northern League) owners were evicted from Alexian Field for more than half a million dollars in back rent.
RELATED STORIES: Fielders may disband because of city inaction on new ballpark; Zion: Fielders owe us $185,000 in back rent; Fielders’ Zaman quits on the air; Fielders continue blame game for financial woes, adding league to mix; Fielders: Don’t blame us, blame Zion; Unpaid players revolt in Lake County; 9 traded, 14 released
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