Newly christened sports teams rarely rise above established competition right out of the gate. It takes time to build the necessary momentum to slug past experienced, well-oiled teams. But there are exceptions.
The Traverse City Pit Spitters baseball team, just weeks after walking onto the diamond for the first time, on Friday reached the pinnacle of the 25-year-old Northwoods League. The Pit Spitters beat the Eau Claire Express 3-2 to become Northwoods League Summer Collegiate World Series champions.
“It was crazy. That is just how our season has gone,” catcher Adam Proctor said after Friday’s game.
The young team’s success has drawn the attention of fans. The team set a league record winning streak of 18 games in July. Baseball fans have been responding. More than 4,600 people filed into Pit Spitters Park on Friday to witness the league’s final game of 2019.
Northwoods is a conduit into the big leagues — more than 200 players in the league have gone on to play in the majors. This year, at least 76 Northwoods League alumni are on major league rosters.
Success on the field has drawn attention to Traverse City, too. Northwoods League games reportedly fill more than 1.1 million spectator seats each season. The Pit Spitters’ league championship is sure to land the name of the team — and the name of its home town — in the minds of many.
That can only help bolster Traverse City’s growing reputation across the Midwest. Northwoods league teams are based in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ontario and Wisconsin.
College baseball being what it is, the 2020 Pit Spitters roster will include many new faces. This year’s team set a high bar that will be difficult to equal.
We’re confident the organization and the players will strive for excellence. Go team!