Special Assignment – Midwest League All-Star Game
Geneva, IL: A hot and blustery June 19 was the setting for this year’s Midwest League All-Star game. The host for the event, the Kane County Cougars, pulled out all stops to give all attending a true Chicago-Area baseball experience. The day started before noon as a Fan Fest, with families being able to play catch on the field and take batting practice. The picnic area provided a petting zoo, rock wall climbing, and plenty of inflatable rides for the youngsters. Entertaining the crowd were the Chicago Cubs Dixieland Band and organist Nancy Faust, showing that she is still at the top of her game by not only performing ballpark classics, but music from new artists such as Lady Gaga.
A fan-friendly atmosphere was present, with players providing autographs all during the warm-up sessions, as well as a special on-field period just prior to the game. A particularly popular target was Peoria Chiefs infielder Zeke DeVoss. DeVoss was one of four Chiefs named to the squad, including first baseman Paul Hoilman as a starter, left-handed pitcher Kyler Burke, and catcher Rafael Lopez. However, Lopez had to bow out, due to a concussion that placed him on the disabled list. As the game approached, player introductions were made and the national anthem was sung by famed public address announcer Wayne Messmer.
The game in itself became almost anti-climactic, as starting pitcher Drew Grainer of the Burlington Bees surrendered five runs (two earned) in 0.2 innings to the East team in route to an 18-2 loss. Kyler Burke didn’t fare much better, going 0.2 innings and giving up five earned runs. Paul Hoilman was 0-for-2, and Zeke DeVoss went 0-for-1 while seeing action in right field. Great Lakes Loons’ first baseman O’Koyea Dickson was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after going 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI.
Interview – Kyler Burke, Zeke DeVoss and Paul Hoilman
Between team photos, warm-up, autograph signings, and the general mayhem that accompanies an event like an All-Star Game, the CCO was able to ask a few questions to the Peoria representatives:
ChicagoCubsOnline: How does it feel to be a part of today’s festivities?
Kyler Burke: I’m glad to be back, but this time it’s a little different role. Last time I was at one of these, it was as an outfielder.
Paul Hoilman: I was voted to the All-Star team last season (in the Northwest League), but that was an after the season kind of thing. It’s nice to have a break in the season.
Zeke DeVoss: I’m glad I’m having a good enough season to make it here.
CCO: Zeke, you played mainly outfield in college, how has the transition been to the infield?
DeVoss: I feel it’s going smoothly. I put in a lot of work every day at it.
CCO: Paul, you show great focus in your preparation to hit. Where did learn to refine your approach?
Hoilman: Well, hitting is a big part of my game. My college coach was from the Citadel, and he was good at instilling discipline.
CCO: Kyler, you were mainly used out of the bullpen last season, but now you are starting. How has that been different?
Burke: At the time, I needed to build up my arm strength, so coming out of the pen was the best way to do that. But I like the regular nature of starting.
CCO: Zeke, coming from the University of Miami, do you have any advice for the Cubs’ first round pick Albert Almora?
DeVoss: Well, I was glad to go to college and experience that, but I’m also glad to be here with the Cubs organization. He just has to do what he thinks is best for him.
CCO: Any word on promotions?
Hoilman: Not yet.
Burke: I’m going to Daytona after the game (Burke was promoted to the Daytona Cubs two days later).
Video – All-Star Sideshow
The CCO would like to thank the management of the Ozric Tentacles for permission to use their music.
The CCO would also like to thank Shawn Touney, Director of Public Relations for the Kane County Cougars, for allowing us to be a part of this event. A special mention also goes to reporters Mike Knapp of the Beacon News and Patrick Brown of MiLB.com.
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