Although it was a bright and crisp autumn day, the scene around Boomers’ Stadium in Schaumburg, Illinois was quiet and peaceful. The crowds had all gone, and the only activity was the comings and goings of a few people attending a job fair inside the club offices. As I walked into the stadium, a receptionist asked if I was there for the fair? But before I had a chance to respond, I was greeted by Director of Media Relations Ed McCaskey, as we went to sit down and discuss the Boomers and the future for the Frontier League team. When we last left the story of the first year franchise, the Boomers were one game out of the playoff race with 12 games left to play. However, Schaumburg went 5-7 in the final two weeks to end up 53-42 on the season. They tied for second with the Windy City Thunderbolts and were three games behind the Gateway Grizzlies for the Frontier League West Division title. The Boomers also had a chance a wild card spot, but fell three games in back of the Florence Freedom and a game behind the Southern Illinois Miners. Outfielder Chad Mozingo was named a post-season All-Star, finishing sixth with a .313 average and seventh in the league with 23 stolen bases. First baseman Steve McQuail was fifth with 20 home runs, and third baseman Frank Pfister ended up fifth in RBI with 58. In addition, right-handed starter Robbie Donovan tied for second with 11 wins, and reliever Patrick Mincey was third with 17 saves.
Sitting down with me was a more buttoned up, less stressed out Ed McCaskey as he was ready to assess the highs and lows of the inaugural season. “We definitely underestimated the backlash left by the previous tenants of the stadium” said McCaskey on the greatest difficulty of the season. “However, we were able to provide a winning team and great product. We had free fireworks every Friday, a give-away every Saturday, and provided affordable family fun.” McCaskey also said there was an “overwhelmingly” positive response from fans and corporate sponsors alike. He also said that manager Jamie Bennett has already started working his contacts “to provide us with a great team next season”.
In addressing the future, Ed McCaskey stated that there was a staff retreat scheduled in which they would “dissect everything” concerning the organization, from “the sound effects we use to the condition of the field…everything!” McCaskey then introduced me to Sara Romano, who is in charge of Community Relations. Romano said that they had successes with a “sleep-over” with local scouting organizations and sponsored by the Daily Herald. She also mentioned a successful tie-in with the Chick-Fil-A restaurant chain. For next season, Romano is working with the local school district with a “Boomers Bookworms” reading incentive program.
The future was also on the mind of President and General Manager Andy Viano. “We were pleasantly surprised when we held a free event on July 3 and 5,000 people showed up. We are now looking to do something with every major upcoming holiday, including Halloween, Thanksgiving, and New Year.” The first of these will be on October 6, as the Boomers will sponsor Oktoberfest with free admission, traditional German cuisine, a kid’s corner, and live bands. As far as baseball was concerned, “our attendance picked up from start to end, with every month seeing an increase” said Viano. “We’ve established a new brand and are starting to gain the community trust. Word of mouth has spread, and there seems to be quite a buzz around town.” During the off-season, Viano said that the club is looking to pursue partnerships with other local minor league franchises, such as the Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League and the Chicago Wolves of American Hockey League. “Our prospects for next season look great” said Viano, “we’re looking for major growth.”
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