Northwoods League clears way for Michigan play, adds three new teams

The Detroit News

Baseball will be returning to parts of Michigan next month.

The Northwoods League, a collegiate summer league, announced on Monday it is launching a three-site Michigan pod, with six teams set to compete in Traverse City, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.

The pod will feature three existing Northwoods League teams — the Traverse City Pit Spitters, Kalamazoo Growlers and Battle Creek Bombers — and three new ones — the Great Lakes Resorters, Northern Michigan Dune Bears and Kalamazoo Mac Daddies.

The Traverse City Pit Spitters will begin Northwoods League play on July 1.

The Pit Spitters, Dune Bears and Resorters (a nod to the Traverse City Resorters, a professional team from 1910 to 1915) will compete in the North Division and the Growlers, Mac Daddies and Bombers in the South Division.

The Traverse City teams will play 57 total games at Turtle Creek Stadium, beginning with the league champion Pit Spitters squaring off against the Resorters on July 1.

“With the approval of the Northwoods League, we’ve created two new teams that will compete with the Pit Spitters this summer,” Joe Chamberlin, Pit Spitters CEO, said in a statement. “All three teams promise some talented, collegiate-level players. You can bet we’ll bring baseball, fun, and quality entertainment that the region is starving for.”

Pit Spitters general manager Mickey Graham added it’s possible the Dune Bears and Resorters could return next summer.

The South Division squads will have a 60-game schedule with 40 games at Kalamazoo’s Homer Stryker Field and 20 games at Battle Creek’s C.O. Brown Stadium. Opening Day for the Growlers is slated for July 1, while the Bombers’ first game is scheduled for July 2.

The season will end with a three-day playoff schedule on Sept. 3-5 to determine the champion of the Michigan pod.

All three sites will be implementing new sanitation standards and policies to help promote a safe environment for fans, players and staff due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Even the names of the assorted teams that will be playing in Michigan during this unique season of Northwoods League baseball tell you the teams are ready to responsibly bring a brand of fun to the state that has been sorely missed this year,” Northwoods League president and commissioner Gary Hoover said in a statement.

“Striking a balance between their serious efforts to provide safe environments for fans, players and personnel, while they simultaneously convey some much-needed whimsy describes exactly what fans should expect to experience from these teams when they come to the Michigan ballparks this summer.”