by Brandon Vickrey
Chicago, Ill. – Oct. 6, 2014 – The Midwest Collegiate League has announced the addition of a new team for the 2015 season.
The Michigan City Lakers have reached an agreement to join the MCL, bringing with them a team tradition that dates back to 1973.
“From the coaching staff to the players, there is a great level of excitement from our whole organization,” Lakers Owner Tim Jahnz said of joining the Midwest Collegiate League. “When we started working a little bit with the MCL, we knew what level we had to aspire to grow to. We’ve really come a long way as a program.”
The Lakers are confident that they will immediately field a team that can be competitive in the MCL. They had a series of exhibition games with the Southland Vikings and Northwest Indiana Oilmen the last two seasons, proving they can compete with MCL teams.
Michigan City was home to minor league baseball from 1956-1959, when the Midwest League affiliate of the San Francisco Giants played at Ames Field. The Michigan City White Caps featured future Hall of Famer Juan Marichal on their 1958 roster. Other notable players who made stops in Michigan City include Matty Alou, Manny Mota, Bobby Bolin and Jose Tarabull.
When the economy boomed and baseball fans began attending more Cubs and White Sox games, attendance at local minor league ballparks decreased, causing the Giants’ affiliate to move away. White Caps founder and first manager Al Shinn wanted to bring baseball back to Michigan City, so he formed the Michigan City Stars, a summer collegiate baseball program, in 1973.
Shinn operated the team until 2010, when he passed the torch to Jahnz, a former player and coach. At that time, the team was also renamed as the Michigan City Lakers.
“We are extremely excited to welcome the Michigan City Lakers baseball club and their 41-year rich history,” Midwest Collegiate League Commissioner Don Popravak said. “They provide the Midwest Collegiate League with a strong franchise that is intertwined with the Michigan City market.
The Lakers expect to have the bulk of their 2014 roster back for their inaugural year in the Midwest Collegiate League. However, they will be looking to add players at several key positions for 2015. Laker fans will also have the opportunity to see top quality players from the MCL, which had 10 players selected in the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft.
The Midwest Collegiate League is entering its sixth season of providing collegiate players the chance to hone their skills in a minor-league atmosphere during the summer months.
“Our expansion into Michigan City offers the Midwest Collegiate League an ideal location for our continued growth in the state of Indiana,” Popravak said. “We are continuing to seek expansion clubs in key markets that fit our business model of keeping travel expenses low so clubs can manage their operational expenses as frugally as possible, while keeping competition at a premium.”