Detroit Tigers News

Detroit Tigers: Traverse City Pit Spitters Ready To Play Ball

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - MARCH 25: An aerial view from a drone shows Comerica Park where the Detroit Tigers were scheduled to open the season on March 30th against the Kansas City Royals on March 25, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Major League Baseball has delayed the season after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic on March 11th. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - MARCH 25: An aerial view from a drone shows Comerica Park where the Detroit Tigers were scheduled to open the season on March 30th against the Kansas City Royals on March 25, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Major League Baseball has delayed the season after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic on March 11th. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Potential future Detroit Tigers draft picks will be on display in Traverse City starting on July 1.

As we all await the fate of Detroit Tigers’ baseball, up in Traverse City, the baseball is just around the corner. The Northwoods League will be starting on July 1 with three teams all playing at Turtle Creek Stadium, the home of the Traverse City Pit Spitters.

For fans of collegiate talent, the Northwoods League is a development wooden bat league that for the past 26 seasons, has been home to developing Major League talent with the likes of former Detroit Tigers’ Curtis Granderson, Max Scherzer,  Jeff Weaver, and current Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann. In total, over 200 players have come through the league on their way to the majors.

The travel restrictions and various states having their own COVID-19 rules, making the Pit Spitters get creative to follow along with the regulations in Michigan so they created two teams, the Great Lakes Resorters and the Northern Michigan Dune Bears.  The reason for this is so the Pit Spitters would play only the Resorters and Dune Bears at Turtle Creek Stadium, similar to the USPBL model in Utica, Michigan. (Check out a great read by Bill Shea in the Athletic about the USPBL $) . With the Northwoods League teams in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Canada, the Pit Spitters will play in the Michigan North Division.

To provide a bit of history of the two names, the Dune Bears came in second in the naming contest for Traverse City last season and the Resorters were a nod to a minor league team that played in class D Michigan State League from 1910 until 1914. That squad was the last team in Traverse City until the Beach Bums started to play in 2006 in the Frontier League. With the Northwoods League teams in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Canada, the Pit Spitters will play in the Michigan North vision while the other Michigan based pod will be in the South Division that will be lead by the Kalamazoo Growlers. They will be hosting the other team in the division, Mac Daddies at Homer Stryker Field while the Battle Creek Bombers will be joining them as the third team in the division. There will 20 home games in Battle Creek, 40 games in Kalamazoo. To crown a champion, there will be a three-game playoff in September.

Mickey Graham, the general manager of the Traverse City Pit Spitters and his team have been working hard to put a plan together quickly. With planning this three-team pod, the Pit Spitters will be staying with their host families but with the addition of the Resorters and Dune Bears, they will be staying at the Interlochen Center for the Arts campground. Talking to Graham on the phone, he was telling me the players are looking forward to the camp like experience.

Speaking of players, Graham also spoke about the caliber of players that will be in Traverse City. With the Cape Cod league shut down for the year,  the already high level of competition among the collegiate talent will be elevated.  Luke Little, the former Pit Spitter who hit 105 MPH, was drafted in the fourth round by the Chicago Cubs, is a recent example of the talent on display. So a chance to see more arms like this, yes, please!

To make sure the team is practicing social distancing rules, only 500 fans will be allowed to attend each game.  Everyone will be screened and tested when they enter the ballpark and when fans are in the common areas like the concession stands, they will have to wear masks. If they are sitting with their section of fans, they are not required to wear masks. There will be hand sanitation stations set up all over the Turtle Creek Ballpark and all employees will be wearing masks.

The players will be under the same safety measures with various equipment being wiped down after each game. For Graham, he expects more eyes on how to handle the game during this whole pandemic situation.  So if you are heading north to vacation this summer and miss the crack of the bat, check out the potential future Detroit Tigers draft picks in at Turtle Creek Stadium. Or watch the  Pit Spitters games streaming online https://portal.stretchinternet.com/nwlpitspitters/

Thanks to general manager Mickey Graham for taking the time to talk to me about what the defending 2019 Northwood Champs Pit Spitters are up to. 

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