The Clinton LumberKings’ season came to a close last night in the Prospect League semi-finals. Their success wasn’t an easy road, spending their first season not affiliated with Major League baseball.
Their general manager says the pandemic and shutdowns hurt their revenue. Then, it was disheartening to become and independent league team.
It’s been a whirlwind ride for minor league baseball teams the past couple of years with the pandemic and Major League baseball cutting its affiliation with some. That was the case for the Clinton LumberKings, but they rebounded and joined the Prospect League. Despite not being affiliated with the MLB, General Manager Ted Tornow says fans still continued to come out in bunches.
“Maybe some people in the area maybe wrote us off, but trust me we’re back, alive, and better than ever,” he said.
Tornow says the way the community has continued to show support for them shows how important everyone feels about having baseball in Clinton is.
“We’re community owned and that’s the thing,” he said. “I think people have supported us and I wouldn’t say a priority, but I think they’ve shown community ownership that they’re coming out and supporting us.”
The LumberKings played fewer games than they had in the past, but they still were able to use Nelsoncorp Field to entertain the community.
“In ’19, you know, we had our final season,” he said. “And we thought ’20 would be our final minor league season and we had about 45 or 50 events in ’20. A couple baseball games, but a lot of concerts.”
In addition to holding more concerts while still being able to have baseball, the LumberKings also played a big role in RAGBRAI, when the bike ride ended in Clinton in early August, by opening up the stadium for an event that benefited the whole community.
“They can come back every year,” Tornow said. “This has really been a great show by everybody.”