It had been nearly 100 years since NMU last had a baseball team, but that all changed this weekend as NMU’s newly-founded club baseball team took on Michigan Tech in their opening weekend doubleheader.
Students and community members packed the stands at the field on the corner of Presque Isle Avenue and Wright Street to watch NMU. Twenty-one Wildcats suited up for the home opener.
Left fielder and team captain Brandon Frazho said he was happy with the fan turnout and the support the team got from the NMU faculty and staff.
“President Wong threw out the first pitch,” Frazho said. “I got a hold of him and asked him if he wanted to do that because he’s a huge baseball fan; he was absolutely all for that.”
The ’Cats dropped the first game to Tech, 16-15, in the ninth inning and lost the backside of the doubleheader, 20-5. Head coach Kane Beauchamp said the team performed well against Tech, who was in its seventh game of the season.
“If we were on our seventh or eighth game by this time of April I think that obviously we would be a lot further along than we were this weekend,” Beauchamp said. “But at the same time, I’m really happy with the way the guys played without having any kind of game experience coming into it.”
Frazho helped jumpstart the team this summer while working as an orientation staff assistant. One of the other captains registered the team as a student organization, and Frazho was able to help spread the word to some of the incoming freshmen.
“We went around the residence halls and put little tags on people’s doors saying you’re welcome to tryout with us if you’re interested,” Frazho said. “We put one of the captains’ phone numbers and mine on there.”
The team played this fall in a softball tournament and was able to take second place, despite only having 13 players at the time. Frazho said even wearing the jerseys helped to create awareness of the program.
“Even being at the kind of event in our jerseys people would come up to me and say, ‘Oh, I had no idea,’ and actually one of our starting pitchers found us there and was like, ‘Hey, I’m interested in playing,’ ” Frazho said.
Although the roster now features more than 20 players, the team is still looking to spread the word and generate interest, which has mostly been done through word-of-mouth and posting on the student announcements.
“Basically we just went around and talked to people, tried to work them out, whoever we knew who might be interested in baseball,” Frazho said. “I went to high school with some guys that are extremely good who go here. It’s an ongoing process and it’s been a lot of work, but hopefully more people will start getting to know us,” Frazho said.
Along with trying to get more athletes to take note, the team is attempting to join the National Club Baseball Association this summer, which would help them become nationally recognized and make scheduling other Division II teams easier.
“They would give us 20 to 40 games next semester; that would be awesome,” Frazho said. “It would give us a great head start with that, so hopefully, eventually we do become recognized here as a school sport.”
The team has been able to pick up scrimmages against Marquette High School, who they beat twice, and are hoping to schedule Finlandia University along with local legion teams this summer.
Beauchamp said although Marquette is not a big baseball community, he hopes the club can help generate interest and get more people involved in the sport.
“If more people see those opportunities to play baseball say after high school, or little league maybe more people will get involved, more kids will get involved and maybe even more adults will get involved with volunteering their time and creating more of a baseball awareness,” Beauchamp said. “Not just in the Northern community of students but also in the greater Marquette area.”
The team can be seen in action at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 14 as they play the Marquette Blues at the field on the corner of Presque Isle Avenue and Wright Street.
The team typically practices five days a week. Students interested in learning more call Brandon Frazho at (906) 227-4572 or email [email protected]