As the professional baseball in the United States is on the verge of striking, here’s a story about a minor league team that plays for a hometown that they rarely ever see and the town that loves them anyway. Brian Purchia reports.
Gary, Indiana, is a gritty steel town with a bad reputation. There hasn’t been much to cheer about here for a very long time. But this may be about to change because Gary has a baseball club. The Railcats are the city’s brand-new minor league team and they’ve brought optimism back to a place known for high crime, a lack of jobs and the dwindling population.
ROSALYN MITCHELL, GARY, INDIANA DIRECTOR OF PLANNING
“On a national level, people are going to see a lot more positive changes here in the city of Gary, Indiana.”
But this being Gary, the Railcats’ road to success is not without a few bumps.
ANNOUNCER “The odyssey continues 90 consecutive road games for the Railcats.”
That’s right. All of their games this year are on the road.
JOE CALFAPIER, RAILCATS MANAGER
“It’s different, that’s for sure. You know, not having a home crowd supporting you is something that’s, ah, odd.”
A political squabble and cost overloads delayed construction of the Railcats’ new $45 million home field. It won’t be ready until next season. Leaving the Railcats to roam like vagabonds across the upper Midwest from Lake Michigan to the Great Plains and even into Canada. Playing in towns where no one is cheering them on. Well, almost no one.
When they played in Joliet, Illinois, they had at least six fans. The team bus is the closest thing to a home they have. And, naturally, a guy named Gary drives it. This trip from Joilet to Duluth, takes a mere nine hours.
BRIAN DRAHMAN, RAILCATS PITCHING COACH
“It’s the only way to pass the time, unless you decide to read.”
The Railcats’ record is not the best. But that doesn’t seem to matter in Gary—the hometown they never see.
“I’m very proud of the Railcats, yeah.”
They may be hundreds of kilometers away, but giving Gary something to be proud of is probably the best thing this team will do all season.