MANISTIQUE, Mich (WJMN) – A historic season full of firsts has begun for the Manistique Emeralds baseball program. Although Head Coach Jon Bintner may be the leading force on the field, he says that none of this would have even been a reality if it wouldn’t have been for the parents.
“Our parents are our backbone, our teams back there, they’re actually the reason why we have a program,” Bintner said. “Their kids might have the passion for it, but the parents are the ones that sparked it and got the ball rolling. They did the fundraising, I mean our fundraising is just phenomenal. We’re doing little things here and there, you see the banners on an outfield wall, different things from local businesses, helping old whenever they can.”
Starting a sports program from the ground up is costly. Ensuring kids have baseball gloves, helmets, bats, and various other things needed to partake in America’s past time. Money wasn’t the only wild pitch thrown at the team though.
“We were supposed to start this program last year because we’re so excited,” Bintner said. “It was fun to, to create a jersey from scratch, you’re like, Alright, our team colors. What do we want it to look like, what color schemes doing? And then to have it kind of taken almost like a rug taken right out from under you you know, where you had, we had one practice, and it was indoors. And that was an all and before you know what we’re I mean everybody’s going home, you know, we kind of figured it was gonna be a couple of weeks back, and then before you know it it was summer.”
A need for a high school program in Manistique was immense. Jack McEvers and a few of his teammates were making the two hour round trip drive to Escanaba in order to play on a team for their age group there. McEvers says its means a lot to now have a program he can play for in his backyard.
“It is so nice, I thought I wasn’t going to play again and now that we have this team, it’s awesome because I wasn’t ready to be done,” McEvers said.
After having their original first season canceled due to COVID-19 and then heading straight into the off season, the team was finally able to hit the dirt and get their first season underway. The team began play earlier in April and with four straight losses, the team finally got a taste of victory.
“First ever win for the program,” Bintner said. “I actually in our first game I said how does it feel to be the first hit, how does it feel to be the first this and that, to get our first win is is great, and hopefully great things to come.”
McEvers and pitcher Carson Sprader were two key players in the Emeralds first win.
“Carson is certainly is our number one pitcher for a reason,” Bintner said. “So he’s supposed to give us all things like we did today. So throw strikes, and did not give people free basis and walk a lot. He kept this pitch down really low which was awesome, and when you’re throwing strikes and people are hitting the ball, your defense is better too.”
Sprader says that throwing a game like that made him very pleased.
“I just wanted to get strikes in,” Sprader said.
From the offensive side, McEvers went two for two from the plate to help knock in some Emerald runs.
“You know, we’ve been fighting for a way for a while, we have a close one,” McEvers said. “We’ve had a couple more just heart boxes, and it just felt really good to get one”
You can catch the Manistique Emeralds back in action on Friday, April 30 at 4:00 p.m. as they host Sault Area High School in a Junior Varsity doubleheader. The varsity squad is set to hit the dirt on May 6 as they will travel to take on North Central High School in Spalding.
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