MANISTIQUE, Mich (WJMN) – A historic season full of firsts has begun for the Manistique Emeralds baseball program. While head coach Jon Bintner may be the main force on the pitch, he says none of this would even have been a reality without the parents.
“Our parents are our backbone, our teams there, they’re actually the reason we have a program,” Bintner said. “Their kids may have a passion for it, but it’s the parents who sparked it and got the ball rolling. They did the fundraising, I mean our fundraising is just phenomenal. We do little things here and there, you see the banners on an outside wall, different things from the local businesses, helping the elderly whenever they can.
Starting a sports program from scratch is expensive. Ensure children have baseball gloves, helmets, bats, and various other things needed to participate in America’s past. Money wasn’t the only wild shot thrown at the team though.
“We were supposed to start this program last year because we’re so excited,” Bintner said. “It was fun making a jersey from scratch, you’re like, okay, our team colors. What do we want it to look like, what are the color combinations for? And then to make it take almost like a carpet under you, you know, where you had, we had a workout, and that was inside. And that was a whole and before you know what we are, I mean everybody come home, you know, we kind of thought it would be a few weeks ago, and before you didn’t know, it was summer.
The need for a high school program at Manistique was immense. Jack McEvers and a few of his teammates were making the two hour round trip to Escanaba to play on a team for their age group there. McEvers says it means a lot to now have a program he can perform for in his backyard.
“It’s so good I thought I wasn’t going to play anymore and now that we have this team it’s great because I wasn’t ready to finish,” said McEvers.
After canceling their original first season due to COVID-19 and then heading straight for the offseason, the team were finally able to hit the dirt and kick off their first season. The team started playing earlier in April and with four straight losses the team finally tasted victory.
“First win for the program,” Bintner said. “In fact, in our first game I said what it felt like to be the first hit, how it felt to be the first this and that, getting our first win is awesome, and I hope great things to come. “
McEvers and pitcher Carson Sprader were two key players in the Emeralds’ first win.
“Carson is definitely our number one pitcher for a reason,” Bintner said. “So he’s supposed to give us all the things like we did today. So throw strikes, and did not give people a free base and walk a lot. He kept that shot very low which was great, and when you throw the strikes and people hit the ball your defense is better as well.
Sprader says running a game like this made him very happy.
“I just wanted to do strikes,” said Sprader.
On the offensive side, McEvers went two-for-two from the plate to help hit in some Emerald runs.
“You know we’ve been fighting for a while, we’ve got a close one,” McEvers said. “We had a few other boxes of hearts, and it was really good to have one”
You can see the returning Manistique Emeralds in action on Friday, April 30 at 4:00 p.m. as they welcome Sault Area High School into a Dual Junior Varsity program. The varsity team are set to strike the ground on May 6 as they travel to face North Central High School in Spalding.