LumberKings

There is a lot of uncertainty and animosity surrounding Minor League Baseball right now.

There are 42 teams facing it directly after being noted by Major League Baseball that they are one of the teams to be cut in a proposed realignment plan. The Clinton LumberKings – along with two other Midwest League teams – are on that list.

For that reason, I felt it was important to start sharing some of our local stories that live and breathe in NelsonCorp Stadium, surrounding one specific topic: What do the minor leagues mean to you.

We need to remember two things. One – we still have a concrete and guaranteed 2020 season that the LumberKings staff is preparing for. Don’t forget that one of the biggest things you can do for the club is buy tickets, go to games, and continue to make memories.

Two – we have a wonderful baseball team and infinite memories and relationships that have been formed because of it. We need to remember the positives, and remember that we have a voice in that we can share those positives.

That’s the goal of the LumberKing Loyals story series is to share those stories from our fans, board members, staff and more. If you have a story, memory or special connection to NelsonCorp Field or to the Clinton LumberKings, please reach out to me at ckuehn@clintonherald.com so we can find a time to talk and share your story.

Here is Patrick Kinas’ story:

As the team that launched my broadcasting career faces an unduly uncertain future, my mind has been flooded with memories of my time in the booth at Riverview Stadium [NelsonCorp Field]:

The nerves I had before my first game, started; no-hitters being thrown by Clinton and Burlington in the same doubleheader; Chad Fonville leading the team to the playoffs and then a Los Angeles Dodger a little more than a year later; pitching coach Scipio Spinks climbing onto the dugout roof, into the stands toward the press box to have “Wild Thing” cut off from our PA system after one of OUR pitchers threw 12 balls in a row (PA was a first-time fill-in that night and our pitcher was just back from Tommy John surgery); interviewing Jimmy Piersall before a game, then wondering how I could air it based on the many off-color comments he made; the floods; my friends Jim Hlawek and Jim Keck (and me) dressing up for Elvis Night and “performing” on the field with plastic instruments (the ladies in attendance paid for their beer all night); the many players who are still friends of mine to this day; being accidentally left behind after a game at Quad City my first year (they weren’t used to a broadcaster covering road games yet and they lost and manager Jack Mull was not in a particularly good mood); the small, yet dedicated fan base and Board of Directors; to the many Clinton natives who became such integral parts of my life.

The list of memories is endless.

I’m hurting for the fans, the game day employees, the businesses who support these team and the front offices of all of these baseball cities who have been unwittingly placed in the cross hairs of this plan, hurtling their futures, careers and families into uncertainty.

Without my start in Clinton, I’d likely be a lawyer or financial analyst. Thing is, I didn’t grow up wanting to be a lawyer or financial analyst. I wanted to broadcast in the major leagues.

Instead, the Clinton Giants (soon to be LumberKings), and Gene Kauffman owner of KCLN took a chance on an aspiring kid in grad school who wanted to start his dream.

Without Clinton, I wouldn’t have called the past two Olympic Games. Without Clinton, I wouldn’t be working for NBC Sports Network. Without Clinton, I wouldn’t be at Triple-A with the Durham Bulls. Without Clinton, none of those next career dominoes would’ve been given the chance to topple over.

Without Clinton, my life wouldn’t have fulfilled those dreams I had when I was seven.

Without Clinton, I’m likely sitting at my desk thinking about what might have been.

Without Clinton, I’m sad to think of another broadcaster’s dream that won’t be given a chance to be realized if baseball is uprooted after nearly 100 years.

Without Clinton, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Without Clinton, baseball would be making a grievous mistake.