The LumberKings may not draw the biggest crowds in the Midwest League or have the flashiest stadium, but the ones that fill the seats night after night are true, dedicated fans.
And they’ve proven that throughout this current postseason run.
The LumberKings have brought tremendous crowds with them every stadium they’ve gone to, especially for the Western Division Championship series in Cedar Rapids.
The first game took place in Clinton and drew 669 fans.
The second game was in Cedar Rapids on a Sunday afternoon. Although Cedar Rapids is over four times the size of Clinton in population, that game drew 690.
And don’t forget that about 75 of those fans were fans that made the 80 mile trek from Clinton.
“That’s a lot to ask for, especially going into a week day,” Clinton catch JD Osborne said about the roadtrip. “It’s awesome, it’s super cool. We’ve all built relationships with the fans, and there’s a core group, but we like to interact with them when we can.”
The throng of fans dressed in black and green gathered for a picture before the second game of the Cedar Rapids series, one that can be seen on the Clinton Herald Sports twitter page. They had just one answer for why they made the trip.
“It’s a way of life.” Joyce Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson is a well-known fan who inhabits the third base side of the field and has for decades. It didn’t even cross her mind to do anything else that Sunday afternoon.
“We know that baseball is almost over for the year,” Wilkerson said. “This is one of our last chances to see it live unless you go to the Majors. And Minors is so much better.”
Plus, the team has been fantastic with the fans this year. Everything from Manager Mike Jacobs leaning over the wall to give superfans Delany and Alivia a hug to the bullpen’s interaction with the third baseline fans, it’s been an exceptional team to work with this year.
“I think any time you can bring a championship anywhere is huge,” Mike Jacobs said after winning the division in Cedar Rapids. “I am happy four our group, the organization and the city of Clinton and I hope we are bringing excitement to the city.
“We had a ton of fans here [in Cedar Rapids] and I think that says a lot about the city.”
It does say a lot about the city. That same loyalty can be felt every game in the atmosphere at NelsonCorp Field. General Manager Ted Tornow knows that he has something special up there on the riverfront, something that can’t be duplicated without the rich history that Clinton baseball has.
“We have generations of fans that have come through these turnstiles,” Tornow said. The current home of the LumberKings opened in 1937. “We’re the oldest team in the league, so we have something that a Great Lakes, a Bowling Green or a newer franchise doesn’t. We’re about tight knit a group here as anywhere.”
Plus, the club is community owned. The board of directors has members who have served for multiple decades, and they’re the same people you find at the front gate, in the beer stands, or just enjoying games in the green box seats all throughout the grandstand.
“There’s something about our situation here that stands out,” When you think about it ... where else do you find that?”
Now, the LumberKings are back in Clinton for a final time this season. Down 2-0, they’ll try to salvage the best-of-five series for a shot at the Midwest League crown.
Either way, they know that their fans are there to back them.
And either way, it was certainly a fun season for the Clinton fans, who would have enjoyed it win or lose.
Longtime fan Sally Winter says it perfectly: “ I’ve loved baseball all my life and I can’t think of anything else to do in my hometown.”