In the nearly 21 years since the Springfield Sultans packed their bags, moved to Downtown Lansing, and became the Lugnuts, the team has seen plenty of ups and downs. This is expected, as their existence as a Single-A team means they must deal with endless roster changes as players get shuffled from level to level as they attempt to make the big leagues. From an abysmal 54-84 season in 2009 to their two Midwest League championships in 1997 and 2003, the team’s on-field success has been unpredictable. It’s been much easier to track the Lugnuts’ success in a different area: community development. Since the former Oldsmobile Park was constructed in 1996, locals and team officials alike believe the team has brought more than the game of baseball to the city of Lansing.
Springtime for kids usually means the ending of school and the start of baseball and softball season. Mother nature is not always kind, and rain and snow leaves fields unmanageable and unplayable for children and could have an affect on the season as a whole. According to the Michigan Precipitation and Great Lakes Proximity about 60 percent of the annual total is recorded during May-October, which would include baseball and softball season. The waterlogged grass would prevent some games from being played and could take away from the children’s experience. According to Tom Hamp, director of baseball for the DeWitt youth baseball league, last year’s conditions weren’t very optimal to play ball.
It’s the crack of the bat on a warm summer night. It’s the smell of a ballpark hot dog floating through the air. It’s 12,000-plus chanting “Go Nuts” in unison. It’s the professional sports team of the capital city. It’s Lansing Lugnuts baseball.
One of the harshest Michigan winters on record is causing games to be canceled and forcing practices indoors as Holt High’s spring sport season begins. The Rams’ coaches and athletes can do nothing but wait for field conditions to improve. “We’re just being patient, waiting for the snow to melt,” said Holt Athletic Director Rick Schmidt. “All other schools in the area are going through the same difficulties.”
With Holt’s spring break scheduled for April 7-11, most teams should be preparing to play their first game this week. Instead, swamped fields and inclement weather have already forced cancellations.