Annual Crosstown Showdown brings baseball fans together, opens Lugnuts season

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Courtesy Lansing Lugnuts

Jackson Field, home of the Lugnuts minor league baseball team, hosted baseball fans in high spirits from across Lansing and East Lansing during this year’s Crosstown Showdown. The Lugnuts faced the Michigan State Spartans for the 17th annual exposition game. 

“It’s one of our jobs as coaches to put our guys in positions to make memories for themselves. This is one of those things that they’ll never forget,” said MSU’s head baseball coach Jake Boss Jr.

It’s not often that a college team gets to face a professional minor league team, but to Boss, it is a unique selling point of the MSU program, helping both with publicity and recruiting.

Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, radio broadcaster and media relations manager for the Lugnuts, considers the game to be an important part of the community, as well as an exciting game for the college athletes.

“Bringing together Lansing and East Lansing… I love that joining of everyone,” he said. 

The game drew a crowd of over 4,000 fans, including MSU students and Lansing residents alike. Early fans received a free green and white Lugnuts jersey, which blended the Lugnuts branding with MSU’s school colors.  

“There’s such an energy in the ballpark for the Crosstown Showdown that can’t be matched. If you love baseball, you’re thinking, ‘This is special,’” Goldberg-Strassler said.  

Although the Spartans lost to the Lugnuts 18-0, sophomore catcher Noah Bright was grateful for the memories and skills the Crosstown Showdown brought to him and his teammates. 

“It gives us an opportunity to learn and grow at the game. There aren’t very many teams out there that get to play a minor league team,”  Bright said. “It’s a great atmosphere and a ton of fun.”

The Spartans take on the Lugnuts at Jackson Field on Wednesday.

The professional players also learned a thing or two. The Crosstown Showdown is the first matchup of the year for the Lugnuts, and many of the players are new to Michigan, such as catcher C.J. Amaya and shortstop Dereck Salom. 

“One of the benefits of the game to the Lugnuts is that it welcomes them to Mid-Michigan,” Goldberg-Strassler said. 

The Spartans’ season isn’t over yet, with their next game against Western Michigan on April 17 at Jackson Field. The Lugnuts’ season is just beginning. Their next home game is April 23 against the Dayton Dragons.

Get tickets for upcoming games for both teams at or 

Sparty stands with Big Lug with the ‘Play Ball kids of the game’. Photo courtesy of Lugnuts staff photographer Avery Kotel.

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