Illini outfielder Doug Schumacher is playing for the Lake Erie Monarchs in the Great Lakes League this summer.
June 29, 2009
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - Hey, Illini Faithful!
This is Doug Schumacher checking in from Bowling Green, Ohio, where I'm playing for the Lake Erie Monarchs in the Great Lakes League this summer. I got the opportunity to play alongside Matt Dittman on the team as he returned for his second stint with the Monarchs. Although no other Illini are playing in our league, we do have two other players from Big Ten schools on our team, which always brings up stories about this past year's series and arguments about predictions for next season.
Our team is off to a decent start as we dropped our first conference game on Friday after coming off a four day break following our return from a two-week tour of Alaska. We traveled to play games in Anchorage, Kenai and Fairbanks. We went 4-8 while playing some really good competition, as the Alaskan Baseball League is known as one of the top summer leagues in the nation and is filled mostly with college players from west coast schools. This turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and provided some great sights from the ballparks we played at as snow-covered mountains usually surrounded the stadiums.
The best experience during the trip came from being able to take part in the 104th Midnight Sun Game celebrated on the summer solstice, and what happened to be Father's Day, as the game started at 10:30 p.m. and went until around 1 a.m. Usually, this would require artificial lighting, but this game has never used that as sunlight shines in Alaska until around 1:30 a.m. during the summer. The game drew nearly 4,500 spectators as fans piled into the stadium more than two hours before the first pitch. Of course, these fans were mostly for the Alaskan team, but just to take part in the game was an honor for me. We ended up losing the game 6-3, but will take home memories for a lifetime that most people will never be able to believe or see in person.
Personally, the Alaska trip was a great experience as I got to return to the field again after redshirting during the spring. So far, I've played in 10 of 13 games, as I missed three games in the middle of the trip due to illness. The best part of the trip for me was hitting a home run in my first at bat. I'm hitting around .300 so far and hope to keep improving upon that and other things the coaches have pointed out along the way in my first year on the Fighting Illini baseball team. It always helps to have an experienced player on your team, as Matt Dittman has pointed out several things and is always there to offer advice on whatever I need.
Lastly, I want to take a chance to congratulate Brandon Wikoff, Dominic Altobelli, Joe Bonadonna, and other Illini recruits on being selected in this year's draft! It's truly an honor to have played with them and I want to wish them luck with their new teams. I hope all of my other teammates are enjoying their summer seasons and continue their successes!