By: Skye Gillespie
High school baseball, Rader Family Farms donuts, trick or treating and a fun time for the whole family, what more could you ask for?
Numerous high school baseball players around central Illinois brought their talents to the Corn Crib this fall. They also played at McGraw Park, O’Neil Park and even Duffy Bass Field at Illinois State University.
The Corn Crib had competitive baseball on the weekends throughout the fall, as the Kernels Fall League came to the park. These games provided fun for everyone involved, and instead of Friday Night Lights, we called it Saturday Night Spikes.
18 games were played over six weekends between the six teams involved in the KFL. Five teams returned from our Kernels Collegiate League, but a new team joined the bunch this year. The Bobcats, Blue Caps, Howlers, Cornbelters, and the fan favorite Ground Sloths all returned, and the Toasted Raviolis (T-Ravs) filled the void to become the sixth team.
On top of the competitive baseball, four of the Saturday nights featured fun themes for the audience to engage in. The themed nights were: Blackout Night, Harvest Night, Breast Cancer Awareness Night, and Corny’s Costume Party.
The KFL began their season with Blackout Night. This was the first edition of many great Saturday Night Spikes to come, and it was great to have baseball back at the Corn Crib.
From pumpkin tic tac toe, to haystack treasure hunts for the kids, to having a cold beer while listening to country music for the adults, Harvest Night had a little of everything. The Corn Crib even sold Rader Farms doughnuts. Harvest Night really made the KFL feel like the fall league it was meant to be.
Breast Cancer Awareness Night featured some unfortunate weather, but baseball was still played. The Cornbelters teamed up with the American Cancer Society as part of their Real Men Wear Pink campaign. Players of the KFL wore pink special edition jerseys, and they were auctioned off afterwards. All of the proceeds went to the American Cancer Society, and jerseys. Various groups came out to the park to support the cause, and it was a great time for everybody.
Corny’s Costume Party was the last night of the KFL season at the Corn Crib, and featured a packed house. Kids 12 and under received a free ticket, and the park was filled with crazy costumes. During the fifth-inning, there was a parade on the field for everyone wearing a costume. You could look over at first-base and see a banana, or you could see a princess rounding third-base and heading home. The Bloomington High School Dance Team had the “Spookiest Suite,” while other local groups joined in the fun as well. Corny’s Costume Party gave participants the opportunity to have two Halloween’s in one year!
There were standout performances by all of the teams, but the goal of the KFL was just to give out an opportunity to play baseball. At the end of the day, wins and losses did not matter. Playing baseball in a unique environment, with walk-up songs and your photo on the scoreboard was a lot of fun for the kids.
Kernels Fall League could not have happened without Play9 Sports, BNBA, the players and coaches, the amazing fans and everyone else who helped make this an unforgettable fall.