2017 Gateway Grizzlies Season Recap - Charlie Mager & Kyle Ater
The Gateway Grizzlies put together a productive and admirable campaign both on and off the field during the 2017 season.
Grizzlies' manager Phil Warren accomplished what only two other managers have done in Frontier League history; a mid-season series drew record attendance at GCS Credit Union Ballpark; a notable celebrity attended a game, and several players began and ended their Grizzlies career in spectacular fashion.
Phil Warren Reaches a Historic Mark
No moment was more fulfilling than when Grizzlies Manager Phil Warren reached 500 wins as skipper at GCS Credit Union Ballpark.
On Tuesday, May 23, Warren became the third manager in Frontier League history to reach 500 wins.
He ranks third all-time in Frontier League history in wins (527), second among active managers. He is behind Fran Riordan (625) and current Southern Illinois Miners manager Mike Pinto (580).
"Phil is a tremendous leader," Grizzlies General Manager Steve Gomric said. "His dedication to his team, the Grizzlies, and this sport are to be admired. I would like to congratulate him on achieving this milestone."
In his first two seasons with the Grizzlies, he led the team to a pair of playoff appearances including a franchise-record 64 wins during his inaugural season in 2007.
Record Attendances at the Ballpark
The Grizzlies finished with the third highest attendance in the Frontier League during 2017. In 48 games at GCS Credit Union Ballpark, the organization welcomed around 150,000 people to Sauget.
The most notable crowd attended the ballpark for 'All-American Weekend' between July 2 and 4. The Grizzlies showcased fireworks after these games to thousands of delighted fans. More than 17,000 baseball fanatics crowded GCS Credit Union Ballpark to see the Grizzlies win two out of three over the Windy City Thunderbolts.
The record crowds that weekend marked the highest grossing weekend series in Gateway Grizzlies history!
Grizzlies Welcome a Celebrity to the Ballpark
The Grizzlies supported many different causes this year with both returning and new promotions in the 2017 season.
The organization raised thousands of dollars to various local charities such as the Backstoppers, St. Louis County Police Welfare Association, Collinsville Food Pantry, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), American Heart Association, and many others.
While promotions like Superhero Night and Strikeout Hunger Wednesday successfully continued this season, the Grizzlies introduced Stand Up for Blue Night, which supported local police stations.
Along with community support, the organization also hosted new and fun promotions such as Pride Night, Weiner Wednesday and the Grizzlies Geek-end.
These promotions even caught the attention of celebrity George Lopez and former World Series Champion, Brad Thompson, who visited the ballpark during the season.
Grizzlies Player Breaks Single-Season Record
In his first season in the Frontier League, outfielder Matt Hearn broke the single-season record for stolen bases in team history on Sunday, August 20 when he swiped his 30th base of the season.
In addition to his 30 steals on the season, Hearn put up impressive offensive numbers with a .331 batting average (2nd highest on the team) and 98 hits in 74 games.
Grizzlies Veterans End Careers on High Notes
Several Grizzlies players played in their final Frontier League season in 2017, and made the most of those opportunities.
Outfielder/designated hitter Blake Brown missed most of the 2016 season due to injury, but came back in 2017 to hit 18 home runs, drive in 69 runs, and mustered up a .301 batting average.
Brown's performance earned him a spot at the 2017 Frontier League All-Star Game in Joliet, Illinois, as well as Frontier League Designated Hitter of the Year honors.
Two additional players, pitchers Vince Molesky and JaVaun West, performed as fierce competitors during the second half of the season, as they both played in their final season in the Frontier League.
Molesky racked up 108 (change this number after tonight's game) strikeouts (4th in Frontier League) this season and his 3.87 ERA currently ranks 17th in the league.
In addition, Molesky earned two pitcher of the week awards in 2017.
West finished the season with six consecutive quality starts, 102 strikeouts (second on the team) and earned the victory in his last appearance on Saturday, September 2.
West has the most career wins as a Grizzlie (30) and recorded 470 strikeouts throughout his career.
Gateway Hopeful for the Future
While some Gateway greats' careers are coming to an end, the careers of future greats are just beginning.
Although the Grizzlies' team record didn't reflect the accomplishments during the 2017 season, they are poised to make another playoff run in 2018 with young stars like Terry McClure, Matt Hearn, Mike Elwood and Joel McKeithan performing like champions and leaders.
Stay tuned for updates on the 2018 season and roster