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'You can feel the vibe in town': Chatham Barnstormers inch closer to inaugural season in IBL


The boys of summer are in Chatham, Ont.

Eighteen months after the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) approved the Maple City as its newest franchise, first pitch is near.

“It really is right around the corner,” said pitcher Aiden Ryan of Tecumseh about the season opener on May 17 in Brantford. “We come here [Fergie Jenkins Field] every Saturday, and get work in.”

The Barnstormers are currently preparing with batting and pitching work indoors for the upcoming season. Just a few feet away from the Ewald Homes Field House, the results of the nearly $200,000 in improvements to Fergie Jenkins Field are starting to take shape.

Stadium upgrades include a new pathway, LED lights and 575 bleacher seats on each side of home plate which will triple capacity. They were needed as the 600 season tickets have already sold out.

“I think every night we’re going to be packed,” said Harry Muir, Barnstormers general manager.

He continued, “We're adding some more bleachers and in right field [beyond the fence] we have like a right field section for families. We're going to have standing room down the right field line over by the bullpens. There's going to be people in here and it's going to be loud. It's going to be exciting.”

Two new sets of bleachers add an additional 575 seats at Fergie Jenkins Field in Chatham, Ont. The bleachers are part of a $195,000 renovation to the field as they prepare for the inaugural season in the Intercounty Baseball League. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

The construction didn’t stop there. A new clubhouse and training facility is being built on the west side of the fieldhouse.

“We're going to treat this more like a professional team, and like a minor league team,” said Muir.

He added, “I think we're the only club that has an indoor batting cage batting area right next to the field. Our new clubhouse is right here. I hope to help with recruiting next year, because with so many big leaguers in the past like Fergie Jenkins and Bill Atkinson, we're hoping that this little kids will have a dream, and this is kind of the feel of a big league ballpark.”

Back inside where they are getting their baseball work in, hometown native Spencer Marcus is ready to play in front of family and friends in the inaugural season.

“I don't think it's all set in yet,” said Marcus, an outfielder at Niagara University. “Maybe the first day, or first pitch the nerves will set in. It’s big vibes here in town, and it’s exciting to hear of all the people talking about it [the new team] and all the season tickets being sold. I'm pumped up.”

The Barnstormers season begins May 17 in Brantford, with the sold out home opener the following night on May 18. 

A new clubhouse is being constructed next to the current fieldhouse at Fergie Jenkins Field in Chatham, Ont. (Brent Lale/CTV News London) Top Stories

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