Jun 30, 2020 11:34 AM
EDWARDSVILLE - A Monday night game at GCS Ballpark in Sauget that was originally supposed to allow high school players one last chance to play together after the regular baseball season was canceled turned into a major event. Jim Cromer, one of the organizers, couldn't be any prouder of the results.
Edwardsville and Granite City faced each other Monday night at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, the home of the Frontier League's Gateway Grizzlies, in a 7:35 p.m. first pitch. The game wasn't officially sanctioned by the Illinois High School Association, but the support for the contest went beyond anyone's fondest dreams.
"What started out to be an opportunity for kids to play one last game together turned into a big event," said Cromer, the chief organizer of the game, and father of Edwardsville infielder Logan Cromer. The idea started in the front office of the Grizzlies, and blossomed quickly.
"It was Steve Gomric and the Grizzlies who came up with the idea to give local high schools a chance to play a game together after the season was officially canceled," Cromer said. "The only issue was if that if we were going to have games because of the COVID-19 virus. Fortunately, Illinois is moving into a new phase (Phase Four) that will allow us to play this game. Unfortunately, the IHSA still has restrictions in place that won't allow the regular high school coaches to be included."
To that end, volunteer coaches have stepped in, and Bill Herman and former Grizzlies player Shaun Seibert coached the Tigers, while Chris Fiala coached the Warriors in the game. It's something that Cromer is looking forward to.
The pregame ceremonies started at 7 p.m. and featured retiring Granite City school superintendent Jim Greenwald, a former Warrior baseball standout, throwing out the first pitch.
"I'm real excited for that," Cromer said about Greenwald throwing out the first ball. "A guy who's dedicated his time and energy to the kids of Granite City deserves to be honored, and I'm glad we're able to do so."
And as part of the opening ceremonies, the seniors on both teams and their families will be introduced and honored, and the National Anthem will be dedicated to Edwardsville senior Paul Kampwerth and his family. Kampwerth is currently in basic training with the Illinois Air National Guard, and won't be able to play.
It'll be the first game at GCS Ballpark this year, as the Frontier League on Wednesday officially canceled the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the game offered a sense of normalcy and a chance to see baseball again in a great ballpark like GCS.
"It was the closest thing to real baseball we've had around here in a long time," Cromer said. "It's a beautiful park that allowed these kids a big stage to do what they love to do for their families, friends, and communities."
"A lot of talented players on both teams will play ball in college," Cromer said. "So it was a great send-off with a big crowd and a fun evening."back