Sunday marks the start of the 2017 Mon-Clair League baseball season, with four local teams ready to entertain fans this summer.
The Waterloo Millers will host the Columbia Saints for two games beginning at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the renovated Ss. Peter & Paul School Fields.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place starting at 11:15 a.m., with special recognition given to those who where instrumental in the renovation project. Former St. Louis Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog will throw out the first pitch.
The Whitey Herzog Youth Foundation donated funds toward the field makeover, with a “Legends of the Field” campaign organized by several involved in local baseball programs adding to the project.
Sponsored by Weir Chevrolet, free concessions will be provided. An attendance prize of four box seats to see the Cardinals will be awarded, also courtesy of Weir Chevrolet.
The Millers, under legendary manager Vern Moehrs, finished 18-8 last year. Waterloo returns several key players from last summer, including hitters Lucas Wetzler, Craig Ohlau, Brad Dillenberger, Alex Wittenauer and Keegan Baxmeyer, and pitchers Andy Galle, Jeremy Rettig, Noah Thaggard, Corey Vogel and Austin Nunnery.
New to the Millers this summer include former Gibault standout Chandler Purcell from Quincy University, current Gibault hitting and pitching star Trevor Davis, Lindenwood-Belleville’s Pat Gaul, SIUE’s Aaron Jackson and SWIC’s Mitchell Krebs.
Columbia finished 7-18 last season. Key players from last year included pitcher Johnny Lord and hitters Logan Mueth, Blake Thomas, Kyle Breitenstein, Brett Jungles and Adam Henke.
The Millstadt Green Machine finished 19-7 last season and won the Monroe Division. Now in his seventh year as manager, Norm Toenjes said the core of his team is returning this summer. This includes Tony and Cal Kossina, Luke and Mitch Matecki, Rob Beatty and Jared Mueth from a potent Green Machine lineup.
New to the team this year are former Fairview Heights Redbird Alex Quirin and former Hannibal-LaGrange University player Ryan Hurley. Tyler Burk returns as catcher after not playing last season.
Former Ole Miss hurler Brett Huber returns to the Millstadt pitching staff after missing last summer. Sidearm reliever Brian Lupa, who didn’t pitch last season due to arm issues, will bolster the Millstadt bullpen this summer, Toenjes said.
Millstadt opens the season with a Sunday doubleheader at Fairview Heights.
The Valmeyer Lakers finished 14-12 last year under longtime manager Dennis “Boog” Pieper. The Lakers will travel to Belleville for a Sunday doubleheader.
Valmeyer returns key offensive players Wes Degener, Matt Reinholz, Jon Wuelling, Mitch Meyer, Jeremiah Bergheger, Mark Nappier, Justin Lilly and AJ Skaer, along with pitchers Drew Bicklein and Jacob Hill.
New to the squad this summer are pitchers Ian Miller and Scott Early, both of St. Louis.
“We’ve got a lot of speed and pretty good defense, so we’ll be very competitive,” Pieper said.
Last season, the St. Louis Printers defeated the St. Louis Spikes to win the Mon-Clair League playoff championship.