This is the first season for the Sikeston Bulls in the college wood bat K.I.T. League, replacing the Bootheel Bombers who made their home in Sikeston last summer.
"With everything being new," said Compton, "we are trying to separate ourselves and are really considering this our first season. Last year, the Bombers were here, but a lot of folks didn't know what was going on. We have focused our energy on making people of aware of what is going on with some of the promotions that we are doing."
It has been slow going for Compton and the timing could not have been worse to start a baseball club.
"We got started in February," said Compton. "We started behind the 8-ball because the other teams, with the exception of Owensboro (Ky.), have had the entire off-season to prepare for this season. We have tried to cram about five months of work, into three months."
The Bulls will begin the season with an exhibition game on May 30 at 7:05 p.m. against the Riverdogs, an area amateur summer baseball team. The first regular season game will be on June 1 at home against the Farmington Firebirds at 7:05 p.m. All home games will be played at VFW Stadium.
Compton has spent the last five years working in Jackson, Tenn., for the Double-A West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx. Compton has considerable experience with the sports marketing side of the business and is trying to form relationships in the community.
"I am from out of state as is the owner and we didn't want to look like the outsiders coming in and looking for money," said Compton. "Our goal is to be self-sufficient. The money we generate through sponsorships, ticket sales and merchandise sales can just take care of the expenses of having the players here, that is all we are looking to do. We would love to have a little money left over at the end of the year to be able to do something for the stadium. We will try to do something at the stadium to just make it a little better for the high school and legion to use. Whether the Bulls are here 10 years from now or not, we want to do something to make a lasting impression."
For Compton, the Bulls look to be a community partner and are trying to gain the trust of the local community.
"With what happened with the Bootheel Bombers last year," said Compton, "like I have said before, I didn't want to go into businesses with my hand out looking for money. First, I wanted to build some trust up and let people know what we were going to do. The last two weeks we have really started our marketing push. With Andrew (Lambert) and Michael (Roslen) getting started on Monday, we have had a great week."
Lambert and Roslen are interns this season and are Sikeston natives. Compton stated that they have brought a lot to the organization in only their first week of work.
"The last two weeks we have been working on trying to get sponsors for the team," said Compton. "The first month or so I worked on trying to get players for the team. Also worked on housing, transportation and other administrative issues done. We now have two full-time interns for SEMO, Andrew and Michael. Lambert ran track for SEMO and is a Sikeston native as is Roslen. Andrew and Michael have been a great help to the organization since they are from here and know people. I think that makes a little difference."
The league consist of college players who are looking to improve their skills throughout the summer. With 51 games, 26 home and 25 away, the players will get valuable experience in a improving league.
"The league as a whole is getting better and better with top notch talent," said Compton. "Fulton (Ky.) has a roster full of Division I guys. They have one kid from the University of Tennessee. Union City (Tenn.) has two players from the University of Rhode Island, two players from Indiana University and four guys from the University of Memphis. The league has expanded this year from four to six teams. Their is a chance throughout the league that some player will be drafted by Major League Baseball in June."
The roster for the Bulls has been set with players from junior colleges such as Three Rivers, Mineral Area, Holmes (Miss.), and Vincennes (Ind.). Four-year universities like Hannibal-LaGrange, Harding (Ark.), UM-St. Louis and William Woods all have players playing for the Bulls. Compton has acknowledge that in the future more consideration will be for local area players.
"Eventually, we would like the makeup of the team to consist a third of local talent," said Compton. "We got started on that too late this season. The reason that the league has great potential is the location of all the teams in this league. To play at a high level in the college wood bat, you have to go to the Cape Cod League up in the Northeast or up to the Northwoods League. We are located right in the middle, which is a short drive for a number of Big 12 schools, the SEC, OVC and we have a number of junior colleges in the area."
Compton not only envisions good baseball, but a minor league-type atmosphere with entertainment being a key selling point for the fans.
"We are going to bring good baseball to the Sikeston area," said Compton, "but we are also going to go after the entertainment value around the game also. We have already scheduled different giveaways throughout the season. The exhibition game on May 30 we teamed up with the Sikeston Humane Society. A dollar for every ticket sold that game will go towards the humane society to help support them. We hope to at some point to get something with the YMCA to help out their renovation project. We are going to be looking to team up with some different organizations to help with charitable causes around town. We also love to do something with the Kenny Rogers Center."
The Bulls hope to keep bringing the fans in and are optimistic about attendance in the first season of the Bulls.
"We think we have an attainable goal of getting a couple of a hundred people a game," said Compton. "We would like to get a good start with a couple hundred a night and then try to snowball from there. It seems like people around town are really optimistic and looking forward to the season. We have been selling ads and signage and people are just calling to see how they can help. Two families in town are going to host three of our players. We hope to get the host family program going, because the most successful teams have that firmly in place. It will take some time to get the program going, because the hope is that the family will have a good experience and want to host again next season."
As for the players, many will try to find part-time work for their full-time dreams.
"The players are college players and we can't pay them," said Compton. "What we do is make sure their housing is taken care of, we supply all the wooden bats, uniforms and transportation to the road games. Only thing the players are responsible for is food and spending money. The YMCA is going to let the players workout all summer long."
Compton said they will also try organizing some camps for youth players in the area. "We would like to not only do the camps in Sikeston, but also in other areas around the region," Compton said. "This will be a chance for the guys to make a little extra money.
"Perception is everything. I am going to put these guys on a pedestal We are going to have the players out in the community trying to make a difference. The players are going to be at the gates after the game thanking everybody for attending. The only way this works is that the people in the area have to take ownership and get the connection to the team early on."
Compton is excited about the upcoming season and has high hopes for the area and that it will embrace the K.I.T. League for many years to come.
"I know this area is a sports area, said Compton. "It is a real good baseball area, has knowledgeable fans who love to see good baseball. I saw how Sikeston came out and supported the basketball team in the state tournament. I am from a small town like Sikeston and that is why I like this area so much, it is a lot like where I'm from. They support the local teams and usually have more people in the visiting stands than the home team." The Bulls credo is simple, give them a chance and you will not be disappointed.
"If we can get you in, you are going to come back," said Compton. "If a family comes out to see the Bulls, they are going to have a good time and we know they are going to come back. When the family is half-way home and they don't know who we played or who won, then I know we did our job."
|May 30||7:05 p.m.||Humane Society Night|
$1 from every ticket purchased will go to support the Sikeston Area Humane Society
|June 1||7:05 p.m||T-Shirt giveaway|
First 200 fans will receive a free Sikeston Bulls T-Shirt courtesy of the Standard Democrat
|June 4||3:05 p.m.||Church Bulletin Day|
Present a church bulletin and get one free admission for each one you buy for that day's game.
|June 5||7:05 p.m.||"MO" appearance|
The loveable mascot from showmecoupons.com, "MO" will appear
|June 9||7:05 p.m.||Montgomery Bank night|
First 200 fans will receive a Sikeston Bulls item courtesy of Montgomery Bank
|June 11||3:05 p.m.||Church Bulletin Day|
|June 16||7:05 p.m.||"MO" appearance|
|June 17||7:05 p.m.||Cap giveaway|
First 200 fans will receive a free Sikeston Bulls cap courtesy of Countywide Insurance
|June 18||3:05 p.m.||Church Bulletin Day|
|June 19||7:05 p.m.||College Night|
Present a valid college ID and get one free admission for each one you buy for that day's game
|June 26||7:05 p.m.||College Night|
|July 8||7:05 p.m.||Family Night|
For every adult ticket you buy, you get a child ticket free
|July 17||7:05 p.m.||College Night|
|July 18||7:05 p.m.||$2 Tuesday|
All tickets are $2 for this game
|July 24||7:05 p.m.||College Night|
|July 25||7:05 p.m.||$2 Tuesday|
|July 29||7:05 p.m.||Fan Appreciation Day|
For every adult ticket you buy, you get a child ticket free
|July 30||3:05 p.m.||Church Bulletin Day|