SIKESTON -- After a one-year hiatus from the baseball diamond the Sikeston Bulls will be returning to action this spring.
With ownership troubles being the main concern for not fielding a team last season, this year John Crockett, a Sikeston native, has taken over ownership of the hometown KIT League team.
"Being from Sikeston, I thought it would be great to be able to buy the team," said Crockett. "My older brother was a baseball player in the Pony League in Sikeston and I just thought it would have been nice if there were something around like this when he was that age. I think if there would have been, he might have been able to go further."
With this being his first endeavor involving a KIT League team and after the year off, Crockett knows there will be some obstacles to overcome. Raising attendance tops that list.
"I think we're going to have a few hurdles in getting interest in the team again," he said. "I'd like to see attendance go way up. I don't care if we lose some money. I just think if we could get four to 500 people at each game it would be a successful season."
One way that Crockett will try and boost attendance will be to lower ticket prices. Single game tickets will be $4 a person while kids tickets will be $2 each. Season tickets will be $25 for kids and $50 for adults.
"We're going to make tickets as inexpensive as possible," Crockett said. "We're going to try and get our advertisers to pay the bulk of the expenses."
To go along with peaking local interest, the Bulls are working on creating a mascot for the upcoming season. Crockett said that it has not been finalized yet, but deciding the new mascot's name and look might depend on local fans' creativity.
There will also be some type of entertainment at every home game along with free giveaways and lots of merchandise to purchase.
As far as the team on the field, Crockett said that returning general manager Fred Johnson and a newly acquired manager/coach CJ Zeller has already put together a very competitive team.
Zeller has been the assistant coach for the Farmington Firebirds and also the assistant coach at Central Methodist University.
"He was a very obvious choice for me," Crockett said about hiring Zeller. "He is very knowledgeable about the game of baseball and his life kind of revolves around baseball. Ultimately, Fred Johnson, who fortunately agreed to come back, made the final decision and I think they are going to work out well together."
"He's going to be fine," Johnson said of Zeller. "Everything I've heard about the gentleman is great. I think he will be able to handle everything. Right now we're on the same accord."
The Bulls, who finished with a 18-32 record in 2007, ended that year in fifth place out of six teams.
"We've got some good ones," said Johnson of this year's squad. "We really think that we got some good ones that we think will be able to compete within our division and possibly a championship."
Scott Droddy from Sikeston, Oran's Cody Campbell, Scott City's Ryan Modglin and Sikeston native Lance Rhodes are just a few of the local talent planning to don the Bulls uniform.
Other areas in which some of the future Bulls come from include Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.
"I wanted a good mix of local players along with players from out of the area," Johnson said. "We want to represent this area and put a good show on for the fans."
With a slew of young talent coming into the area, Johnson said that housing these players will be difficult without the help of the community.
"We're looking for housing for players," said Johnson. "We had outstanding results from the past and we're going to need extra housing because of a bigger roster."
If anyone has any interest in housing players of would like more information you can call Johnson at 472-4264 or 931-1032 after 4 p.m.
"This is something that the city needs to support," Johnson said. "All of these other towns do it and I would love to see the city of Sikeston step up and support this team. These young men give up their summer to come out and play the game for the fans.
"We're producing players. You may be seeing some possible American League and National League talent on the field."
Crockett's ultimate goal this season is simply for the people of Sikeston to enjoy Bulls baseball.
"I just hope that all the people in town can come out and see some good baseball and have a good time."
The Bulls' first game of the year will be a road game on May 29 against the Union City Greyhounds. They will make their way back to Sikeston on June 1 for their home-opener to take on the Fulton Railroaders.
To go along with the Bulls return, the KIT league recently added the West Kentucky Mavericks to give the league an even eight teams. The eight teams are divided into two divisions, the Eastern and the Western. The Bulls, the Firebirds, the Greyhounds and the Railroaders make up the Western Division.
The Eastern Division is composed of the Marion Bobcats, the Owensboro Oilers, the Tradewater Pirates and the Mavericks.
The KIT League consists of collegiate athletes in a wood-bat setting. The Kitty League was founded in 1903.