Mankato MoonDogs finish unusual season

Mel Stramm ® Sports Editor |

Summer baseball has a rich tradition for college players and the towns that host summer leagues. However, in order to ensure the safety of players and fans, Mankato MoonDogs baseball, which wrapped up last week, looked a little different this summer. 

The team’s roster included four players from Minnesota State University, Mankato; pitcher Hunter Conrad, second baseman Mickey Gottschalk, catcher Beau Schumacher and outfielder Jack Waletich.

The Northwoods League put teams together in groups to minimize exposure. The MoonDogs were in the Minnesota/Iowa “pod” with the Willmar Stingers, Rochester Honkers, St. Cloud Rox and the Waterloo Bucks. The season spanned July 1 – Aug. 20. 

Northwoods League President and Commissioner Gary Hoover said, “This regional pod will bring the special brand of Northwoods League baseball back to those communities, but in a way that is consistent with everyone’s goal of doing so in a safe manner.”

The MoonDogs put regulations in place to allow fans to enjoy the games. That meant social distancing between the grandstand and other areas of Franklin Rogers Ballpark as well as keeping certain seats and areas vacant.  

On July 29, the Minnesota Department of Health then allowed for a total of 375 fans into the ballpark for the remainder of the season. 

With a detailed COVID readiness plan, MoonDogs staff prepared for these spectators with new cleanliness policies that included spraying down the ballpark, adding hand sanitizing stations and enforcing a mask requirement. 

This also meant complete removal of the “Kids Zone” and prohibiting “spitting” items, such as sunflower seeds, gum and peanuts. Staff had their temperatures taken at shift start. Also, players were not allowed to give away balls or hold autograph sessions.

Photo by Mansoor Ahmad/MSU Reporter via Mankato MoonDogs.

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