Chatham-Kent's Franchise Takes Shape

Chatham-Kent’s new semi-pro baseball team is getting ready to play ball.

Owner and team President Dom Dinelle, a former Montreal Expos amateur scout, introduced the management team for the new Chatham-Kent Intercounty Baseball League franchise at the Ewald Homes Field House in Chatham Friday morning. Included in the announcement were Baseball Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, who has been named as honourary president, and former Expos pitcher Bill Atkinson, who will serve as team ambassador.

The Intercounty Baseball League approved the Chatham-Kent franchise last month for the 2024 season, which will be played at Fergie Jenkins Field.

“We are very excited to come here and hopefully bring family and fun… yes it’s baseball but there’s going to be a lot of entertainment at the ballpark,” said Dinelle. “Chatham is a must. I don’t know why nobody showed up to Chatham [before us]. It’s a baseball place, we have legends, we have a nice facility with all those years of professional baseball.”

Mark Jackson, the executive assistant to the team president, said the franchise’s community mission is to provide Chatham-Kent residents with high-quality baseball, but also to become a team that all of CK can be proud of, both on and off the field.

“We want to lead by example in the community. We have started discussions to team up with the Rotary Club which would receive proceeds from our events that will be used to support youth sports in Chatham-Kent,” said Jackson.

It will cost around $400,000 each season to run the league within Chatham-Kent, making corporate sponsorship an important first step for the franchise.

“Not only will our club develop our players for higher level baseball, we want to be involved in the community year-round by developing relationships and partnerships with area businesses, non-profits and schools,” said Jackson.

The team’s general manager will be announced in the spring of 2023, according to Dinelle, with coach and player recruitment beginning shortly after that. Dinelle said he plans to hold player tryouts to include as many local Chatham-Kent athletes on the team as possible. However, scouts will also be looking at players in other provinces and internationally as well.

The management team said it hopes to bring between 15,000 to 20,000 fans to Fergie Jenkins Field throughout the inaugural season, with the team playing 20 to 25 home games.

A contest to name the team is also being launched in the coming days, with five finalists to be announced on January 20.