Denfeld News

June 2, 2009
Duluth News Tribune

Huskies' GM optimistic team will gel as lineup comes together
By Mark Warner

Craig Smith is entering his seventh season as general manager of the Duluth Huskies and expects some competitive baseball to come out of Wade Stadium as the summer progresses.

The Huskies had their home opener Monday night against the St. Cloud River Bats, coming off a road trip to Battle Creek, Mich., and Waterloo, Iowa.

“We split our opening road trip, but we haven’t even had our whole lineup together yet,” Smith, 51, said. “There were over 1,000 players that tried out for the squad this year; we took our pick from that and we’re pretty happy. There’s still seven of our best prospects that haven’t reported to Duluth, so things are only going to get better as the summer goes on.”

This delayed turnout is typical of the Northwoods League, as teams must wait for colleges to finish their playoff schedules. Despite its early unpredictability, Smith says the league is among the best in America for grooming professional prospects.

“This is the real deal here. Our guys are using real wooden bats and the big league style baseballs. A lot of the hits you’d see in a college game are easy outs here, and that really gets these guys ready for the next level.

“We’ve sent 36 guys to minor league careers from the Huskies and two of them are in the majors. College coaches and players see that and realize that for summer baseball, the Northwoods is really as good as it gets.”

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Northwoods baseball is an increased emphasis on entertainment, especially for families. Smith said that while he was happy with the turnout for the sea-son’s first game on a chilly Monday night, attendance, like the team’s play, will only improve as warmer weather approaches.

“We really emphasize the entertainment aspect of the game as well as trying to get the best ballclub on the field as possible. We like to get kids involved and our prices are pretty recession-proof for families. If we can put a good team on the field, we know people will get a good taste and want to come back for more.”

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