Sikeston may soon get baseball fever

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Sikeston, Mo., received some exciting news from baseball enthusiasts Gary Jones and Randy Morgan recently.

Jones, a retired stockbroker living in Evansville, Ind., and Morgan, a retired economic development specialist for Kentucky, have a dream: to revive a Kentucky-Illinois-Tennessee League by next May. And they'd like to start with teams in Paducah and Fulton in Kentucky, Dyersburg in Tennessee and Sikeston.

So far, Sikeston is the only Missouri city on the list. There also are a couple of teams planned for undisclosed towns in Southern Illinois.

It's called the KIT League,. It existed from 1903 to 1955. Jones said he believes minor-league baseball is going through a revival period, and now is the time to bring the league back.

If he's right, it would be a boost for Sikeston.

First, it would be a wholesome, family activity the city could add to its offerings. Second, it would attract people from elsewhere to watch the games, and those folks would eat in Sikeston's restaurants and buy gasoline from its convenience stores. Third, even though the team isn't affiliated with Major League Baseball, Jones and Morgan believe it would attract some exciting players and be a group the city could wholeheartedly support.

Each team would have a 20-player roster, with each player receiving less than $1,000 a month and playing 80 games from May to August. Morgan said college players who didn't get drafted or players released from teams likely would be interested in trying out.

Morgan said he would anticipate 500 fans a game in Sikeston. Fans possibly could fill the 1,300-seat VFW Stadium on a good night. Already, American Legion games there draw healthy crowds.

Of the four cities initially selected for a KIT League team, Sikeston can be proud that it's the only one with a first-class stadium ready for action.

Sikeston Mayor Jerry Pullen said the city is open to the arrangement with the league, and that certainly seems like a wise decision.

Perhaps he looked to the north and saw the support the amateur baseball teams River Dogs and Capahas receive from Cape Girardeau fans. The faithful come out and cheer the men on week after week all summer long.

The KIT League owners are looking at Cape Girardeau as well, but not as closely because the city doesn't have a stadium large enough for a minor-league team to play.

But whether or not we ever see an "I-55 Series" between Sikeston and Cape Girardeau, we congratulate Sikeston for garnering the interest of the revived league.

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