Frontier League doubleheader was a rare baseball occurrence

Frontier League doubleheader was a rare baseball occurrence

CHICAGOLAND – Scheduled doubleheaders rarely occur in professional baseball these days.

It’s nearly unheard of to have two teams play a pair of games in the same day at two different stadiums.

The last time it happened in Major League Baseball was July 8, 2000, when the Mets and Yankees faced off twice in a day-night, home-and-home doubleheader. The Yankees won both those games – the first at Shea Stadium and then the nightcap at Yankee Stadium – by identical 4-2 scores. It was the first time since 1903 that two MLB teams played two games in different stadiums on the same day.

A pair of Frontier League teams played a scheduled, day-night, home-and-home doubleheader on Wednesday.

The Joliet Slammers and Windy City Thunderbolts first played at Joliet Route 66 Stadium with a scheduled 10 a.m. start. Following Joliet’s 6-5 win, the two teams packed up and moved 26 miles to the east for a 6 p.m. tilt at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood, Ill.

“It feels like travel ball,” Slammers infielder Justin Garcia, who was a draft pick of the Houston Astros in 2015, told me following Wednesday’s first game in Joliet. “You play a game; you got a big break then you go somewhere else to play. It’s crazy. It’s funny.

“I don’t think I’ll ever do this again… It’s definitely an experience.”

Garcia drove in a pair of runs in Wednesday’s nightcap to help Joliet (18-16) sweep the doubleheader and win its eighth in a row.

Wednesday’s home-and-home double-dip isn’t new to the Slammers. They did the same with the Schaumburg Boomers, who are also in the Chicago area, several years ago. While it may not be new to the Slammers club; it is new to the players currently on Frontier League rosters.

Tim Zier

“Throughout my career, I’ve played in many doubleheaders, but never one where you have three to four hours in between,” Thunderbolts second baseman Tim Zier told me in Joliet. “It’s something different.”

Zier, a 2014 draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies, is in his fifth professional season and third with the Thunderbolts (11-22). Zier said he had never played a game that started at 10 a.m. prior to his first season in the Frontier League.

“We have a few (early) starts and they’re called kids days and a bunch of kids come out an it’s a lot of fun – which, in the end, it’s all about the kids and the fans enjoying the game,” said Zier, who left San Diego State as the school’s all-time hits leader. “It’s a grind in the morning, but sometimes waking up early in the morning is fun because you see all these kids out here.”