By Greg Halbleib
NORMAL – A former big league pitcher is the new head coach of the Normal CornBelters as the team moves into the Prospect League.
Rick White was a relief pitcher for 12 Major League seasons with 10 teams, including the Cardinals and White Sox, between 1994 and 2007. He helped start the Champion City Kings, also in the Prospect League, in his hometown of Springfield, Ohio and operated the team for the last five years.
White said he is using his experience of putting together a Prospect League team for the past five season as well as his professional baseball connections to develop the CornBelters roster.
“I’ve already reached out to a bunch of my former teammates who now have kids in college,” White said. “I’ve got three committals coming right now from former players and I’m waiting for a fourth. We’re going to try to fill this with some ex-Major League Baseball players’ kids along with local talent.”
White said he will focus on his team’s efforts on and off the field.
“Learn how to play with each other and learn how to read the game,” White said as he listed teaching as one of his biggest goals. “Learn how to be part of a community instead of just being part of a community, compared to going to a school, throwing on a uniform and going out and playing 50 games and then coming back home.”
White said the college baseball players who will be in CornBelters uniforms will have a positive approach to the game.
“You’re going to have a totally different attitude from the players,” White predicted. “The players are going to be fun to watch. They’re going to be hustling, they’re going to be running in and out. They’re going to be fan-friendly. They’re going to be coming up to club events, they’re going to meet the fans, they’re going to be intertwined with everything going on in the city.”
White said he decided quickly to come to Normal after seeing the opportunities for the team, but his selling point was the Corn Crib, joking that he would actually have an office here.
The CornBelters left independent professional baseball after spending the first nine seasons in the Frontier League, announcing last month that the team would have new ownership and move to the Prospect League, considered one of the top three summer collegiate baseball leagues in the country.
Greg Halbleib can be reached at email@example.com.