Envisioning the future

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West Michigan Whitecaps, LMCU Ballpark announce extensive changes to ballpark

Lew Chamberlin had a vision 37 years ago, a vision for professional baseball in West Michigan. He worked with Denny Baxter and the two men founded the West Michigan Whitecaps, with Opening Day coming back in 1994.

In those days, the Whitecaps played in a bare-bones ballpark then known as Old Kent Park. There was a small scoreboard, the bullpens were on the warning track in foul ground down the baselines. There wasn’t much to the ballpark, but enough for the fans to enjoy professional baseball — and to fulfill the vision Chamberlin and Baxter had in 1984.

The Saints’ new arm

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Ionia’s Ethan Bowen signs with Aquinas College to continue baseball career

Since he started walking, Ethan Bowen said he’s always had a ball in his hand.

A lifelong love of athletics has seen Bowen wear many jerseys for the Ionia Bulldogs throughout his high school career. Bowen is a member of the varsity football team and was a wrestler for the Bulldogs before deciding to take his skills to the hardwood on the varsity basketball team this season.

New kids on the ’Caps

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Whitecaps Jung, Jobe enjoy early days in professional baseball

Jace Jung was feeling the heat while watching this year’s Major League Baseball draft … literally speaking.

Yes, the potential to be a first-round draft pick in one of the longest drafts in professional sports had the San Antonio, Texas, native anxious. There was potential he was going to be a top-10 draft pick, too, so that had him feeling it.

The ‘Real Deal’

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West Michigan Whitecaps pitcher Dylan Smith remains explosive in return from injured list

For making his name as a pitcher, Dylan Smith has some pretty good hands as a wide receiver. Who knows, he could have played for Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide football team while he was there if he chose.

Before games he doesn’t start, Smith is typically one of the guys on the field toward the end of pregame workouts out in a pass pattern, running routes and hauling in towering passes from one of his West Michigan Whitecaps teammates.

Whitecaps partner with Grand Rapids Whitewater to educate, restore rapids

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Why would the West Michigan Whitecaps change their name and logo, even for one night?

For one, Minor League Baseball has presented an initiative to allow teams to change their identities several times throughout the season. The Whitecaps have changed to Las Calaveras de West Michigan to celebrate Hispanic Heritage. They’ve changed to the Beer City Bung Hammers to celebrate Grand Rapids’ deep beer pedigree (also, a bung hammer is the specialized tool to seal and unseal the bung on the side of a barrel when aging craft beer).

Whitecaps honor Grand Rapids Black Sox with Negro League Appreciation Night

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Johnny Walker began playing baseball at the age of 4. His uncle, Ted Raspberry, owned the local baseball team and taught his nephew how to play the game.

“I grew up playing baseball with him,” Walker said. “He was my mentor.”

Tri County’s Nate Lovell leaves lasting mark on Vikings baseball, signs with Muskegon Community College to continue career

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Nate Lovell received an offer to continue his football career at Alma College.

Alma College has been quite a popular destination this year for the Daily News area student-athletes in the class of 2022, with four of them committing to continue their football careers for the Scots. Lovell had an opportunity to join Greenville’s AJ Fox, Carson City-Crystal’s Owen Blackport and Trevor Slee and his own Tri County teammate, Zach Princer. What a recruiting class it could have been.

Whitecaps’ Trei Cruz growing after shoulder injury last season

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There’s a rising commotion in the West Michigan Whitecaps’ dugout leading into a Sunday matinee matchup against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers at LMCU Ballpark.

It’s no surprise who is at the center of that commotion — it’s Trei Cruz. The Whitecaps starting interior infielder is one of those guys that just brings energy and joy to the game and puts it on an extravagant display.

The road to … Cooperstown?

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West Michigan Whitecaps pitcher, Tigers top-5 prospect Ty Madden steadily improving through rookie season

Ty Madden stands tall on the mound, he isn’t menacingly staring down the batter but he’s carefully calculating his next move. 

He isn’t one of those guys that adjusts his hat much, he doesn’t do much of anything before his pitch. Madden just stands up, gets into his motion and fires a pitch. 

Christopher’s big Heart

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Tri County baseball player Christopher Bean continues giving back to his community

A 10-year-old Chris Bean sits in his mom’s car, on the way home from a Chinese restaurant. This is the point when most kids would be buried in an iPad, focused on another world on the way home.

Not Bean, he was observing the world around him as it passed by — that’s when he saw a homeless person on the street corner. He asked his mom, Paula, what homeless folks do in the winter to stay warm.