Amid one of the heaviest rainstorms of the season, the champion Schaumburg Boomers returned home in triumph Wednesday evening to high-fives and even hugs from their dedicated fans and host families.
Players from the second-year franchise carried with them the first league trophy the Schaumburg Baseball Stadium has housed in the 14 years since it was built.
They set another record by being the first team in the 14-team Frontier League's 20-year history to go 6-0 in postseason play.
Fresh off his own success in being named the league's Manager of the Year, team skipper Jamie Bennett commended his players for building a season unique among his years around the game.
"I couldn't be more proud of these guys," Bennett said. "I've never seen anything like it."
Players also attested to the special bond this team had.
"I'm happy to be on this team," outfielder Alexi Colon said. "I don't know if this team is going to be together next year, but this team touched my heart."
General Manager Andy Viano said roughly half of a minor league team stays together from one season to the next. But he's also been around the game enough to know some experienced players like to leave on top after a winning season.
Responding to the chants of "MVP! MVP!" from the crowd, pitcher Mike Giovenco -- who won that title for the championship series against the Lake Erie Crushers -- took the mic.
"This team pretty much came from all over the place," Giovenco said. "This team started out as individuals, but toward the end we became a family."
The Boomers' victory was especially meaningful for Pitching Coach T.J. Nall, a member of Schaumburg High School's 1997 state champion team.
"Being a Schaumburg native, this is something really special," Nall said. "And thank you to the fans for supporting the Boomers. Let's do it again next year!"
Several children attended the celebration with their parents. Earlier in the day, Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson commented that with Chicago's major league teams struggling all season, the Boomers provide youngsters an introduction to winning baseball.