Fielders dress just 9 players for Kenosha game
At least the players didn't outnumber the fans at Wednesday night's Lake County Fielders independent league baseball game.
Roughly 125 spectators were in the city of Zion's publicly financed temporary stadium when the first pitch was hurled for the game between the troubled Lake County team and a squad called the Kenosha Fielders. Lake County had just the minimum nine players.
Fielders spokesman Bernie DiMeo had said the semiprofessional Kenosha Kings would be the opponent. But the public-address announcer referenced the Kenosha County Fielders during the contest.
In the end, the Lake County Fielders lost to the Kenosha team 1-0, even though Lake County's starting pitcher, Nick Kennedy, had 14 strikeouts.
Last week, the Fielders suddenly canceled a final road trip to play Na Koa Ikaika Maui in a North American League series. That led to an announcement Maui wouldn't travel to play a series at Zion's unfinished ballpark at Route 173 and Green Bay Road this week.
Rather than Maui, the Fielders are supposed to host the Kenosha club through Aug. 23. Lake County entered the game amid a dispute over $185,000 in stadium rent owed to Zion.
Jim and Lisa Bordwine said they're aware of the Fielders problems but are baseball fans and wanted to see a game Wednesday. Joining them were their children Matt, 12, and Megan, 16, along with family friend Grant Zamin, 13, of Gurnee.
Both Bordwines said they've been satisfied with the 4,500-seat temporary ballpark, which has been a sore spot with Fielders principal owner Richard Ehrenreich. The Bordwines said they've been unhappy to read reports about Fielders players not being paid.
“That's probably the worst of it all, the players not getting paid,” Jim Bordwine said.
Julie Sheren and Tammy Johnson, both of Antioch, brought their children to the game in part because they know a Kenosha player. The women said they attended previous Fielders games and had a good time.
“You know what?” Johnson said. “I like baseball.”
Tickets to the Wednesday's game cost $7 and $15 for the fixed chair seats, with “Fielders vs. Warriors” printed on them. The Maui team's nickname in English is Warriors.
Actor Kevin Costner is touted as a Fielders co-owner, with his image on pocket schedules and the team's website since the 2010 inaugural season. The “Field of Dreams” star has yet to address the controversy that's been enveloping the Lake County team.
Ehrenreich's Grand Slam Sports and Entertainment is the Fielders' parent company. Zion recently served a default notice to Ehrenreich seeking the $185,000 in back rent. Ehrenreich has said he stopped paying rent on the temporary diamond because there is no hint of a permanent stadium as promised.
State taxpayers funded $1.3 million in infrastructure and utility work for Zion's makeshift ballpark. The public money paid for permanent elements such as lights, the playing field, dugouts and a parking area at Route 173 and Green Bay Road.
Ehrenreich's now-defunct Flyers were evicted from publicly owned Alexian Field in February, with the village of Schaumburg and Schaumburg Park District alleging the team owed about $920,000 in overdue rent and other payments.
Flyers ownership, per a judge's order in that case, was directed to pay $551,829 in overdue rent. Ehrenreich said the Flyers were a limited-liability corporation and don't have assets to pay.