Local talent eager to help Chicago Dogs make a successful debut
There may be ketchup for the new Chicago Dogs, but there are also plenty of local ingredients as well.
Buffalo Grove and Stevenson grad Scott Firth, Wauconda's Rick Mascheri and Arlington Heights and Rolling Meadows' Kyle Gaedele will be the mustard, relish and onions for the Chicago Dogs, the newest professional baseball team in the Chicago suburbs.
The Dogs, who began their season on the road last Friday, will be hosting the franchise's inaugural home opener Friday at 7:05 p.m. at the new Impact Field in Rosemont. The Dogs (1-5), members of the 12-team independent American Association, will host the Kansas City T-Bones (2-3).
For Firth, Mascheri and Gaedele, playing for the Dogs provides an opportunity to play at the professional level with the hope of getting signed by a major-league team. Outfield Joe Benson of Hinsdale aslo made the Dogs' roster.
Firth, who anchored the Stevenson pitching staff in 2008 and 2009, was first drafted by the Baltimore Orioles (35th round). He passed on that and played for Clemson, where he was drafted as a junior by the Philadelphia Phillies (32nd round). He stayed at Clemson and was drafted by the Colorado Rockies (19th round).
"It is fun to look back," Firth said. "I have been back to Stevenson for some games and it is great to see that there is still some really good baseball played in this area."
Injuries have slowed Firth's progress since college.
After a shoulder injury in 2015, Firth was released by the Rockies. He took 2016 off to rehab and change his mechanics. He played last season for Texas in the American Association until a knee injury sidelined him. He was traded to the Dogs, but an undisclosed injury before Game 3 derailed his first start earlier this week.
Mascheri played for Wauconda High School in 2006 and 2007 as an outfielder/pitcher. He was at College of Lake County before joining Western Illinois, where he was mainly an outfielder before switching to pitching as a senior.
Undrafted, Mascheri was signed as a free agent by the Yankees. He was at Class A before being released after tearing his labrum. He worked his way through independent baseball, and retired in 2015.
"I thought I was done in 2016," he said. "I was coaching and I was messing around and they had the radar gun on me and they said I was throwing pretty hard."
Mascheri played for Kansas City last season, striking out 59 in 54 innings. He was acquired in a trade a month ago.
"I was pretty happy," Mascheri said. "And also I will be able to play before family and friends. I have always played so far away. That is my favorite part, being able to get people out here."
Gaedele helped Rolling Meadows win 18 games in each of his two seasons in 2007 and 2008. He was drafted by Tampa Bay (32nd round), but opted to play at Valparaiso. After three seasons with the Crusaders, he was drafted by San Diego (6th round) in 2011.
He spent five years, making it as high as Double A before a wrist injury forced him to miss the 2014 season. He was released in 2015. After a year of independent ball, he thought he would step away from it.
"It's a business and you understand that," Gaedele said. "It is very different, but something you have to get accustomed to. I had three different general managers in five years, so you have to prove yourself every year."
Gaedele moved to Arizona and was working as a baseball instructor there when he received a call from his brother
"He said Rosemont is opening a team, are you interested?" Gaedele said. "I wasn't sure at first. Butch (Hobson) called me in February and I thought I would give it one more shot."
Gaedele has already had success for the Dogs. He hit the franchise's first home run last Friday in the team's inaugural game against Sioux Falls.
The Dogs hired former Red Sox manager Butch Hobson to manage the team. Hobson, who has 30 years of experience as manager, will be like sport peppers when it comes to guiding this young group.
"The good Lord seems to find a way to put me in a place where I land a job," said Hobson, who has spent 48 years in pro baseball. "And this is a pretty special place. I feel very fortunate and blessed that they thought enough of me to make me their first manager."
For Hobson, 66, it is his second time starting up a new independent baseball team.
"Putting a team together from scratch is difficult because you don't have a real good idea of what you have until you see them," he said.
Hobson would like nothing better than to see Firth, Mascheri, Gaedele or any Dogs player move up to the next level.
"I have two jobs," he said. "Number one it is to get them back into an organization or into Japan or Korea. The second is to win a championship.
"Those are the main two things. I want our players to be the kind of players that the fans in Rosemont and surrounding area, will be coming to watch play, with that all-out hustle kind of attitude."
Chicago Dogs roster:
No. 3 Kaohi Downing (LHP), Honolulu, HI
No. 4 Kyle Gaedele (OF), Arlington Heights, IL
No. 5 Joe Benson (OF), Hinsdale, IL
No. 6 Jonathan Moroney (OF), Houston, TX
No. 7 Miles Moeller (LHP), Phoenix, AZ
No. 8 Shawon Dunston Jr. (OF), Fremont, CA
No. 9 Michael Baca (INF), Clovis, NM
No. 10 Matt Dean (INF), Edmond, OK
No. 11 Edwin Arroyo (INF), Trujillo Alto, PR
No. 12 Scott Barnes (LHP), Springfield, MA
No. 13 Josh Goossen-Brown (RHP), Sherman Oaks, CA
No. 14 Matt Telesco (INF), Fresno, CA
No. 15 Kylin Turnbull (LHP), Seattle, WA
No. 19 Tommy Thorpe (LHP), Vancouver, WA719
No. 20 Scott Firth( RHP), Buffalo Grove, IL
No. 23 Michael Wagner (RHP), Las Vegas, NV
No. 24 Craig Maddox (UTIL), Locust Grove, GA
No. 25 Wilfredo Rodriguez (C), San Juan, PR
No. 27 Taylor Grover (RHP), North Aug.a, SC
No. 28 Rich Mascheri (LHP), Wauconda, IL
No. 30 Connor Root (RHP), Nashua, NH
No. 33 Treyson Vavra (UTIL), Mesa, AZ
No. 34 Tyson Perez (RHP), Hanford, CA
No. 35 Alex Lugo ©. Chicago, IL
On the web: TheChicagoDogs.com.
Chicago Dogs home schedule
All times Central, and all home games at Impact Field, 9850 Balmoral Ave, Rosemont.
May 25: Kansas City T-Bones, 7:05 p.m.
May 26: Kansas City T-Bones, 7:05 p.m.
May 27: Kansas City T-Bones, 1:05 p.m.
June 1: Winnipeg Goldeyes, 7:05 p.m.
June 2: Winnipeg Goldeyes, 7:05 p.m.
June 3: Winnipeg Goldeyes, 1:05 p.m.
June 4: Sioux Falls Canaries, 7:05 p.m.
June 5: Sioux Falls Canaries, 7:05 p.m.
June 6: Sioux Falls Canaries, 7:05 p.m.
June 15: St. Paul Saints, 7:05 p.m.
June 16: St. Paul Saints, 7:05 p.m.
June 17: St. Paul Saints, 1:05 p.m.
June 19: Texas AirHogs, 7:05 p.m.
June 20: Texas AirHogs, 7:05 p.m.
June 21: Texas AirHogs, 7:05 p.m.
June 25: Gary SouthShore Railcats, 7:05 p.m.
June 26: Gary SouthShore Railcats, 11:35 a.m.
June 29: Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, 7:05 p.m.
June 30: Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, 7:05 p.m.
July 1: Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, 1:05 p.m.
July 2: Gary SouthShore Railcats, 7:05 p.m.
July 3: Gary SouthShore Railcats, 6:05 p.m.
July 6: Cleburne Railroaders, 7:05 p.m.
July 7: Cleburne Railroaders, 7:05 p.m.
July 8: Cleburne Railroaders, 1:05 p.m.
July 9: Sioux City Explorers, 7:05 p.m.
July 10: Sioux City Explorers, 7:05 p.m.
July 11: Sioux City Explorers, 11:35 a.m.
July 20: Sioux Falls Canaries, 7:05 p.m.
July 21: Sioux Falls Canaries, 7:05 p.m.
July 22: Sioux Falls Canaries, 1:05 p.m.
July 23: Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, 7:05 p.m.
July 24: Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, 11:35 a.m.
July 25: Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, 7:05 p.m.
July 30: Wichita Wingnuts, 7:05 p.m.
July 31: Wichita Wingnuts, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 1: Wichita Wingnuts, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 2: Wichita Wingnuts, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 10: Winnipeg Goldeyes, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 11: Winnipeg Goldeyes, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 12: Winnipeg Goldeyes, 1:05 p.m.
Aug. 20: Gary SouthShore, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 21: Gary SouthShore Railcats, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 22: Gary SouthShore Railcats, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 23: St. Paul Saints, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 24: St. Paul Saints, 7:05 p.m.
Aug. 25: St. Paul Saints, 7:05 p.m.
Sept. 1: Lincoln Saltdogs, 7:05 p.m.
Sept. 2: Lincoln Saltdogs, 6:05 p.m.
Sept. 3: Lincoln Saltdogs, 1:05 p.m.