Hastings baseball team owner to begin operations
By Tony Herrman - Hastings Tribune
Bryan Frew was intrigued when he learned this summer about plans for a summer college team in Hastings.
Head coach of the Grand Island Home Federal American Legion baseball program, Frew was coaching at the Johnny Hopp Tournament at Duncan Field when he heard about the Expedition League, which will begin play in late May 2018.
“I heard somebody talking about it and it got me excited because there’s not much like that around this area — nothing actually like that type of baseball,” Frew told the Hastings Tribune in an interview this week.
According to the league’s website, the Expedition League is an elite summer collegiate wood bat baseball league with teams throughout the Great Plains region.
Frew announced in August he would own the Hastings team. The 31-year-old certified public accountant in Grand Island will speak about his love of baseball and his plans for the team alongside city officials and league president Steve Wagner during a news conference 11 a.m. Tuesday at Duncan Field.
In addition to the news conference, Duncan Field also will play host to a Business After Hours event sponsored by the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce 5-7 p.m. Tuesday where the four finalists for the team name will be announced.
Frew has been accepting team name ideas for a few weeks on the Facebook page Hastings Baseball, Name Your Team.
Sharing the page and submitting a team name idea enters a person into a drawing for two tickets to a Kansas City Royals game plus $100 for parking and food.
Frew is working with friends in marketing to come up with the four finalists from the submissions.
The winner will be announced following a month of voting among the finalists.
Curious about summer collegiate baseball in south central Nebraska, Frew had called Wagner just as a fan. That’s when the ownership opportunity popped up.
In addition to being the team’s sole owner, Frew also will be general manager and coach.
“I thought about it for a little bit,” Frew said. “It’s something that I felt very, very comfortable with given my background both in business and in baseball, both playing and coaching. I felt like it was a really good fit for me, and it’s something I’m incredibly excited to get going on.”
Growing up in Grand Island, Frew played Legion baseball, continuing at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies and played second base for the Class A short season affiliate Williamsport Crosscutters in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
He played summer collegiate league in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, between his sophomore and junior years of college.
“I loved the experience,” he said, describing the game as similar to minor league baseball. “Very fun to play in. The type of baseball you get to play is a very high level. A lot of people don’t understand the other entertainment value that you get from going to a minor league or an independent league game or this collegiate summer league would be in the same category.”
Frew will spend the off season putting the team together, getting advertisers, ticket packages and setting up host families for the players. He needs to plan out how the game is going to look and have everything in place for the season.
Visitors to Expedition League games can expect a production, he said.
“My number one goal is to provide fantastic baseball and get really good players out here and prepare those guys for the next level, professional baseball,” Frew said. “Another goal is I want to make the event so fun and so engaging that you don’t even have to be a baseball fan to enjoy your time there. There’s going to be all kinds of activity throughout the game.”
Hastings and Duncan Field provide an ideal setting for the Expedition League, Frew said.
“You can’t beat it; I’ve been in a lot of small towns,” he said. “Small towns are perfect for this kind of baseball because you really get the community to get ownership of it. I think that’s one thing Hastings does a really, really good job at — stuff they have they promote it really well. Like Kool-Aid Days, everybody knows about. Stuff like that Hastings can really put their name on. I expect this to be more of the same.”
Duncan Field, which reopened in June 2014 after a multimillion-dollar renovation, is “about the most perfect venue” for summer collegiate baseball, Frew said.
“You always hear about these historic ball parks and every ball park has a ton of history,” he said. “People are disappointed when they tear down a ball park and build a new one because no other sport has stadiums like Fenway (Park, in Boston) and Wrigley (Field, in Chicago) that have been around for 100 years. That’s kind of a romantic part of baseball.
“Duncan has that but it also has the feel of being very, very modern. Very up to date and has all the great amenities, great stadium seating and the bathrooms, concession stands, the venue itself is so perfect and modern and update yet it still has that historic, romantic feel to it that you really like in baseball fields.”
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