City signs 10-year contract with Royal Oak Leprechauns

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published September 18, 2019

 Mitch Shedlowsky, a Waterford native and a  student at Albion College, pitches for the Irish Hills  Leprechauns, a summer collegiate amateur baseball team that will now be known as the Royal Oak Leprechauns.

Mitch Shedlowsky, a Waterford native and a student at Albion College, pitches for the Irish Hills Leprechauns, a summer collegiate amateur baseball team that will now be known as the Royal Oak Leprechauns.

Photo provided by Mark Sackett

 A rendering shows where the new synthetic  infield turf will be installed at field No. 3 in Memorial Park.

A rendering shows where the new synthetic infield turf will be installed at field No. 3 in Memorial Park.

Photo provided by Mark Sackett

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ROYAL OAK — On Aug. 20, the Royal Oak City Commission unanimously approved a 10-year contract with the Royal Oak Leprechauns, an amateur collegiate summer baseball team, to play in Memorial Park.

The agreement allows the team, formerly known as the Adrian-based Irish Hills Leprechauns, to renovate field No. 3 at Memorial Park for its home games. The improvements are set to be completed this fall, and the team is scheduled to begin playing in June 2020.

The cost of the renovations is approximately $330,000, and all improvements will be funded by the Michigan Red Sox, with plans for future improvements. Improvements include installing synthetic infield turf, adding bullpens for both home and away teams, and placing temporary fencing in right field.

Royal Oak Superintendent of Recreation John Federe said the city would still have control over the scheduling of the fields and that the Royal Oak Leprechauns would coordinate with the city and the Royal Oak Sandlot League for the scheduling of its 21-game home season in June and July 2020.

“The Red Sox will still be expected to pay the rental fee according to the guidelines set by the Parks and Recreation Department and the Parks, Recreation and Senior Services Advisory Board,” Federe said.

He added that the team would utilize its collegiate players and coaches to run youth camps and prospect camps at the park.

The team will be part of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate Baseball League, which has been around since 1987 and consists of approximately 12 teams from Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Ontario, Canada. The cost for tickets is $5, and admission is free for children 12 and younger, as well as adults 65 and older.

Mark Sackett, chair of the Michigan Red Sox Inc. and president of the Royal Oak Leprechauns, said the league is a chance for young baseball players to hone their skills during the summer.

“This particular league is a very high-level league that is well-scouted by Major League Baseball,” Sackett said. “They’re not only trying to get their work in, they’re trying to get seen by the major league.”

The creation of the team and improvement of the field will also add benefits for the community, in terms of an improved field for more local baseball teams, as well as offering an interactive family-friendly experience.

“Kids will be able to run the bases after the game, and there will be lots of fun activities between innings,” Sackett said, adding that the team will also bring in food trucks.

“One of our issues is trying to find corporate sponsors,” Sackett said. “I couldn’t be more excited and thrilled to be here. I just know it’s going to go. I just know it’s going to be a very great event.” 

The City Commission expressed support for the future of the Royal Oak Leprechauns.

“I hope it’s a huge success,” Commissioner Kyle DuBuc said. “My kids are looking forward to going to see games next year.”

Mayor Michael Fournier added that the city was excited to be home to the Royal Oak Leprechauns and that he felt it would be “a really good fit.”

Memorial Park is located at 31050 Woodward Ave., north of 13 Mile Road.

For more information, call (248) 930-0388 or visit www.leprechaunball.com.

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