Starting the Pistol Shrimp
Putting a collegiate summer baseball team together is a complicated process to undergo. The area’s newest team, the DuPage Pistol Shrimp, thought they had time to work through whatever obstacles that popped up.
John: “The prospect league approached us with the original idea of coming in in 2020. So our original thought process was that we had 18 months to build infrastructure, build awareness and so forth. So under that pretense was our original agreement to do it.”
Co-Owner John Jakiemiec then got news in the fall of 2018 that, no, the team didn’t have 18 months. He and his partner, Mark Sheehan had 6. Another team was taking longer to raise funds. So the Pistol Shrimp stepped up to the plate and got to work.
John: “First things first find a facility, Benedictine has a nice field, it has lights. Check that box. Then its, well, we gotta sell tickets, we gotta map the seats, we gotta get sponsors.”
It’s all in the name
They also had to find a team mascot… and Pistol Shrmip isn’t exactly an obvious choice by any metric.
John: “It was a writer who listed 5 names that he thought were cool that nobody was listing and one of them was pistol shrimp. And 8 months ago I didn’t know what a pistol shrimp was… so we put that on our list and we sent it out to our kids in the academy, friends and family to keep it low key. And every poll we did, it out-polled 3-to-1.
Jason: “It’s a little different but that’s kind of the theme of summer baseball. It’s just different, you have a fun time with it. Just joking around with it.”
Playing Collegiate Summer Baseball
Jason Shanner is a pitcher at North Central College and has a pair of teammates from high school joining him on the Pistol Shrimps, making for a fun clubhouse.
Jason: “Good impressions, I think we’re going to have a strong year, a strong team. A lot of guys know each other, good camaraderie.”
The only odd thing about the collegiate summer ball is: The focus isn’t so much on winning, as it is developing individually.
Jason: “It’s a lot more developing and focusing on yourself rather than the team aspect but we’re all still working towards the same goal, which is winning games. And developing will win those games.”
Connecting with the Community
Winning and developing is part of the battle, the rest is left to ownership: connecting with the community. After two prior failed attempts in DuPage to get a team off the ground, Jakiemiec thinks this ownership has the winning recipe.
John: “The prior teams had out of state ownership groups. We’re local, we’re here in Naperville. My partner Mark lives in Lisle, not even a mile from the stadium. So number one that gives us a leg up, we’re here, we’re in the community.”
With broadcasts coming from Illinois Media School students, as well as a host of players rooted in the community, the Pistol Shrimps look to succeed where others have failed. Despite a mighty time crunch.
Reporting for Sports Story Sunday, I’m Kevin Jackman