WHITEFISH — A new professional baseball franchise will be established in Whitefish beginning this May as a founding member of the independent Mount Rainier Professional Baseball League (MRPBL).
The Glacier Grizzlies will anchor the far eastern edge of the new six-team league, which also has teams in Moses Lake (Washington), Ellensburg (Washington), Skagit Valley (Washington), Grays Harbor (Washington) and Oregon City (Oregon). Glacier, which will be in the East Division, would have the farthest distance to travel of any team, with each city an average of 520 miles away.
The Grizzlies will share Memorial Park with the American Legion Glacier Twins teams, playing in open dates on the schedule.
League founder Mike Greene of Shoreline, Washington, will own the team for its first season. Greene, a former baseball manager most recently at the now-defunct Douglas (Arizona) Diablos of the independent Pecos League, was unable to be reached for comment at press time.
“We’re excited about it,” said Bob Lockman, a longtime Glacier Twins board member with a history in semi-pro baseball. “I hope we can pull it off. I know other independent leagues are having problems. (Greene) has assured us that he has plenty of financial backing. He’s pretty confident and very optimistic.”
The Grizzlies will host 32 games in the season that begins in May 21 and runs through August. The team, originally slated for Vancouver, Washington, already has 17 of its 24 players in place, with the rest of the team to be filled in the near future. A tryout will be held in Post Falls, Idaho next month and just before the season in Whitefish.
Lockman said the team hopes to have a manager named by the end of the week.
Season ticket packages are on sale through the team’s website (http://mrpbl.pointstreaksites.com/view/mrpbl/team-pages-13/glacier-grizzlies). A 10-game package is being offered for $55 and a full season pack for $160.
“We have a lot of questions we need to figure out,” Lockman said. “It’s exciting.”