CALDWELL, Idaho — Treasure Valley baseball fans who crave that live, bleacher-seat feel always have Memorial Stadium to watch the Boise Hawks play ball. But for Canyon County residents, that might not be incredibly convenient. Fortunately, the Spuds are back for their second season to not only entertain local hardball fans, but to show college kids around the country how amazing the area is.
But what are the Canyon County Spuds?
"The Canyon County Spuds are a collegiate summer league baseball team. We just play two months out of the year. It's all college baseball players," said Canyon County Spuds Managing Partner Daylon Dobish.
And not just college kids from Idaho. They're coming to town from all over.
"Arizona, Washington, Oregon, California, we've got two guys on the team from Florida. Sometimes you'll see guys from Nebraska in the Midwest, Northwest," said Dobish.
A few major changes have hit the Spuds since last year, including a new head coach.
"These guys are awesome, I mean I'm not mad about how we're playing at all. We're getting along, all those guys are getting along, so it's been a great year so far," said Spuds Head Coach Alec Iniguez.
Iniguez wasn't able to join the team until a few games into the season due to prior coaching obligations, but said he likes what he's seen so far despite the grueling schedule.
"I mean, it's a grind. This summer, we play 60 games in two months. Basically playing every single day, going on long bus trips. But then, battling back every game makes my job easier," said Iniguez.
As for the 32 players on the roster, only five are returning from last year, including Owen Bischoff who has seen a huge jump in attendance and morale from the start of last season up until now.
"Last year was definitely a big learning experience just being a first year program, inaugural season. The crowds were pretty thin at first. But by the end of the year, it was pretty electric here. I remember our final series, it was like 6-700 people a night," said Spuds Outfielder Owen Bischoff.
And team chemistry this year hasn't been an issue.
"I only knew three or four returners from last year and we went on that first road trip and we just gelled," said Bischoff.
Impressive considering all recruiting was done virtually.
"We did two or three zoom sessions just to get to know the guys, tell them my expectations, meet them a little bit, that way they were a little familiar with who I am already before I even got here. So Zoom was a big part of that," said Iniguez.
One of those expectations? If you're not on the field or possibly getting a tiny bit of rest, you're helping out around town.
"They're opening their arms for us, so we have to give back to the community. And that's what we've been doing, like today we had a reading for kids, yesterday we were at the food pantry building food boxes for homeless people," smiled Iniguez.
Sounds like it's safe to say that the Canyon County Spud's sophomore year is definitely a hit.
"I'm thankful to be part of such a quality organization, especially to be back here for a second year, it's just been everything. And yeah, if you're a college kid and wanna play ball at a quality organization, this is the place to be. Canyon County," said Bischoff.
As of this morning, the Spuds have a 20-19 record and will next be headed to Casper, Wyoming to take on the Horseheads for a three-game series starting this weekend. For more information about the Spuds, you can visit their website at spudsbaseball.com.