On the field, it’s all about the games, but when most of the Show Me Collegiate League players leave US Baseball Park, they need a place to stay.
“We have a sectional that has two beds in it so we just split it apart and each of them are sleeping on that. It’s better than a college dorm and one of the boys has his own bedroom so it’s just worked out great,” said Nixa’s Mandi Armitage.
Mandi and her family are among the dozens of host families offering up their homes for players from all over the country.
“We have one kid from Illinois (Garrett Weiner, Springfield Cobras), we have one from Pennsylvania (Ryan Scepansky, Route 66 Stars) and we have one kid from Maine (Quinn Stebbins, Route 66 Stars),” Mandi said.
With three college baseball players comes a bump in the grocery bill.
“US Ballpark gives you a little bit of money to help with groceries, but yeah the grocery bill has gone up quite a bit,” Mandi said with a smile.
Yet, she says she wouldn’t change a thing, because of what Garrett, Ryan, and Quinn bring to her family.
“They help around the house, they take out the trash, they play with the kids,” Mandi said.
“Like if you wanted to play catch or go hit with you or something, I mean there’s three of them so I’m sure one of them would do it,” said Mandi’s 10-year old son Keilynn.
Keilynn lives and breathes the game of baseball. He’s never bored living with three college baseball players.
“Getting to play catch and be out there with them is really fun and it’s a good experience,” he said.
Keilynn has not only gotten to practice with the guys at home, but also at the field as bat boy for the Route 66 Stars.
“This has been one of the best summers I’ve ever had,” Keilynn said.
When you ask the players, they say it’s being with Keilynn they enjoy most.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Garrett Weiner of the Springfield Cobras. “We play around the house a lot and it keeps me busy. Kind of reminds me of myself when I was a little kid so he’s awesome to have around.”
With the cancellation of the Stars season, and just two weeks left for the Cobras, it won’t be long before Garrett, Ryan, and Quinn head back home.
It’s a goodbye Mandi isn’t ready for.
“It’s like having a whole new family and I will definitely cry big tears when they leave,” she said.
About 70-percent of the Show Me League’s players are not from the Ozarks.
***Editor’s note: this story was put together before the positive COVID-19 test was announced for one of the Route 66 Stars players.