Kalamazoo Growlers Announce 2021 Schedule
After a shortened season that involved shifting a current team to play at Homer Stryker Field, turning a one-game promotion into a third team and scheduling shorter five inning contests with double-headers (and some triple-headers), the Kalamazoo Growlers will be back to normal in 2021.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several teams in the Northwoods League either opted to make their own "pods", play against teams regionally with limited travel, or opting to take the year off due to limited-to-no attendance at games.
For the league-owned Kalamazoo Growlers and Battle Creek Bombers, the two teams took the field with a third team, the previously one-game promotion Kalamazoo Mac Daddies, to form the Southwest Michigan Pod in the Northwoods. The Mac Daddies eventually won the pod and defeated the Traverse City Pit Spitters from the Northern Michigan pod to win the Michigan title.
The Growlers are back to being the sole occupant of Homer Styrker Field. Barring any health restrictions, attendance could be expanded for the season compared to the limited 100-person occupancy for each game in the pod. The Bombers were also forced out of their home of C.O. Brown Stadium in 2020 due to health restrictions in Calhoun County and would be a likely choice if the Bombers were forced out again.
Like the rest of the league, the Growlers will return in 2021 with a full 72-game slate, split evenly with 36 home and away games. Kalamazoo will open their season on the road down I-94 to take on the Bombers for a pair of games beginning Memorial Day night. The Kenosha Kingfish will be in Kalamazoo for the Growlers home opener on Wednesday, June 2nd.
The schedule has also returned to it's divisional format from 2019. The Bombers will play 12 games (six home, six away) with the other five teams in the Great Lakes East - the Bombers, the Pit Spitters, the Kokomo Jackrabbits (who were off in 2020), the Kingfish (who hosted their own pod with another team) and the Rockford Rivets (part of the Wisconsin-Illinois pod's East Division).
The remaining 12 games on regular season schedule are four games each against three teams from the Great Lakes West with two home and two away. The Growlers will have the Lakeshore Chinooks, Madison Mallards and Wisconsin Rapids Rafters in 2021.
The longest road trip for the Growlers comes in late July into August to help shorten the distance for players involved in the Major League Dreams Showcase. After being in Madison for since 2014 and eliminated due to COVID-19 in 2020, Copeland Park in La Crosse, Wisconsin, home of the Loggers, will host the four-game event this season. The trip spans seven days with a pair of games each at Rockford, Kenosha and Wisconsin Rapids.
Game times for home games will be at 6:35 p.m. Monday through Saturday with a 1:35 p.m. first pitch on Sunday. While the Monday-through-Saturday time has not changed from 2020, the Sunday time for 2021 is between the game times in 2019 and 2020 for the Growlers.
The promotional schedule has not been announced by the Growlers as of yet. The Northwoods League 2021 All-Star Game will take place in July at ISG Field in Mankato, Minnesota, home to the Moondogs.
As for the postseason, it will use the same format in 2019. The champions of each half in their respective divisions will play a best-of-three series. The winners will place for the conference (Great Lakes) title in a one-game playoff. The conference champs will then play a one-game playoff to determine the league's champion.
Without further ado, the 2021 Kalamazoo Growlers schedule is below. Blue-shaded dates are home and white are away contests.