Former Miner Santana to manage new Prospect League team in Marion, Ill.
MARION, Ill. (KFVS) - A familiar face will lead the yet-to-be named Marion baseball team when they take the field in the Prospect League later this year.
Team organizers introduced former Southern Illinois Miners second baseman Ralph Santana as the field manager during a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, January 3.
They said he would also assume responsibilities as general manager and pro instructor at SI Elite, a softball and baseball training academy based in Marion.
Santana played for the Miners when the team first started in 2007. He stayed with the organization in some form up until the team folded in 2021.
He was one of just three Miners to have his number retired.
“I’m excited to be back home at Rent One Park,” Santana said. “This place is special to me, and I’m looking forward to being back on the field, leading this team and building the program. This community has given me so much, and I’m honored to be a part of this new era of baseball.”
Santana said he is going to be looking to add players from around the Heartland and locally across southern Illinois.
“Let’s go to war with what we go. Let’s show people that we can play. Southern’s got talent right? So it’s kind of like everybody else, everybody tries to branch. I’m not branching out, I’m going to go to war with these guys right here,” he added.
Santana announced the following players will be joining the team for the 2023 season:
- Kale Cameron of Marion, Ill., pitcher, McKendree University
- Josh Griffin of Marion, Ill., infielder, Trevecca Nazarene University
- Alex Zimmerman of DuQuoin, Ill., infielder, Lewis & Clark Community College
- Dylan Drumke of Libertyville, Ill., outfielder, Eastern Illinois University
- Andrew Schroeder of Mundelein, Ill., infielder, Eastern Illinois University
- Ryan St. Ledger of Albion, Ill., outfielder, Southeastern Community College
- Charlie Corum of Versailles, Ky., catcher, Committed to Murray State University
Santana also shared that the players will visit schools, hospitals, retirement centers and more on a regular basis.
“I want them to buy in just like we’re going to buy into them. So our guys will know that right off the get-go. We are going to get out and hit the streets and make sure everybody’s loved the way we want to be loved,” Santana said.
The team’s ownership also knows how important it is to have the community’s support.
“We want everybody to have fun, we want the crowd that comes in here to watch some great baseball and we want to win a bunch of games. We want that person that brings their family out here, whenever they leave, they’re looking when’s the next game,” said co-owner Shad Zimbro.
In addition to Santana, Rent One Park announced it hired the following people for key roles during the inaugural baseball season:
- Lane Dickerson - pitching coach
- Jackson Wiseman - director of entertainment and promotions
- Jennifer Lee - director of community relations
- Lauren Surprenant - manager of partnerships and sales
- Hettie Goins - box office lead
Rent One Park organizers said they would reveal the team’s name in early February.
Voting on the name ended on December 31. The public could choose from the following five names: Angry Beavers, Fungi, Monkey Rats, Swamp Foxes or Thrillbillies.
The new Marion baseball team will open the season against the Jackson Rockabillys at Rent One Park on May 31.
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