The Northwoods League team from the Twin Cities will play 36 street games this season as a substitute for the Thunder Bay Border Cats.
GOLDEN VALLEY, Minnesota – Baseball practice at Mash Performance in Eagan is normal for the Minnesota Mud Puppies during a slightly unconventional season.
“We were thrown together at the last second. Our guys got into the idea – it’s unique, but it’s fun, ”said Sean Repay, Field Manager for the Minnesota Mud Puppies.
The team from Twin Cities only plays street games this season, 36 of them in the Northwoods League as replacements for the Thunder Bay Border Cats; who cannot travel across the US-Canadian border due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
“None of these players should be playing. I shouldn’t be training, it all came together in April when it all started and here we are,” said Repay.
The 30 college baseball players on the roster are mostly from Minnesota.
“It’s nice to come and practice your craft and play at the highest level again. It was really nice to be honest,” said pitcher Russell Tanner, who plays college baseball at UMD.
The Mud Puppies set off on journeys from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to Bismarck, North Dakota, and occasionally travel across the upper Midwest.
Four games in three days! Let us do this! #SkolPups pic.twitter.com/7F2TrlOGc8
– Minnesota Mud Puppies (@MudPuppiesBball) June 21, 2021
“The bus rides are fun and sometimes we stick around when we’re tired, but when we don’t we show each other TikTok videos or whatever,” said catcher Ethan Roe, who plays college baseball in St. John’s.
About a third of the three-month summer league season is over and the mud puppies are getting used to their role as street warriors.
“I think it’s a lot of fun and takes the pressure off us and we can just go out and play. Nobody cheers us on on opposing fields, but the environment is great,” said infielder Aidan Byrne, who plays college baseball in Minnesota state Shortcoming.
“Ultimately, our job is to go to opposing stadiums and take on home team games and it’s always fun,” said Repay.