2018 Inaugural Season for the Chicago Dogs of the American Association of Professional Baseball (AAPB), an independent professional baseball league (founded 2005). Lincoln Saltdogs were in town to visit the new Impact Field, home of the Chicago Dogs, to play the last three games of the season. Impact Field is a $60 million 6300 seat stadium. O’Hare International Airport is also located just west of the ballpark. If you’re a fan of aviation, you may be easily distracted from the game. There is a constant flow of planes flying over rightfield and landing at the “world’s busiest airport” every 5 minutes. It can be hypnotizing. For the most part, seats have great views to the field. The downside is a lack of shade from the hot summer days. Installing canopies at the park would help, something that becomes part of a punch-list for a new park.
This last game was scheduled for an early Monday afternoon. The day started with a sunny 76 degrees but play ended early in the game with a thunderstorm that swept through Chicagoland, bringing flooding and damage. A tornado was spotted moving across the west side of Chicago at 75 mph. It traveled for 1.7 miles. Needless to say, very little baseball was played, comes with the territory in a day at the ballpark. This would be the finale to a historic year for the Chicago Dogs franchise, worth the trip to see the final product of a third professional baseball team in Chicago. It’s actually located in the Village of Rosemont northwest of Chicago, near I-294, better known as Chicagoland. With a casino, concert venues, and conference space, the Chicago Dogs are also part of the economic growth here. “It had to be fun and authentic,” said co-owner Shawn Hunter. He can sleep at night knowing Impact Field is just that, a “chillax” place for a ballgame, or “fun and authentic.”
Butch Hobson was the skipper hired to lead the new team. He brings 30 years of major league and minor league experience with him, mostly remembered for his managing and playing days with the Boston Red Sox. For many young ball players, it’s either a second chance or a once in a life time opportunity to play professionally. There were even open tryouts that probably helped the team connect to the community.
Shawn Dunston Jr., son of legendary Chicago Cubs shortstop, was the highlight of the 2018 Roster; still working towards the major leagues. For a team trying to appeal to a new fanbase and a prospect with name recognition, it’s a marketing dream come true. They even brought back the “Shawn-O-Meter,” a gimmick used by Cub fans to mark his fathers rising batting average in 1989. It was a board with interchangeable numbers that followed him in the Wrigley Field Bleachers until he was traded to the San Francisco Giants in 1995.
Carlos Zambrano signed with the Chicago Dogs in 2019. He pitched in the major leagues for 12 years, mostly with the Chicago Cubs. First baseman Kean Barnum won the 2019 MVP, the first Dogs representative to win that award. He was originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 48th round of the 2012 MLB draft. In 2020 & with social distance protocols in place, Chicago Dogs played the only professional baseball in the Chicagoland area for a good half of the summer. Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox were still shutdown from the pandemic. It’s been three years and they’re still working towards that first play-off berth. But, they bring a competitive balance to a growing league.
Lincoln Saltdogs @ Chicago Dogs