With all the changes the Mid-Missouri Mavericks’ roster has undergone, the front gate at Taylor Stadium might as well be a revolving door.
The same can be said for the homes of the Mavericks’ host families.
Mid-Missouri has made 68 changes to its roster this year, meaning that many of the 18 host families have seen players come and go. The inconveniences caused to the families haven’t dampened the spirits of those who try to make Mid-Missouri players feel at home.
“Of course you’d just want one,” Beth Briggs said. “We get close to every one of them, so it’s hard when they take them away from us.”
Briggs and her son, Tim, have housed five Mavericks this season. Tim’s father died last year of cancer. Briggs sees the opportunity to host players as a way to “help the healing process” for them.
“My situation is probably different,” Briggs said. “With my 15-year-old, it’s been a positive. They’re kind of being role models.”
Briggs said that though the changes aren’t the easiest things to go through, there is a bright side.
“Each player we’ve had is of a different position,” Briggs said.
That helps Tim learn more about the game.
Dacie Cowles, who hosted one player last year, has gone through five changes this season, though one player has stayed with her twice.
“It’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be,” Cowles said. “Families do get attached to players, but our spot is really to provide them a place to live.”
The transitions are tough, Cowles said, because “they become your family. It’s just like one of my kids are living here.”
Christine Heath, director of business affairs for the Mavericks, helps oversee the changes.
“One of the things that we do at the beginning of the year is, we tell the families, ‘OK, this is the deal. These are not members of your family,’” Heath said.
“‘You are a hotel. We want you to like them, but we don’t want you to like them so much that you get mad at us if they don’t work out … or if they get picked up by an affiliated ball club. They’re going to leave one way or another.’”
She said the players first stay in a hotel. If the players stick around, they are assigned to a host family. If the host family is out of town or otherwise unable to accommodate a player immediately, Heath and others provide temporary housing because hotel costs count against the Frontier League’s salary cap.
A few host families have had the same player all year. The Galloway family, who host catcher Matt Oakes, is one of them. “We were all concerned when we found out they were going to make some rotations,” Nancy Galloway said. “I think it would be difficult with different personalities. I’ve been fortunate to have the first player. My boys have become very well acquainted and attached to him.”
“We kept hoping he’d keep doing well so he wouldn’t get cut because we’ve been attached to him.”
The players and their host families can rest a little easier, for Wendt said this week that the Mavericks’ position players will likely not be moved for the rest of the year. The club, though, is looking to improve its pitching.