Mayor says he’s working to bring summer college baseball team back to Quincy by next year


QUINCY — Quincy will be without a summer college baseball team this year for the first time since 1996, but Mayor Mike Troup is trying to bring another team to the Gem City — maybe as soon as next summer.

The Quincy Gems were a part of the Prospect League, a collegiate summer league, from 2009 to 2023 with home games played at QU Stadium, 18th and Sycamore. Owners Jimmie and Julie Louthan said in August they intended to move the team to a different city under new management. The team eventually was sold in September to Full Count Ministries of Hendersonville, Tenn., which founded a team in the Ohio Valley League in 2020 and now is moving the Full Count Rhythm to the 18-team Prospect League.

Troup said in an interview last week that fielding a team for this summer would be impossible because schedules are typically done by now.

“But if we could get something figured out by the end of the summer, we could have a team come in here the following year,” he said.

The Gems were created for the 1996 season and owned by the Quincy Civic Center Authority while playing in the Central Illinois Collegiate League. The team moved to the Prospect League for the 2009 season.

The Louthans were part of the ownership group Gems BB3, LLC — which included Terry Martin and Chris Martin — that bought the team from the city in September 2014. The Louthans were the sole owners of the team from the 2016 season until the team folded.

Troup says not to expect the City of Quincy to get back into the baseball business.

“The aldermen don’t really like to get into that type of operation,” he said. “But we’re having discussions now with two different leagues that would like to come to Quincy. Our problem is where do we play.”

Prospect League Commissioner David Brauer said in August that the decision for the Gems to leave QU Stadium was “necessary given the stadium’s condition and the need to begin planning for next season. Ultimately, the Gems were faced with a lot of uncertainty about how and when the safety concerns and infrastructure needs would be addressed.”

Josh Rabe, athletic director at Quincy University, said in August he never received a request for a structural engineering assessment of the stadium from either the Prospect League or the Gems. QU’s baseball team plays its spring home games at QU Stadium, which was built in 1938.

“When I heard the Gems were leaving, I contacted QU and they told me that with all the sports teams that they’ve added, they need more practice time and they didn’t want to renew the Gems’ deal,” Troup said.

“What’s interesting is that when we contacted QU, we got (with) some other groups (and said), ‘Would you be interested in meeting to talk about the potential of letting them use the field?’ Yeah, let’s meet. We’re doing the same with John Wood (Community College).”

Troup says he is personally involved with the discussions to bring a summer college team back to Quincy.

“The city and GREDF (Great River Economic Development Foundation) are working with the league principals to see what we can do,” he said.

Asked if he hoped Quincy could rejoin the Prospect League or join another league, Troup said, “It doesn’t make any difference to me. Different leagues have different advantages. There are the pros and cons. One problem we had with the Prospect League was the distance. The cost of traveling to Danville with a team is a little bit different than the cost of traveling to say, Hannibal.

“That’s where leagues and the owners of the leagues have different outlooks as to why they would like to be (in Quincy).”

The Quincy Gems were the western-most team in the Prospect League during the 2023 season. 

Troup did not want to say which leagues or teams he has had discussions with, except that one owner has ties to Quincy.

“They might be willing to own a second team in Quincy,” the mayor said. “Part of that is just the reputation on what they know how Quincy did with the other (college league).”

The Baseball Observer lists 89 summer college leagues across the nation as of February 2024. Along with the Prospect League, other summer college leagues that play in Illinois or states that border Illinois are: 

  • Dairyland Collegiate League, a six-team league with all six teams in Wisconsin.
  • MINK League, an eight-team league that plays in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas.
  • Metropolitan Collegiate Summer Baseball League of Illinois, a nine-team league based in the Chicago suburbs.
  • Northwoods League, a 26-team league based in Wisconsin with teams in Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana and North Dakota.
  • St. Louis Metro Collegiate League, a six-team league based in St. Louis.

Quincy was without a summer college team for eight seasons from 1988 to 1995. Before that, the Quincy Rivermen were members of the Central Illinois Collegiate League, which eventually became part of the Prospect League, from 1974 to 1987.

Minor league baseball teams called Quincy home as far back as 1946. The stadium, then known as Q-Stadium, was home to a New York Yankees affiliate in the Class B Three-I League from 1946 to 1960. Quincy was the home to several Midwest League affiliates from 1965 to 1973.

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