Under normal circumstances, the Windy City ThunderBolts would be coming off of their first series of the 2020 season and looking to surge ahead of Frontier League teams. Instead, the boys of summer are waiting for the call that decides on whether there will be a 2020 season or if the cleats will be put up until next year. Johnny Sole, Director of Community Relations for the ThunderBolts knows the feeling of waiting for the call all too well.
Sole has been with the organization since 2017 and formerly worked with the Chicago Bandits Professional Fastpitch Softball team. “Prior to working with the ThunderBolts, I worked in broadcasting and ticket sales for the Chicago Bandits Pro Softball team. The Bandits and ThunderBolts play a fastpitch softball game against each other during the summer, so I had known about them and I transitioned over in 2017.”
Entering his fourth season with the organization, Sole works along side local schools for field trips and incentive programs – which have all been cancelled due to COVID-19. “It has certainly been an adjustment to stay on top of everything and keep things going, with the understanding that baseball is surely not at the top priority of people’s lives at the moment.”
He continued, “I work with all the local schools on their field trips and incentive programs, and with all those cancelled, it certainly was tough to lose that this year.”
You can find more on Incentive Programs with ThunderBolts here.
“There is a line to find between knowing people still want the content we provide, but also that we’ll only follow up with specific contacts here and there with everything else going on.” Sole said via email with Dugout Dish. “Social media helps to reach out to people and know that we’re thinking about them, and our emails to groups have certainly started with the idea that we wish everybody the best.”
While he cannot speak for the baseball players, Sole understands that the postponement and possibility of no season at all is an unfortunate situation for many who play the game. “Knowing overall that a lot of these players are on a year to year basis as far as their future baseball status, this unfortunate situation will certainly affect many of their future statuses.”
There are many baseball players who are facing the harsh reality of whether or not to continue their career depending on the season’s status. “I know one player referenced in our local newspaper that he may have to come to a decision to move on to another career if this year is lost. It is a sad reality, but we will certainly hope for the best and will stay positive knowing health is the top priority.”
As for Sole, he has been practicing safe social distancing and even made an appearance with ThunderBolt mascot Boomer. “I only leave my house to go to the store, sometimes get some takeout foot and visit my dad who lives down the expressway from me.”
“I did stop by the ThunderBolts office one day with our mascot, and we drove by someone’s block on their birthday. Boomer may have some home videos for the fans and followers coming up!” Sole said. The ThunderBolts mascot has been around since 2004 and can be found at Ozinga Field. His favorite foods include pizza, hot dogs and foul balls.
While the season is still postponed, the ThunderBolts are making the most out of the situation and continue to wait on the call that fans, players, organizations, and writers are all eager to receive. You can find more on the ThunderBolts at their website here.
Once again Dugout Dish is proud to cover the Frontier League and the teams within the league and will continue to keep everyone updated on the 2020 season’s status.
(Photos courtesy of Windy City Thunderbolts)