SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

May 17, 2014

Jean DePlacido column: Band heads out to the heartland to play pro baseball

Josh Band, the former Peabody High School and Rollins College baseball star, has signed with the Normal CornBelters in the Frontier League.

Band will begin the season this weekend in the independent pro league as the starting second baseman for the Normal, Illinois-based club. The team plays its home games in the ‘Corn Crib.’

“We’re in the middle of the corn fields, about two hours south of Chicago,” said Band. “It’s a good league, one of the best indy ball leagues around. My team is in its fifth season and has a brand new stadium. There’s a lot of talent on the team, management is great and the fan base is enthusiastic.

“It’s a lot different from what I’m used to, but I’m happy to be here. What they say about Midwesterners being very polite is true; everybody is so nice. I’m really excited about my opportunity, happy to be on the field helping out in any way I can.”

Pat McKenna, a league all-star at shortstop for the CornBelters, is sidelined with an injury and may be put on the disabled list. The team’s returning second baseman, Santiago Chirino, was moved to short while Band got the second base job until McKenna recovers. Manager Brooks Carey praised Band to local reporters, saying the newcomer has already far exceeded expectations.

Band had a great career at Rollins after helping lead Peabody to championship seasons in 2006 and 2007. He went on to play for the Alexandria Aces in Louisiana and Fort Worth (Texas) Cats in the United League last season, where he hit .310 with a .444 on-base percentage.

“Alexandria folded halfway through the season, but I was having a pretty good year and was picked up by Fort Worth,” said Band. “I really didn’t know what to expect this year when I signed. The first step was making the team, and now I’ve got the chance to start.”

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