Now John Bollinger doesn’t need to worry about letting the cat, or the bird, out of the bag.
Bismarck’s new Northwoods League baseball franchise held a fan event at Municipal Ballpark on Thursday night and unveiled the team’s new nickname and logo.
Meet the Bismarck Larks, who will take the field in the collegiate summer league in 2017. The team’s new logo features a meadowlark holding a baseball bat towering above the state Capitol building.
“It’s just awesome to finally have an identity and be able to announce the name,” said Bollinger, the team’s general manager. “We’ve been like holding it in, trying not to let it slip on the phone. So we’re ready to move forward with the great new brand of baseball and get things cracking.”
The Larks held an event at the ballpark for fans, introducing them to the team, the new head coach and the Northwoods League itself. There was food, inflatables for kids, the chance to purchase memorabilia and tickets, and for season ticket buyers to pick out seats for the upcoming season.
“This is a great turnout,” Bollinger said. “We were expecting maybe a hundred or so folks, and I think this exceeded that.”
The work is just beginning for Bollinger and the team’s front office heading into the countdown to the inaugural season.
“It’s hitting the ground running,” Bollinger said. “It’s time now to set up meetings with our local business community for partnerships. We’re putting together our schedule currently, so that will be released in December. We’ve got our promotional schedule we’ve got to put together, a whole slew of things.
“Really, it’s just getting branding, getting the message out there for our fans about how they can become a part of the experience.”
The Larks also introduced head coach Sean Repay, who has been hard at work getting a roster ready for the upcoming season. He said the roster is largely set already.
“It took me reaching out to probably 400, 500 schools,” said Repay, who is associate head coach at NCAA Division III Lakeland University in Wisconsin. “I’m a firm believer that our roster is only going to be as good as the work I put in. I could sit back and wait for kids. We get hundreds of kids every day that contact us to play, but I’m a firm believer that if you want it, you’ve got to go out and get it and that’s what I’ve been doing.
“I’ve been contacting every school in the nation, to find their best players and assemble what I think is the right roster for this team.”
Despite the Larks joining the Northwoods League as an expansion team, Repay expects to compete right away.
One player who he hopes will be able to help the Larks do that is a local product, Bismarck native Quinn Irey, who is heading into his junior season at the University of Jamestown. He hit .377 with seven doubles, two triples, four homers and 37 RBIs last season while throwing out 61 percent of opponents attempting to steal a base.
“I can’t say enough about Quinn,” Repay said. “He came highly recommended to me and the more I looked into him, as far as his stats and his pedigree, and just the makeup and what kind of person he is … I think he exemplifies what I’m looking for.
“I expect him to be one of the best catchers in this league.”