KALAMAZOO, MI., — No, Sir Mix-a-Lot’s third album was not the inspiration of the newest Kalamazoo baseball team. While the 1992 album, Mack Daddy, shares a similar name, the Kalamazoo Mac Daddies stem from a much cheesier idea.
Earlier this year, the Kalamazoo Growlers announced they would be rebranded as the Mac Daddies for one day, Father’s Day. The name combines dads with one of the bigger staples at Stryker Field: mac and cheese.
“We launched the first ever mac and cheese festival in Michigan last year, and we crashed the Northwoods League ticket system,” managing member Brian Colopy said. “When we first launched ticket sales, there were too many people trying to buy tickets at once. So, we knew people loved mac and cheese, [and] the festival sold out within a week.”
Due to the coronavirus, the Mac Daddies are here for more, as Northwoods League teams discovered it would be difficult to travel this season.
“It came out of necessity and maybe even some desperation. It was becoming more apparent that traveling outside the state and relying on other teams … was something that we could not bank on,” Colopy said. “We already had two teams here [in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo], which really just required us to add [one more] team to make it work.”
While the logo and branding for the Mac Daddies was already established, the team was missing critical elements, particularly a manager and roster. Once the team was made official, the Mac Daddies hired Greg Weyrich as their bench boss. Weyrich previously coached for 15 years in collegiate baseball, coming within one game of a College World Series Championship in 2001. Since then, he has been a pastor at the Vineyard Church of Knox County.
Once Weyrich and his staff was established, the Growlers organization left it up to the separate teams to recruit players.
“We help [the Mac Daddies] from an administrative standpoint and support that,” Colopy said. “[But] each team has recruited their own rosters fully.”
While it was mostly on the coaching staffs, the administration and full-time employees in Kalamazoo helped find local talent. These players lost out on virtually an entire season of college baseball, so spending a summer in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek will help them maintain and even improve their craft.
While Bombers fans will not get to see other Northwoods League teams, the league itself has established a culture of creativity, enabling the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek region to see baseball this summer.
“The Northwoods League [has] amazing leadership that allowed us to go down this path,” Colopy said. “Their goal is to get as many games as possible [in] for as many players. This scenario allows us to provide games for even more players. On top of that, it allowed our communities to have baseball, even in a limited capacity.”
This season will undoubtedly be a weird one, with two teams calling Homer Stryker Field “home.” Despite this, that does not matter to the more than 85 players who will play games this year in the Southwest Michigan pod. At the end of the day, they are opponents of one another, determined to get better and win games.
“They are playing in the same stadium, but they’re competitors,” Colopy said. “[They] want to beat each other.”
Come next season, fans of the Northwoods League can only hope to see the schedule return to normal, and with that, one would think the end of the Mac Daddies. However, with more creativity in the organization, the Mac Daddies will never die.
“The Growlers aren’t going anywhere,” Colopy said. “But we’ll have a lot of fun with the Mac Daddies. No matter [what], it is going to live on in some aspect. We just don’t know what that’ll be as of now.”