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Published On: October 5th, 2023

The Thunder Bay Border Cats are pleased to announce that J.M. Kelly will return as field manager for the 2024 Northwoods League season.  The 27-year-old native of Buna, TX, had the Border Cats in contention during the first half of the 2023 season, finishing with a record of 17-15, two games behind the Eau Claire Express, who claimed one of the Great Plains East Division playoff spots.  The Border Cats wound up 18-18 at home and 27-41 overall in their first season back in the NWL following a three-year absence.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my summer in Thunder Bay,” stated Kelly. “The organization treated me and the coaches and players very well and the fans were so enthusiastic and supportive. We have some unfinished business heading into 2024 and the roster is shaping up nicely, especially the fact we now have some returning players to draw from,” added Kelly.

“We’re excited to have J.M. return,” said Border Cats president David Valente. “He is an extremely hard worker on and off the field and it’s certainly a bonus having continuity in our managerial position as we head into the 2024 season,” added Valente.

The Border Cats will be unveiling their 2024 season ticket packages and flex plans in the coming weeks.


The Thunder Bay Border Cats are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Having completed its’ 30th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 24 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires, and front office staff, 340 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time All-Star and 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner Curtis Granderson, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (TEX), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and 2019/2021 Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and 2021 All-Star, MLB Gold Glove winner and 2019 Second Team All-MLB shortstop Marcus Semien (TEX). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website at and on ESPN+. For more information, visit or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.