Fergie Jenkins Field in Chatham. (Photo courtesy of Chatham Minor Baseball Association)Fergie Jenkins Field in Chatham. (Photo courtesy of Chatham Minor Baseball Association)

Chatham-Kent Blackbirds set to fly into inaugural baseball season

Chatham-Kent's new Intercounty Baseball League team is called Chatham-Kent Blackbirds.

The name was chosen out of five finalists and announced at a news conference at Red Barn Brewery in Blenheim on Friday. Other names in the running were CK Legends, CK Wheat Kings, CK North Stars and CK Field Kings.

Team owner and president Dom Dinelle said 600 entries with more than 400 names were submitted in an online contest.

Caress Lee Carpenter is one member of the group which came up with the name and told CK News Today she wanted to give a nod to the crows in the area.

"Honestly, I think Blackbirds baseball sounds really cool and I did want to give a little bit of a nod to crows. Chatham-Kent is kind of known for crows whether you like it or not," said Carpenter.

Dinelle the name was picked because of the birds popularity throughout Chatham-Kent and believes a bird will be a fun mascot.

The official team logo will be unveiled in April.

The team's inaugural General Manager (GM) is Harry Muir.

Muir wants to field a competitive team and told CK News Today the first order of business is hiring coaches, then recruiting players.

Dinelle said a new expansion baseball franchise needs a GM that is well recognized in baseball and Muir "is very impressive" because he has plenty of baseball contacts.

Muir is from London and was a pitcher in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.

He also played baseball for Team Canada and coached with Dinelle in the Intercounty Baseball League (IBL).

Muir said he's very excited to get started and build something from scratch.

"I got involved in the IBL right after my pro career playing with the [London] Majors and then got into coaching. I always yearned to be involved with something right from the beginning but I never had the opportuity and then I met Dom [team owner] and three years ago he started talking about this and I was like oh my gosh, I'll cut the grass, whatever I need to do I'm involved," Muir said.

Team Ambassador and former Expos pitcher Bill Atkinson said there's "more than enough" local talent to field a competitive team and believes a league championship is not too far off.

"Personally, if we get the right people, I think we're going to have a good shot to win a championship within three years," said Atkinson.

The Chatham-Kent Blackbirds play their home opener in May of 2024.

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