Rochester, Minn – SPORTS – With the recent announcement that the Thunder Bay Border Cats will not participate in the 2021 season, the Northwoods League has announced that the Minnesota Mud Puppies will take their place as the visiting team in the Great Plains division for the summer.
With a desire to salvage as much of the original home schedules as possible for the remaining nine teams in the Great Plains division, the concept of a “road warriors” team started to take shape. The Minnesota Mud Puppies are unique in that they will only play a 36-game road schedule, picking up the road games originally scheduled for the Thunder Bay Borders Cats. The team will be based out of the Twin Cities region of Minnesota, with all players living or staying locally with family.
“The Minnesota Mud Puppies unique schedule provides an opportunity for new players, who might not have otherwise had the chance, to experience Northwoods League baseball,” said Northwoods League President/Commissioner Ryan Voz. “The addition of the Mud Puppies also maintains a full slate of games this summer for the remaining Northwoods League communities to enjoy. ”
The Mud Puppies will appear in division standings but will not be eligible for the playoffs. Mud Puppies players are eligible for mid-season and post-season All-Star honors, selection for the Major League Dreams Showcase, and being ranked among League leaders. They will also have access to game video and their personal Trackman data like full-time players.
The Mud Puppies name comes from the Dubuque Mud Puppies, one of the five original Northwoods League teams in 1994. They would play in Dubuque until the 1997 season when they moved to St. Cloud and became the River Bats. The first Alumnus of the NWL to reach the Big Leagues, Jeff Weaver, a former Dubuque Mud Puppies pitcher, made his first start for the Detroit Tigers on April 14, 1999, against the Minnesota Twins.
Players from the Thunder Bay team that wished to continue to play in the Northwoods League were placed in a dispersal draft, which took place last week, for the remaining 21 teams to select from.