FRONTIER LEAGUE ANNOUNCES 2019 HALL OF FAME CLASS

The Frontier League is pleased to announce the 2019 Hall of Fame Inductees. This is the 6th Hall of Fame Class to be enshrined. The Class includes 5 former All-Star players, a special moment in League history and a Special Contributor to the history and success of the League. The Class of 2019 was recommended by the League’s Hall of Fame Committee and approved by the Board of Directors of the League.

The 2019 Class includes former players, Southern Illinois Miners pitcher, Ryan Bird, Gateway Grizzlies catcher, Landon Hernandez, Chillicothe Paints 3B, Mitch House, Windy City 2B, Gilberto Mejia and Springfield Capitals pitcher, Jason Simontacchi. The League’s Special Moment will honor the opening of both Hawkinson Ford Field in Crestwood, Il. and T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O’Fallon, Mo. The Special Contributor honoree will be Clint Brown, owner of the Florence Freedom, who passed away in 2018.

Frontier League Commissioner, Bill Lee says, “This is another great class of inductees that will be honored this year. All of the players were great contributors to their team’s success. The two stadiums will recognize the first facilities that were built specifically for the Frontier League. Clint Brown was instrumental in keeping baseball in Florence and he served the League in many capacities. I am extremely proud of each of the inductees and the contributions each of them made in the growth and development of the Frontier League.”

In years past, the honorees have been inducted at the All-Star Game Banquet. In 2019, it will be different. This year, the Frontier League will be playing the All-Star Game against the Can-Am League in Rockland County, N.Y. Therefore the inductees will be honored at different times during the regular season in several cities around the League. The schedule for inductions is as follows:

May 31-June 1 – Crestwood, Il. – Inductees Gilberto Mejia and Hawkinson Ford Field

June 16 – Florence, Ky. – Inductees Clint Brown and Mitch House

June 26 – O’Fallon, Mo. – Inductee T.R. Hughes Ballpark

July 26 – Marion, Il. – Inductee Ryan Bird

July 27 – Sauget, Il. – Inductees Landon Hernandez and Jason Simontacchi

The following is a brief synopsis on each of the 2019 Frontier League Hall of Fame Inductees:

 Ryan Bird

  • Southern Illinois Miners, 2008-2010
  • 28-12, 2.96 ERA, 49 g, 48 gs, 289.1 ip, 308 k
  • 2008 Pitcher of the Year
  • Led league in wins (13) and strikeouts (152) in 2008
  • 2008 & 2010 playoff qualifiers

Landon Hernandez

  • Gateway Grizzlies, 2010-2014
  • .263 average, 64 home runs, 214 RBI, .829 ops 37% caught stealing
  • League-record 55% caught stealing (28 of 51) in 2013
  • 2011, 2012, & 2013 Post-Season All-Star catcher
  • 2012 West Division Champions

Mitch House

  • Chillicothe Paints, 1996-98
  • .300 average, 50 home runs, 181 RBI, .997 ops
  • Led FL in hits, home runs, and RBI in 1996
  • 1996 & 1998 league finalists

Gilberto Mejia

  • Windy City ThunderBolts, 2007-2010
  • .295 average, 21 home runs, 156 RBI, 139 stolen bases, .820 ops
  • Led FL in stolen bases in 2009 (49)
  • 2007 & 2008 FL Champions, 2009 & 2010 playoff qualifiers
  • 2008, 2009, & 2010 Post-Season All-Star 2B

Jason Simontacchi

  • Springfield Capitals, 1998
  • 10-2, 2.95 ERA, 16 g, 110 ip, 92 k
  • Pitcher of the Year in 1998
  • Contract purchased by Pirates following 1998 season
  • Namesake for FL Rookie of the Year award
  • Played in MLB for Cardinals (2002-04) and Nationals (2007)
  • Current assistant pitching coordinator for the Kansas City Royals

Special Contributor – Clint Brown

Clint purchased the Florence Freedom out of bankruptcy prior to the 2005 season and owned and operated the club until his passing in January 2018. Clint was an active member of multiple committees during his time in the Frontier League, including the Executive Committee, the By-Laws Committee, and the Membership/Expansion Committee. Clint’s passion for the Freedom and the Frontier League was infectious and he was a mentor to hundreds of employees throughout his career. Florence was voted Organization of the Year in 2005 and 2015 while General Managers Kari Rumfield (2009) and Josh Anderson (2015) won Executive of the Year during Clint’s tenure. The Freedom hosted the 2007 and 2016 All-Star Games while on the field the team won the 2017 West Division title and advanced to the Championship Series in 2012 and 2017. Former Freedom players Steve Delabar, Stephen Cardullo, and Aaron Wilkerson all advanced to MLB after playing under Clint, while current Milwaukee Brewers’ pitching coach Chris Hook and Oakland Athletics’ Triple-A field manager Fran Riordan were part of his on-field staff.

Significant Moment The opening of Hawkinson Ford Field and T.R. Hughes Ballpark in 1999

1999 was one of the milestone years in the history of the Frontier League as the Cook County Cheetahs and River City Rascals began play, bringing the league to 10 teams for the first time. Cook County and River City were notable for being the first two ballparks built specifically for Frontier League teams plus being the first entry into a suburban MLB market for the Frontier League. Hawkinson Ford Field (now Ozinga Field) and T.R. Hughes Ballpark (now CarShield Field) drastically jumped the standard of ballpark for a Frontier League team while the off-field success of the Rascals and Cheetahs led to future suburban markets such as Gateway, Washington, Florence, and Lake Erie.