Matt and Carolyn LaWell began their minor league baseball journey in search of stories.
Along the way they have found a few of their own to tell. There was the time they drove 100 miles through Wyoming without any oil in their car, thanks to an over-enthusiastic mechanic who punctured the car’s oil filter. There was the time they were locked in an elevator in a ballpark in Alabama and used Twitter to find a media relations person to come to their rescue.
The married couple, who are both writers and graduates of Ohio University, have been documenting a five-month tour of the minor leagues on the website aminorleagueseason.com. The couple have been collecting video, interviews, stories and photographs — and published the material as they made their way across the country. They stopped in Dayton on Saturday to take in the Dragons game against Kane County.
“You know more about any single Cincinnati Red than you do any Louisville Bat, or so on,” Matt LaWell said. “There is a lot of opportunity to tell great, unknown stories.
“There are hundreds of them in every ballpark every night. The key is finding just three or four.”
One subject that comes up often while they are on the road is the Dayton Dragons.
“People in other Midwest League cities talk about Dayton all the time,” LaWell said. “Even in Double-A and Triple-A leagues. (Dayton) moved past that three-to-five-year honeymoon period and sell every ticket every night. It’s incredible. They have great entertainment, good customer service and treat every fan the way they should be treated.”
The tour ends Sept. 3 at Toledo, which will be the 120th city they’ve visited. Matt said the couple have no plans for after the tour, though they’ve had initial talks with other media outlets about publishing their work.
Kane County second baseman Daniel Mateo hit two home runs and helped pummel Dayton starter Wes Mugarian in a 9-1 Dragons loss on Saturday.
Mateo was 2-for-5 with four RBIs. He hit home runs in the third and fourth innings.
It was a long night for Mugarian, who gave up eight runs and eight hits in four innings. It was his third start with Dayton since being called up from Billings on July 4.
“He couldn’t get the ball down and everything was up in the zone,” Dragons manager Delino DeShields said. “He didn’t get away with anything.”
Kane County starter Kyle Smith won his first game of the season, holding Dayton to three hits and one run in 5 2/3 innings.
The Dragons have managed to keep the same roster for a week without any moves. The team has been hit with a flurry of call-ups throughout the season, unlike during last year’s playoff run when the roster remained mostly steady.
“That always makes it tough,” DeShields said. “But it’s all about getting these guys to the next level. If we are moving guys up, we are doing a pretty good job even if we aren’t winning a lot of games.”