As a youth growing up in Chicago, IL, Dan Gerson was a fan of the Chicago White Sox as well as the Chicago Cubs. He saw many a game at both Wrigley Field on Chicago’s Northside and the Sox at the old Comiskey on the Southside of the Windy City. Until 1983 when the Sox got in the playoffs and 1984 when the Cubs played in the post-season, Gerson’s summers were mostly filled with the sound of the crack of the bat, the National Anthem, cheers and tears. It gave him an appreciation for the great game of baseball and a burning desire to be part of the game. It was this full-fledged appreciation that fueled the birth of the St Joseph Mustangs so many years later.
Gerson was approached by the previous owners of the baseball team in St Joe, the St Joe Blacksnakes about the purchase of their American Association ballclub. After months of negotiation, Gerson decided that the best situation for St Joe and his newly formed baseball operation would be a return to the college summer wood bat leagues. St Joseph had previously housed the St Joseph Saints, a summer team comprised of college players that competed using wood bats like the professionals. The Saints had a great 10 year run at Phil Welch Stadium prior to their sale to the Blacksnakes. A tremendous platform for local products to show their skills to scouts, the Saints competed in the MINK League (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas are home to the cities competing in the league, thus M.I.N.K.) and had extraordinary success. One of the Saints players is still playing Major League Baseball. Dan Uggla is a second baseman and All-Star for the Florida Marlins.
After meeting with the city of St Joseph and negotiating a lease on 70-year-old Phil Welch Stadium, Gerson decided to open the inaugural season of his new club in 2009. This would allow the city to make necessary repairs and upgrades to the ballpark, & organize his operational staff. He chose the name Mustangs for the new team because it had a link to the history of the town through the Pony Express.
The inaugural staff of the Mustangs featured manager Matt Johnson, who was then a coach at Northwest Missouri State University. Rick Muntean left his position as GM of the Kansas City T-Bones to become GM of the Mustangs, and Kyle Fetters, also from the T-Bones, was hired as Assistant GM.
The Mustangs began to play on May 28 vs Omaha. A crowd of 1700 turned out that night. One week later the San Diego Chicken made an appearance in front of 2800 fans and the Mustangs were off and running. The final night of the season saw the first-year team attract 4077 to the park and place them firmly in the top ten of all college summer wood bat teams with an average of about 2000 fans per game.
The inaugural season saw the Mustangs open 12-0 at home, play for the division title going into the final weekend of the season only to fall short to eventual MINK League champion Chillicothe and finish with a 21-3 record at home. Thanks to wonderful fan support, the Mustangs have continued home-field dominance in each season they have competed.
Entering their 10th year of existence, the Mustangs have seen a number of players drafted by MLB teams. Additional players have signed free-agent deals with MLB teams, as well as independent teams. Additionally, the Mustangs have firmly cemented their status as a top-notch option for family entertainment in the Midwest. The Mustangs have hosted the Phillie Phanatic, a 200-foot banana split, Elsa, Anna, & Olaf, and are also known for postgame fireworks show each Saturday that rival that of professional MLB teams.
St. Joseph has continued to support the Mustangs in their effort to be one of the best collegiate summer league baseball teams in the country. The Mustangs finished the 2014 season averaging 2,289 fans per game- good for 6th in the country. The 2014 Mustangs season saw two single-game attendance records -- with the final record being set on July 19, when 5,345 fans entered Phil Welch Stadium. The 2014 season also saw a record number of wins for the franchise -- 43 -- while the team claimed their third MINK League title in four years.
Success continues in year nine for the Mustangs as the team added its fifth league championship in 2017 posting a 37-14 regular-season record (31-13 MINK), giving them five titles in the past seven seasons. They broked an Opening Day attendance record on May 31 with a crowd of 4,889 as they would cruise past the Midwest A's 9-1. St. Joe would eclipse the 5,000 marks one time on June 10, defeating MINK South opponent the Joplin Outlaws 9-4 in front of 5,224 fans. That night the Mustangs would don green jerseys for Northwest Night as fans enjoyed quality baseball and a special appearance from Marshall, the famed firehouse dog from PAW Patrol Night. Brady Anderson was named Team MVP, the first player in Mustang's history to ever repeat as MVP. Steve D'Amico and Nikko Pablo were Co-Pitchers of the Year, and Michael Lydon-Lorson received the Dan DeKraai Community Service Award. D'Amico would go on to be named the MINK League Pitcher of the year.