July 23, 2011
To see a future major league star playing minor league baseball in Chicagoland, a Cougars' game is the best bet. Among the alumni who've made it big are Josh Beckett, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez and Edgar Renteria.
The Cougars, who came into the sports world in 1991, are the only one of the five area minor league teams affiliated with a major league franchise. After having served as a farm club for Baltimore, Florida and Oakland, this season the Cougars have the Kansas City Royals as their parent club. The Royals hire and pay the players, managers and coaches, and the Cougars' owners, a small group of area business people, supply the facilities and staff.
There is continuity in the front office, however. Assistant general managers Jeff Ney and Curtis Haugh have been with the team for 18 years.
"I came as an intern and a fun summer job turned into a great career," Ney said. "We've got 3 million people within an hour of us. We're a family-oriented entertainment and the people who come to see us like what they see.
"The circus atmosphere is a positive."
Located in the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, sparkling clean Philip B. Elfstrom Stadium has 7,400 seats augmented by lawn chair and blanket seating areas that stretch down the foul lines to the fences. Last season's average home attendance was 6,244, second-highest in the 16-team Midwest League.
Prices are consumer friendly: $5 hamburgers, $6 foot-long hot dogs and Polish sausages, $2.75 kids' hot dogs, and $3.75 lemonade chills. Beer lovers can get 20-ounce cups of Guinness, Harp, Smithwick's and Blue Moon for $7.50.