Recently Chad Tracy revealed that that he is a part owner of a summer league baseball team. The Ballantyne Smokies, formerly the Fort Mill Stingers, are a part of the Southern Collegiate Baseball League, a wooden bat summer league for college players. Tracy, who grew up in nearby Charlotte, first spent time with the team last summer.
“I went back [to Charlotte] last year when I came back from Japan,” Tracy explained. “I came back hurt and I was trying to stay in a little bit of shape and I went out and threw batting practice to the team.”
Tracy noticed that the players didn’t have a locker room or even a place to shower, and the field was a mess. Tracy, along with two business partners, decided to purchase the team and move it from Fort Mill to Ballantyne in the offseason.
“It was a bad experience for the kids, I think. They were sitting in their cars after BP, it was 105 degrees outside,” Tracy said. “So me and a couple of other guys bought the team, moved it, and now we’ve got a locker room and lockers and showers, TVs in there now for them. We feed them, we feed both teams when they come in, pay for the travel, try to get sponsors. We just took control over the team and made it a better atmosphere for these guys to play baseball in.”
They also turned it into a championship team within months. The Smokies went from last place in 2011 to winning the SCBL World Series in 2012.
While they run the team like a business, Tracy said that it’s not a personal money maker.
“It’s a non-profit,” he said. “We try to get enough sponsorships to cover our expenses, the buses, the travel. Pay your coaches. I’m not worried about getting paid. As long as the kids have a good experience, and hopefully they go back to school better and some of them hopefully can go into pro ball and have a future someday.”