Hey, batta batta batta! UChicago Medicine sponsors Lake County Corn Dogs baseball team

Gavin Terry and Donavon Nobel, Corn Dog players
Gavin Terry, left, and Donovan Noble, right, are among the prospect-level players people get to see play baseball at the Lake County Corn Dogs games. (Courtesy of Josh Brunette)

The University of Chicago Medicine has signed a five-year deal to be the main sponsor of the Lake County Corn Dogs, a new Northern League baseball team in Crown Point, Indiana.

The team’s motto, “Building Community Through Baseball,” aligns with UChicago Medicine’s goal to be an active member of the Crown Point community, where the hospital is building a multispecialty care center on a 46-acre site at Interstate 65 and 109th Avenue. Construction on the 116,000-square-foot building is starting this summer, and the new facility is scheduled to open to patients in 2023.

“We’re both new to the community so we’re trying to enter a new market with similar principles and values,” said Ralph Flores, the Corn Dogs’ majority owner and a lifelong Northwest Indiana resident. “To have a world-class medical provider like UChicago Medicine as a sponsor is a privilege.”

An estimated 15% of Northwest Indiana residents travel outside the region for medical care. About one in five go to UChicago Medicine’s specialty care facilities in and near Chicago. About 10% of UChicago Medicine employees live in Northwest Indiana.

“Between our patients and employees who live in Northwest Indiana, we are fortunate to have a connection to the area,” said Daiquiri Lewers, UChicago Medicine Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. “With the addition of our care center in Crown Point and our new sponsorship of the Corn Dogs, we hope to deepen that relationship and become a valued member of the community.”

UChicago Medicine also partners with the in first place since their season began May 26, Flores said.

Aside from the competitive baseball, the Corn Dogs offer a fun, family-friendly game atmosphere.

Before and after the game and between innings, there are contests (such as running around the bat seven times and then dizzily running to first base), giveaways, player autographs, a large grassy Kids Zone play lot and more. Unlike other teams, the Corn Dogs fans can keep any foul balls they catch as well as visit the dugout before or after the game to get player autographs.

“There have been so many parents who have come up to me and the rest of the team and said, ‘We’re so glad you came to town. Thanks for incorporating our kids into this experience, and we’ll be back,’” Flores said.

The team already has adopted an amusing tradition: Each time a Corn Dogs player hits a home run, a concession stand corn dog is rushed to the dugout and the player takes a bite, eliciting cheers from the crowd.

Another draw is the affordability of Corn Dogs games. Flores estimated the cost for a family of four to attend a Corn Dogs game to be $50 or less, including food and drinks.

Of course, corn dogs are on the concession stand menu. They’re air-fried, so they’re crispy on the outside and soft on the inside without all the grease.

Serious baseball fans will appreciate the prospect-level players playing a competitive game. Since Major League Baseball significantly downsized the Minor League in December 2020, many of those players have joined smaller leagues like this one, with hopes of fulfilling their dreams to play in the big leagues one day. Many are from Northwest Indiana or the Chicago suburbs, including a few former Division 1 college players.

“The level of play is very high. There will be a day when one of our young players or fans says, ‘I remember when he was a Corn Dog and now I’m watching him play in the Majors on TV,'” Flores said.

The Corn Dogs’