JOPLIN, MO. — The Joplin Outlaws are made up of college players from all over the United States. Some even come from other countries. Every season, several community members step up to the plate to become their host families.
During the summer, college players make their way to Joplin to play for the Outlaws in the MINK League. For two months, it’s pretty much eat, sleep and play baseball.
“The road trip was like the first road trip where it was five days in a row, five games in a row, come home, get home at three and play the next day,” said Outlaws infielder Cade Lott. “It’s been a lot of baseball which is good, like I enjoy that. So, it’s what I’m here to do.”
Lott is from McAlester, Oklahoma which is about three hours from Joplin. The Waggoners are his host family. Lott said he was welcomed with open arms and a friendly challenge.
“I got a little taste of what it’s like the first night living with Bobby because we got here and like the first thing we did was play ping pong,” said Lott.
This is the first year Bobby and Donna Waggoner have taken in an Outlaws player. Bobby said they were convinced by team president and general manager Mark Rains.
“He had a sign around his neck saying they were wanting host families for his baseball team,” said Bobby. “You know, I’ve known Mark for two or three years now and he’s a great guy and great person, does a lot for the Outlaws. So, we thought it would be a good opportunity for us to step in and say hey, we’re gonna take an Outlaw.”
Rains has even hosted players himself and said he enjoys the bonds they form.
“We’ve hosted 42 different players in our house and they have become our kids,” said Rains. “There’s other families that hesitate about it as well, and once they do it, they love it.”
The Waggoners said they’ve enjoyed having Lott around, although half the time they don’t even know he’s there.
“He eats, sleeps and plays baseball,” said Bobby.
“You wouldn’t even know he’s here unless he’s coming up to eat,” added Donna.
From housing and feeding them to cheering them on at games, these host families are providing them with a home away from home.