Every summer, around Memorial Day, Quincy Gems players pour into the area for a brand new season. And every summer, people like Brent and Patty Babyak of Quincy open their homes and host these new faces for the season, all so they can continue chasing their baseball dreams. And in the case of the Babyaks, its become a tradition, but they don't do it because of their love for the game. In fact, they'll be the first to tell you they aren't big baseball fans. But its not about being a big fan, its more about having a big heart.
It's become a summer tradition for Brent and Patty Babyak. But what started years ago almost never started at all.
"My husband and I decided that eventually we'd like to be a host for a foreign exchange student, and we decided this would be a great introduction to being a host family. We'd have the players for about three months, we thought we'd try that and have been doing it ever since,"
And ever since, for the last 7 summers, the Babyaks have opened their home to the Quincy Gems.
"I think it's the excitement of this being a developmental league and the dream for the kids as well as us that maybe we're housing a future major league player,"
The players come from different backgrounds, schools, and states - meaning they introduce players to more than their home. Sometimes, its about introducing them to the Midwestern way of life.
"That was unique because he came in mid-season and was replacing another player. The team was on the road and that night there was a big rain storm with power outages and downed trees, and at 1 in the morning I had to knock on his door and tell him 'welcome to the midwest- let's head to the basement,"
"He called his parents and wanted to know why we went to the basement if there was a storm coming, and if the house was going to fall in on us,"
Seven years has left the couple with a multitude of good stories. And for Brent and Patty, those stories don't end when the season ends. They like to follow up with their players, always keeping an eye on where they end up after Quincy.
"I would like to get down to the Tampa area where our first player is playing minor league ball and see him play, but haven't had the opportunity to do so just yet,"
Next season, Brent and Patty hope to keep their summer tradition alive, albeit for a different team. They've recently discussed relocating - to Hannibal. As long as the Babyaks are in the area, Prospect Leaguers will have a place to stay, no matter where home might be.
"We're always open to it, you never know. We'll have to see what happens a few years from now and go from there. We've enjoyed it so far so I don't see us stopping anytime soon,"