Leesburg to Host International Baseball Competition

Leesburg will host two games of an international baseball series between Korea’s top college players and select members of the Florida Collegiate Summer League, which includes the two-time champion Leesburg Lightning. 

The two teams will play a series of five games across Central Florida and at Leesburg’s historic Pat Thomas Stadium, which is scheduled for Aug. 8 and Aug. 10. Sanford will host two games at Sanford Memorial Stadium on Aug. 5 and 9. Conrad Park in Deland will have a game on Aug. 6. 

“For me, this is validation of not only the league but also America’s hometown – Leesburg, Fla. – to host such an event,” said local attorney Chuck Johnson, who sits on the Leesburg Lightning board of directors and also announces each home game at Pat Thomas Stadium. “Our community is now international with baseball.” 

The special competition started with an invitation from representatives from the Korea University Baseball Federation, said Rob Sitz, president of the Florida Collegiate Summer League. 

“They reached out to us, and then we worked out the details back and forth through multiple e-mails,” Sitz said. “I think for us, it is a tremendous opportunity for some national exposure to play against a Korean national team – it’s also an opportunity for Central Florida to showcase what we’re all about.” 

The Florida Collegiate Summer League is a wood-bat baseball league with six teams including the Leesburg Lightning, Deland Suns, College Park Freedom, Sanford River Rats, Winter Garden Squeeze and Winter Park Diamond Dogs. Players are selected from around the country to play for each team. The Leesburg Lightning – coached for the fourth season by David Therneau – averages the highest home-game attendance in the league with hundreds of devoted fans. 

“We have some of the finest players from across the United States to play for the Leesburg Lightning. Now we have players coming here from Korea – that is fantastic,” said Leesburg City Commissioner David Knowles. 

Pat Thomas Stadium was built in 1937. The first lighted baseball stadium in Florida, the historic site was home to several minor and major league training camps over the years and hosted such baseball greats as Hank Aaron and Pete Rose. The facility can seat nearly 2,000. 

For more information, contact the Florida Collegiate Summer League at (321) 206-9174 or visit www.floridaleague.com. For more on the Leesburg Lightning, visit www.leesburglightning.com. 

Leesburg is a progressive city of more than 20,000 residents in northwest Lake County. The city government serves twice as many people with its electric, gas, water, wastewater and fiber-optic public utilities. Leesburg also is a central hub for commerce, attracting 50,000 people to work each weekday. For more information, visit www.leesburgflorida.gov.