Mooresville lands collegiate baseball team

A team of collegiate baseball players who aspire to the big leagues will debut at a refurbished Moor Park on South Broad Street this summer.

The Mooresville Spinners will play 25 home games from May 24 to Aug. 1 in the nine-team wood-bat Carolina-Virginia Collegiate League, which includes the Charlotte Crushers, Roanoke Rails, Catawba Valley Stars and Kernersville Bulldogs. The Spinners and Raleigh-based Carolina Pirates are this year’s expansion teams.

The name of the Mooresville team reflects the town’s textile heritage; the former Burlington Industries (Mooresville Mills) textile plant operated for decades until the late 1990s across Broad and Main streets from the baseball park. Merinos Home Furnishings now occupies the former mill complex. Spinners turned fiber into thread and yarn.

The Spinners are owned by John Wilcox, part-owner of the Class A West Virginia Power South Atlantic League team. The league includes the Hickory Crawdads and Kannapolis Intimidators. Wilcox, who produces oil and gas wells in West Virginia, also owns a home at Lake Norman in the Denver area.

Phillip Loftin, 30 and a lifelong Denver, N.C., resident, will be the team’s director of operations. Loftin founded and owns the 3-year-old Dry Pond Blue Sox, a group of traveling baseball show teams for players between 13 and 18. “Dry Pond” is the former name of unincorporated Denver. For eight years, Loftin has been assistant coach of the American Legion Post 455 baseball team, the Lincoln County Cardinals.

Wilcox said he plans to spend up to $75,000 on improvements to the town-owned Moor Park by opening day, including new infield grass, dugouts and a first-time outfield warning track.

The Mooresville Board of Commissioners late Monday approved a short-term, season-long lease with Wilcox’s Spinners Baseball LLC. The town can still stage concerts and other community events at the park, according to the lease.

Wilcox said further park improvements will be made once the club secures a longer-term lease.

He said he hopes his team will continue Mooresville’s long tradition of its teams producing Major League-quality players. The old Mooresville Moors Class D team in the mid-1900s produced Major League pitchers Dave Jolly and Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm.

The Spinners will include local standouts such as Danny Sullivan and Jacob Hoover, both of whom play for Catawba Valley Community College. Others are from Ohio, Texas, West Virginia and other states. About 100 players from across the country applied to play for the team, Wilcox said.