Hannibal Courier-Post

Rebranded Hannibal Cavemen ready for 2016 season

Posted: May. 25, 2016 6:29 pm

The Hannibal Cavemen have existed since 2009.

The club, though, is treating this season like it's the first one.

"We want to try to start over, co-owner and GM Bob Hemond said. "That’s exactly what we tell everybody: 'We’re starting over, just like this is our first year.'"

There's a reason for that. "Internal business issues," as Hemond put it, caused front office division for the past three and a half years, ultimately playing at least some role in the Cavemen's franchise-worst 16-40 record last season.

Those problems got resolved in October, and now Hemond says he is here for the summer and wants to make his mark on the franchise.

"Clearly, we have a complete mental and physical rebranding," he said. "For everybody that’s now on this team, it's a new entity."

When it comes to ideas, there's nothing out-of-bounds, Hemond said.

Big calendars are adhered to the wall inside the Cavemen staff's conference room. Whenever someone comes up with an idea for a game-day promotion, they write it on there.

"We have all these ideas we want to implement, and now we can," he said.

The rebranding effort began with a new logo design and a new team website, both which were implemented since the end of last season. A new ball cap was unveiled. And on Tuesday, the Cavemen launched its internet team store.

You don't have to look too long at Clemens Field to notice some other changes.

There's a new gate near third base through which fans can enter the park. It's called the Jake Beckley .308 Gate, in honor of the only Hannibal native to be in the MLB Hall of Fame.

Directly behind that, there's a .308 Deck, which features a sports bar that offers the amenities of a luxury suite to any game-day fans.

In addition, the bullpens have been moved from left field to right field, allowing fans to view the pitchers while they warm up.

Yet what's changed even more is the dynamic between the coaches and the players, returning player Nicco Lollio said.

"The coaching staff is trying to be more a part of the team and getting us comfortable," he said. "Everybody wants to be a part of this."

Manager Dick "LT" Dent said he wants to "steer the ship into the right direction." This will be his first year with the club.

That makes him fit in well with the Cavemen's other two coaches, Travis Ruppel and Ryan Doran, both of whom met each other over the weekend and have been with the team for less than a week.

The coaching staff's challenge is to get their squad ready for Thursday's 6:38 p.m. opener against Danville after only five days of preparation. The players arrived Sunday.

The roster is new except for three returners: Lollio, Seth Soto and Ryan Furtney.

Two players have ties to Hannibal. Pitcher Francisco Rivas, a Venezuelan native, attends Hannibal-LaGrange University. And Dalton Overstreet, a Hannibal native, recently finished his freshman year pitching for Quincy University.

Other than these faces, everything will be new for fans entering Clemens Field this season.

That's exactly what Hemond wants.

"We think the folks that come here will really be a part of what we’re trying to rebrand, which is Cavemen country," Hemond said. "That hopefully drives players wanting to be here because the experience, the fans, the stadium. Hopefully that translates into wins. 

"It’s finally here. We been working on so many different things since last November, and now it’s here. That’s the fun part. We just have to execute."