NORMAL — CornBelters club president Steve Malliet considered it his due diligence.
Yet after exploratory discussions with the Northwoods League and the Prospect League, Malliet said Thursday that Normal will not join one of the wood bat college leagues and will remain part of the independent professional Frontier League.
“It was just a formality from my perspective,” Malliet said. “It’s hard to make changes. We’ve got a comfort level, and our fans have a comfort level, too. We’re happy to be in the Frontier League where we should be.”
Normal completed its eighth season in the Frontier League earlier this month, finishing at 48-48.
Malliet indicated the team’s ownership board met twice to consider a change in affiliation.
“It’s a big ownership group with a lot of local guys,” said Malliet. “We were trying to get as much input from everybody as we could. There were a lot of different ideas. But I don’t think there was enough to make any kind of consideration to move.”
Staying in the Frontier League reopens the possibility Brooks Carey remains Belters manager. Carey, who was unlikely to return to Normal as a college league skipper, has guided the Belters the past five seasons.
Carey has a 248-230 record that includes a 2015 division championship.
“From my perspective, I would like to see Brooks back,” Malliet said. “We’ll see if it’s a good fit for both sides.”
Carey has been unavailable for substantive discussions this week because of Hurricane Irma. A Florida native, Carey has interests in Key West and Tampa.