Obama made pitch for Cougars

Long before his run for the presidency, Barack Obama threw off the Elfstrom Stadium mound. (Kane County Cougars)

By Kane County Cougars | November 12, 2008 4:42 PM ET

Kane County Cougars fans know that when they attend a game at Elfstrom Stadium, the people on the field before them could eventually blossom into Major League stars.

But can they become a President of the United States? Yes they can.

Barack Obama's victory in last week's general election brought back vivid memories for Cougars fans and staff members alike. In August of 2004, Obama appeared at Elfstrom Stadium as a candidate for the U.S. Senate and spent a day at a Cougars game. The visit was less than four weeks removed from Obama's "Red States, Blue States" speech that he had given at the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Dressed in a black polo shirt and slacks, Obama attended the Sunday, August 22nd Cougars game at Elfstrom Stadium in 2004. Following the National Anthem, Obama took the field with Cougars players and threw a ceremonial first pitch with mascot Ozzie T. Cougar by his side. Obama mingled with fans throughout the game and even stepped into the Cougars' radio booth to go on the air with then-Cougars broadcaster Chris Rushin.

Perhaps Obama's presence inspired the Cougars that day and for the remainder of the season. In front of the future U.S. President-elect, the team trailed the Dayton Dragons before rallying to win a 5-1 decision. The good vibes continued beyond Obama's appearance as Kane County proceeded to clinch the Western Division Championship. At the time, it was the Cougars' third Championship Series appearance in franchise history. Obama's path quickly escalated as well, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate for the first time in November of 2004.

President-elect Obama is just one, albeit a major one, who has brought fanfare and excitement to Cougars fans by appearing at Elfstrom Stadium. Since the franchise's start in 1991, notable names who have visited the home of the Cougars include actress Liv Tyler, the Leinenkugel Brothers, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Hall-of-Famers Ryne Sandberg and Jim Palmer, and Todd Rundgren - a musician and album producer whose son Rex played for the Cougars in 2002. In the summer of 2007, Eric and Kathy from The Mix morning show hosted a live remote broadcast from Elfstrom Stadium that included a guest appearance by musician and actress Mandy Moore.

"Just as our fans look to Elfstrom Stadium as a destination for great baseball and family entertainment, we've seen numerous celebrities come to Cougars games for those same reasons," Cougars Assistant General Manager Jeff Ney said. "In a way, it legitimizes the Cougars' organization as a place where prominent figures such as Barack Obama enjoy being seen and interacting with our many fans."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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