MARION – Jayne and John Simmons, the long-time owners of the Southern Illinois Miners baseball team, announced Wednesday that they are retiring from Frontier League baseball ownership. The 2021 season was the last season the team will be playing in Marion, Illinois for the Frontier League.
“This is a bittersweet decision for us,” said the Simmons. “We love the southern Illinois community and our family roots run deep here. We appreciate the years of support we have enjoyed from baseball fans, civic leaders, business owners, vendors and the City of Marion. We are at a time in our lives where we really would like to spend more time with our children and grandchildren.” While the Simmons involvement in the community may look different over time, their love for and appreciation of the people of this community are unwavering.
Supporting the Miners and building the stadium have been a passion and joy for the Simmons and has brought back great memories for them of when they attended the Savannah Sand Gnats games early in their marriage.
The Simmons brought baseball back to the area in the summer of 2007. Under the leadership of Jayne Simmons, the Miners led the Frontier League in attendance each of the franchise’s first four seasons, having been named “Frontier League Organization of the Year” three times (2007, 2009 & 2010) and captured the franchise’s first Frontier League Championship after the 2012 season. The Miners’ state-of-the-art home facility, Rent One Park, was constructed for the team’s inaugural season and saw a Frontier League record 259,392 fans come through the gates in 2007. The Southern Illinois Miners concluded their 2021 season with a 7-3 victory over the Gateway Grizzlies at Rent One Park in Marion, finishing with a record of 54 wins and 42 losses.
The Simmons’ commitment to excellence has been illustrated by the growth of the community, hundreds of jobs and the caliber of the 60 players the team has sent to Major League Organizations. “The success of this team is a testament to the great fans and local community,” said Mike Pinto, long-time manager and chief operating officer of the Miners. Pinto joined the team for the inaugural 2007 season. The team’s .574 winning percentage ranks first in league history for teams that have lasted more than one season, and Pinto is the league’s all-time leader in wins by a manager, passing Frontier League Hall-of-Famer Fran Riordan on June 2nd, 2018, with his 626th victory.
The Simmons’ investment in the team and stadium has been a contributing factor to both Marion’s and the surrounding communities’ economic growth. Since 2007, four new hotels have opened as have dozens of locally owned and operated restaurants, businesses and miles and miles of connecting interstate that helped to fuel the economic growth of the community.
What is the future of Rent One Park? “The stadium is a wonderful asset to the community and has incredible potential as a multi-use facility,” said Jayne Simmons. “We have high hopes for its future, and we will share more information about the stadium in the coming months.”
Over the years, the Miners owners, management, players and team members have invested thousands of hours in the community through programs like the Miners Reading Club, Anti-Bullying Campaign, Mascot appearances, fundraising efforts to local organizations, visits to the Marion VA Medical Center and other hospitals, ticket giveaways for Military Appreciation Night, the Miners Hometown Hero Awards, and so much more.
“John and I would like to express our deepest appreciation to the loyal baseball fans, host families, season ticket holders, the City of Marion, local businesses, our sponsors like Rent One and all of the people who helped us create a generation of baseball memories here in southern Illinois,” said Jayne Simmons. “We will continue to look for meaningful ways to support Marion and the region.”
The City of Marion released the following statement regarding the Miners announcement Wednesday.
“In response to today’s news that Southern Illinois Miners baseball will not return, we would like to thank John and Jayne Simmons for their commitment to and investment in Marion over the last 15 years. We have all enjoyed watching Miners’ baseball and will forever be grateful for the friendships forged with Mike Pinto, Miners’ staff, and players over the last decade and a half. Rent One Park will continue to be an important part of Marion’s future. While we are saddened by today’s news, we understand it is a business decision and we will continue to ensure that the stadium remains a dynamic asset for our region. We are excited to work with the Simmons’ and any future stakeholders on the future vitality of Rent One Park. On behalf of a grateful community, we thank the Simmons family, the Miners’ organization and their sponsors for the wonderful times and growth we have all enjoyed.”