The St. Joseph Mustangs will host the Sedalia Bombers tonight at Phil Welch Stadium.

The St. Joseph Mustangs celebrate the Fourth of July every year with fireworks and baseball. But, there was more before the Mustangs.

Baseball Reference has St. Joseph affiliated with baseball as early as 1886. While the team held many official names, it was primarily known as the Saints.

There is no record in Baseball Reference after 1954, but according to the Mustangs website, the Saints were revamped in 1996. The Saints also played in the MINK League — just like the Mustangs.

Joyce Allen, a St. Joseph local, has been attending games at Phil Welch Stadium since the revamp of the Saints in 1996.

The Saints were sold and renamed the St. Joe Blacksnakes in 2006.

“The Saints (Fourth of July celebrations), they did fireworks displays,” Allen said. “The Blacksnakes, I don’t think they did anything like that.”

Allen said the Blacksnakes weren’t popular with fans, so Dan Gerson purchased the franchise and created the Mustangs.

Allen, who held season passes to the Saints and the Blacksnakes, continued her season passes when the Mustangs formed in 2009 because her nephew Ethan Barnett was a pitcher on the team.

Of all the holidays spent at Phil Welch she had before and after Barnett’s season, those were her favorite.

“The first year my nephew pitched, we got to do a little bit more than a lot of the families because he was on the team, so we got to talk to everybody and participate in some of the stuff,” Allen said.

Still, Allen said the Mustangs are extremely crowd-focused and make the games enjoyable for all ages.

Ky Turner, general manager for the Mustangs, said that’s the goal: Create entertainment for everyone.

“Our focus every year is family affordable entertainment, but our job is to make sure everyone that comes in here has a good experience,” Turner said.

That’s why the Mustangs have so many activities during the week of the Fourth. On the holiday, the team hosts a home game as well as a military jersey auction, Little Mister and Miss Mustang, and the Fourth of July fireworks. Mosaic Life Care sponsors Saturday night fireworks throughout the season but sponsors two extra shows on July 3 and 4.

“We knew from Day 1 that baseball is celebrated in St. Joe, but a great way to get people here is fireworks — everyone loves fireworks,” Turner said. “It’s a good way for people who — if you don’t like baseball — it gives you something else for all ages.”

Micaela Dea can be reached at micaela.dea@newspressnow.com.

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