The West Michigan Whitecaps, founded in 1994, are the Class A minor league affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Photo via fb.com
Twenty years ago, Lew Chamberlin and Dennis Baxter brought professional baseball to Grand Rapids.
Aside from comical side attractions like the 4,800-calorie Fifth Third Burger, the West Michigan Whitecaps have seen dozens of Major Leaguers come through the park — and five championships.
It all started in 1994 when the Madison Muskies relocated to Grand Rapids, thanks to the efforts of Chamberlin and Baxter.
For three years, they were affiliated with the Oakland Athletics, before pairing with the Detroit Tigers in 1997.
The originally named Old Kent Park switched to Fifth Third Ballpark when Fifth Third purchased Old Kent in 2002.
During its time, the team has annually ranked among the top teams in attendance, regularly filling a majority of its 10,071-seat capacity to watch future Major League stars (and current stars on rehab assignment, like Tigers second baseman Omar Infante recently).
Live video chat: Wednesday, July 31 at 11 a.m.
West Michigan Whitecaps CEO/managing partner Lew Chamberlin is scheduled to answer questions posted in the comments section below during a live video chat at grbj.com. The chat will be filmed via webcam at Fifth Third Ballpark and streamed live below.
Chamberlin will discuss the past 20 years of Whitecaps history, the future and what it takes to run a baseball team, among other topics.
What questions do you have for Chamberlin and the Whitecaps organization? Post your questions — before or during the chat — and look out for the live discussion.
Watch a recording of the live video chat below.
Editor's note: Reporter Pat Evans moderated the chat at Fifth Third Ballpark.