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Tuesday morning found Chattanooga Lookouts president Rich Mozingo in his AT&T Field office, despite his having been furloughed after last week's official cancellation of the team's Southern League season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Asked about the current state of the stadium and field without the 280 seasonal employees it takes to stage 70 minor league games each summer, Mozingo said: "It's never looked better. The field looks better than it has in five years. The stadium's probably cleaner than it's been in nine years."

Asked what contributions he'd made toward that result, he replied: "What haven't we done? We've all had a lot of sweaty days fixing up the ballpark. We filled three dumpsters just cleaning out stuff."

So assuming the Lookouts are able to return next spring, AT&T Field should be more than ready for their reboot. And for those worried about Major League Baseball's earlier contraction plans to rid itself of as many as 40 minor league clubs, Mozingo sounds fairly confident the Lookouts won't be among them.

"We have got such a strong ownership group," he said of co-owners Jason Freier and John Woods of Hardball Capital. "We're not going to fail."

But just in case this baseball thing never returns, you might one day see Mozingo running the Disc Golf Pro Tour.

Yes, thanks to having a summer full of nights with no Lookouts games to watch over, Mozingo has fallen hard for disc golf, playing as often as possible at Chester Frost Park with his sons Lucas, 23, and Alex, 19. Mom Tracy goes along more nights than not to watch and get in a good walk.

"The pros might have as many as 30 discs in their backpack," he said admiringly. "Some turn left, some turn right. They can make (the discs) do anything."

Mozingo limits his bag to four discs of different weights: a driver, a putter, a mid-range and a utility disc.

"We play almost every single evening," he said. "I've gotten so much better since (the coronavirus pandemic) began."

Mozingo has become so knowledgable about the DGPT, he sometimes watches live coverage on the tour's website (www.discgolfnetwork.com) or YouTube page. There's also delayed coverage on the CBS Sports Network.

He can even tell you the men's tour's two most exciting players.

"Paul McBeth and Nikko Locastro," he proudly explained. "It's an American-dominated sport."

Not only that, but McBeth and Locastro apparently offer the kind of contrast in styles John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg once did on the tennis court. While McBeth is the quiet and respected leader of his sport, having won four world championships before the age of 30, Locastro is a little like McEnroe, full of fire and fury, his rounds punctuated by emotional gestures and language that can't be repeated in a family newspaper.

The money's not awful, either.

According to Paysa, a career advisor that helps people find work, professional disc golf players made an average salary of $116,037 a year in 2018. The top 10% averaged $212,198, while the bottom 25% averaged $62,870. Those earnings came from both tournament winnings and endorsement deals.

Then there's 29-year-old Paige Pierce on the women's side, who owns five world titles and nearly $200,000 in career winnings, not counting endorsement deals.

No, it's not the PGA or LPGA tours, but whoever thought 25 years ago that you could make a pretty decent living tossing around a Frisbee?

"Our goal," Mozingo said of his and his family's sudden obsession with the sport as both participants and spectators, "was not to sit on the couch."

Not that disc golf is the only thing he's come to enjoy during this sports-less summer.

"In 29 years of working in baseball, I can't remember the last summer that I got to eat dinner at home with my family," he said. "First summer vacation I've had in forever."

But he also hopes it's the last one he has for years.

"The last time (the Lookouts) deposited any money in the bank was last August 28th," Mozingo said. "The next time, hopefully, will be April 5th, 2021. If we're still dealing with this then, it's going to be tough."

When you're a minor league baseball employee and you've been furloughed, or a seasonal employee whose season was canceled before it began, it's more than tough, even with the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program to somewhat soften the blow for the full-timers.

Nor is Mozingo at all certain we'll ever see the big leagues take the field later this month.

"Is that going to actually happen?" he asked. "I just want to see some team sports come back. I've watched more NASCAR this summer than I've seen my whole life."

Then he said the one thing that almost every sports fan everywhere, and particularly the South, is wondering about and worrying over every single day.

"If we don't play college football," he said, "it's really going to hurt my feelings."

Anyone for starting a disc football league, masks required?

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Mark Wiedmer

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @TFPWeeds.

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