The Edenton Steamers are a semi-professional baseball franchise in the 12-team Coastal Plain League.

The summer league offers college players the opportunity to swing wooden bats, fine tune their game, and get major league attention from their fans.

"Everybody knows who the Steamers are because you're pretty noticable," rightfielder Sean Farrell said. "It's great to have a chance to showcase your talent and have a whole town behind you."

Players don't get paid, and live with host families in this town of 5,000 residents.

"I think my children would be disappointed if they didn't have a Steamer with them for the summer," host Mary Joe Sellers said.  
 
Locals put up the players and volunteer at the ballpark for the fun of the game, but also because they own the Steamers.

"It's not owned by a private investor. It's not owned by the league. It's owned by the community," Chowan County Manager Cliff Copeland said.
 
The team is the nation's smallest community-owned baseball franchise.

"It brings back the old baseball atmosphere that used to be a long time [ago] — like when my dad played. I heard him talk about ... the best times to play baseball," Todd Hunter, the Steamers' general manager, said.

His dad, late Yankee pitcher and Hall-of-Famer "Catfish" Hunter, grew up just a few miles away from Edenton in Herford, N.C.

County leaders want to keep the old-fashioned feel of the Edenton's baseball roots: the wooden stands, the small field, right down to the manually operated scoreboard.

And whether the players make it to the majors or not, the Steamers will always remember this small town's devotion to America's game.