Thursday, July 29, 2021

My 1,000 Mile Jaunt Through Wisconsin

 Typically, I take one baseball themed road trip each summer. I stayed at home in 2020, because attending baseball games was not an option. This year I saw four games in five days, with an opportunity to see the Brewers play on my last day, but with Vogelbach being on the injured list I just kept on driving by Milwaukee on my way home. Get well soon, Vogey!

I started my trip out with a a card show just west of Milwaukee. There were only a dozen or so vendors there and only one had dime cards, but that was enough for me. I purchased around 150 cards from this gentleman. 

It's hard to pass up Ohtani cards for a dime each!

I wish this was a Cubs card, but I'll take what I can get when it comes to Theo. 
Starting Lineup, Canseco pitching, an oddball of Greg Luzinski and The Chicken. The boxes had a great selection!
These cards will go straight into my Folder of Fun. 
Again, just some really neat cards!
On this baseball trip I decided to try something different. Usually I try to knock another MLB stadium or two off my list, but this time I went the amateur and minor league route. 

First up was a game between the Kenosha King Fish and the Battle Creek Bombers. I arrived in the sixth inning of the first game of a doubleheader and watched the King Fish bullpen play spikeball in the outfield between games. 

Here's a picture of their mascot using a zip line during his grand entrance. Pretty cool!
The two teams belong to the collegiate Northwoods League. The rosters were crammed full of players from Big Ten schools and others around the country. I left the nightcap after the 3rd inning (2+ hours for 3 innings, ugh!) when the King Fish jumped ahead 14 to 2. They ended up winning 17 to 5.

My second game was in a western suburb of Milwaukee, and featured the Milkmen and the Gary Southshore Railcats, of the American Association, which is an independent league. 
This ballpark was absolutely gorgeous and I really took to their mascot, Bo Vine. He was extremely interactive with the crowd and I thought his uniform number, 2%, was pretty unique. 
I'm not sure I know what a railcat is, and I'm wondering if the scoreboard operator did either. Each player had a different picture of a cat, like grumpy cat! I got a chuckle out of that. 
I traveled up to Rhinelander and soon found out about the legend of the Hodag
In short, it was a publicity stunt in the 1890's, but the Hodag is kind of revered in Rhinelander. It's even the high school mascot!
The next day I played disc golf at three different courses. My favorite, oddly enough, was a local dump not too long ago. 
My main reason for heading north for this trip was to watch a game of Snowshoe baseball. 
Yes, Snowshoe baseball. If you're looking for more information here's the article which initially caught my attention. It does a great job describing the events of an evening in Lake Tomahawk. 

Dinner. Mmmmm...
I went for a cheeseburger and two slices of pie. 
Everything is donated, from the buns, to the meat, to the pies, to the wood chips on the field. All the proceeds are donated to a local cause and the entire community supports the effort. This demonstration of support and community kind of actually makes me want to move to Lake Tomahawk. 
Here's the pie board. Town members would walk up and donate their pie and the volunteers would divide it into eight pieces and place it in the refrigerators. The white board would see a LOT of action during the night! I had one piece of raspberry for dinner and one piece of peanut butter.

Then I went back and bought a piece of lemon meringue for dessert. I mean, hey, it was all for a good cause!

Here's a picture of the home team strapping on their showshoes. 
Below is a snapshot of the infield from my seat. By the time the game started there wasn't a seat to be had and there were more folding and camp chairs than I cared to count. 
I'm hoping this short video will give you an idea of how the game was played.  
They played nine innings and used a sixteen inch softball. My biggest take away was that everyone was there to have fun, including the umpires and announcer. Just a tremendously fun outing!

The next day I played another disc golf course in Manitowac, right on Lake Michigan. There were 36 holes in all, but #26 was definitely the highlight. Certainly not your traditional basket!

That evening I saw the South Bend Cubs play against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in Appleton. 
The Timber Rattlers have the best minor league ballpark I've seen for the A-level, and I've seen many. It could easily host a AAA team if given the chance. 
How about this for a carrying device for your concession stand purchases? Innovative. It was $2 beer night, so these boards with four holes cut into them were a pretty common around the park. 
My hat goes off to the scoreboard operator again. The Cubs had a fellow by the name of Ryan Reynolds in the lineup. Every other Cub had their head shot on the board, except for Mr. Reynolds. Good stuff. 

On the last day of my trip I played my sixth different course of the trip. 
Like many of the courses there were two tee pads and two basket locations. I knew going into the trip my arm wouldn't be able to take 135 holes of golf from the longs, so I played the shortest distances during each outing. I scored fairly well and came back to P-town with a nice boost to my disc golf ego!
What's gcool is I was able to play the three top rated courses in Wisconsin, according to the Udisc app, and each one was quite noteworthy in their own way. 

Here's a summary of my trip by the numbers:
Miles driven = 1,274
Days/Nights = 5 days and 4 nights
Aunts Stayed With = 1 night with Aunt Beth (Thanks, Aunt Beth!)
Ball games attended = 4 (Kenosha King Fish, Milwaukee Milkmen, Lake Tomahawk Snowhawks, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers)
Disc Golf Courses Played = 6 (Adeliade Park, Rookery Run, Sandy Point, Brandy Lake, Silver Creek, Rollin Ridge)
Disc Golf Holes Played = 135
Discs Found & Lost = 2 found & ZERO lost (Woo-Hoo!)
Mosquito bites suffered = Zero (but I used a bunch of bug spray)
Pie consumed = 3 pieces (raspberry, peanut butter, lemon meringue)
Beers consumed = 3 total (the best was Blue Bobber by Fox River Brewing Company)
Culver's Visited/Seen = Only stopped at one, but saw at least two dozen of the restaurant
Favorite Food (non-pie category) = Deep Fried Cheese Curds at Franklin Field, home of the Milkmen
Baseball Card Shops/Shows = 3 shops & 1 show attended 
Best Card Related Purchase = I finally found a 1985 Topps baseball set for a good price! Woot!
Consecutive days seeing Great Blue Heron = 4
Books Read = 1 

If you need a pick me up, then I would like to suggest The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America. 
Buck O'Neil was such a positive person. What stuck with me most through this book was how he could take any hardship, slight, or negative situation and always find the good in it. It's a quick read with many great stories about Negro League players. If you have the time, then I highly suggest. 

So, that's my summer trip. I feel more or less rejuvenated, although not quite ready to get back in the classroom. Lucky for me I still have a little time to get myself prepared. 

Thanks for reading about my trip! I hope you were able to take a summer vacation that made you smile as much as I did on mine!


  1. What a cool trip. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip, very fun to read. Although thanks a lot for making me hungry at 1 AM with pictures of pie.

  3. Very cool roadtrip. Great job of breaking it down by the numbers.
    Love going to minor league games! Snowshoe baseball sounds fun too.

  4. Awesome road trip! I think Hodag will be my new battle-cry! I very much want to take in a game somehow. I was hoping the Phillies would be sellers whereby we could get Miami-esque attendance... I so want a sunburn-beer-baseball experience...

  5. I really wanna do a more in-depth tour of Wisconsin like this one of these days. I've been to Milwaukee and a few other spots around the state, and I absolutely love the whole vibe up there. Looks like you had a blast! Didn't realize there were so many minor league squads in WI.

  6. Minor league parks are a blast, good to see you have a fun baseball-themed vacation. Thanks for sharing the details with us.

  7. Thanks for the recap and pictures! Sounded like a good time!