The 2018 season marks the quarter century milestone for the Northwoods League!
In June of 1994, amidst a relatively sparse summer collegiate baseball landscape, five teams in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa took the field as part of the upstart Northwoods League. The model: bring the promotional and entrepreneurial spirit of professional baseball to the summer collegiate market. In its first season, all five teams were owned by the League, and each played local town ball teams to fill out the 56-game schedule. Approximately 70,000 fans attended games that first season.
Fast forward twenty-five years, and the Northwoods League has distinguished itself among a prolific summer collegiate baseball landscape. It has grown to 20 affiliates across six states and one Canadian province. Teams play a 72-game season and the League’s attendance perennially exceeds 1 million. All of the games are broadcast with a 4-camera HD production, expanding the visibility of our players, teams and communities well-beyond the geographic footprint of the League. More than 185 alumni have made it to the Major Leagues – with three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (TOR) leading the way.
25 Memorable Moments in Northwoods League History
Follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or check back here on Mondays and Thursdays starting March 5, to celebrate 25 moments that have shaped the Northwoods League.
Madison Mallards Draw 10,061 Fans for Single-Game (released March 19)
On June 12, 2004, the stars aligned for a record-setting night in Madison, WI. 10,061 fans packed the Duck Pond for the team’s 100th home game, on what team officials described as the first night of good weather they had all year, and saw the Mallards take home a 4-1 victory against the Rochester Honkers.
Buzz around the team had been steadily growing throughout its first three seasons, and continued into 2004 spurred by ballpark renovations, promotions and a solid team on the field. Read Complete Story.
TJ Friedl Becomes the Highest Paid Non-Drafted Domestic Free Agent (released March 15)
Former St. Cloud Rox outfielder TJ Friedl signed a free agent contract with the Cincinnati Reds in August of 2016. In doing so, he received the highest bonus in MLB history for a non-drafted free agent. Friedl was previously thought to be ineligible to sign that year, but it was discovered that as a redshirt sophomore he had the requisite three years of eligibility completed (2 years playing, 1 year redshirt) to be signed as a free agent. Friedl signed for a $735,000 bonus, setting the record for the highest bonus for a non-drafted free agent. Read Complete Story.
Wisconsin Rapids Sets Single-Season Wins Record (released March 12)
Fresh off their 2016 Summer Collegiate World Series Championship, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters followed that up in 2017 by winning a League-record 52 games. As part of this record-setting feat, the Rafters won 14 straight games from June 2 through June 16. Read Complete Story.
NWL All-Stars Beat Team USA 1-0 (released March 8)
For many baseball fans, July 10, 2001, is remembered for Cal Ripken’s epic All-Star Game sendoff. His magical performance in Seattle was the epitome of his Hall of Fame career.
But 1,600 miles away, in St. Cloud, Minn., nearly 2,000 fans were witnessing their own unbelievable All-Star Game moment. In an exhibition game against the USA Baseball National Team, the Northwoods League All-Stars held Team USA scoreless, winning the game 1-0 in a 10-inning pitcher’s duel and handing the national team their first shutout in nearly a year. Read Complete Story.
Opening Day 1994 (released March 5)
On June 10, 1994, the Northwoods League threw its first pitch and a revolution in summer collegiate baseball was underway. Founded by long-time professional baseball owners and operators George MacDonald, Jr., Dick Radatz, Jr., William McKee and John Wendel, the concept was simple yet untested: apply the professional baseball model of promoting games to the summer collegiate baseball landscape. Five teams, all owned by the League, made up the inaugural season membership, including the Dubuque Mud Puppies, Kenosha Kroakers, Manitowoc Skunks, Rochester Honkers and Wausau Woodchucks. Read Complete Story.
Share the Glove | Northwoods League Foundation Donating $50,000 in Baseball and Softball Equipment
The Northwoods League Foundation is celebrating the 25th season of the Northwoods League by donating $50,000 in youth Rawlings baseball and softball equipment through 20 grants. Each grant, with an approximate retail value of $2500, will include two sets of catcher’s gear, ten gloves, eight batting helmets, six bats and one bucket of practice balls.
Click HERE for more information.