1,008 consecutive attended games
Rachel Hills & Ryne Ryskoski
Duluth, Minn — Many baseball fans can claim that they have season tickets to their favorite team, have seen every game for the last five years, know the coach, etc. But few can claim that they have been to 1,008 consecutive games at the same stadium like Jon Winter has.
Winter has been a regular attendee at Wade Stadium since it played host to the Duluth Dukes many years ago and has been able to get an inside look at the team and stadium in many ways over the last 20 years. He has been able to watch games as a fan and employee, saying “I’ve been kind of a sounding board for both fans and management/ownership. I think I have gained a lot of understanding from both a management and fan perspective.”
While being a regular for many years at the stadium that was built in 1941, Winter has seen many changes. “The history of the stadium hasn’t changed and has just grown over the last 26 years. The artificial field, of course, is a big change. The site lines down the lines past the bleachers are improved greatly. The foul lines used to go straight back from the grandstand fence line.” Winter also said that the food and selection of beer are “far better than some of the early years after the Dukes came back in 1993.”
Like anything else, as the years pass by the atmosphere surrounding something can change. When it comes to Duluth, Winter said that there have been “good years and bad years, but mostly good. I think those years when it was unknown if the Dukes would be back (at Wade Stadium) or not was far worse than today. Just as with any business every year there are things that can be improved.” He also complimented the ownership and staff in Duluth; saying that “the Huskies ownership and staff work very hard to make things better every year”.
Newer fans may not know that the Duluth Dukes were actually a minor league team, not a summer collegiate team. They were originally formed back in 1935 as a part of the Northern League, a part of the Minor League system, so Winter has been able to see all of the differences there are between the two levels of play. “A big difference between the minor league professional Dukes players and the college-age Huskies players are we used to see far more home runs. Wade Stadium isn’t an easy place to hit one now. Personally, I prefer the Huskies over what we had with the Dukes” Winter said. Watching players with MLB potential improve and being able to follow their careers is an advantage with the Northwoods League.”
Winter also said that the friendships he’s made around the stadium are what keeps him returning all these years and makes him “really excited to see what happens this season.” Most fans also have a favorite moment that sticks out in their mind. For Winter, the 1997 NL Championship game 5 would “top them all.” He also vividly remembers an unassisted triple play by Shortstop Allen Williams in 1994.
The Huskies face the Bismarck Larks in game two tonight. First pitch is set for 6:35 pm with live game coverage on 92.1 The fan and twinportssportshub.com beginning at 6:25 pm. All Duluth Huskies and Northwoods League games are live streamed online at portal.stretchlive.com/nwl to watch.
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The Duluth Huskies are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Now in its 26th anniversary season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 200 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including 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). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.duluthhuskies.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Huskies as your favorite team.