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Mallards Alumni Q & A: Mike Rohde (Illinois)

Rohde, now a member of the Gary SouthShore RailCats in the Northern League, began his professional career in 2007 with the Schaumburg Flyers where he was a contender for the league’s Rookie of the Year award. He batted .318 with 32 RBI’s while playing in 62 games, primarily at second base and outfield. Rohde (pictured) played for the Mallards from 2003 to 2006 and owns six career batting records including RBI’s (87) and hits (175). The team retired his number on August 12, 2007, making him the first former player to receive such an honor. In an interview during halftime of the Badgers basketball game versus Indiana, the Brookfield, WI native reflected on his career with the Mallards.

How are you spending your off-season?

“I’m a news photojournalist for CBS affiliate WCIA TV in Champagne, Ill. It’s an exciting role because I’m directly responsible for providing visual elements that further enhance our viewers’ experience. When I’m not working you can find me at the gym five days a week preparing for spring training in mid-April.”

Are you excited about playing for the RailCats?

Absolutely. I’ve learned that working a 9 to 5 job isn’t quite for me yet, so I’m ecstatic to delay that option and get the chance to continue playing baseball. Obviously, one day I hope to play for a team affiliated with Major League Baseball, but for now, professional baseball suits me just fine. I can’t wait to hit at the RailCats gem of a ballpark, with its large gaps much like those at the Duck Pond.

Any interesting stories from your rookie season in professional baseball?

I’ll never forget the first road trip I experienced while playing for Schaumburg last year. We were in Edmonton (Canada) for a five game series, and on the last day our game didn’t finish until 10:30 p.m. Our flight home was scheduled for 7 a.m. the next morning and by the nature of life on the road, half the team hadn’t gone to bed. Everyone was in line checking their luggage and passports when all of a sudden, we hear two soda cans opening from the end of the line. Naturally, we all looked back, and much to our surprise (or lack thereof), we see our clubhouse manager with a beer in each hand! He got into a heated argument with airport security, as a manager would, and eventually was forced to throw the beverages away.

How did it feel having your Mallards # 9 jersey retired last year?

Wow, that was by far the biggest honor I’ve achieved in my entire life. Seeing my number hanging on the outfield wall was very surreal and really hasn’t sunk in yet. The entire night was very, very special and I was excited to have my family share the experience. There’s a bunch of other guys like Ryan Rogowski and Jordan Comadena who I think are just as deserving, so I’m just humbled to be given such an honor. Madison will always have a special place in my heart.

Do you have a favorite memory from playing in Madison?

It’s definitely hard to share only one memory, but experiencing winning the Northwoods League Championship in 2004 is something I’ll never forget. The way that team came together and played lights-out baseball during the playoffs was truly extraordinary. Each and every guy on that team was special on and off the field.

My fondest memory of Madison involves driving through the city on game-day, walking into the stadium, talking with all of the employees, and the relationships I maintained with numerous fans. There is nothing more special than spending an evening at the Duck Pond with 6,000+ fans looking on.

Advice to future Mallards?

Just keep your eyes open and enjoy every moment because the three months go by so fast. Observe everything going on around you, even if it’s hard to get a sense of what’s happening at first glance. And don’t be afraid to look up to the veteran players on the team as they’ve experienced a lot of what you’ll encounter in your first year. The people of Madison appreciate great baseball so it’s important that you acknowledge their support each and every day.