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Published On: February 9th, 2009

Madison, WI – February 9, 2009. The Mallards are excited to announce the team has signed Sun Prairie native and current Iowa sophomore outfielder Kurtis Muller for the 2009 season. The more interesting storyline though, is that Muller, who helped lead the Cardinals to back-to-back baseball WIAA State Championships in 2005 and 2006, was actually once on the Mallards payroll as a part-time summer employee on the team’s gameday cleaning crew.

“I think I was the only member of that crew who truly enjoyed coming to the ballpark everyday mainly because I enjoyed watching how the players go about their daily business while playing in the Northwoods League,” said the always-humble Muller.

“As sappy as it sounds, from the first hour I worked to the very last, I always strived and worked towards being a Mallard.”

After graduating from high school he joined the Hawkeyes last year and went on to have one of the best freshman seasons the school had ever witnessed, posting a .323 batting average that included 15 multi-hit games, nine doubles, and 47 RBIs. Muller’s RBI total actually broke former Hawkeye and current Mallards Manager C.J. Thieleke’s true-freshman school-record mark of 45 set in 1994. Thieleke was later named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year (in 2008 that award went to Northwestern pitcher Eric Jokisch).

“It’s funny because I actually didn’t know I broke CJ’s record until my dad told me after the season,” said Muller.

“I wish I could say that I was aware of the mark and had a huge celebration after passing it (he broke it with a grand slam), but that just wouldn’t be true.”

After his monster spring season Muller was named to the Ping! Baseball All-Freshman Team for his body of work that also included a .353 batting average and .520 slugging percentage in conference play.

He comes to Madison with summer league experience as well, having played last year for the Quincy Gems in the Central Illinois Collegiate League (CICL). There he hit .314 with one home run, 24 RBIs, and 22 stolen bases.

“I have nothing but great things to say about Quincy. It was a great summer to experience hitting with a wooden bat and learning from a new group of teammates and coaching staff. I definitely came down there to soak in and learn everything that I could.”

Mallards Field Manager C.J. Thieleke likes Muller’s pedigree and the way he’s always studying the game.

“Kurtis comes from one of the best local high school baseball programs in the state and has the right mentality in trying to better himself as a person both on-and-off the diamond,” said Thieleke.

“The entire Mallards coaching staff is excited to be a part of his development as a young player and believe that he has the chance to be a real fan favorite given his style of play and work ethic.”

So now that Sun Prairie’s prodigal baseball son has returned home, has Muller seen a rise in requests for Mallards tickets?

“Oh yeah,” said the 19-year old youngster, who won’t turn 20 until July 7.

“I remember learning that the players only receive a certain number of tickets per game so I’ll have to juggle who comes on certain nights. Trust me, the amount of requests have been flattering.”

But with all of the awards early in his prep and college career, Muller is far from satisfied.

“I’d like to work on my base-stealing and overall defense as an outfielder. In my mind great defensive outfielders are underrated because people don’t realize there’s more to the position than just catching fly balls—there’s also your jump, the drop-step, and art of throwing a baseball 200-plus feet accurately and on-time.”

And when Muller looks over to the sideline from his outfield position and spots the next hopeful cleaning crew member peering on as he once did two years ago, what will Kurtis be thinking about?

“It will definitely bring up memories of being yelled at when our crew was more into the games than our job,” laughed Muller.

“There were times when we tried to watch the games and hide from our bosses, but were always unsuccessful because our bright yellow staff shirts could be spotted from a mile away.”

Did you know? The speedy Muller owns single-season Cardinal school records in stolen bases (19) and triples (4), and career records in hits (82) and triples (7). And just like soon-to-be Mallard teammate Nick Chmielewski, Kurtis had an all-world senior baseball season. How about a .444 batting average with 26 RBIs, 27 runs, and 19 stolen bases, netting him WIAA First-Team All-State, Big Eight Conference Player of the Year, team MVP, and American Legion male athlete of the year honors?