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Published On: February 13th, 2015

Reid Roper – Illinois
2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 Rochester Honkers
Photo of Reid and His Fiance Victoria

What’s your favorite memory while playing for the Rochester Honkers?
RR: My favorite memories while playing for the Rochester Honkers are all the guys I got to meet from places all over the country. I always thought it was really cool how you had guys from all over the country on your team. Each year I was amazed at how close you got with guys after a short amount of time just because of the game of baseball.

I also enjoyed signing every hat, ball, and bag for every kid on the Dream Team for each home game. I always looked forward to that before the games.

And I’ll always know who to call…City Auto Glass…at 2-5-2…(1000)!!! I always said it along with the crowd.

What's your favorite non-playing memory from your time with the Rochester Honkers?
RR: My favorite non-playing memories are the experiences I had with my host families. I was fortunate enough to have three different host families. The Kittleson’s, Lash’s, and the Storm’s were all really great host families. They all showed great hospitality and they made me feel like I was at home. After spending 4 summers in Rochester it did begin to feel like a home to me. I also have a lot of great memories at the RAC. It is definitely the best place to work out in the Northwoods League and it’s not even close. I always appreciated the opportunity to workout there and spend time there with teammates away from the field. But, without a doubt my most special memories are all the times I got to talk about Jesus with someone. Those are the moments I’ll never forget, whether they came in the clubhouse or dugout, out on the field during BP, in the hotel, or on the bus rides. Those times were always the highlight of my day, whether I went 4-4 or 0-4 that day.

Who was your favorite teammate when you played for the Rochester Honkers and why?
RR: I feel like there are so many to just name one. I don’t know how many total teammates I ended up having in my 4 years. It had to be over 200. So I’ll name a few from each of my years there.

2011: Jake Kurth. Jake and I roomed together at the Kittleson’s. Great guy. Couldn’t ask for a better roommate. Elliott Engle. Elliott was also my roommate that year with the Kittleson’s. Elliott and I ended up being Honker teammates for 3 years. Davy Wright. Davy was my double play partner up the middle my first year. He always brought energy to the game and made it fun to be at the field. Kevin Johnson, my teammate from Illinois. It was nice to have a familiar face in the clubhouse. I loved playing defense behind KJ. We were 2-year Honker teammates. Nick Dolsky. Dolsky was also a 3-year Honker teammate of mine. Dolsky and KJ were fun guys to be around. One memory that I have of them that stands out to me is when they made guns out of a bat, paper cups and some tape during the middle of a game at Willmar. They had the scope with the cross hairs and the trigger and everything on there. I think I still have those pictures on my phone.

2012: Justin Parr. Jordan Parr. 2012 was my favorite summer in Rochester because of these 2 guys. They were both my teammates and roommates at Illinois. They are two of my best friends. Both of them are going to be in my wedding this summer. I love these guys because they love Jesus. This summer in Rochester we all were able to help each other grow in our faith and devotion to Him. Cole Lankford. Great teammate. I still get texts from him letting me know what Christian song I should check out. Michael Benjamin. He was only able to play for 2 weeks in Rochester because of an injury. But, in those 2 weeks we had some great fellowship and were able to mutually encourage one another in the faith. Michael Lukkason. Another one of those guys who brings energy with him to the field everyday. I remembering him always smiling and just having fun. You could just tell he loved to play the game. Matt Kent. Another 3-year Honker teammate of mine. He’s another guy that is fun to play defense behind when he is pitching. He has a good pace, has great command, and his knowledge of the game is phenomenal. Mason Pingel. A 2-year Honker teammate. One of the funniest guys I’ve ever met. Jared Miller. The memory that stands out of Jared is the game we were at home in a rain delay and he’s out at home plate just hitting fungo bombs into the trees in right field. Then he proceeded to do his home run trot around the bases. Another fun teammate. Michael Broskowski. 2-year Honker radio announcer. Always sat by him on bus trips. Had some great conversations with him. Very talented radio announcer. Always enjoyed listening to his “Inside the Fowl Lines” videos.

2013: Carter Burgess. Very talented shortstop. He was the MVP of the All Star game that year. Fun to play with. Mike Friel. Had some great conversations with him. He was my roommate a lot of road trips. Tyler Baker. Tyler and I were both engaged during this summer. So we were trying to help each other out as we prepared for marriage. Jeff Campbell. 2-year Honker teammate. Loved watching his BP rounds. Jarad Watts. Great guy and great teammate. I enjoyed being around him. Brandon Stennis. 2-year Honker teammate. Very athletic pitcher and great guy. Logan Spitzack. 2-year Honker teammate. Spent a lot of time with him in the Word. Thankful for him.

2014: Ryne Roper. My brother. It was a really special summer because of the fact that I got to play with Ryne. Ryne had come up to Rochester in summers before to watch me play. So I think it was a pretty cool thing that now we were getting to play the infield together as Honker teammates. It was also special for my parents, too. They were able to come up and visit and watch us both play. Casey Fletcher. My teammate from Illinois. Mike Freeman. It was fun to come to the field when you knew Mike was pitching. Seemed like he always had a solid outing and gave us a chance to win. We (Illinois) play him (Oklahoma State) this spring. Connor Schaefbauer. My double play partner up the middle. Travis Hull. Another great guy and teammate. Alex Schultz. Schultz reminded me a lot of Michael Lukkason. Always brought energy with him to the field, loved to play the game, and was always smiling. I think it was either Schultz or Schaef that started calling me “The Captain” during this summer, since it was my 4th. It was an honor that I appreciated, but didn’t think was deserved. They also organized for me to run out onto the field by myself for the last home game after I had broken the career hits record. The fans at Mayo Field gave me a standing ovation. That was a pretty special moment for me. I am thankful to my teammates, coaches, and Honker fans for that. Slider. 4-year Honker teammate. The most popular mascot in the Northwoods League. Slider gave me a lot of good advice throughout my 4 years in Rochester. I hope I can pull some dance moves like his at my wedding this summer. You’re the best Slider. Coach Matt Bowman. Loved playing for Coach Bowman. Always did an extra set of 50 calf-raises for Coach Bowman to end my workout.

And I am sure there are many more teammates I could have mentioned in each of those years.

What has happened to you since you left Rochester and what are you doing now?
RR: I am in my 5th year at the University of Illinois. This is my last season of eligibility. So probably as you are reading this we are getting ready to play our Opening Day game. We open up in Beaumont, TX against New Mexico St.

I am currently doing my student teaching in a 3rd Grade classroom in Champaign, IL. I will graduate in May with a degree in elementary education. After graduating, I would like to move back to southern Illinois and get a teaching job. I would also like to coach baseball and football.

I will marry my beautiful fiancé, Victoria, this summer on July 25. I am excited to marry her and start our life

What was your biggest realization while playingfor the Rochester Honkers?
I realized the amount of preparation and hard work it takes to compete and be successful at a high level. I realized the physical grind a 70+ game schedule in about 75 days takes on your body. It made me appreciate guys who do this as their job year after year. I realized the amount of mental toughness the game of baseball takes. But, I think my biggest realization were the many ways baseball translates over into life. I’ve tried to take the lessons I’ve learned from baseball and apply them to my everyday life.

Do you stay in contact with former teammates? If so, who?
I do. Mainly through social media.