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Published On: August 25th, 2020



We did it.  We played baseball in a Pandemic.  There were many sleepless nights and I, personally, lost 15 pounds.  But we accomplished the only goal that really mattered.  We sent everyone home safe and healthy.


To quote John Lennon, “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.”   Coming into 2020, the Woodchucks were busy making plans for a typical Woodchuck season, but that was all thrown out the window in early March.  When we made the decision to play on July 1st, we knew that is was going to be a different experience for the fans, but we also knew it would bring some normalcy back to Central Wisconsin.


Prior to the season we developed plans with our partners and they proved to be invaluable.  The plans allowed us to uncover three asymptomatic players prior to them participating in team activities.  The players were quarantined and we finished the season without another player, employee or staff member testing positive.  The Woodchuck experience proves that if you follow the guidance of the CDC and your local Health Department you can be successful.


I’m very thankful for the Woodchuck’s staff.  Ryan, Kayla, Logan and Traci who worked tirelessly over the past six months to make a Woodchuck Season happen.  It wasn’t easy.  There was a shortage of quarters, Gatorade and even kegs of beer that made operating a ballpark challenging.  Because we were the first event facility to open, we had to develop the procedures, contingency plans and testing procedures from scratch.  We struggled with confusing and constantly changing data and information.  The plans we put together insured that fans, employees, players, coaches, umpires and host families would be safe.  We can be proud that many other groups are now stealing those plans.


I also need to thank the City of Wausau and Marathon County Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department for their trust in letting us play.  Specifically, Mayor Katie from the City and Jamie, Greg, Bob, Don and all their staff from the Parks Department.  They had Athletic Park looking great with lots of new safety features.


Next, I need to thank Marathon County Health Department.  Their input into our plans was very helpful.  Their advice and counselling through our testing process was invaluable.  They don’t have an easy or popular job, but the feedback I’m getting from other Northwoods League teams leads me to believe they have the right balance between public safety and getting the economy back open.


The Woodchuck Host Families were also heroes.  Taking players from Florida, Texas and New York into their homes.


Finally, I want to thank Woodchuck fans.  Not only for coming out to Athletic Park, but for embracing the social distancing and mask rules.  Several times this summer I was thanked for having a Woodchuck season.  There were even several fans that said; “Mark, I’m glad you opened up, but I won’t be at a game.”  And I completely understand.  My family didn’t even come to game.


In closing, I would like to remind everyone to be safe and careful.  As we enter the fall, and I hear stories of plans for Concerts and Monster Truck Rallies, please don’t move forward too quickly.  Planning an event in this environment cannot be motivated by money or big crowds.  The Woodchucks got through the summer because whenever we faced a challenge or decision we took the cautious path.  Other events can succeed, but they need to take small steps forward.


-Mark Macdonald, Woodchucks Owner