Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. – Following a summer in which he guided the Rafters to breaking the single-season record for most wins in Northwoods League history, the Rafters are pleased to announce that Field Manager Craig Noto will return for his fourth season in 2018. Noto will make his first appearance back in Wisconsin Rapids since the end of last season at Hotel Mead, on January 11th, for the 5th Annual Hot Stove Rendezvous presented by Aspirus.
“Craig continues to foster a winning culture for our organization that led us to winning the most games in the Northwoods League’s 24-year history in 2017 and ultimately helped guide us to our first Championship two summers ago,” said general manager John Fanta. “He certainly has a knack for recruiting and developing players to play at the next level. We’re excited to welcome him back.”
Field Manager, Craig Noto.
Noto will return to Wisconsin Rapids after guiding the Rafters to a Northwoods League record 52 regular season wins and a second consecutive postseason appearance in 2017. The team went 1-1 during the playoffs, bowing out to the Battle Creek Bombers in the second round of the single elimination Division Series. After winning the Northwoods League Championship in 2016, Noto oversaw a team that followed up with an encore performance of tying or breaking 35 team records last summer. The Rafters have now won the last four first or second half South Division titles under his leadership.
In his tenure as Rafters’ Manager, Noto has seen 12 of his players become Northwoods League All-Stars, five Rawlings “Finest in the Field” Gold Glove winners, and has helped develop 20 players that have gone on to play professional baseball. Including postseason play, Noto holds a career record of 139-79 (.638 winning percentage) in his first three seasons as the Rafters’ skipper.
“I’m truly grateful to return to the dugout in Wisconsin Rapids for the 2018 season,” said Noto in a statement. “I’m really proud of the brand of baseball we have played the past three seasons and look forward to leading another talented group of players towards the goal of winning another Northwoods League Championship. The Rafters players and fan base have truly made this an amazing experience for me over the past few summers. I cannot thank them enough for the support they provide our team on a daily basis. Big Top Baseball, our host families, and our GM John Fanta and staff are first class all the way. It should be another exciting summer at historical Witter Field!”
Noto came to Wisconsin Rapids prior to 2015 with over 20 years of coaching experience at the youth, high school, and Division 1 Collegiate levels. His recruiting ties and contacts around the United States have been integral into helping him shape the Rafters rosters each season. Noto is currently an Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator at Wagner College in Staten Island, New York. Prior to Wagner, he spent nine seasons as the Head Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator and Pitching Coach at LIU-Brooklyn.
Tickets to the Hot Stove Rendezvous on January 11th are on sale NOW and can be purchased by calling the Rafters office at 715-424-5400 or by stopping into the Rafthouse Team Shop at Witter Field. Tickets are available to all fans in advance for $12 and $17 at the door. All kids 10 and under are free to attend. Tickets include access to the program, a buffet-style dinner, along with complimentary punch and water. A cash bar will also be provided by Hotel Mead. A raffle will take place at the event for items including a 20 person Rat Trap Party, Point Craft River Tickets, signed memorabilia, and more. All proceeds from this event will be put into ballpark improvements at Witter Field for the 2018 season.
The Rafters office hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. Season ticket packages and group outing options are now available. Call a Rafters representative to lock in your summer plans today!
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Entering its 25th anniversary season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 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 185 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (LAD) and Lucas Duda (TBR). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.raftersbaseball.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Rafters as your favorite team.