Nieman Photography Season Ticket Holder in the Spotlight
Week 1: Ron Gildenzopf
Ron has been a loyal Rafters fan and season ticketholder since the Inaugural Season in 2010. It was hard to narrow it down, but below are a few of Ron's favorite memories from the first three-plus seasons of Rafters Baseball.
1. Going to the Hotel Mead for the introductory press conference of Wisconsin Rapids getting a Northwoods League Team.
2. Watching the outstanding home run derby put on Kyle Peterson at the 2011 Marshfield Clinic Northwoods League All-Star Game in which he hit more homers than the eventual winner, Shaun Cooper (Mankato MoonDogs).
3. Bandon Hohl’s grand slam home run to give the Rafters a late-inning lead and eventual win in 2011.
4. After a long long rain delay, to fight back for a come back win! (so worth the wait)
Week 2: Dennis Pliska
Dennis has been a familiar face around Witter Field and faithful fan since the Rafters inception in 2010. His favorite moment is coming to the Opening Day game each year and meeting all of his friends who sit around him as well as the Rafters Staff. His commemorative 2010 Inaugural Season ticket is displayed in the photo above.
As Dennis says, "It means another fun summer watching the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters play ball. Win or lose, I will always be a Rafter fan. GO RAFTERS !!!!!"
Week 3: Neil Francis
Neil Francis along with his wife, Linda, and other friends have been staples in Section F, Row 7, Seats 1 & 2 since the first season of Rafters Baseball! Neil took a few minutes to reflect back on some special memories he has had from the first three-plus seasons.
"One of the things I will always remember is the opening season and the first game. I waited a long time for baseball. A couple other highlights include the Marshfield Clinic Northwoods League All-Star Game in 2011 and the game I will never forget—when I threw out the first pitch. They announced my name and also said I am a Disabled Vietnam Veteran. Everyone got up and applauded. No one could see, but I had tears in my eyes. Of course, the help from everyone working at the park makes you feel like you are someone special. Thanks for the memories!"
Week 4: Delores Musch
Delores doesn't miss a Rafters home game and can be found smiling and cheering on the team from her customary seat–Section E, Row 2, Seat 1. Delores has been an avid fan four all four seasons of Rafters baseball and can probably name all of the players that have come through since the inaugural season in 2010. She may indeed have a copy of every box score, as she also enjoys keeping scorebook while at the games. We are pleased to have her as part of the Rafters family.
Week 5: Jeff Gauss
Jeff Gauss has been a fixture in Section D, Row 4, Seat 5 since the first day Rafters baseball arrived in Wisconsin Rapids. So much so, he has almost taken on a new name that coincides with his seat—D, 4, 5! Here are a few memories from that past four seasons that are unique and special to Jeff!
1. Moe Hill Day – Mar 10, 2010
The greatest player in the history of both the Midwest League and the Wisconsin Rapids Twins gets his own day at Witter. I'm standing by the fence on 3rd base line and it seems that EVERYONE is staring at me! I'm a bit of a 'small time celebrity' as I perform with several local bands but this is ridiculous, why is everybody staring at me? I can't figure it out so I turn to look behind me and there he is-Moe Hill, right on my back! I was hit by a deflected foul ball hit by Moe Hill at Witter Field when I was a kid so, for some odd reason, I decided to bring that up and he REMEMBERED that and brought up how the ambulance came and that they delivered a baseball signed by all the players from that year the very next day. Unfortunately, I have moved too many times to still have that awesome piece of memorabilia but it did help lead to my purchase of a Rafters season ticket.
2. Augey Bill's arrival – July 2, 2011
A 6' 8 pitcher walks into Witter, commanding attention and respect just by his size and aura. I can immediately tell that he is special. Although he had some rough battles, I was proud to spread the news of this 'giant pitcher' and was able to catch most of the games he pitched at Witter Field and road-tripped to other stadiums to help support this fine new addition to the Rafters. Over time we chatted and I was fortunate enough to get some pictures with him an autographs. Augey was a member of the 2012 College World Series Champion Arizona Wildcats and was drafted by the Orioles in the 39th Round in 2013, reinforcing that he is the real deal.
3. Home Furniture "Best Seats in the House" Promotion – July 20, 2013
I am approached by the ever-amazing John Fanta and he asks me to sit in the Best Seats in the House atop Witter Field under the Press Box. I reply that my season ticket seat (D/4/5) IS the best seat in the house but I grab Brent Gulenchyn, the 100,000th fan to enter through the gates to watch a Wisconsin Rapids Rafters game and model for a Rafters bobblehead. He is pleased but doesn't want to miss his friend's birthday cupcakes being delivered by Rosco, so a member of the Rafters staff assures him he can do both and he joins me in the big Lazy Boy seats. As I return to my seat Brent proceeds to share the big chairs with his birthday cupcake friends. His smile lit up Witter Field!
The Rafters provide affordable family fun and are a great asset to the community so I am pleased to share these favorite memories of Witter Field…
Week 6: Tom & Joan Rehberg
Tom & Joan Rehberg can be found enjoying Rafters baseball from their seats in Section B on a warm summer night! They have been steadfast supporters of the Rafters since the team’s first season and we are proud to have them as our fans! Some of their favorite Rafters memories include:
1) The opening day anticipation and excitement has to be the best. Getting back to the ball field every year and watching the college players playing the game they love and seeing the Rafter baseball family after a long winter.
2) The All-Star game and Home Run Derby. A hot time–both on the field and weather wise. Watching the players showcasing their talents was just awesome.
3) Enjoying how the interns and refreshment crew keep the flow of the game going in between innings and especially during rain delays. Watching future major league players is the reason we keep coming back to the ballpark but these guys and gals also deserve a hand in what they do.
Week 7: Tim & Gail Johnson
Week 8: Mark & Sarah Matthews
Week 9: Bob & Martha Schooley
Bob & Martha Schooley have been enjoying Rafters Baseball since the first season and can usually be found in the courtyard prior to the game. When the game begins, however, they are fixtures in their seats while cheering on the Rafters! Some of their favorite memories from the first four seasons include:
1) The whole all-star experience, your team did an excellent job with everything.
2) Watching the granddaughter singing take me out to the ballpark and grandson throwing out the first pitch.
3) Getting to meet Paul Molitor and Jim Ganter.
4) Watching the kids with Roscoe.
Week 10: Fr. Bill Menzel