By Craig Marx, Editor
Hopefully it isn’t the kiss of death but spring is deservedly around the corner after this past week’s brutal windstorms and dustings of snow that can’t seem to stop coming down. With that, a number of highlights come with the change in weather and the dawn of the baseball and softball season is near the top of the list for many people in Langlade County.
Last summer, we began our series “A History of Baseball in Langlade County” and produced four installments of the look at our national pastime in a local light. I had a chance to sit down and interview some amazing people along the way, including Rick Bartletti and Tim Young to name a few, while compiling these stories that I enjoyed putting together immensely.
Baseball is a sport that is very seasonal in terms of contextual coverage. On a national level, football, while a huge passion of mine, is discussed at exhausting lengths nearly 52 weeks a year. In Antigo, once the outdoor thermometer is consistently above 45 degrees or so, the communal passion for baseball and softball returns as a reminder of better weather and simpler pleasures.
I am happy to begin work again on what will be Part V of our local baseball history series. Set for launch in May, this year we have a few other interesting topics that we will explore together.
As time ran out on the seemingly month-long Northern Wisconsin summer this past year, we were in the midst of compiling information on the dominance of fast-pitch softball in the Antigo area in the 1970s and 80s. The All-Car team, with its infamous Oceanic ringers on the mound, was a nationally-renowned squad that gained international notoriety with its success. I had the chance to speak to Larry Flannery about the team’s accomplishments this past summer, but the brief respite of sun and fun in Langlade County came to end before I compiled more research.
With the contextual coverage of baseball outlined above, no one wants to read about summer fun when the winds are beginning to pick up and the days become shorter with each chilly nightfall. Now that we are looking ahead past the downed trees and branches of a sporadic early spring, the joy of the baseball/softball seasons are in the air.
In addition to the fast-pitch softball teams of old, we also plan on looking at the great Antigo Cardinals teams that Mr. Tim Young alluded to in our previous interview. With the likes of local coaches Scott Farmer and Tom Weix on some of those rosters, these teams were especially dominant in the 90s and early new millennium and deserve a closer look at once again now that nearly two decades have passed since the Cardinals’ revitalization and eventual folding.
We also plan on checking back in with our friends – the Polar Bears – as they begin another season of highly-competitive BABA ball this summer.
While highly-ambitious of the WIAA, local high school baseball and softball are set for their respective Opening Days in just a matter of weeks. Hopefully Mother Nature is cooperative in allowing the Red Robins a chance to play competitively even before MLB takes the field. As play begins, we will keep you posted with scores and highlights online and via social media.
We look forward to bringing the history of such a beloved local sport back to life in print this summer. If anyone has any stories or photographs they would like to share with the Antigo Times, or knows of anyone who may be interested in discussing the baseball days of yesteryear, please contact Craig at either firstname.lastname@example.org or contact our office at (715) 623-5081. Play ball!