By Jerry Huffman
In addition to the Milwaukee Brewers, Wisconsin has two professional baseball teams. The Beloit Snappers are a Class A farm team for Oakland Athletics. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are also a Class A team for the Brewers. (For the non-baseball fan, players on a Class A team are usually at the start of their career and it’s their first stop on the way to the major leagues.)
Appleton’s history of professional baseball dates back to 1891, and the Rattlers are the latest incarnation that keeps the streak alive.
Appleton baseball has an impressive alumni list of players who have hit the big time. Alex “A-Rod” Rodriquez, Rich “Goose” Gossage, and David “Big Papi” Ortiz, as well as 2009 Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez, all started their baseball careers along Highway 41.
Thumbs up to the team for a truly unique food item on the menu. Nacho grandes are not particularly original but when you serve them in a regulation batting helmet, that definitely scores style points.
Beloit officials say one of their biggest draws is their beloved team mascot, Snappy, a life sized turtle. Credit the Snappers for also having lots of free fireworks shows throughout the summer.
Great ticket prices in Beloit make this a family friendly baseball destination. Seats in the entire stadium average less than $9 per ticket. Food of choice: a “Snappy Burger,” which is a bratwurst and hamburger served together.
Wisconsin has the distinction of being the only state in the nation with two Hank Aaron statues. Many fans know of the distinct Aaron statue alongside Robin Yount outside of Miller Park. But there’s also a smaller but equally impressive sculpture of The Hammer outside of Carson Park in Eau Claire where Aaron started his professional baseball career in 1952.
In Milwaukee, there’s an interesting piece of baseball history at the corner of West Kilbourn Avenue and Old World Third Street. Now it’s a parking lot with a historical marker, but on March 5th, 1900 baseball legends Connie Mack and Charles Comiskey were at what used to be the Republic House Hotel attending a meeting that led to the creation of the American League.
For a truly unique “base ball” experience take the drive to Eagle to the Old World Wisconsin living museum. In the 1860’s “base ball” was two words with players wearing baggy uniforms, balls were stitched from lemon peels, and no one wore a glove. Vintage “base ball” games are scheduled throughout the summer.