Northwoods League

The Northwoods League is a collegiate summer baseball league comprising teams of the top college players from North America and beyond. All players in the league must have NCAA eligibility remaining in order to participate. Players are not paid, so as to maintain their college eligibility. Graduated senior pitchers are also eligible to play in the Northwoods League. Each team may have four of these players at a time.

Teams are run similar to a professional minor league teams, providing players an opportunity to play under the same conditions, using wooden bats and minor league specification baseballs. Teams play 72 games scheduled from late May to mid-August. The season itself is broken into two halves, with the winners of each half in each of the two divisions, along with two other wild card teams with the next best records, playing against each other to determine a divisional champion. The divisional champions then meet in a best-of-three playoff for the league championship.

Established in 1994, the Northwoods League was the first for-profit summer collegiate baseball league. It has more teams, draws more fans, and plays more games than any other summer collegiate baseball league.[1] The Northwoods League drew over 1.1 Million fans for the fourth consecutive year in 2017, far outdistancing its closest rival in the summer collegiate baseball world. In fact, the Northwoods League drew more fans than three of the four short-season affiliated professional leagues in 2017.[2] Many of the teams in the league play in ballparks formerly occupied by professional clubs from the Midwest League, Prairie League, Northern League, and Frontier League. The wooden bat circuit allows communities deemed too small for professional ball to continue to enjoy high quality, competitive baseball during the summer months. The Northwoods League was the first summer collegiate baseball league to broadcast on the ESPN network, and currently webcasts all of its games.

The teams are located in the Northwoods region of the Upper Midwestern United States and Northwestern Ontario, mostly in the U.S. states of Minnesota (five teams) and Wisconsin (nine teams); also with three teams in Michigan and one team each in Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota, Indiana and Ontario.

Over 200 league alumni have gone on to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) with 91 alumni entering the MLB ranks from 2013 to 2017. Alumni Max Scherzer, the 2017 National League Cy Young Award winner and American League runner-up Chris Sale faced each other as the starting pitchers in the 2017 and 2018 Major League Baseball All-Star Games.

Northwoods League
Northwoods League logo
SportBaseball
Founded1994
No. of teams22
Countries United States
 Canada
Most recent
champion(s)
Fond du Lac Dock Spiders (2018)
Most titlesRochester Honkers (5)
Official websitewww.northwoodsleague.com

Teams

Northwoods League
Division Team Location Stadium Capacity
Great Plains West
Bismarck Larks Bismarck, North Dakota Bismarck Municipal Ballpark 1,600
Mankato MoonDogs Mankato, Minnesota Franklin Rogers Park 1,400
Rochester Honkers Rochester, Minnesota Mayo Field 2,570
St. Cloud Rox St. Cloud, Minnesota Joe Faber Field 2,000
Willmar Stingers Willmar, Minnesota Bill Taunton Stadium 1,500
Division Team Location Stadium Capacity
Great Plains East
Duluth Huskies Duluth, Minnesota Wade Stadium 4,200
Eau Claire Express Eau Claire, Wisconsin Carson Park 3,800
La Crosse Loggers La Crosse, Wisconsin Copeland Park 3,550
Thunder Bay Border Cats Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada Port Arthur Stadium 3,031
Waterloo Bucks Waterloo, Iowa Riverfront Stadium 5,000
Division Team Location Stadium Capacity
Great Lakes West
Fond du Lac Dock Spiders Fond du Lac, Wisconsin Herr-Baker Field 2,000
Green Bay Booyah Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin Capital Credit Union Park 3,359
Lakeshore Chinooks Mequon, Wisconsin Kapco Park 3,000
Madison Mallards Madison, Wisconsin Warner Park 7,500
Wisconsin Woodchucks Wausau, Wisconsin Athletic Park 3,850
Wisconsin Rapids Rafters Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin Witter Field 1,560
Division Team Location Stadium Capacity
Great Lakes East
Battle Creek Bombers Battle Creek, Michigan C.O. Brown Stadium 4,701
Kalamazoo Growlers Kalamazoo, Michigan Homer Stryker Field 4,000
Kenosha Kingfish Kenosha, Wisconsin Simmons Field 3,218
Kokomo Jackrabbits[3] Kokomo, Indiana Kokomo Municipal Stadium 4,000
Rockford Rivets Rockford, Illinois Rivets Stadium 3,279
Traverse City Pit Spitters[3] Traverse City, Michigan Wuerfel Park 4,200
Division Team Location Stadium Capacity
2020
St. Croix River Hounds[3] Hudson, Wisconsin New Hudson Ballpark TBD

Map of teams

Current team locations:
  Great Plains West Division
  Great Plains East Division
  Great Lakes West Division
  Great Lakes East Division
  2020

Franchise timeline

Champions

Season Champion Runner-up Result
1994 Rochester Honkers --- ---
1995 Kenosha Kroakers Manitowoc Skunks 2-0
1996 Waterloo Bucks Rochester Honkers 2-0
1997 Rochester Honkers(2) Waterloo Bucks 2-1
1998 St. Cloud River Bats Rochester Honkers 2-0
1999 Rochester Honkers(3) St. Cloud River Bats 2-1
2000 St. Cloud River Bats(2) Waterloo Bucks 2-0
2001 Wisconsin Woodchucks St. Cloud River Bats 2-1
2002 Waterloo Bucks(2) Brainerd Mighty Gulls 2-0
2003 Wisconsin Woodchucks(2) St. Cloud River Bats 2-1
2004 Madison Mallards Duluth Huskies 2-0
2005 Thunder Bay Border Cats Madison Mallards 2-1
2006 Rochester Honkers(4) Thunder Bay Border Cats 2-0
2007 St. Cloud River Bats(3) Eau Claire Express 2-0
2008 Thunder Bay Border Cats(2) Madison Mallards 2-1
2009 Rochester Honkers(5)[4] La Crosse Loggers 2-1
2010 Eau Claire Express Rochester Honkers 2-1
2011 Battle Creek Bombers Mankato MoonDogs 2-0
2012 La Crosse Loggers Mankato MoonDogs 2-0
2013 Madison Mallards(2)[5] Duluth Huskies 2-0
2014 Lakeshore Chinooks[6] Mankato MoonDogs 2-0
2015 Kenosha Kingfish[7] St. Cloud Rox 2-0
2016 Wisconsin Rapids Rafters Eau Claire Express 2-0
2017 St. Cloud Rox(4) Battle Creek Bombers 2-1
2018 Fond du Lac Dock Spiders Duluth Huskies 2-1

Notable Northwoods League alumni

Umpiring

The Northwoods League, in addition to being a developmental league for players and coaches, is also a developmental league for umpires. The concentrated game schedule, travel, and Minor League-like game conditions give NWL umpires a pre-professional experience. Since the League's inaugural season in 1994, 44 of its former umpires have furthered their careers in affiliated professional baseball.

The League recruits its umpires from the two umpire schools whose curricula have been approved by the Professional Baseball Umpire Corps. (PBUC): The Minor League Umpire training Academy and Harry Wendelstedt School for Umpires. The umpires ultimately chosen are usually among the top school graduates who were then selected to the pre-season, PBUC sponsored Umpire Evaluation Course.

The NWL contracts with nine three-man crews during the regular season, a six-man crew during the mid-season All-Star game, and six umpires for both the divisional playoffs and championship series.

References

  1. ^ "Donovans sign to play summer ball". The Pennington School. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  2. ^ "2017 Affiliated Attendance by League". Ballpark Digest. 2017-09-10. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  3. ^ a b c Spedden, Zach (October 17, 2018). "St. Croix River Hounds Launch Delayed". Ballpark Digest. August Publications. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  4. ^ "We are the champions". Rochester Post-Bulletin. 17 August 2009.
  5. ^ "Mallards Capture First Northwoods League Championship Since 2004". WMTV NBC 15. 16 August 2013.
  6. ^ "Lakeshore Chinooks named top summer collegiate team". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 21 August 2014.
  7. ^ "Champion Kingfish reel in another honor". Kenosha News. 19 October 2015.

External links

Battle Creek Bombers

The Battle Creek Bombers are a baseball team that plays in the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer baseball league. All players on the team must have NCAA eligibility remaining in order to participate. Their home games are played at the C.O. Brown Stadium in Battle Creek, Michigan. The team is currently owned by the Northwoods League.

Bismarck Larks

The Bismarck Larks are a baseball team that plays in the Northwoods League (a collegiate summer baseball league). Based in Bismarck, North Dakota, the Larks play their home games at Bismarck Municipal Ballpark.

Fond du Lac Dock Spiders

The Fond du Lac Dock Spiders are a baseball team that plays in the Northwoods League (a collegiate summer baseball league). Based in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, the Dock Spiders play their home games at Herr-Baker Field on the campus of Marian University. The Dock Spiders are the current champions of the Northwoods League, winning the 2018 championship over the Duluth Huskies 2 games to 1.

Green Bay Booyah

The Green Bay Booyah (formerly the Green Bay Bullfrogs) are a baseball team that plays in the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer baseball league. The team joined the league as the Bullfrogs as an expansion franchise for the 2007 season along with the Battle Creek Bombers. Before the 2019 season, the Bullfrogs renamed to the Booyah, moved from their original staduim of Joannes Stadium to Capital Credit Union Park and switched divisions from the Northwoods League South Division to the Great Lakes West Division.

Kalamazoo Growlers

The Kalamazoo Growlers are a baseball team based in Kalamazoo, Michigan that plays in the Northwoods League, a summer collegiate baseball league. The Growlers were founded in 2013 and played their first game on May 28, 2014, losing to the then defending league champion Madison Mallards 6-2. The Growlers played their first home game on May 30, 2014, beating the Battle Creek Bombers 13-3. The team plays its home games at Homer Stryker Field.

Kenosha Kingfish

The Kenosha Kingfish are a baseball team that plays in the Northwoods League (a collegiate summer baseball league). Based in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the Kingfish play their home games at Simmons Field.

La Crosse Loggers

The La Crosse Loggers are a La Crosse, Wisconsin based baseball team playing in the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer baseball league. They play at Copeland Park.

The Loggers are one of 22 teams in the Northwoods League, playing 72 games per season, from late May through mid-August. The Northwoods League is a summer collegiate league that provides an opportunity for college players to spend their summers and display their talents to professional scouts. Players must be enrolled in college and have at least one year of athletic eligibility to participate. The league is designed to give college players the minor league experience, providing players an opportunity to play under the same conditions using wooden bats and minor league specification baseballs, experiencing overnight road trips, and playing nightly before fans in a stadium.

Lakeshore Chinooks

The Lakeshore Chinooks are a baseball team based in Mequon, Wisconsin, United States and a member of the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer baseball league. The Chinooks play their home games at Kapco Park on the campus of Concordia University Wisconsin.

Summer collegiate leagues provide an opportunity for college players to spend their summers and display their talents to professional scouts. Players must be enrolled in college and have at least one year of athletic eligibility to participate. College players gain experience with the opportunity to play under the minor league conditions using wooden bats, minor league specification baseballs, overnight road trips, and playing nightly before fans.

College interns gain experience by handling a number of duties at Chinooks games including ticketing, operations, on-field promotions, and webcast production. Games are webcast via the Northwoods League website.

Chinooks players stay with local host families during the season. More than two dozen local families provide housing.Ticket prices are $13 reserved box, $10 reserved grandstand, $7 general admission.

Madison Mallards

The Madison Mallards are a collegiate summer baseball team based in Madison, Wisconsin that plays in the Northwoods League. Warner Park on Madison’s North side is the team's home field. The 2018 season marked the Mallards' 18th season.

Rochester Honkers

The Rochester Honkers are an amateur baseball team in the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer baseball league. Their home games are played at Mayo Field in Rochester, Minnesota. They have won the Northwoods League championship five times, most recently in 2009.

Andre Ethier of the Los Angeles Dodgers is a former Honker from 2002. In 2010, 22 of their players were drafted by organizations affiliated with Major League Baseball.

Rockford Rivets

The Rockford Rivets are a baseball team that plays in the Northwoods League (a collegiate summer baseball league). Based in Rockford, Illinois, the Rivets play their home games at Rivets Stadium in nearby Loves Park.

St. Cloud Rox (collegiate summer baseball)

The St. Cloud Rox are a baseball team that play in the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer baseball league. Their home games are played at the Joe Faber Field in St. Cloud, Minnesota. As of June 26, 2018, 198 former Northwoods League players have gone on to play Major League Baseball. Most notable: Curtis Granderson, Andre Ethier, Jordan Zimmerman, Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, Juan Pierre, Jeff Weaver, & Pat Neshek

Thunder Bay Border Cats

The Thunder Bay Border Cats are a baseball team that plays in the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer baseball league. The league's only Canadian team, their home games are played at Port Arthur Stadium in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The Border Cats have been Northwoods League champions twice, defeating the Madison Mallards two games to one in both 2005 and 2008. They also were in the Northwoods League championship in 2006, but lost to the Rochester Honkers.As of 2014, the Border Cats have sent three players to the major leagues. Matt Mangini was the first to make the jump, playing 11 games for the Seattle Mariners in 2011. Shortstop Jonathan Diaz followed two years later, playing four games with the Boston Red Sox in 2013. Diaz also spent time with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014, almost making the team out of spring training. Pitcher Blaine Hardy became a regular in the Detroit Tigers bullpen in 2014.

Traverse City Pit Spitters

The Traverse City Pit Spitters are a baseball team in the Northwoods League (a collegiate summer baseball league) which is scheduled to begin play for its 2019 season. Based in Traverse City, Michigan, the Pit Spitters will play their home games at Wuerfel Park.

Waterloo Bucks

The Waterloo Bucks are a baseball team that plays in the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer baseball league. Their home games are played at the Riverfront Stadium in Waterloo, Iowa. They were founded in 1995. They originally played in the South Division, but switched to the North Division in 2010.

On September 29, 2014, The Cedar Rapids Ball Club, Inc. announced that they had officially completed the purchase and taken over operations of the team. The Cedar Rapids Ball Club, Inc. is the also the owner of Cedar Rapids Kernels.

Willmar Stingers

The Willmar Stingers are a baseball team that plays in the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer baseball league. The Stingers played their inaugural season in 2010. The team plays its home games at Baker Field at Bill Taunton Stadium.

On June 3, 2010, the franchise's first ever hit and run were recorded by former Willmar Cardinal and current Cleveland Indians minor leaguer Jordan Smith.

The Stingers were honored with the Northwoods League Organization of the Year Award in 2010. Stingers co-owner Marc Jerzak credited "Stingers fans, host families, sponsors and city officials" for "[making] the 2010 Inaugural season a memorable one."

Wisconsin Rapids Rafters

The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters are a baseball team based in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin that plays in the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer baseball league. The Rafters play home games at historic Witter Field.

Wisconsin Woodchucks

The Wisconsin Woodchucks are an American baseball team that plays in the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer baseball league. They play their home games at Athletic Park in Wausau, Wisconsin.

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