All photos of NWL All-Star Game & Homerun Challenge available on Flickr.
On Tuesday night, I attended my 2nd all-star game in two weeks, this one of the Northwoods League in Mequon, Wisconsin. In its 3rd season of operation, Kapco Park was selected to host this year's event. I actually had to call in sick that day, but the nice part about that was I was able to make it in time for the pre-game homerun challenge. When you're an adult, the "if you're too sick to work you're too sick to play" rule does not apply. Looked like not a lot of people had that same luxury of having the day off; I got to the park around 5pm and the crowd was still pretty sparse.
Kapco Park has a little bit of berm space in the outfield corners that I never see anybody using, but it came in handy for the homerun challenge. I grabbed a spot in right field about halfway through the competition. This year's contest was a challenge moreso than a derby. Each division was represented by 5 hitters who all hit twice in an inning-style format, so there were 10 innings with 5 outs per half inning. At the end, both a division and an individual winner were crowned. Levi Scott for the North and home team participant Brett Siddall were the two studs of the competition. Scott led the North to victory, but Siddall took home the individual crown in a swing-off with Scott, finishing with a total of 7. Siddall also hit some of the longest homeruns of the challenge. He is a lefty and launched a few completely over my head and out of the stadium. Pete Alonso of the Mallards was also impressive and would later go on to have the winning homerun in the All-Star Game.
The game featured 25-man rosters for both divisions and the league was well represented across the board. Even the last place Blue Anchors had two players on the team, including the diminutive outfielder I saw hit two bombs in Alexandria last month. The Mallards and Chinooks seemed to have the most representatives, not surprisingly since they are near the top of the standings. A cool part of the game was that Brewer legends Robin Yount and Jim Gantner threw out the first pitch and were honorary managers of the South and North respectively. Yount even got out there and coached a little 3rd base, but he seemed to be more interested in yucking it up with the fans than actually working. Luckily for the South there were no baserunners in the inning, because I doubt he knew any of the signs. I pushed through illness and 90º heat and made it as long as I could, which was about the 7th inning, but I didn't miss much as the 3-0 score held for a South Division victory. I can't find a box score online anywhere, but as I mentioned, Pete Alonso had the big hit in the game for the South and was rewarded with the MVP for his efforts. His homerun in the 4th would account for all of the scoring in the game and prove to be all the South needed to win. Tyler Sullivan, the leadoff hitter for the North, was the other notable star for the game. He had 3 hits including an amazing drag bunt infield hit, and played some stellar defense as well. As in any typical all-star game, most pitchers went an inning or less, and most position players got 2-3 ABs each. I was actually sitting next to who I eventually deduced to be Alonso's family from Florida. I would clap as he came to the plate and heard the people next to me clap too, so at first I thought they were also Mallards fans or maybe his host family, but then when the woman got about 80 calls and texts following Pete's homerun, I figured out that must be his mom. It must have been such a great moment for the family to see their son perform so well on such a big stage.
I will be back at Kapco Park in mid-August to see the first-half champion Chinooks battle in the playoffs for the 2nd straight season. I can't believe there are only 3 weeks left in the Northwoods League season already! Both the best part and the worst part of this league is that it is so compact. It makes for a lot of excitement and nice weather, but it's always over before you know it.
pitchers of record – Roberto Baroniel, Green Bay (W); Tim Black, Madison (S)
Star of Stars - Pete Alonso, Madison
attendance – 2106
score – 3-0 South
Brewers score that day – 4-3 W
STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 07.27:Brewers 59-47, +2.0, (3 @ Rays, 3 @ Cardinals, 3 v. Giants)
Reds 52-52, -6.0 (3 v. Diamondbacks, 4 @ Marlins, 2 @ Indians, 2 v. Indians)
Twins 47-57, -11.0 (3 @ Royals, 3 @ White Sox, 2 v. Padres)
2014 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 6 (+21 worked)
Peter - 29