I started the day by checking out Fox River Mall, which is close to the hotel where I’m staying in Appleton. Sports-wise, the best store there is Scheels. It supposedly is Wisconsin’s largest all-sports store, but even if it isn’t, the store’s selection of sports-related stuff is impressive nonetheless. Scheels even sells Wisconsin Timber Rattlers gear — it’s rare to find minor-league stuff for sale outside minor-league ballparks — and I bought a TR cap for only $10. Interestingly, that particular cap was on sale for $7 cheaper than it is at Fox Cities Stadium, while another Timber Rattlers cap available at Scheels cost twice as much there as it does at FCS.
Anyway, after I finished browsing stores, I headed to Fox Cities Stadium, where I got a personal tour of the ballpark, courtesy of radio announcer Chris Mehring. Whenever we talked about baseball’s history in Appleton, I was impressed with Mehring’s easy recollection of pertinent dates and facts. For instance, I asked him about Pat Gillick, who was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this year. (I asked because Gillick is also a member of the Appleton Baseball Hall of Fame.) Mehring said Gillick pitched for the Appleton Foxes (former name of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers) under manager Earl Weaver, and Cal Ripken, Sr., was his catcher and Boog Powell his first baseman. (Obviously the Foxes were affiliated with the Baltimore Orioles at that time.)
Fortunately, it stayed dry outside during my tour. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about during the game. It rained steadily throughout the night, with a brief stoppage in precipitation only for a little while during the 9th inning. The Cedar Rapids Kernels won the game 6-3, eliminating the Timber Rattlers from playoff contention. (The Kane County Cougars likely will win the second-half wild card race, as they need only one win or a Beloit Snappers loss with six games left in the regular season.)
The rain wasn’t falling yet when I walked into the stadium, which means I got to do my customary walk around the ballpark. I aimed my camera’s lens into both dugouts and shot some good photos of equipment, including this one …
… and this one:
Tuesday’s game also marked the end of Brewers OF Carlos Gomez’s rehab stint with the Timber Rattlers. He went 1-for-3 with a bunt single and a run in the seven innings he played Tuesday. Overall during his four games with the Timber Rattlers, Gomez went 4-f0r-12 with three runs and three stolen bases.
On Wednesday I’ll drive home to Illinois and spend a night in my own bed before heading to the Cleveland area to visit the last Midwest League ballpark on my list: Classic Park, home of the Lake County Captains. I plan to attend games there Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.