I originally posted this in the Northern Lakes board, but thought i would post it here as well. A little piece of Wisconsin baseball history.
As I promised. I had to go through some old scrapbooks to find this, but I found the [i]MILWUAKEE JOURNAL
article with all the pertinent numbers in it. (As you can guess by the dates involved, there are no online copies of the article, although I may someday transcribe it. This is mostly my writing, but Tom Enlund of the Journal
wrote the article from which I'm culling stats and quotes.)
In the eternally youthful spring of 1981, two Northern Lakes Conference baseball teams met beneath a steely gray Langlade County sky in an epic battle that would redefine the game of...alright, the truth is that the game was just plain strange. "It all sounds odd," Wabeno baseball coach Ron Swanson
told the Journal
, "But if you were at the game and saw how everything piled up, you'd understand."
The final score was Wabeno 35 and White lake 24. The game lasted only six innings--but took over 3 1/2 hours to play. The after school game was finally called by virtue of the ten run rule, at about eight o'clock in the evening!
I remember that at one point in about the fourth inning, the base umpire collapsed to the ground with a back spasm. I honest to God thought he had died of a heart attack! He dropped like a sack of frozen cantaloupes, with a disgusting thud and not a lot of bounce. Turns out it wouldn't be the strangest thing I saw all day.
"We'd get up by 16 or 17 runs, and they'd get back to eight or nine and we'd have to keep going," said Swanson. "Finally, after the sixth we had a big enough lead to end it."
White Lake coach, George Maule
, however thinks his team might have been able to win if a seventh inning would have been played. "As it was going--back and forth--if we'd have gone another inning, who knows?" he said.
HERE'S MY FAVORITE SENTENCE FROM ENLUND'S ARTICLE: Both coaches agreed that the game was not fundamentally sound.
Ya think? The two teams combined for 22 errors--that's the offical book. I was a freshman keeping the visiting book, and I had it at 25 errors, but I was always cheap about giving out hits that aren't really hits! The four White Lake pitchers walked 21 batters, and the three Wabeno pitchers walked 17. (38 walks for those of you who are mathematically challenged.) Swanny sent sophomore Bill Schlafke to the mound with the instruction to "just throw a strike." The speed didn't matter. We just wanted anything but another walk. Bill's a friend of mine, but I have to tell ya. He wasn't out there very long!
For the Logrollers, senior Steve Johnson had four hits and Mike Hill had two hits and scored five runs. For the Lakers, Terry Farrand and Tom Conto scored SIX RUNS EACH!
White Lake led 10-6 after three and 17-11 after four. But in the fifth, Wabeno sent 20 batters to the plate and scored 16 runs.
Wabeno put another eight runs up in the top of the sixth to pull way out ahead, but White Lake came back in the bottom of the inning and almost sent the game into the seventh inning.
Wabeno had just brought baseball back a few years earlier, and did not have any Little League program at the time. We really were not very experienced. White Lake was almost all freshmen and sophomores at the time, with a handful of juniors who had decided to come out for the first time.
White Lake scored 24 runs in a losing cause...ranked 1st nationally.
"It's quite a dubious distinction," remarked Maule.
The two teams combined for 69 runs...ranked 3rd nationally.
In 1977 Dufor, Oregon beat Cascade Falls 63-3; in 1925, Safford, Arizona beat Tucson Indian School 56-6. I always noted that ours was the only game where both teams were fairly competitive and the score was "natural" instead of someone trying to humiliate someone else. Most likely, ours was the only one of the three played under a ten-run mercy rule as well.
I have kept no track of records since then. It doesn't matter. This was our moment, frozen in time. We didn't even realize that it was any type of record until several days later. but we'll always remember the collapsing ump, Swanny and Maule searching up and down the dugouts for someone--ANYONE--who could throw a strike. The two coaches--good friends, by the way--out on the field arguing calls and trying not to laugh or cry about the whole thing. Maybe it doesn't compare to any of the State championships won by the conference, but in a way--it was one of the NLC's most historic moments...and it was FUN! Enjoy the moments, kids. Enjoy 'em all.