This really, really, really does not feel good.
This being done with baseball before it is even August just doesn’t feel right.
As most of you probably know, the Winsted Wildcats fell to the Glencoe Brewers July 27, ending their season.
The last time the Wildcats didn’t make it to regions was in 2004, when it was again Glencoe that ended their season.
Since 2001, this will be just the third year that the Region 7C tournament has taken place without the Wildcats being there.
However, while it sucks not being in regions, there are more than just a few reasons that I’ll be heading to Hamburg to catch Region 7C action.
Besides the obvious reason I’m a baseball junky, there will be two Wildcats participating in the region tournament as drafted players.
Those two Wildcats are brothers Joe and Tony Kley.
Joe was taken with the top draft pick in the North by Watertown, and was expected to catch for the Red Devils this weekend, and might also see some time on the hill.
The second pick in the draft was older brother Tony, who was taken by the Glencoe Brewers.
Tony was expected to start on the mound for the Brewers Saturday, assuming Glencoe won Friday.
The final two draft picks in the North were St. Boni’s Travis VanDoren to Watertown and Mayer’s Nic Haller to Glencoe.
While there is a good chance that Glencoe and Watertown could meet up in the tournament this weekend, the odds that both Kley brothers would be on the field during that game are not as good.
That will be especially true if Tony pitched Saturday, as expected.
However, it is still pretty cool to watch two brothers, from the same team, play against each other.
I was lucky enough to experience that myself with my little brother, Cullen, back in 2004.
With one of their top picks, Glencoe selected Cullen that year in the draft.
As for me, the New Germany Dutchmen took me with the fourth and final selection.
It wasn’t too much of a surprise that Cullen got drafted, but my selection was a little bit unexpected, as I had passed my prime as a catcher and pitcher by that time.
However, I still could do both relatively well back then, and I did have a good year hitting.
But, I believe, the biggest reason the Dutchmen selected me, other than the fact that there weren’t too many other options, was that I had played well for them in the past when drafted.
That year, the Region 7C tournament took place in Plato, and both Cullen and myself did see some time on the field.
Cullen pitched in the seeding game for the Brewers as they advanced to the state tournament in Jordan and Belle Plaine.
He pitched pretty well as I recall, but the Brewers still lost to Hamburg.
As for myself, my lone action of the tournament came behind the plate.
Wildcat current catcher TJ Aalid was the Dutchmen’s catcher that year, and in a scoreless game in the ninth inning, I was put behind the plate so that I could bat in the next inning.
Well, right off the bat, there was a play at the plate, and I somehow picked the one-hopper from the outfield and tagged out Plato’s Eric Engelmann at the plate, keeping the game tied.
Then, in the top of the 10th, I batted second, and sure enough the batter ahead of me reached first.
So, I was called upon to bunt off Young America’s Nik Franck, at which I failed miserably in two attempts.
Behind in the count 0-2, I went back to doing what I did best, swinging the bat.
I got good wood on the pitch, but with a good wind blowing in, my swing ended up being a fly out to left.
With every year that passes, that fly out gets deeper and deeper. I’m sure in five more years, I’ll remember it getting caught right in front of the fence despite a 60 mile-per-hour wind blowing in.
The Dutchmen then failed to score in the top of the 10th, and I was back out catching in the bottom of the inning.
Sure enough, there was another play at the plate in the 10th, but this time I was unable to come up with the short-hop and tag out the runner.
Failing to get that out, Plato defeated the Dutchmen 1-0, and that was the last time I took the field for a team other than the Wildcats.
Glencoe and New Germany played each other in an elimination game the following day, but neither Cullen nor myself took the field.
The Brewers ended up winning that game, ending my run with the Dutchmen.
It was sure a lot of fun being drafted, but nothing compares to playing for your own team.
As for Tony and Joe, they will be much bigger parts of the Red Devils and Brewers this year than I and Cullen were back in 2004.
Look for both of them to play big roles if the Red Devils or the Brewers are able to advance to the Class C state tournament.
Good luck Joe and Tony!
A big thank you
The Winsted Wildcats wouldn’t of had the successful season they did without the help of a number of people.
At this time, I’d like to thank everyone that helped out at the stand, or on the field during this year.
A special thanks goes to Kendall Schultz for all the mowing and work on the park he did this year; to Fran Kappel for watering the field, and always picking up the mess at the park after the games; to Soup Campbell for everything from getting the field ready before games to working in the stand.
Then there is Ralph Prehn and Dick Norman who did the announcing; Bill Norman for taking tickets and running the raffle; DJ for cooking; Dukie, Bernie Quast, and everybody else that worked in the stands.
I know myself, as manager, and all of the players appreciate all the work and time these volunteers put in.