For players in the Northwoods League, it's all about new beginnings. As they're trying to establish a career between the chalk lines, an invitation to the Northwoods All-Star Game is a great opportunity. This year's event, held last Wednesday in Mankato, MN, played host to over thirty pro baseball scouts. I had a chance to talk briefly with Twins scout, Mike Ruth about the event.
"I think the Northwoods League has really separated itself." he said, "There are a lot of scouts here because it's more of a pro setting than you'll find in a lot of summer leagues. The players have more travel and the fields are more like the pros. This game is a fine example. The way they run the whole day. They had a scouts workout where the kids hit and field for us. You couldn't do it better."
So, while the scouts were getting their fill, what did the fans see? Wally the Beerman, for one! Yep, our favorite beer peddler from the Metrodome was on-hand to do what he does best, sell beer. I even saw La Crosse Logger Jimmy Viscomi's dad hustling past a group of kids to come up with a foul ball, looking for all the world like he was ten years old again.
The evening's events began with a home run derby featuring one representative from each team. With the wind carrying balls out to left field at Franklin Rogers Stadium, it was Xavier Scruggs, a third baseman with the Brainard Blue Thunder that won the day with a total of 11 jacks in two rounds.
The game itself was mostly dominated by pitchers as the two teams tallied 27 strikeouts. The North Division eventually came out on top by a score of 3-2. Hometown Mankato Moondog, Nate Hanson walked away with MVP honors.
Oh, and did I forget to mention that as all of these players were staring at their futures in the form of big league scouts, one player, Moondog catcher Ben Geelan, grabbed his future by the horns...proposing to his would-be bride on the pitchers mound before the games first pitch. Let's just say, if she had been a scout...it appears he got the contract.
Keep your eyes open for weekly updates and my continuous snippets from second half games!