PRESS RELEASE – With snowflakes falling outside, baseball talk inside the Hotel Mead and Convention Center was heating up during the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters 3rd Annual Hot Stove Rendezvous Event presented by Marshfield Clinic. Nearly 300 rabid Rafters fans attended the event to highlight the upcoming Northwoods League season that is just 145 days away.
The first part of the program featured Rafters general manager John Fanta discussing a couple of improvements to Witter Field for 2016, including the intent to purchase a new field tarp. He also introduced three new players to the roster, and local high school baseball teams previewing their upcoming seasons.
The highlight of the night came when team co-owner Vern Stenman and Fanta unveiled the newly re-designed logo and new home and road uniforms. It is the first time since the team was introduced in 2010 the logo and uniforms have seen any updates. The new logo design features a sharper, more streamlined word mark, and the addition of a light blue color instead of the gray, to highlight the connection with the Wisconsin River. The new uniforms for the 2016 season can be seen below.
The guest speakers for the event were Beck Wheeler, and Mike and Justin Jirschele. Beck played for the Rafters during its inaugural season in 2010 before being drafted by the New York Mets. He has since advanced to the AA level and just finished playing in the very prestigious Arizona Fall League, which annually features many of the top prospects in all of Minor League Baseball.
Justin Jirschele played for the Rafters in 2010 and 2011 and is the first former Rafters player to reach the AAA level of professional baseball with the Chicago White Sox organization. He has since retired from playing, but remains in the White Sox organization after taking a coaching position with their Rookie Level affiliate the Great Falls Voyagers in Great Falls, Montana. Justin’s father Mike has been in professional baseball over 35 years, and in 2014 spent his first at the major league level as the third base coach for the Kansas City Royals. The Royals went on the reach their first World Series since 1985, coming up one game short against the San Francisco Giants. This past season, the Royals returned to the World Series and came away victorious over the New York Mets. The World Series Champion highlighted some of his fondest memories of this past season at the event.
Solarus Founders Club and 9-Game ticket packages are on sale now. Any fans interested in a ticket package or setting up a group outing can call the Rafters at 715-424-5400 or stop by the Rafthouse Team Store any time Monday-Friday from 9-5.