For the City Times
Former Brewers All-Star 1B Cecil Cooper, Sandlot Night, and World Series Walk-Off Home Run Talking Rob Calabrese Bobblehead highlight jam-packed promo schedule
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — It’s been a very busy offseason at Witter Field. The past week the Rafters began to unveil a host of fireworks shows, bobblehead doll giveaways and special guests slated to appear at Witter Field this summer. Today the team announced the full promotional schedule for the 2018 season—and it’s jam-packed full of fun!
“This may be the most excited I’ve ever been about a promotional schedule in the 11 seasons that I’ve been involved in the Northwoods League,” said Rafters general manager John Fanta. “The entertainment, guest appearances, and giveaways we have lined up should be extremely exciting for our fans.”
Opening Day is Friday, June 1st at 7:05 against the rival Wisconsin Woodchucks. The evening will feature in-game entertainment by Rally and the first fans through the gates will receive a 2018 magnet schedule presented by Al’s Auto Glass. Stadium gates on Opening Day will open a half hour earlier than usual, at 5:30, for fans to enjoy pre-game festivities. On Saturday, June 2nd all ticket package holders and first fans in attendance will receive a bobblehead of Rafters Field Manager Craig Noto, highlighting his 2017 Northwoods League Manager of the Year award and the record-breaking 52-win season the team enjoyed a year ago.
In addition to the Craig Noto bobblehead on June 2nd, the team will host four additional bobblehead nights in 2018. Skyward Educators Appreciation Night on Wednesday, June 20th will feature and Educator Rosco bobblehead doll giveaway. In addition, Skyward Central Wisconsin Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Mary Sabo (Wisconsin Rapids Washington Elementary School) will be recognized prior to the game. On Thursday, July 12th Paul Gross Jewelers presents Wisconsin Sports Night with the first-ever Cheesehead Rosco bobblehead giveaway to pay tribute to the Cheese State heritage. Friday, July 27th will provide fans a trip down memory lane, as Aspirus Riverview Hospital & Clinics presents a talking bobblehead of 2016 World Series walk-off home run hero Rob Calabrese. A sound clip of Rafters 2016 radio broadcaster Cooper Perkins’ walk-off call that made SportsCenter’s Top 10 that night is featured along with the home run swing pose from Calabrese that helped propel the Rafters to their first World Series Championship. The Rafters fifth and final bobblehead giveaway will take place on Sunday, August 5th for Harry Potter Night as Advanced Disposal presents the first Rosco Potter bobblehead.
Four Saturday nights will feature post-game fireworks shows that will dazzle all fans in attendance. The fireworks series will open up on Saturday, June 9th as Nasonville Dairy presents the first postgame display of the season. Advanced Disposal will help start the Fourth of July week festivities with a fireworks extravaganza following the Rafters home game on Saturday, June 30th. All fans in attendance on June 30th will also receive a lighted baton to enhance the atmosphere at Witter Field during the fireworks display. Budweiser will present the fireworks show on Saturday, July 28th as the Rafters host the Rockford Rivets. The 2018 fireworks series will conclude on Saturday, August 11th and will be presented by the Rafters Founding Partners on Fan Appreciation Night.
On Friday, June 8th Bull’s Eye Credit Union is presenting a special guest appearance by former Brewers All-Star first baseman Cecil Cooper. In 11 seasons with the Brewers, Cooper became a five-time All-Star, posting a .300 or higher batting average from 1977 to 1983. His most productive season came in 1980 when he hit a career-high .352, finishing second in the American League, while leading the league with 122 RBIs and 335 total bases. He was also a two-time Gold Glove winner, three-time Silver Slugger award winner, and played an integral role in helping the Brewers to their lone World Series appearance in 1982. Professional wrestler Joseph Michael Laurinaitis, better known by his ring name Road Warrior Animal from the world-famous Road Warriors, will be on hand for Wrestling Night on Wednesday, June 27th for the 7:05 game. Animal was one half of the Road Warriors. The Road Warriors have been champions across the world while working for multiple wrestling companies including the WCW and WWE. He and his partner Michael “Hawk” Hegstrand won several tag team championships over their two-decades-long career. They are famous for their wearing of spiked shoulder pads to the ring, intimidating face paint, and their finishing move the Doomsday Device. The team was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011. The L-7 Weenie himself, ‘Squints’, will be joined by Tommy ‘Repeat’ Timmons from the famous baseball movie, The Sandlot, for an appearance at Witter Field on Thursday, July 19th, presented by Solarus. This year marks the 25th Year Anniversary of the release of the classic film. The Rafters will celebrate the anniversary by welcoming Chauncey Leopardi, who played Michael “Squints” Palledorous as well as Shane Obedzinski, who played Tommy “Repeat” Timmons in the movie. Both actors will be available to meet with fans and sign autographs when the gates open at 6:05. The Rafters and Mid-State Technical College will welcome actor Dwier Brown, who is best known for his role as “John Kinsella” in the famous movie Field of Dreams on Wednesday, August 8th for Field of Dreams Night. Kinsella was the father of Kevin Costner’s character, “Ray Kinsella”, and is famously recognized for appearing in the scene when Costner asks, “Hey Dad, you wanna have a catch?” Not only will Brown will be on hand to sign autographs, take photos, and throw out the first pitch, but he’ll also be available for a game of catch with all fans after the game with a baseball giveaway, presented by Mid-State Technical College.
In addition to the Opening Day antics by Rally, the act is also scheduled to return for an encore performance on Sunday, July 1st. The Rafters have planned a host of other entertainment acts to keep things exciting at Witter Field throughout the summer as well. The schedule will feature two appearances by the ZOOperstars! on Saturday, June 16th and Saturday, August 4th. The ZOOperstars! act has long been a fan-favorite among Rafters fans, featuring hilarious inflatable characters with clever names such as Harry Canary, Tommy Laswordfish, Clammy Sosa, Shark McGwire, and many more! The performance combines synchronized dance routines, acrobatics, tricks and comedy for performances that connect with fans of all ages. Paper City Savings presents the first appearance by BirdZerk! on Wednesday, July 11th. In 2008 BirdZerk! was named as a top minor league baseball promotional act by CNBC sports business columnist Darren Rovell. He is most known for his skits that revolve around pranking players, umpires, bat boys and managers and his acrobatic, synchronized dances with his sidekicks. The Rafters will welcome a bike performance by Division BMX on July 17th, presented by Wisconsin DOT. Finally, the Rafters are delighted to host Tyler’s Balancing Act on Sunday, July 29th for McCain Foods Night. Fans won’t want to miss seeing all of the things that entertainer Tyler Scheuer can balance on his face!
Jersey Auction Nights
The Rafters will hold three jersey auctions during the 2018 season. On Tuesday, July 26th Ho-Chunk Gaming Nekoosa will sponsor Military Appreciation Night. Earlier this spring, the Rafters collected active military and veteran photos from the community, which have been sublimated onto the jersey that players will wear for this game. All proceeds from the jersey auction will benefit the Never Forgotten Honor Flight. Rafters’ players will don patriotic themed jerseys on July 4th, presented by the Elks Lodge. The proceeds from the Independence Day jerseys will benefit the Boys Scouts and Girls Scouts of America. Advanced Disposal Christmas in July on July 26th will feature a unique ugly Christmas Sweater jersey that will be auctioned off to benefit the Boys and Girls Club.
Theme Nights and Giveaways
Wednesday, June 6th will be the 9th Birthday celebration for Rafters mascot Rosco P. Rafter. Rosco first appeared at a Rafters game on the inaugural season Opening Day, June 6th, 2010. To celebrate his 9th year in the entertainment industry, the first fans through the gates will receive a piece of Rosco’s birthday cake. On Sunday, June 10th the Rafters have partnered with Aspirus Riverview Hospital & Clinics to hold a book drive. All fans that donate a gently used children or young adult book will receive a copy of the Rafters themed book, “Mom’s Big Catch”. Monday, June 11th will be 90’s Night featuring music, trivia, and style from a great decade. Bring your dad out to the Father’s Day game on Sunday, June 17th and have him enter into a drawing for a chance to win a brand-new grill! Monday, June 25th will be Bang for Your Buck Monday. All hot dogs, 16oz. fountain sodas, and popcorn will all be just $1 each all night. It will also be FIFA Soccer Night at the ballpark. Game one of the home-home doubleheader on Wednesday, July 27th at 12:05 will be Boys & Girls Club Day presented by Cellcom. Bull’s Eye Credit Union will be the presenting sponsor of the first-ever Rosco P. Rafter plush doll giveaway on Thursday, June 28th. If you are in love with Rosco, this is one way you can take him with you wherever you go! Protective Services Night on July 2nd will honor police, fire, paramedics, corrections, and others who perform the tasks that keep us safe. There will be a special ticket offer for all first responders that evening. Witter Field will once again welcome all dogs to the game on Tuesday, July 10th with the return of Quality Feed and Seed Bark in the Park Night. Fans can bring their canine companions to the game and receive a tennis ball dog toy, courtesy of Quality Feed and Seed. The return of the Hot Dog Hundo promotion will also take place on July 5th, with fans having a chance to win cash prizes of up to $100 by purchasing a hot dog. Fans will get to take home a poster of this year’s Rafters team on Tuesday, July 17th, presented by Luke A. Weiland Attorney at Law. Fey Printing Baseball Card Night will be held on Wednesday, July 18th when trading card sets of the 2018 team will be handed out prior to the game. Superhero Night will be on Monday, August 6th. Incourage will present the first Lego Rosco figurine on Friday, August 10th. The ever-popular Fan Appreciation Night will take place on Saturday, August 11th and will feature giveaways all night long.
United Way is sponsoring the Hunger Coalition Food Sculpture Event – United We Can on Thursday, June 7th. Make sure to stop out to the ballpark and vote for your favorite sculpture. In partnership with United Way along with the support of local businesses, the event was able to leverage roughly 6,000 pounds of food that were distributed to five local food programs in South Wood County the last couple years alone. June 7th is also Aspirus Riverview Hospital & Clinics Employee and Family Night at the ballpark. Assumption Catholic Schools Night will occur on Saturday, June 9th as the Rafters host the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders at 6:05 pm. Make sure to wear blue and show off your Royals pride. Tuesday, July 4th will be Incourage Independence Day. The first 250 fans that bring a non-perishable food item to the Rafters ticket office will have the chance to purchase two tickets for the price of one. July 4th will also be Army National Guard Day. Renaissance Learning Night is slated for Thursday, July 26th. McCain Foods Night will take place on Sunday, June 29th. If you enjoy French fries and deep-fried appetizers, this is the night for you.
Aspirus Riverview Hospital & Clinics is sponsoring a FREE Community Movie Night at Witter Field on Friday, August 3rd at 7:30 pm. In recognition of the 25th Year Anniversary, the featured film will be The Sandlot. The Rafters invite families to bring a blanket and relax in the outfield grass for the featured film. Following the season, the Rafters will host the second-ever Rushing Rapids Craft Beer Festival on Saturday, September 8th from 2-5: 30 pm at Witter Field. A $40 ticket includes a 4oz sampling glass, unlimited samples of craft beers from breweries from around the state and beyond, along with wing samples from local establishments. Live music will be performed by the band BOOMBOXX and there will be bean bag toss and other activities to take part in. Full details including a list of breweries represented will be released at a later date.
The Rafters host their season opener on Friday, June 1st at 7:05 pm when they take on the Wisconsin Woodchucks. Rafters single game tickets go on sale on Friday, April 20th at 9:00 am. Tickets will be available by visiting Raftersbaseball.com, calling the Rafters ticket office at 715-424-5400, or stopping by the Front Office at Witter Field.