For the City Times
Event to Feature 2016 Summer Collegiate World Series Walk-Off Home Run Hero and Current San Francisco Giants Minor Leaguer Rob Calabres
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters have partnered with Aspirus Riverview Hospital & Clinics to hold the 5th Annual Rafters “Hot Stove” Rendezvous, on Thursday, January 11th at Hotel Mead & Conference Center. The event will feature an appearance by 2016 Rafters catcher and Summer Collegiate World Series walk-off home run hero Rob Calabrese, who recently completed his first professional season in the San Francisco Giants farm system. Craig Noto, who was named 2017 Northwoods League Manager of the Year after leading the Rafters to a League record 52 regular season wins and its second consecutive postseason appearance, will also be returning to Wisconsin Rapids for the event.
Doors to the banquet will open at 6 PM for social hour with the hot stove baseball talk beginning at 7 PM. In addition to hearing about Calabrese’s first minor league experience, other items on the agenda include a question and answer session with field manager Craig Noto and general manager John Fanta, incoming player discussion, offseason updates, and other special promotional unveilings in preparation for the 2018 season. In addition to Craig Noto, other coaches from area baseball programs will also be on hand to speak about their upcomin seasons. Special guests will be available to greet fans and sign autographs.
Tickets are available to all fans in advance for $12 and $17 at the door. All kids 10 and under are free to attend. Tickets include access to the program, a buffet-style dinner, along with complimentary punch and water. A cash bar will also be provided by Hotel Mead. A raffle will take place at the event for items including a 20 person Rat Trap Party, Point Craft River Tickets, signed memorabilia, and more. All proceeds from this event will be put into ballpark improvements at Witter Field for the 2018 season.
Two summers ago, Rob Calabrese etched his name in Rafters and Northwoods League lore with a postseason performance that the city of Wisconsin Rapids will endear forever. In game one of the 2016 Summer Collegiate World Series, in what will go down as one of the top moments Northwoods League history, Calabrese instantly captured the hearts of an entire community. With two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, a runner on second base, and the Rafters trailing 4-3, Calabrese hit a first pitch, two-run walk-off home run to win Game One of the best of three series, 5-4, against the Eau Claire Express. The home run was featured on SportsCenter’s top 10 highlights that night and put the Rafters up 1-0 in the series, which they won convincingly the following evening at Carson Park in Eau Claire, capturing the franchise’s first-ever League Championship. Calabrese was subsequently named the Rafters’ 2016 Postseason Most Valuable Player, after swinging the bat to an astounding .625 rate (10-for-16) with two home runs and 10 RBIs across four postseason games. During the regular season, Calabrese posted a .306 batting average with one home run and 29 RBIs while also being selected to participate in the Major League Dreams Showcase that summer.
After a standout season with the University of Illinois-Chicago last spring, Calabrese was selected in the 10th Round of the 2017 MLB Draft and began his professional career with Low-A Salem-Keizer in the Northwest League this past summer. He appeared in 32 games, posting a .277 batting average and .369 on-base percentage in his professional debut.
Craig Noto will return to Wisconsin Rapids after guiding the Rafters to a Northwoods League record 52 regular season wins and a second consecutive postseason appearance in 2017. After winning a Northwoods League Championship in 2016, Noto oversaw a team that followed up with an encore performance of tying or breaking 35 team records last summer. Noto will return for his fourth season with the Rafters in 2018. He has a career record of 139-79 (.638 winning percentage), including playoffs, during his three Northwoods League seasons as the Rafters’ skipper.
Tickets to the Hot Stove Rendezvous are on sale NOW and can be purchased by calling the Rafters office at 715-424-5400 or by stopping into the Rafthouse Team Shop at Witter Field. The Rafters office hours are Monday-Friday, 9 AM-5 PM.