All-Star Game History
Written by Gregg Hoffmann
Initially printed in 2006, edited for current publication
All-Star Game has added to the stature and entertainment value of the
Northwoods League throughout its history. Nobody is more aware, and
appreciative, of that fact than League President Dick Radatz, Jr.
remember our first one in 1995 in Wausau,” Radatz said. We had moved to
six teams, which was a big step, and had Bernie Allen (former Minnesota
Twin and Washington Senator) come down for it. It was sort of a
validation of the league at the time.”
course, another ASG that stands out in Radatz’s mind is 2001, when the
NWL stars beat Team USA, 1-0, in 10 innings. Team USA was coached by Pat
McMahon of the University of Florida and featured several college stars,
including current Brewer Rickie Weeks.
remember looking on the field during pre-game workouts and thinking I’m
watching a bunch of millionaires in the making,” Radatz said. “But, as
the game went on, I started to realize that they were all college kids
playing with wooden bats.”
Stars pitched 10 different pitchers for the 10 innings and all shut out
Team USA. They finally pushed a run across in the 10th to win it. It was
the first time Team USA had been shut out by a team from the lower 48
states and the team’s only loss to a team from the lower 48.
was very memorable and brought our League recognition,” Radatz said. “I
think people realized we had a very competitive League.”
the ASG moved to St. Cloud, where it stayed for a few years. In 2004,
Phillip Hawke, who would go on to become the League MVP that season, was
picked the ASG outstanding player, after leading the South Division team
to a 12-0 win with a home run and four RBIs.
community for the ASG has always done a great job, according to Radatz.
In 2005, Alexandria drew 1,857, the largest crowd in its history at the
time. The North won that game, 5-2. “That was a great turnout for a
small town in Minnesota,” Radatz said. “Every community has gone all out
for the game.”
players who have been All-Stars have gone on to bigger things. Curtis
Granderson, who now plays for the New York Yankees, was an All-Star back
former NWL All-Stars who were top draft picks include Thomas Diamond,
who played for St. Cloud, and was taken as the 10th pick in the 2004
draft by the Rangers, and Lance Broadway, who played for the Wisconsin
Woodchucks and was taken 15th overall by the White Sox in 2005. Max
Scherzer, a former La Crosse Logger pitcher and NWL All-Star, was picked
11th by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2006 amateur draft. Catcher Tony
Sanchez from the Battle Creek Bombers and outfielder Tim Wheeler of the
St. Cloud Rox where both drafted in the first round in 2009, 4th
and 32nd respectively.
Interestingly enough, a couple big name former NWL alums didn’t make the
League All-Star team. White Sox outfielder Juan Pierre and Dodgers
pitcher Jeff Weaver weren’t All-Stars. Neither was former Brewer Wes
was young when he played in the League, and Weaver only went 2-5,”
Radatz said. “We converted Obermueller from an outfielder to a pitcher
in this League, so he was just making the transition.”
speakers at the luncheon before the ASG also have included some
All-Stars. Former major leaguer and TV analyst Jay Johnstone was among
them. Former big league manager Jimy Williams and Twins’ President Dave
St. Peter were on the agenda at the 2005 affair in Alexandria. Five
years ago, former major league catcher and manager Bob Brenly, now a
Cubs’ TV analyst, was the featured speaker in La Crosse. Then Twins
General Manager Terry Ryan spoke at the event in Mankato in ‘07. Former
Brewer Greg Vaughn was the keynote speaker in 2008. Hall of Famer
Ferguson Jenkins highlighted the ceremonies in Thunder Bay in ’09, while
Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew was on hand in Eau Claire in ’10.
run contest and other festivities have been added to the NWL All-Star
Game week in past years.
“I love to see that it’s gotten bigger and better,” Radatz said. “I
think it is a fun event for everybody, and showcases our League and the
talent in it.”