Buckets of Buds
Sure signs of spring have arrived. Golfers are out in droves, advertisers are extolling the virtues of the latest gardening gadgets and products, and the “Boys of Summer” are back at it doing their best to whack baseballs out of the park or prevent the other guys from hitting them “where they ain’t.”
For me, spring always sets off a bit of reflection back to the days when I served as Sports Editor of the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune. Spring meant a new crop of young pro baseball players would arrive to start a 124-game schedule in the Midwest League. Covering the team, a farm club of the Minnesota Twins, was my primary task until falling leaves signaled the end of summer. The local club played home games at Witter Field.
Witter Field was a nice ballpark, but no one would mistake it for Yankee Stadium. The press box perched atop the roof over the stands directly behind home plate resembled an enlarged chicken coop.
The box was clean, but far from fancy. It included a counter across the area beneath the two open windows and a few folding chairs. Bill Nobles and Dave Van Wormer joined me there on many summer evenings. They served as public address announcers, and broadcast most of the Class A minor league games for radio station WFHR. They occasionally asked me to fill in some dead time with a statistical report. Those moments probably set radio announcing back quite a few years.
Equipment perhaps unique to our press box occupied one corner. A pail tied to a lengthy coil of rope stood ready for a midway point in the game when one or all of us usually got thirsty. The beer stand was directly below the press box.
We would put two dollars in the bucket, lower it to the beer dispenser, and wait until he tugged on the rope. We then reeled up three Buds and our change.
Our radio broadcasts and newspaper reports didn't suffer. We almost always confined ourselves to one Bud per game. For young Wisconsin men, that hardly amounted to anything. Fans near the beer stand often greeted the appearance of our bucket with a cheer, so we thought we were making a worthy contribution to fan entertainment in addition to slaking our thirst.
Ah, springtime at the old ballpark.