Club team keeps Wisconsin’s baseball tradition alive to this day

first_imgThe UW Division of Recreational Sports defines its club teams as student-run organizations that offer intercollegiate competition, some of which include badminton, frisbee, and rugby.But Wisconsin’s club baseball team feels like it is a little bit more than just a club team. It feels as though it is legitimately the school’s team per se.After all, the jerseys they don do read “Badgers” in cardinal and white.The members on the club team realize that most students don’t recognize them as a UW team, but still feel as if they aren’t just another club team.”I think most people view us as just a step above a club team, but it’s still pretty serious,” senior infielder Ryan Bachmeier said. “It’s not like we go out and drink some beers after our games.”Yet there is one obvious — and huge — difference between being a club or varsity team.”We feel like the school’s baseball team, but we feel we don’t get much support as far as funding because we pay for everything ourselves,” junior outfielder/pitcher Ramphis Marrero said. “They give us like $500, but it’s really not that much because we pay for our own jerseys, our own transportation, umpires, everything,”We basically pay for everything but the little amount they give us.”Wisconsin’s club baseball team formed in 1999. Just one year later the National Club Baseball Association was founded. Today, the NCBA has 129 teams nation-wide and the competition is on par with that of the NCAA level.After last weekend’s sweep of UW-Eau Claire, Wisconsin’s club team has clinched the NCBA Great Lakes West Conference and hopes to advance to the NCBA World Series later this month. The World Series is set up similar to that of the NCAA World Series where the eight regional champions meet in a double-elimination tournament.And following the team’s home run derby at the All-Campus Party this past week, more and more students on campus have come to recognize the school’s club team.”People are slowly starting to notice more and more about us,” sophomore first baseman/third baseman Tom Lemke said. “People know of the team, we’re definitely not the basketball or football team by any means, but our name sake has been growing.”But by having to play off campus and lacking the same exposure as a varsity team, the club team hasn’t been able to garner too much acknowledgment.Also, not having a varsity baseball program at UW puts the team at somewhat of a disadvantage compared to some of the others in the NCBA that do, such as Michigan, UW-Milwaukee and even Division-III school UW-Whitewater.Typically, these club teams have a JV-like partnership with the varsity program at its respective university.”A lot of their guys are people who didn’t make the varsity team there,” Lemke said. “Usually the competition is a little better with those teams; they have a lot more proven players.”Jerseys and equipment are also handed down from the varsity teams to the club team which also puts the UW club team at a financial disadvantage.Then again, money has never been a major issue for the members of Wisconsin’s club baseball team.In fact, Marrero passed up scholarship offers from schools such as Iowa and Indiana to attend the UW. While an academic scholarship from Wisconsin certainly played into his decision, it doesn’t appear as though he’s missed much from rejecting the opportunity to play on a Division-I baseball diamond.Scouts from Major League teams like the New York Mets and Oakland A’s have traveled to some of the team’s games just to see the former Roberto Clemente High School (Chicago, Ill.) star.Nevertheless, Marrero would still like to see UW have a varsity baseball program, as would much of the team.”I wish the school had a varsity program and everybody on the team talks about it,” he said. “But it’s kind of hard since it’s been out for so long and Title IX won’t really allow it.”On the other hand, some of the other players actually don’t mind if Wisconsin were to bring the varsity team back or not.”We don’t think about it too much,” Lemke said. “Every now and then we talk about it, but we joke around that if they do make a varsity team we wouldn’t be on it.”Either way, the club team goes out to the field — wherever it may be: MATC, Ahuska Fields, or elsewhere — with one objective in mind.”We’re all there working together for a common goal,” Marrero said. “To be good at baseball and to have fun.”last_img

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