(ROCHESTER, MN) The Northwoods League has announced that the Eau Claire Express will be moving to the North Division starting in 2014. The move was necessary with the expansion franchises in Kalamazoo, MI and Kenosha, WI joining the league next season.
“We hate to see Eau Claire leaving the South Division and the rest of our Wisconsin teams,” said Northwoods League President Dick Radatz, Jr. “But geography and maintaining the integrity of League play has dictated such.”
The two new franchises in Kalamazoo and Kenosha will be added to the South Division. Each division will now have a total of nine teams. The nine teams in each division is similar to the new structure that was adopted by Major League Baseball when they realigned for the 2013 season with 15 teams in both the American and National Leagues.
The Kalamazoo franchise is currently holding a contest on its website to name the new team. Interested fans can vote by going to www.kzoobaseball.com.
Kenosha Baseball has also narrowed down their choices for a team name to five selections. Fans can learn more about the team in Kenosha by going to www.kenoshabaseball.com.
The Northwoods League has also announced that it has signed a new five year agreement with Rawlings.
Rawlings, a St. Louis, MO company, is the official supplier of balls, bats and uniforms for the Northwoods League. Rawlings has been the official supplier of baseballs to the major leagues since 1977.
Rawlings has also been rewarding the top hitters in the Northwoods League since 2007 in addition to honoring the best fielders since 2002. To honor their achievement the eight top hitters will receive an engraved bat from Rawlings. The top fielders will receive a special Rawlings baseball glove mounted on an engraved trophy base. These awards will be announced next month.
“In keeping with our philosophy of providing an experience that closely replicates Minor League Baseball, and the fact that Rawlings has the Major and Minor League contracts for the use of baseballs, we are happy to announce that for the next five years, we will be exclusively playing with the baseball that our players will be using when they make the transition to professional baseball,” said Northwoods League President Dick Radatz, Jr.
The Northwoods League has more teams, plays more games, and draws more fans than any other Summer Collegiate League in North America. The 2013 season marked the 20th season of Northwoods League baseball. 116 former players have gone on to play Major League baseball. Notable alumni of the league include Curtis Granderson (Yankees), Chris Sale (White Sox), Max Scherzer (Tigers), Josh Willingham (Twins) and Jordan Zimmermann (Nationals).