EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- In its 90th year of existence the Chippewa River Baseball League, or the CRBL, has a new all-time hits leader: that would be Andy Niese of the Eau Claire Rivermen. Niese is our Osseo Automotive Athlete of the Week. SportScene 13’s Neil Hebert reports.
555 hits and counting, Andy Niese is now the hit king of the CRBL.
“It’s one of those things where I don’t think I’ll really absorb it or reflect on it too much until the season’s over with and more so, when I’m completely done playing,” Niese said of the record he broke just last week.
That record will likely be tough to catch.
“I’d like to think at least 10 more years left of competitively playing,” Niese said.
A lot of casual baseball players who play in summer leagues won’t put in the work outside of the games, but Niese does. And his offensive success has a lot to do with his work in the cages.
“Somewhere between 1,500-2,000 – somewhere in there,” Niese said of the number of swings he takes outside of games and practices throughout the summer. All those repetitions have been key for Niese and his lengthy CRBL career that’s spanned, get this, over 25 years.
“Being able to stay productive enough and stay in the lineup, the time I spend doing this off of a tee, maintaining a want to still do it – those are the reasons why,” Niese explained on why he’s able to continue playing at a high level.
He not only plays: he’s compiled over 150 wins in 14 seasons as a player/manager of the Rivermen, and other teams in the CRBL.
“The relationships you build and the people you meet – that to me is just as important, if not more important, than winning a game,” Niese said.
As the historian of the league, he produced a CRBL record book that now sits in the Baseball Hall of Fame library in Cooperstown. Scott Stuckert, who is now #2 on the CRBL all-time hits column, went to the Hall and found the 1st copy of the book.
“He was an opponent of mine for 20-25 years – I consider him to be a really good friend,” Niese said of Stuckert. “That really kind of sums up amateur baseball in a nutshell.”
When he puts on his spikes on game day, the kid inside takes over.
“I get the same feeling now at 44 as I did when I was a 9-year-old kid when I was playing,” Niese said of his love for the game.
Baseball has been a way of life for Niese, and he’s become a CRBL lifer.
“Behind my family and my profession, teaching and coaching, it’s up there,” Niese said of America’s Favorite Pastime. “I don’t know any different. It’s just what I’ve done since I was a little kid. This is a chunk of my life.”