Established in 2004 as a community outreach program of the La Crescent Area Historical Society with corporate sponsorship from Merchants Bank-La Crescent
In the late 1990s, Kimberly Czechowicz, a Historical Society volunteer, heard about 1860s base ball and brought up the idea as a fundraiser for the Society. At the time, we were thinking it would be just one event. Because of other projects, the time wasn't right until summer 2003, when Tim Moore, manager of the north Kwik Trip in La Crescent, played in an exhibition against the Rochester Roosters in La Crosse. He suggested that La Crescent "get into the game." Thanks to Tim, we were soon on our way.
Funding secured in 2003
By October 2003, Kimberly, Don Thesing, Randy Hafner, and I submitted a proposal to the La Crescent Area Historical Society to create a club as a community outreach program. Our request was contingent on enlisting a roster of 20 players and raising $1,000, which were both achieved. Jay Friedl of Merchants Bank was excited about the idea, and the Bank approved our request for start-up funds, becoming our corporate sponsor.
The first organizational meeting to recruit players was January 22, 2004, with George Horihan already on board as our first captain. Local advertising, phone calls, and personal contact helped us quickly develop the roster.
In the meantime, Kim enlisted a group of local women---Elaine Hunter, Lois Hund, Kristi Mormann, and Lisa Fiegen---to create our uniforms. Mary Jane Schmitt of the Rochester Roosters loaned us one of the Roosters shirts and shields so we could create a pattern. We purchased enough fabric for 15 shirts, shields, and caps using red as the accent color and another 15 with green as the accent. Our initial idea was to get paid to play a team of local celebrities, wearing our green uniforms, at local festivals, as many of the vintage teams did. We intended to concentrate on festivals east, west, and south of us.
We proudly announced the first team at the historical society's annual meeting that spring. George organized several practices and I ordered bats and balls. Tim Moore became our first umpire and Alison McNally our scorekeeper.
Fielding a Team
Our first public event was a match against the Pickwick Millers to help that community celebrate its sesquicentennial. In Pickwick, we participated in a parade (see photo below) and then played a game in the field behind the fire station. Steve Mau videotaped the game and a copy is now in the historical society archives.
George Horihan (left) and Peck Bartz, were on the inaugural Apple Jacks roster in 2004. George was the Jacks' player-captain and directed practices.
For a few years, we played locally against La Crosse Loose and Careless organized by Nathan "Red Goat" Barnhart. Without a sponsoring organization or corporate benefactor, that club folded.
The first handful of years were lean with more practices than matches. At times we had enough players to field a "red" team and a "green" team. The red/green games helped us recruit players, but we soon discovered that we needed to travel to other towns first before those teams would venture south to La Crescent to play us. And we also needed more players who were willing to drive a distance to play.
However, the Roosters annual festival gave us a chance to meet other clubs and see how the game was played and umpired.
-- Mary McLaughlin
Organizer & Manager
The La Crescent Area Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Heritage House at 328 South Third Street in La Crescent is the historical society's home. It includes an office, public archives, and museum. Also on the property is the Apple Shed featuring a display of tools and memorabilia of La Crescent's apple industry.
Heritage House, like the historical society itself, is run entirely by volunteers.