Conference Schedule

Friday, March 23, 2018


3 – 6 p.m. at Best Western Plus (official hotel of VBBA Conference)
320 Oak Ave., Menomonie, WI 54751


3 – 6 p.m. at Rassbach Heritage Museum, Dunn County Historical Society,
1820 Wakanda St., Menomonie, WI 54751


6 – 9 p.m. at the Rassbach Heritage Museum, Dunn County Historical Society
1820 Wakanda St., Menomonie, WI 54751

cutawaysJoin your hosts for food, beer and musical entertainment provided by The Cutaways (country, rock & roll, Americana/bluegrass, pop and originals) beginning at 7 p.m.

After Hours

9 p.m. at the Stout Ale House
1501 Broadway St. N., Menomonie, WI 54751

Saturday, March 24, 2018


Breakfast at Best Western Plus.  Refreshments will be provided at the conference.

Welcome » 8:15 – 8:30 a.m.

Welcoming remarks from your host club, Menomonie Blue Caps

Opening Remarks » 8:30 – 8:50 a.m.

Opening Remarks from VBBA leadership.

Breakout Sessions   »   9 a.m.

A Summer Up North: Henry Aaron
and the Legend of Eau Claire Baseball

Jerry Poling


On June 12, 1952, only a local sportswriter showed up at the Eau Claire airport to greet a newly signed eighteen-year-old shortstop from Alabama toting a cardboard suitcase. “I was scared as hell,” said Henry Aaron, recalling his arrival as the new recruit on the city’s Class C minor league baseball team. For the people of Eau Claire, Aaron’s summer two years before his Major League debut with the Milwaukee Braves symbolizes a magical time, when baseball fans in a small city in northern Wisconsin could live a part of the dream.

Poling is assistant director of University Communications at UW-Stout, in Menomonie. He previously was a journalist for nearly 30 years. He has authored and co-authored five other books and published numerous stories as a freelance writer.

 »  Find A Summer Up North at

The Sisle Socks, Stillwater, Minn. Prison Baseball Team

Rich Arpi


The Sisle Soxs were a baseball team housed in the Stillwater, Minnesota prison from 1914 to the 1960s. They played a variety of clubs at the prison but rarely played road games, for obvious reasons.

Arpi is a baseball historian and research associate with the Ramsey County Historical Society and member of the Society for American Baseball Research. He has written articles on several historic Minnesota ball teams including the Virginia Ore Diggers, St. Paul Red Caps, Minneapolis Brown Stockings, and the Winona Clippers.  “Ace” Arpi is a ballist on the Minneapolis Quicksteps Base Ball Club.

 » Read articles by Rich Arpi at the SABR website

Grant Writing for Your Vintage Base Ball Club

Samantha Phillips

s_samantha-phillipsWhether your vintage base ball program is connected to a non-profit entity or not, funding your team can be a challenge. Equipment, supplies and travel expenses can put a strain on a team’s finances. Have you ever considered what grant possibilities are available? Finding the right grant to fit your needs is important. Phillips will overview what to focus on when writing a grant and help you gain the knowledge needed to be successful.

Phillips is the Grants and Services Manager at the Community Foundation of Dunn County.

Breakout Sessions  »  10 a.m.

Burleigh Grimes: Baseball’s Last Legal Spitballer
Handy Andy: The Andy Pafko Story

Joe Niese


For nearly two decades, Burleigh Grimes brought his surly disposition to the pitcher’s mound. His life-or-death mentality resulted in a reputation as one of the game’s great competitors and a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Along the way, he suited up for eight different ball clubs and played alongside a record 36 Hall of Famers. In all, Grimes spent more than a half a century in professional baseball as a player, manager, coach and scout, including World Series highs and lows, brawls, five marriages, a near-death experience and 270 major league victories.

Andy Pafko was a quiet, faith-filled man who also happened to play the game of baseball exceptionally well. Called up to the Chicago Cubs in September 1943, he played in his first World Series in 1945. He blossomed into a five-time all-star as both an outfielder and a third baseman. In 1951 he was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers and the next year helped lead the team to the World Series. After another trade to the Braves, Pafko was instrumental in back-to-back World Series appearances in 1957 and ’58 against the Yankees, helping Milwaukee win the crown in ’57. He retired after the 1959 season and spent the next decade as a coach and scout.

Niese is a librarian in Chippewa Falls and member of the Society for American Baseball Research. His articles on baseball have appeared in The National Pastime and Nine: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture. He has written two books: Burleigh Grimes: Baseball’s Last Legal Spitballer and Handy Andy: The Andy Pafko Story.

» Find Burleigh Grimes: Baseball’s Last Legal Spitballer at
» Find Handy Andy: The Andy Pafko Story at

How Newell Burch Survived Andersonville Prison:
Among the First to Arrive and Last to Leave

Dustyn Dubuque


Newell Burch spent 21 months in as a prisoner of war at Belle Isle, Virginia, and Andersonville prisons. Conditions were deplorable: prisoners had poor shelter, were fed little food, and had very little for clothing. Burch wrote all about these traumatic experiences, how he “cured” his own gangrene, then set about to help his fellow prisoners, gaining the trust of his captors.

Dubuque is Executive Director of Main Street Menomonie. Prior to that, he served as the events and programming coordinator for the Dunn County Historical Society, and as the museum manager of the Hay Lake School and Johannes Log House for the Washington County Historical Society. He earned a master of arts degree in public history from UW-Eau Claire.

Dubuque is better known in these parts as “Mad Dog,” ballist/manager of the Menomonie Blue Caps.

» Find How Newell Burch Survived Andersonville Prison at Monarch Tree Publishing

Teaching Vintage Base Ball to School Groups

Doug Ernst

s_doug_ernstBallist Doug Ernst has taught vintage base ball to students in second and third grade as well as juniors and seniors in high school. A former teacher, Doug has experience teaching and volunteering with students from kindergarten to freshmen in college. He’s slated to teach a three-day class at a living history site where he works. In the summer season, “Freight Train” Ernst can be seen running the bases for the Quickstep Base Ball Club of Richfield, Minn.

» Read “A Saint and a Miller” by Doug Ernst at the SABR website


Breakout Session » 11:00 a.m.

Using Streaming Video to Promote Your Team

Go Live Sports Cast

go-live_logoLearn how to use live streaming and video to market, promote and build events. This can lead to higher attendance, more social media attention and monetary value. Go Live Sports Cast is a live streaming and archived video service that specializes in pro and amateur sports coverage. Since 2004, Go Live Sports Cast has live streamed and distributed hundreds of events of live and on-demand sports each year.

» Go Live Sports Cast Website


Lunch » Noon

Gather back together for 1860-themed lunch.


Base Ball!   »  2 – 4:30 p.m.

All Vintage Pick up Match at Phelan Park. *
The shuttle bus will leave at 1:40 p.m. from Best Western Plus to take players to the field.  * Location of the match is subject to change based on the cooperation of the weather in Wisconsin.


Evening Program  »  6 – 7:30 p.m.

The shuttle bus to the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts will leave Best Western Plus at 5:45 p.m.

Social Hour with an open bar.  Free tours of this late 1880s gem, listed as one of CNN’s “World’s Most Spectacular Theaters.”


VBBA Rules & Customs
Committee Presentation  »  
7:30 – 8 p.m.


Dinner and Keynote Speaker  »  8 – 9:30 p.m.

Showcasing Minnesota Twins History

Clyde Doepner, Curator of the Minnesota Twins


Clyde Doepner attended his first Minnesota Twins game on April 21, 1961, and has been an addicted collector ever since. A longtime history teacher at Tartan High School, he became the first-ever curator in Twins history in 2009 as the team prepared to move into Target Field. As the curator he collects, displays, archives, gives on-site presentations and off-site talks. Doepner has extensive knowledge of the Twins organization and is also the owner of one of the largest Twins memorabilia collections in the world.

Doepner has logged memorabilia from all generations of Twins baseball — Harmon Killebrew to Kirby Puckett to Joe Mauer and now the new generation with Miguel Sano and company. Among his favorite pieces are those from Killebrew, a player he considers his hero. Preserving that history for future generations is his passion and joy.

Banquet dinner menu TBD


Close of Silent Auction and Payments  »  9:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Breakfast at Best Western Plus. Refreshments will be provided at the conference.

Bottom of the Ninth

9 – 11 a.m.   VBBA Board Meeting, Business Meeting and Closing Remarks