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Northwoods League

Northwoods League history

The Northwoods League is a college-level league with operations in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, Ontario and Wisconsin. It began play in 1994 and was patterned after college-level leagues in New England (the Cape Cod League) and Alaska. The original Northwoods League featured teams in Minnesota (Rochester Honkers), Iowa (Dubuque Mud Puppies), and Wisconsin (Kenosha Kroakers, Wausau Woodchucks, and Manitowoc Skunks). This group of cities had once hosted professional baseball in the past decade, either Class A Midwest League teams or Northern League teams (in the case of Rochester, whose Rochester Aces franchise lasted only through the initial Northern League campaign and then was uprooted to Winnipeg).

Northwoods League owners soon found out what the Midwest League had already known: that these cities were not capable of supporting baseball on any level. Out of the original five teams, only Rochester and Wausau (by then operating as the Wisconsin Woodchucks) made it to the 2002 season. Since then, there has been a decent level of stability in the league — out of the eight teams in the league in 1998, five were still in the league in 2002. Other teams in the league over the years include the Mankato Mashers, the Minot Greenheads, the Alexandria Beetles and the Madison Mallards.

This is not to say that the Northwoods League doesn’t provide a memorable experience — it does. The caliber of play is generally very good and attracts high-level college players from around the country. And the league seems to have hit upon a formula that works: in 2001, over 263,000 fans attended games, with the league averaging 1,082 a game. It is by far the best-drawing summer-collegiate circuit.

Current Teams (in alphabetical order)
Alexandria Beetles
Battle Creek Bombers
Brainerd Lakes Lunkers
Duluth Huskies
Eau Claire Express
Green Bay Bullfrogs
La Crosse Loggers
Madison Mallards
Mankato Moondogs
Rochester Honkers
St. Cloud River Bats
Thunder Bay Border Cats
Waterloo Bucks
Willmar Stingers
Wisconsin Woodchucks
Wisconsin Rapids Rafters