Pride baseball team ends seven-year run
By Mike Warren/Tim Kraus
Part one in a two-part series
MARSHFIELD – When 12 young men from five central Wisconsin communities headed west to take on some of the top 18-year-old baseball teams in the state of Colorado this summer, it marked the end of their time together as a successful team.
Pride Baseball, based in Marshfield, came out strong, going 6-1 on the eight-day road trip. The team’s visit to Colorado, however, was not the trip the players, coaches and parents were hoping to make. The trip to the Centennial State was, in fact, a substitute adventure, taking the place of a formal invitation by the director of “Babe Ruth Baseball” in Taiwan, to make a journey to Taipei – the country’s capitol – to participate in its annual “International Tournament,”which was canceled in May due to COVID-19.
Pride played in a Midwest Invitational Tournament in the Quad Cities in the summer of 2019. The team’s initial game was against a team from Shaumburg, IL – a very talented and successful team which, at the time, had four players and two coaches from Taiwan, on the squad.
“We were fortunate enough to beat the Illinois team, and went on to have a very good showing in the tournament,” Pride Head Coach Tim Kraus explained. “The way the ‘farm boys’ from mid-Wisconsin played and respected the game impressed the Taiwan coach, Mau-san Chang, so much, he decided at that point to offer the invitation for the Pride team to join Carlsbad, California as the only two teams from the United States that he would invite to his tournament.”
In a September 2020 letter to Kraus inviting the team to the Taiwan tournament, Coach Chang said, “Your Pride baseball club made a strong impression by the way you played the game and won the championship in that Iowa tournament. If Pride can join the (2021 Taiwan Babe Ruth League High School International Invitation) tournament, it will enhance the overall level of play at the games.”
“Our boys worked real hard to gain sponsorship and raise money, as well as do all the other things needed to make this cross-Pacific venture happen,” Kraus said. “When it was cancelled, our team and their families were very disappointed.”
When notified the tournament was off, Kraus reached out to a few contacts he had in different areas of the U.S. to find an alternative trip to fill the loss. After giving his players a choice of Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Colorado, the team unanimously chose to head west. With help from the director of Colorado American Legion Baseball, as well as the Colorado USSSA Baseball Association, a schedule was put together, and Pride was able to play against some great competition. Teams from Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs, Longmont, Windsor, and Greeley provided the competition for the Wisconsin boys.
The trip was capped off by being recognized for their success and quality play on the Colorado Rockies’ scoreboard during their July 16 game with the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field.
Next week: Seven years in the making