The following information is a brief outline of legion baseball in Wisconsin Rapids. It is by no means complete and if we failed to recoginze someone it is truely unintentional.
Wisconsin Rapids had a legion team in the early 1930's and won a state championship in 1936, but the Rangers as we know them today did not start until 1971. Coaches were Jim Kroll and George Roman. The team was admitted to Valley legion league in 1971. Erv Pleet was elected legion president as well as Valley legion president in 1972. Buzz Bouton was sec/treas. Tom Foley joined on in 1974. Randy Haferman joined on in 1975. George Haferman managed in 1975 assisted by Don Melville.
They started out with a 15 game schedule and progressed to a 40 game schedule in the Valley among 9 Valley teams.
There first state appearance was in 1975 even though they won the Valley many times.
In 1977 coaches were George Roman and Jim Fisher. In 1978 coaches were Ken Frederick and Merlin McHugh. In 1979 coaches Lou Mason and Jack Uttermark were added. In 1980 Dan Melville joined on and became manager in 1987 with Merlin McHugh, Duke Ellingson and Terry Szelagowski. In 1988 and 1995 they were state champions. Jim Austin joined on also. Dan retired in 2003 ,handing the head coaching job to brother Randy who had been the Rambler coach since 1999.
Ramblers started approximately 1981 and played in the vacationland conference. Rebels started about 1984 or 85 and lasted about 3 years.
Our outfield signs started in 1983 to bring in reliable funding for team uniforms, field work and travel expenses. Coupon book program started around 1982.
In 1972 Rangers had their first road trip to Dodgeville, which also turned out to be the last road trip where players drove. The experience was said to be a circus.
Today the Ranger/Rambler program has become the envy of many legion programs thanks to the above mentioned people and many others behind the scenes. We continue to be one of the few if not the only program that spends as much time and money per player as any in the state. It is our hope that all who follow, will follow the footsteps of those in the past who have VOLUNTEERED their time and effort to make our program the best it can be. Our coaches have never been paid, nor will they be. Our program is based on volunteers who love the game of baseball. Player participation always has and will contiue to be free of charge.
Please come to the ballpark and watch these talented young men.