Mehring Monday: Searching for artifacts

These are courtesy of the kindness of a stranger. (Wisconsin Timber Rattlers)

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | December 10, 2012 5:42 AM ET

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A couple of weeks ago, a woman walked into the temporary offices of the Timber Rattlers.  She had a plain, brown grocery bag and said the following, "I was cleaning out some stuff and was going to throw it away.  Could you use it?"

The story she told to another member of the front office was that her husband had passed away last year.  She was going through his possessions and found some things that might be of interest to us.

Inside this plain, brown grocery bag were some wonderful things.

Seven team autographed baseballs from the Foxes era of professional baseball in Appleton.

There are single baseballs for the 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1977 seasons.  The 1976 season has three different team baseballs.

"Of course we can use them!"

Unfortunately, we did not get the name of the woman who brought in these treasures.  But, if she ever reads this, I wanted to let her know that her gift is appreciated and to thank her.

Also, I wanted to use this little anecdote as a jumping off point for this week's column.

Maybe the biggest tragedy of the move from Goodland Field to Fox Cities Stadium was the loss of historical artifacts.  Oh, a few programs and binders full of old newspaper clippings made it.  But, a lot of it was in thrown out.

There is a story about this that haunts me to this day.  Patti McFarland was a Foxes Superfan.  She was a collector, too.  I once heard that she had photos and programs and autographs and souvenirs and all of the stuff that could fill a museum dedicated to just the Foxes.

It's gone.

When she died, the collection was either thrown out or dispersed or hidden so that only a person pure of heart, thought, and deed could find it using a 1978 Foxes Championship Ring and team photo could find it. 

The starting point is rumored to be the History Museum at The Castle, which used to be the Masonic Lodge in Appleton.  But, that's another story.

A lot of the teams in the Midwest League have used their historical archives to decorate their ballpark.

Cedar Rapids turned the entire second level hallway into a timeline of baseball in Cedar Rapids.  Peoria has a great series of posters that takes fans back to the days of Iron Joe McGinty, Old Hoss Radbourn, and the women's team that played there.  West Michigan has some incredible photographs on their walls.  Burlington's conference room is incredible for the historic photos, baseballs, and newspaper headlines.

To see a few examples, go to
this post at Rattler Radio.

What I am trying to say here is, "HELP!"

You may have noticed through other things on the site or just driving on Highway 41 that Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium is undergoing a major renovation right now. 

We would love to be able to decorate the new areas of the ballpark with Appleton baseball history.  We just don't have a lot.


If you have some items in your basement that are just gathering dust,
let us know.  If you have pictures from the Papermakers and/or Foxes Era, let us know.  If see something at a swap meet or a flea market or garage sale, let us know.  If you know somebody that has a lot of old programs and souvenirs and other Appleton Pro Baseball stuff, let us know.

In case the
let us know links are too subtle, click on let us know to email me with your Appleton historical baseball memorabilia.

We will find a way to use those pieces of history.

Even the Foxes Brau cans and we have plenty of those!

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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