By Tori Wittenbrock
BELLEVUE – The Green Bay Blue Ribbons hosted their second annual Fan Fest on May 26 to kick off their 2023 season.
Fans from all over Green Bay made their way to the historic Joannes Stadium on Friday night to support the heavily local Blue Ribbons roster.
Free admission was provided for supporters of the team, young and old, who took part in a unique event, watching the players through their live batting practice and then enjoying a preview of what is to come this season through the team’s five-inning scrimmage.
Everyone in attendance was given a voucher for a free hotdog, snack and beverage while enjoying the game.
“One thing I am really looking forward to this season is just playing a whole bunch of baseball. These are some guys that I have played baseball with my entire life and to get to play with them this summer is super exciting,” said Eli Frank, who makes his return to the roster this season after being named 2022 MVP.
Although the players work hard doing their part to put on a show, the fans play a big role each year in the culture of Blue Ribbons Baseball as well.
“The fans being at the ballpark on opening day is something every player remembers from years past and gets us excited for years to come going forward. It’s electric,” said Frank.
Assistant Coach Haydon Price also voiced his excitement for the upcoming season.
“We’ve got a bunch of talent here. We’ve got guys from Division I to Division III, a couple of great Jr. College players, mainly all players from the Green Bay area. We are really excited to get the players out here this summer for some good weather and some good baseball,” said Price.
“The most important aspect for fans and players to focus on this season is the development that’s going to occur. We’ve got a roster of about 35 guys, and we are trying to make sure everybody progresses, and have each one leave here on a higher note than they came in. We are looking forward to a good summer with a lot of talented ball players and stacking some wins,” said Price.
The rich history of Blue Ribbons Baseball will be celebrated by fans, players and families all season long.
The Blue Ribbons team was established in the year 1970, since then sending over 50 players to play in other collegiate leagues, as well as to become professional athletes.
This year’s roster carries with it an immense amount of talent, as well as an abundance of local pride. With players from over seven states, almost each one has an important tie to the Green Bay area.
Popular players from previous seasons will be appearing on this year’s roster again, including Frank — an alumni of UW- Whitewater — as well as Trent Van Ess, who held the title of MVP before Frank. Van Ess is from Two Rivers, and is an alumni of UW-Stevens Point. In addition, first baseman James Bornick from Bay Port High School and Marion will be reprising his role on the team as well, after successfully setting a new team record for home runs in the 2022 season.
The roster this year also includes a wide breadth of experience and talent from players at Michigan State, Central Michigan and Northwoods League teams such as Green Bay Rockers, Fond Du Lac Spiders, Wausau Woodchucks and La Crosse Loggers.
The Blue Ribbons played their opening game against the Sheboygan A’s at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 30, for an 11-1 win.
Catcher Steven Russell homered and drove in three runs and second baseman Ethan Habetler went 3-for-4 with 2 doubles and 3 RBI.
The next Blue Ribbons home game is on Tuesday, June 6, at 7 p.m. against the Appleton Legends.
For more information about the Blue Ribbons Baseball schedule and upcoming events this season, visit blueribbonsbaseball.com for updates.