When I got to Wisconsin Rapids and saw the stadium where the Rafters play their home games, I was excited! It was another stadium complex that had that “hokey” hometown feel to it. T he town seemed to embrace what they had and didn’t try to make it into something it was not. There’s nothing especially elaborate or flashy about Witter Field, which was built in 1928, its just a gentle reminder of how pro baseball used to be played. How ballparks felt in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
As I wandered around the park I noticed a local TV reporter interviewing one of the Rafters players. I had just come from Alexandria, MN and wasn’t feeling as important as I did there. Funny how life can humble you at times. I was the center of attention with people wanting to meet me and then a couple of days later nobody knows my name. I was in the mood to find a good story to write. I have changed up how I was writing my posts, but I wanted to find a person with an interesting perspective. I walked by a table and it appeared to be a book signing going on. My exact thought was, “This must not be a big deal since the TV reporter wasn’t covering it”.
As I was standing watching the reporter getting some action shots of the game, the Public Address announcer said that Terry Stake would be signing his book through out the game. He then went on to say something about 40 years in broadcasting. I didn’t catch it all but I perked up and thought this had to be an interesting story. I walked over to the table and started rambling to the guy sitting behind the table. I think I said something like, “I am impressed with people who have written a book, something I have always wanted to do”, as I was shaking the mans hand.
After I said all of this the man (Randy Pahl) pointed to Terry who was sitting at the end of the table. I laughed at myself and introduced myself again and explained what I was doing. I was intrigued by Terry’s story but he wasn’t telling his story, but that of the local communities. His book is called “Looking at the Beams – My Life in Broadcasting”. He signed a copy for me. I went to watch the son of a friend who plays for the Rafters and was to bat. I started reading Terry’s book after my friend’s son singled with the bases loaded. I was impressed with him! Terry impressed me, also. He told me, “It was about the kids playing and not him.” It was their “day in the sun”.
The “something about 40 years” I mentioned previously, was about Terry’s longevity, becoming a fixture in Wisconsin Rapids sports over four decades. He broadcasts for all of the wrestling, baseball, basketball, softball, football, hockey, soccer, track games. He details all of this in his book, what it was like in the early days, where they would have to sit to do the broadcasts, along with injecting a lot of humor. I couldn’t put the book down as the game was being played. I walked over to the table a few times to talk about an incident or two Terry encountered in his career. What struck me time and time again with Terry was how he constantly gave credit to everyone else. How he made sure to mention all the people that he encountered during his career.
I took the following off Terry’s website.
“Very excited to read this book Terry! Being an athlete at Lincoln High School 1976-1979, I remember you well. You covered many sports including some of the girls games. We all knew your voice on the radio. We knew your face. When I was younger, I knew the spot where you sat to broadcast games at the Old Lincoln. The small hike up those back steps to the balcony. My Uncle George Hafermann always sat near your “booth”. I was usually sitting next to him. Congrats on the book. It’ll be fun to travel back down the road with your writings. Laurie A Craft 1979 Lincoln High School.’
If you live in the Greater Wisconsin Rapids area and played sports, Terry probably knows you and you probably know him. He retired in 2009, celebrate his broadcast career like he celebrated you when you were competing. Go to his website and purchase his book. One last thing, the local TV reporter walked by the table, Terry spoke to her. She said she was from New York and was new to Wisconsin Rapids. She missed a great opportunity to interview a local sports broadcasting legend, a story sitting in front of her. I am sure that Wisconsin Rapids is a stepping stone to bigger markets and her instincts will improve over time, like Terry’s did in his 42 years. Terry, it is now your “Day in the Sun”.
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