Green Bay, Wis. – With a 1-0 defeat of the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters on Sunday night, the Green Bay Bullfrogs 2014 season officially came to a close. It was a new year for the franchise in Green Bay this season as new ownership, new coaches, and new players took over and exceled on and off the field. The team’s record vastly improved from last season while the Bullfrogs set a record for attendance in a season.
The 2014 Bullfrogs season started all the way back in November of 2013 when the ownership group, Big Top Baseball, bought the Green Bay Bullfrogs. Big Top, which already owned the Madison Mallards, Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, and Kenosha Kingfish, made Green Bay their fourth franchise in the Northwoods League. Liz Kern became the head of the Bullfrogs operations in Green Bay as general manager and part owner.
The new ownership group started right away making improvements to Joannes Stadium. The Festival Foods Grill was added to the third base side, a new left field entrance to the stadium was added, the 3rd Base Dugout Club was a new seating option for fans, as well as a new net behind home plate that replaced an old chain-link fence that greatly improved sightlines for fans sitting behind home plate.
As the year progressed into 2014, front office staff was hired as well as the Bullfrogs field manager for the season. Darrell “Skip” Handelsman was selected to coach the 2014 Green Bay Bullfrogs and with the hiring came one of the most impressive resumes in summer collegiate baseball to Green Bay. Handelsman, who had coached in the Northwoods League from 1996-2004, returned from the Coastal Plain League in North Carolina to coach the Bullfrogs. He entered the 2014 season with 300 wins in the Northwoods League, the second most wins all-time in the NWL.
The 72-game season officially began on May 27th as the Bullfrogs took on the Battle Creek Bombers at Joannes Stadium. The first half of the season ended and the Bullfrogs sat at 17-18 through the season’s first 36 games. The most memorable game of the first half happened in the final game as the Bullfrogs defeated the Wisconsin Woodchucks, 12-5, to give Handelsman his 600th career victory.
July came quick and with it came the start of the second half of the season. The Bullfrogs fought hard throughout the final 36 games and were in playoff contention until the final couple of days. With Green Bay’s win over Wisconsin Rapids on August 10th, the Bullfrogs finished the second half of the season 19-18 and ended the year at .500 with a 36-36 record. The Bullfrogs record in 2014 was eight games better than in 2013 when the team took last place with a 28-42 record.
Offensively in 2014, the Bullfrogs were led by a number of players. Bullfrog infielder, Matt Beaty (Belmont) owned the highest batting average with a .296 mark. Dean Long (Emporia State) played in the most games for Green Bay with 68 and led the team in stolen bases with 25. Ryan Howell (Chabot) tied the franchise home run record for home runs in a season with 11 and led the Bullfrogs with 44 RBI on the season.
On the mound, Green Bay was led by starting pitcher Roberto Baroniel (Nova Southeastern) who was the lone Bullfrogs All-Star in 2014. Baroniel threw a team-high 75.1 innings and owned a 4-3 record with a 2.74 ERA in twelve starts. While also hitting .280, Ivan Vieitez (Lenoir-Rhyne) had the most saves for the Bullfrogs with five and had just a 1.42 ERA. Reliever Josh Glick (Nova Southeastern) appeared in the most games for Green Bay as he came in 31 times over the course of the season. Starting pitcher Nathan Disch (Jacksonville), who joined the team at the end of June, went 5-0 with a 1.45 ERA in nine appearances with five of those coming as starts.
Jamie Ritchie (Belmont) played with the Bullfrogs for ten games in the beginning of the season. He was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 13th round (No. 376 overall) of the 2014 MLB Draft.
At Joannes Stadium for the 2014 season, the Bullfrogs had the most people come through the gates in franchise history. After 36 homes games, the Bullfrogs drew a record 42,902 fans, drawing more than the previous high from the 2008 season in which the Bullfrogs drew 41,878 fans. The season was highlighted by a season-high 2,174 fans that came out on Wednesday, June 25th. It was the second-highest attendance at a Bullfrogs game since the franchise started in 2007. The Bullfrogs also drew crowds of 1,920 (8/7), 1,912 (7/24) and 1,686 (8/10). All-in-all, the Bullfrogs drew more than 1,000 fans in 24 of the 36 home games at Joannes Stadium over the course of the 2014 season.