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Willmar's new Northwoods team to unveil name, colors, logo on Dec. 2

WILLMAR -- Willmar's new Northwoods League baseball team name, colors and logo will be released on Dec. 2 at the Holiday Inn's Convention Center.

Chris Jakubauskas, a former Northwoods League player and current Seattle Mariners pitcher, will be on hand for the event that will run from 6-8 p.m. There will also be complimentary hot dogs, chips and pop while supplies last. A limited number of free tickets can be picked up at the Holiday Inn.

Jakubauskas played for the St. Cloud River Bats in 1999. He was 6-7 as a rookie this season for the Mariners as a starter and reliever and pitched 93 innings.

Willmar recently became the 15th member of the Northwoods League. The team elected to let fans help name the new team with a contest in which they could e-mail their choices. There were over 800 entries to the contest. The person who submitted the winning team name receives two liftetime season tickets.

"It should be a fun night," said Ryan Voz, the co-owner of the new Willmar team. "We'll also have the designer of the new logo on hand, too."

Willmar begins the 68-game season in early June. The 2010 season schedule will be announced sometime in December. Minnesota teams in the Northwoods League besides Willmar are Alexandria, Brainerd, Duluth, Mankato, Rochester and St. Cloud.

The Northwoods League is a Wood Bat League featuring college-eligible players from across the nation. To date, 60 former Northwoods players have gone on to play in the major leagues.

"We're in the process of interviewing for coaches and the manager right now," Voz said. "Once we unveil the team name and logo, we'll proceed with naming the new manager and his coaches and let the public know."

Once the manager is in place, the team will then starting assembling its roster from colleges.

"We won't have tryouts," said Voz. "It's all about contacts with college coaches and who they feel can play in this league."

The team will play 34 home games at Bill Taunton Stadium. Voz said there will be a different promotion each night for the fans.

"We have a Summer St. Patty's Night or a Minnesota Twins Night where we will bring in a former Twins player," Voz explained. "We also have a Celebrity Night. Last year, we had William 'The Refrigerator' Perry and he threw out the first pitch. But he threw a football instead ofr a baseball and all the players wore football jerseys with their baseball pants. It's just going to be a lot of fun for people in Willmar."