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Willmar's Northwoods team unveils nickname, logo

Contest winner Bob Malmgren displays the Willmar Stingers Logo on Wednesday after the new Northwoods League franchise unveiled its nickname and logo at the Holiday Inn/Conference Center. Malmgren received two lifetime season passes for submitting the winning entry. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton1 / 2
Major League Baseball pitcher Chris Jakubauskas signs autographs after a presentation for the new Northwoods League team in Willmar Wednesday at the Willmar Holiday Inn/Conference Center. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton2 / 2

WILLMAR -- Bob Malmgren, whose best sport at Willmar High School was hockey, has made a mark on baseball.

Malmgren's suggestion for a nickname for the Northwoods League franchise, coming to Willmar in June, was selected from hundreds of entries.

The Willmar Stingers logo features a slugging bee behind the "Stingers" nickname in script and "Willmar" in a block font below. Justin Schaller, a graphics designer from Eau Claire, Wis., created the logo, his fifth for a Northwoods team.

"This is great," said Malmgren, holding his prize, a certificate for two lifetime season passes.

The team colors will be black and yellow. The Stingers are the 15th team in the summer collegiate baseball league, which has franchises in three Great Lakes states and Thunder Bay, Ont.

Over 800 names were e-mailed to the co-owners and business managers Marc Jerzak and Ryan Voz. Many were duplicates.

Jerzak said half-jokingly that Malmgren submitted a name nearly ever day during the contest period.

Malmgren wouldn't say just how many he did submit but he mentioned several favorites, like Prairie Bandits, Diamond Kings and Gobblers.

Gobblers and Walleye were apparently two of the most popular contest submissions.

The Stingers will play 34 home games at Bill Taunton Stadium starting June 2 or 3. Thirty host families are being sought for the 30 student/athletes who will be moving to the community from colleges campuses across the country.

Major League pitcher Chris Jakubauskas, who flew in from Nashville, Tenn., on Wednesday, said staying with a host family in St. Cloud was one of his best experiences while playing for the River Bats in 1999.

The Oklahoma native knocked around in the low minors and various independent leagues before being signed by the Seattle Mariners in 2007. He debuted last year and went 6-7 with the Mariners. He was picked up late last month on waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"The Northwoods League prepared me for professional baseball," he explained. "Playing every day, the bus trips, learning to get a long with all kinds of teammates and being on your own."

Voz, Jerzak and third co-owner Gary Posch all spoke briefly to the gathering of upwards of 230 baseball fans.

Voz, a native of Cold Spring, said concessions, including beer, would be "affordable."

Admission was announced at $6 at the time the new franchise was announced on Oct. 14.

Jakubauskas emphasized this will be quality baseball.

"I hope you enjoy it," he said. "These guys are going to play hard. Not everyone gets to play summer (collegiate) ball. It's a big deal for those who do."

Dick Radatz Jr., president of the league, said a 16th team could yet be added in Wisconsin.

The Stingers' manager and coaching staff will be announced soon, said Jerzak, followed by player commitments starting in January.

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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