Clinton, Evansville rebuilding teams in Home Talent League

STATELINE NEWS (June 26, 2014) -- Link to article -- Written by Todd Mishler

Transition has been the name of the game for Rock County’s teams in the Home Talent League this season.

Clinton’s and Evansville’s entries in the 46-team adult amateur baseball organization are in rebuilding mode while adapting to younger rosters, while the Orioles also have endured growing pains with a move from Orfordville.

Both squads have been on roller coaster rides in the more competitive Sunday afternoon league and the Thursday night version.

However, Clinton’s Trevor Wallace and Evansville’s Jon Frey are optimistic about their franchises moving forward despite their current struggles.

“We lost our Nos. 2 and 3 pitchers in Joe Cox and Brent Cashore, and Pat Moore, who was a 12- or 13-year veteran, has become a substitute player this year,” said Wallace, a co-manager and second baseman who has played since 2002. “So, we’ve lost a lot of veteran presence and have taken a step back, so we’re in a bit of a rebuilding process. We’ve got better numbers, but a lot of them are rookies and younger guys.”

Still, Wallace said the move from Orfordville -- the Orioles play at Clinton High School on Sundays and the Stateline Youth Sports Complex in Beloit on Thursdays -- will pay dividends moving forward.

“We knew we would be losing guys because we had an older team,” said Wallace, a 2001 Clinton grad who played college baseball at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. “In Orfordville, we were landlocked, especially after Whitewater. League rules say you can use only players who live within six miles, with some gray areas. Many guys from Brodhead were going to Monroe, and we couldn’t recruit in the cities of Janesville or Beloit.

“So, moving to Clinton definitely helps,” Wallace added about a franchise that moved from Brodhead to Orfordville after the 1997 season. “A lot of Clinton area guys, many who we had to turn away before, are excited about having the opportunity to play.”

Frey said finding the 20 to 25 players necessary to field a team twice a week during the hectic summer is a never-ending task, which also makes it tough to remain competitive.

“My philosophy on Home Talent League is just that … I don’t do a lot of recruiting and try to stay in Evansville,” said Frey, who was the general manager of the Marshall team from 1996 through 2005. “We get some players from Footville, Orfordville, Brodhead, Edgerton or Brooklyn, but I’d say 80 percent of our roster lives in Evansville.”

And regardless of the Jays’ record, Frey and others simply are happy to have a local team. The community had enjoyed a strong baseball tradition since the 1860s, but its HTL team folded in 1980 after 19 seasons and didn’t rejoin until Frey took the reins in 2005.

“This is our 10th year back in the league, so it’s kind of a milestone for us,” said Frey, who also is one of Evansville’s outfielders. “We’ve got a mixed roster of veterans, some in the middle and new high school guys. We’ll have three new first-year players and probably three second-year guys. We’re in a typically tough Southeast Section and we’re trying to crash into that top echelon.”

Evansville has not reached the playoffs since 2008, and Frey said he would continue to do his part to help the franchise get back toward the top of the standings.

“I’m 37 and I’d like to play with my kids … my oldest is 11, so I’ve got seven years left to go,” Frey said. “We’re just trying to have fun and are still living the dream.”

That goes for Wallace and Clinton, which will rely on Joe Lange, one of the league’s top hitting and pitching stars. On the other hand, the Orioles have posted double figures in wins in the West Division of the Southeast Section the past three years.

“I was always an outfielder, but my arm is shot so I’ve moved to second base,” the right-hander said. “I believe the move will help on the field and from a fans’ perspective. It should help us maintain a franchise for years to come.”


Purple Jays Triple A League Team. Photo taken and provided by ModelUNO Photography.

Yellow Jays American-National League Team. Photo taken and provided by ModelUNO Photography.


June 17, 2012 - Janesville Messenger, By Rick West, Staff Writer

PDF Version or Web Version

EVANSVILLE — Games during the early days of baseball, after the Civil War, often pitted proud community teams against those from nearby communities. Those games still happen more than 150 years later, thanks to baseball leagues like south-central Wisconsin’s Home Talent League, the state’s largest adult amateur baseball league.

“What makes (the Home Talent League) unique among other amateur baseball leagues is how locally oriented it is,” said Brian Carriveau, author of “It’s Just a Game,” a newly released book about the league. “There’s actual rules in the league constitution that you have to live within six miles of home plate.”
The Home Talent League began in 1929 and has grown to 44 teams.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Evansville was home to one of these community-based teams. Twenty-five years after the team disbanded in 1980, it was resurrected in 2005 and the Evansville Jays now compete in the West Division of the HTL’s Southeast Section.

The Jays roster is almost exclusively made up of former Evansville High School stars, but there are a few on the 25-player roster from the nearby communities of Footville and Albany.

“We do our best to reach out to the (Evansville) high school seniors in particular, there’s typically one or two high school seniors that are very good players,” said Jays General Manager Jon Frey. “I do not actively recruit outside of Evansville because we are a community-supported team. The players we have from outside of Evansville are players that have approached me.”

While league rules require players to have completed their high school careers, there is no upper age limit to play in the league.

According to Carriveau, 66-year-old Vern Geishert, baseball coach at Richland Center High School, who pitched in 11 games for the California Angels in 1969, still plays for the HTL team in Richland Center.
“He doesn’t play on a regular basis, but every once in a while he’ll pinch hit,” Carriveau said. “It’s really unique, to see this former Major Leaguer still playing in his 60s.”

At the other end of the spectrum are players who just graduated a couple weeks ago.
“It adds to the dynamics of the team chemistry,” Frey said. “But we’re all competing on the same team, so it boils down to who’s performing on the field and not necessarily age.”

One of the Jays veterans is Jeremy Rasmussen, age 27, who has been with the Jays since 2005.
After a year off last summer for Air Force training, Rasmussen was able to win back his position this summer as the Jays’ starting center fielder and leadoff hitter.

Rasmussen said the blend of young and experienced players works well in Evansville.
“There’s a level of respect (for the older players), from the kids fresh out of high school,” Rasmussen said. “They know we know what we’re doing and still can compete.”

Craig Paton, 22, has been with the Jays for six seasons. Paton also played high school baseball at Evansville and two years at Carthage College. It was just after high school that he joined the Jays.

“At that point it was to get as many reps as I could going into (college) and to get ready for the next step,” Paton said. “Now I play because I love the game, it’s fun to play and I enjoy it.
“This is a way to get my competitive edge out.”

In addition to playing, Paton is one of three players who serve as the team’s field coaches, working together to determine the batting lineup and pitching rotation.

“We usually have the same idea and bounce a few things off each other,” Paton said. “There haven’t been too many big fights, yet, but it’s still early (in the season).”

Paton said with players’ work schedules, vacations and other commitments, it’s tough at times putting the best lineup on the field.

“Some days you’re missing your best catcher and other days you’re missing your best shortstop or pitcher, so you have to make do with what you’ve got,” Paton said. “Like Jon (Frey) likes to say, you’ve got to dance with the girls that are at the party.”

The Jays play a 30- to 35-game schedule each summer, with their home games on the upper diamond at Evansville’s Lake Leota Park, which they have dubbed The Jays Nest (see related graphic).

So, if you want to see young, and not-so-young, baseball players who love to play the game, come to The Jays Nest and see what the Home Talent League is all about.

“These are work-a-day guys who love playing baseball, keeping the dream alive,” Carriveau said. “And still being able to play the game at a competitive level.”

And it’s players not quite ready to make the move to softball.

“It’s nothing like slow-pitch softball. It’s real baseball with real baseball strategy,” Rasmussen said of the HTL. “I’m going to play this as long as I can. I can play slow-pitch when I’m 70 or 80 years old. “I play because the game doesn’t change. Players change, but the game doesn’t change.”

Community ‘Pitches in’ for Batting Cage

September 1, 2011 -EVANSVILLE, WI - This summer the Evansville Jays Home Talent Baseball Team organized an effort to build a community batting cage at Lake Leota Park upper baseball diamond area. The Jays presented the idea with plans to the Park & Recreation Board in June for approval.

Once approved, the site excavating time and equipment was donated by Kyle Allen and Mike Wickersham of Allen Custom Flatwork. Sean Crull of R&K Construction donated his time and equipment for drilling the pole holes, hauling the poles to the park and setting the poles in the ground. The poles were donated by Roger Berg of RM Berg General Contractor. The Jays set the poles in place with concrete.

Then the Jays built a framed box around the poles for the gravel and ag lime that was hauled and donated by Al Miller of Footville Rock & Lime. Rocks for the retaining wall around the batting cage were donated by R&K Construction. The Jays purchased and installed the batting cage net and hardware. Evansville resident, Larry Dobbs donated three shrubs for a future green back drop behind the pitcher, and mulch for those shrubs was donated by Dean George Auction Service.

The Evansville Home Talent Team also acknowledges the support and coordination in building the batting cage from Evansville resident, Gordy Ringhand. The Jays are working on making more improvements to the upper baseball diamond area, and if you would like to contribute (time, equipment, monetary) to the improvement effort, please contact Mike Maves (608-289-9035) and/or Jon Frey (608-575-4359).

As published in The Evansville Review in the September 7, 2011 issue.

Batting cage excavating time and equipment donated by Kyle Allen and Mike Wickersham of Allen Custom Flatwork.

For the batting cage, Sean Crull (and little helpers left to right: Gavin Frey, Blake Frey and Patrick Crull) of R&K Construction donated his time and equipment for drilling the pole holes, hauling the poles to the park and setting the poles in the ground.

The Evansville Jays Home Talent Baseball Team sets the donated poles by Roger Berg for the community batting cage.

The Jays built a frame and rock wall around the batting cage for the gravel and ag lime donated by Footville Rock & Lime.

The installation of the Evansville community batting cage at Lake Leota Park upper baseball diamond area was made possible by community members and businesses ‘pitching in’.

May, 2011 - Evansville, Wisconsin
The Evansville Jays donate to the Evansville High School baseball team to help purchase a new scoreboard.

Home Talent All-Star Game
July 1, 2010 - Evansville, Wisconsin

Evansville’s Mike Maves and Jeremy Rasmussen were voted by their teammates to represent the Jays in the 2010 Home Talent League All-Star Game Friday, July 16 at The Duck Pond (Warner Park) in Madison. The game will start at 7:05 pm. The event is sponsored jointly by the Home Talent Baseball League and the Madison Mallards Northwoods League team. The game will be the East & Southeast Section HTL All-Stars vs the North & West Section HTL All-Stars. Tickets are available at the Mallards ticket office or by calling 608-246-4277 or vist

Link to 2010 All Star Game Roster and Report

May, 2010 - Evansville, Wisconsin
The Evansville Jays donate to the Evansville High School baseball team to purchase a new home plate tarp.

July 1, 2009 - Evansville, Wisconsin
HTL ALL STAR GAME: Evansville's Brent Cashore was voted by his teammates to represent Evansville Jays in the 2009 Home Talent League All-Star Game Friday, July 31 at The Duck Pond (Warner Park) in Madison at 7:00 pm. The event is sponsored jointly by the Home Talent Baseball League and the Madison Mallards Northwoods League team. The game will be the East & Southeast Section All-Stars vs the North & West Section All-Stars. For more information and/or tickets to the game, please contact any of the Jays players.

Link to 2009 All Star Game Roster and Report

May, 2009 - Evansville, Wisconsin
The Evansville Jays donate to the Evansville Sports Booster Club for supplies to build a new baseball concession stand at the High School field. Also, the Jays donated to the Evansville High School baseball team to help purchase a new pitching mound tarp.

October 12, 2008 - Waunakee, Wisconsin
At the 2008 Home Talent annual awards banquet at Rex's Innkeeper in Waunakee, the Jays ace pitcher, Matt Drefahl, was named the Southeast Section's MVP and the Jays General Manager, Jon Frey, was named Co-Manager of the Year. See link for other awards that night.

June 30, 2008 - Madison, Wisconsin

Evansville steps into the spotlight
By Brian Carriveau, Home Talent Baseball Blog

About the author: Brian Carriveau is writing a book about the Home Talent League this summer. He can be contacted at

Photo credit Brian Carriveau, Home Talent Baseball Blog

"I'm a promoter," said Jon Frey during the annual Evansville Home Talent League bowling fundraiser back in February. "I have this mindset of promotion and marketing and sales."

Plans were in place, even back then, to have the Evansville Jays take on the Lake Mills Grays at Warner Park following a Madison Mallards game. The time had finally come on Sunday when those plans came to fruition. The Jays beat the Grays 9-0 on one of the nicest ball fields in southern Wisconsin this side of Miller Park.

According to Frey, the game had been a year and a half in the works. He had wanted his team to play there last year, but things just didn't work out. This year, he was prepared to put that P.T. Barnum-esque brain of his to work.

"I want to first promote my community, Evansville" said Frey back in February. "And then I want to promote the Evansville community festival, the Fourth of July. And then I want to promote my team, and then I want promote my league because all these people in Madison are going to be exposed to an amateur league at this game."

His team needs no self-promotion. They've let their actions on the field do the talking this season. As the team's general manager/center fielder, Frey deserves a lot of credit after building this team from scratch.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Frey received a job offer to work in Beloit. With his wife working in Madison, they bought a house about halfway in between, settling in Evansville.

Frey commuted all the way to his hometown, Marshall, to play baseball for several years before attempting to build a franchise in Evansville in 2005. He did all the dirty work including player recruitment, fundraising, and a myriad of other duties it takes to get a team off the ground.

In their first year, the Jays won all of three games. In 2006 and 2007, they improved to win four, but still lost three quarters of their Sunday League schedule.

Finally in 2008, the hard work has started to pay off. The Jays are now in sole possession of first place in the Western division of the Southeastern section of the Home Talent League with a six and one record.
"It's a lot more fun to go out and expect to win instead of, 'How we going to win this one? How are we going to go out and play this one?'" said right fielder Jeremy Rasmussen. "The last couple of years we've gone out, we didn't know which was going to come out. Were we going to make 10 errors or are we going to have 10 hits?"

Surprisingly, it's a lot of the same players on the team back from that inaugural 2005 season when they barely won. Back then, players maybe hadn't played in a long time. With a couple years of practice and seasoning, they're playing some of the best baseball of their careers.

"I think people weren't used to hitting," said shortstop Nick Manion, "so you can tell we're more relaxed hitting. That's what hitting is about, being relaxed. You can tell that people are relaxed and people are throwing strikes. That's a huge thing. Our pitchers are throwing strikes."

With Frey at the helm, the Jays are winning baseball games, and amateur baseball is being promoted to a larger audience. In fact, in just a few weeks, the Home Talent League All-Stars will be playing the U.S. Military All-Stars in the All-American Challenge at Warner Park on Sunday July 13.

The game is part of the Northwoods League All-Star game festivities being hosted by the Mallards. Rasmussen will be Evansville's representative, and he's just glad he's been given that chance thanks to guys like Jon Frey.

"I thank him every day, having the opportunity to come out and keep playing," said Rasmussen. "Otherwise I'd be playing co-ed softball."

Next weekend's Home Talent League road trip: Marshall at Waterloo on Friday for the annual Waterloo Fourth of July Festival.

Evansville watches the Madison Mallards take on the Green Bay Bullfrogs at Warner Park from the vantage of the adjacent practice field bleachers as they wait for the game to end, and they can take the field. Photo credit Brian Carriveau, Home Talent Baseball Blog.

June 20, 2008 - Evansville, Wisconsin


Sunday, June 29 is Evansville Community Night at the Madison Mallards baseball game at Warner Park in Madison. Evansville residents will receive a discount on game tickets. The Mallards game starts at 3:05 pm. After the Mallards game, the Evansville Jays will play a Home Talent League game against Lake Mills. If you have plans to watch the Mallards play some time this summer and watch your local Evansville Home Talent Team play, here is your chance to watch both teams in action on the same day. It is baseball "the way it ought to be."

The Mallards have other promotions in place for this game. The first 500 kids and the first 500 seniors will receive a replica Madison Blues hat. Also, every Sunday this summer, kids 14 and under will receive a free hot dog, pop and a bag of chips.

Sunday, June 29 game tickets are available to purchase from players of the Evansville Jays. For contact information for the Evansville Jays, see or call Jon Frey at 608-575-4359. To purchase discounted tickets on the day of the game residents will need to show a valid driver's license. For more information on the game and tickets, see or call 608-246-4277.

The Madison Mallards are a member of the Northwoods League, a summer collegiate league. The Evansville Jays are a franchised team of the Home Talent Baseball League since 2005. The Home Talent League is an amateur baseball league that started in 1929 that is currently made up of 43 teams in the south-central Wisconsin area.

Coming up in mid-July the Mallards will be hosting the Northwoods League All-Star Game in Madison July 13-14. As part of a full day of celebration on Sunday, July 13, a game will be played between the Home Talent League All-Stars and the U.S. Military All-Stars. The Evansville Jays will be represented by Jeremy Rasmussen of Evansville. Jeremy was voted by his teammates to represent Evansville in this All-Star game. The Northwoods League All-Star game will be Monday, July 14.

May 21, 2008, Evansville - Printed in The Evansville Review.

An All "American" Weekend: Baseball and Hot Dogs
By Tammy T. Pomplun

What could be more All "American" for Memorial Day weekend than hot dogs and baseball? The Andrew Peart American Family Insurance Agency is sponsoring Evansville Jays Home Talent baseball game as they play against Deerfield on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26 at 1 p.m. at the EHS Stan Sperry baseball field. Local Veterans will be providing the color guard and a DJ will be announcing the game. Not only is admission free, but Andy Peart's Agency is providing free hot dogs and soda to the first 500 fans through the gate as well as many free prizes throughout the game. Later, during the seventh inning stretch, a free raffle will be held for a chance to win six Brewers tickets donated by American Family Insurance. (You must be present to win.) "We hope the community comes out to the ball park to enjoy a fun afternoon with family and friends and show their support for our local baseball team," said Andy. "This team has excellent local talent and we're happy to sponsor this event."

Evansville Jays Home Talent Baseball Team
Evansville's Home Talent Team (EHT), part of the Southeast Section of the Home Talent Baseball League (HTL), was revived in 2005, after a hiatus since their last game in 1980. Evansville has had Home Talent Teams dating back to the 1930s. Now, over 20 Evansville men play on our team, providing free entertainment on Sunday afternoons at the High School baseball field and Thursday evenings at Lake Leota/Leonard Park. The team's organizational leadership includes general manager Jon Frey, assistant manager Jeremy Rasmussen, field manager Bob Kurtz and public relations coordinator Davis Pryce.

The team has been practicing indoors since January and had seven scrimmage games before playing their first actual league game of the season. The Evansville Jay's Home Opener was on May 18 against Albion. (See related game report and box score article in this issue of The Evansville Review.) Upcoming games include a game at Stoughton on May 25 and a home game on May 29 against Verona at Lake Leota/Leonard Park starting at 7:30 p.m.

Watch the Jays play at the Evansville Community Night at the Mallards on Sunday, June 29 at Warner Park in Madison following the 3 p.m. Mallards Game. Discounted tickets to the Mallards game are available by contacting any EHT player or Jon Frey at 882-4626, cell 575-4359, or email

Here in Evansville, stop by to cheer on the Evansville Jays at Lake Leota/ Leonard Park after the Fourth of July parade for some summer food and baseball. The Jays will host Stoughton with a noon game time start. There will be a DJ announcing the game and color guard will again be provided by local area Veterans. Another event not to be missed is Sunday, July 13 Appreciation Game Day, a day when the Jays thank their sponsors, families and fans for supporting the team in 2008 with a free picnic with the team after the game. Another popular game is Youth Baseball Night. On Thursday, July 17 young kids are invited to enjoy a night at the Lake Leota ball park by obtaining autographs from the Home Talent players, chasing down free foul balls, running the score board, and even playing catch or warming up with the players.

Concessions are available at each of the home games with proceeds going back to the team. Check out the Evansville Jays' website at for a complete schedule, results, sponsor list, roster and great action pictures.

In addition to the community's cheering support, financial support is always welcome to help cover the costs of yearly league fees, umpires, baseballs and other operating expenses. Volunteers are also needed to help operate and manage the concession stand. Contact Jon Frey to volunteer.

The Evansville Jays have been supportive of our community as well. In addition to providing a source of recreation for area men of all ages and free entertainment for the community, the Evansville Jays have donated toward the construction of the outdoor batting cage at EHS and a new commercial quality freezer and refrigerator in the upper ball diamond concession stand at Lake Leota/Leonard Park.

American Family Insurance/Andrew Peart Strong Community Supporters
"Baseball is a great American past time and we're proud to support such a dedicated and talented team," says Andy Peart, who has been Evansville's American Family Insurance Agent in Evansville since taking over the agency from Gene Bass in January 2006. Andy's wife, Heidi, who is also a licensed representative, joins him in the agency. The Pearts are Evansville residents and are raising their three daughters here, Maddie, 14, Lydia, 7, and Claudia, 6.

As a licensed office manager, Abbey (Tomlin) Tway stayed on board with Andy after he took over the business. Abbey has been with American Family Insurance for four years, is a lifelong Evansville resident and was recently wed to Beau Tway.

American Family offers a variety of insurance: auto, home, farm, business, life, health, variable products, as well as annuities.

Stop in to the American Family Insurance office at 150 E. Main Street, Suite 16, and thank our American Family agents for sponsoring our Community Baseball Team, the Evansville Jays, and while you're there, ask Andy about your insurance coverage.

May 14, 2008, Evansville - Printed in The Evansville Review. Article by Jon Frey.

Evansville Home Talent Baseball - 2008 Season Pre-View

The Evansville Home Talent (EHT) baseball team (as known as the "Jays") has been busy organizing and practicing for the upcoming 2008 season. Evansville's own amateur adult baseball team will be competing in the Southeast Section of the Home Talent League (HTL). The 2008 season marks the fourth year of the franchise's existence after rejoining the league in 2005. Prior to 2005, the last year Evansville had a team in the HTL was 1981 with many of those players still in the area and are willing to share their experiences and stories with you.

Spring Training
During the months of January, February and March, the Jays have been practicing indoors playing catch and hitting in batting cages. Once the weather warmed up, practice was moved outside, along with playing practice scrimmage game with other HTL teams. This spring the Jays have played a total of seven scrimmage games before playing a single league game.

Opening Day for the Southeast Section of the HTL was on Sunday, May 4. Evansville was scheduled to play Oregon. Unfortunately, Oregon was unable to organize and/or field a team for the 2008 season, so Evansville received a bye. The Jays played Waunakee in a practice scrimmage game that day. Waunakee also had a bye in the Northern Section of the league.

The Season Starts
Well, not quite yet. Mother Nature had a little something to say about that on Mother's Day. The team was scheduled to play their first league game on Sunday at Jefferson, but the game was cancelled due to the wet weather.

The Jays will start Night League play on Thursday, May 15 at Monona. The team's Home Opener will be this Sunday, May 18 against Albion at the High School field. There will be concessions available, so stop by and have a hot dog or brat. Come and check out your local baseball team.

EHT Game Schedule
Around town you will see the team's sponsor poster schedules hanging up at local businesses, so be sure to check those out. Also, the team prints colorful pocket schedules for your wallet, purse or refrigerator. The smaller schedules are also located at local area business counters. And as always, you can find the Jays' schedule and results on the Internet at

The Jays have a few marquee games this season that is worth mentioning.

Memorial Day & American Family Insurance Day Game - Monday, May 26 Evansville will host Deerfield at the High School field starting at 1:00 pm. There will be a DJ announcing the game and color guard will be provided by local area Veterans. Also, courtesy of Evansville's Andrew Peart Agency, free hot dogs and soda will be available for the first 500 fans, and while at the game sign up for a free raffle to win Brewers tickets.

Evansville Community Night at Warner Park - Evansville has once again teamed up with the Mallards to promote the community and community events. This year the Home Talent team will play one of their league games after the Mallards game on Sunday, June 29. As Evansville Community Night, residents receive a discount at the gate for Mallard game bleacher tickets. The Mallards game starts at 3:05 pm with the Jays game to follow around 6:00 pm. The Jays have tickets available for sale; contact one of the players for more info and/or tickets.

Fourth of July Game - After the parade come on down to Lake Leota Park for some summer food and baseball. The Jays will host Stoughton with a noon game time start. There will be a DJ announcing the game and color guard will be provided by local area Veterans.

Appreciation Day Game - The Jays would like to thank their sponsors, families and fans for supporting the team in 2008. After the Sunday, July 13 game at Lake Leota Park enjoy a free picnic with the team.

Youth Baseball Night - This has been a popular night with the kids for the past couple of years. On Thursday, July 17 young kids are invited to enjoy a night at the Lake Leota ball park by obtaining autographs from the Home Talent players, chase down free foul balls, run the score board, and even play catch or warm up with the players.

EHT Sponsors
The Evansville Home Talent Baseball team would like to recognize their 2008 sponsors to date: Gold Sponsors: Allen Realty, Allen Custom Flatwork; Silver Sponsors: Midwest Dental, VFW Post 6905, Roger Roth CPA & Associates; American Legion; Subway of Evansville, The Night Owl, Hoffy's House of Tunes, American Family Andrew Peart Agency; Bronze Sponsors: M&I Bank, State Farm Jeff Farnsworth, Shannon & DeMarb Law Office, EZ Financial Group, Buttchen Electric, TDS Home Improvement, Union Bank & Trust, AG Manion Drywall; Web Sponsors: Dairyland Real Estate, RE/MAX Preferred.

For more information on Evansville Home Talent Baseball, surf over to the team's website at

June 11, 2007, Evansville - Evansville Home Talent Baseball Team donates to the Evansville High School Baseball Program for the construction of the outdoor batting cage. Thank you letter from Athletic Director, Brian Cashore.

May 9, 2007, Evansville - Appliance Works, Evansville Community Partnership (ECP) and Evansville Home Talent Baseball partnered together to purchase and install a new commercial quality freezer and refrigerator in the upper ball diamond concession stand at Lake Leota Park. The large upright units will be used for an park activities when the concession stand is open. Local volunteer, Gene Bass reflected, "the old ones were warn-out and hardly ever worked." Text provided by ECP Coordinator Robin Lopez-Grignon that originally printed in the May 9, 2007 issue of The Evansville Review.

Pictured with the donated refrigerator and freezer units are (L to R) Brian Fick (Appliance Works), Gene Bass (ECP) and Jon Frey (Home Talent Baseball). All three helped in the donation of these items to the park. Photo taken and provided by Kelly Gildner.


These awards are from the teams, and players of whom I've seen play in some 63 games in the 2005 season. At each game I kept a box score, along with making notes on player defense, and their effort to play the game. - Jack Sprecher,

"JACK O' DIAMONDS" GENERAL MANAGER'S of the 2005 season. These two men are true professionals in the game of Wisconsin Amateur Baseball. They both have promoted their teams and leagues. No! they didn't win any championships on the field, but with their websites, and their sponsorship from their communities they are winners.

Evansville "Jays"
Home Talent Baseball League
Two Rivers "Polar Bears"
Shoreland Baseball League

"2005, Jack O' Diamonds" SILVER Glove Awards

1st Base: Steve Ihlenfeldt, Kewaunee "Chiefs"
2nd Base: Ryan Ebert, Clintonville "A's"
3rd Base: Ben Jewson, Two Rivers "Polar Bears"
Shortstop: Ryan Tanck, West Jacksonport "Ports"
Catcher: Bobb Mineau, Casco "Athletics"
Outfield: Micah Bootz, Kewaunee "Chiefs"
Outfield: Jon Frey, Evansville "Jays"
Outfield: Mike O'Rourke, Neosho "Rockets"
Pitcher: Mike Finnegan, Madison "Senators"

Evansville gets back into area baseball league after leaving it 25 years ago

Published in the Janesville Gazette on Friday, June 3, 2005
By Todd Mishler
Special to the Gazette

Related Story - League provides many memories

EVANSVILLE-The standings show their record is 1-5. However, Jon Frey said the simple fact that they're playing means they're already big winners.

Frey is the general manager and an outfielder for the new Evansville Jays, the first local baseball entrant affiliated with the Home Talent League since 1980.

"I consider it a major success, a milestone to have played our first scrimmage and games," Frey said. "We had bad weather on Opening Day and not as many people showed up as I would have hoped, but I'm excited for our players.

"This gives many of them an opportunity to play baseball when they probably thought they wouldn't get that chance again."

Although this diving attempt at a ball resulted only in infield sand, 41-year-old Tony Manion has welcomed the chance to manage and play for Evansville in its return to the Home Talent League. Evansville had not fielded a team in the area league since 1980.
Al Hoch/Gazette Staff

That includes Frey, who played and was a behind-the-scenes guy from 1996-2004 with the league's organization from his native Marshall. The University of Wisconsin graduate got a job in Beloit, so he and his wife moved to Evansville in 2001 as a halfway point.

Frey has played every summer since T-ball, so the 28-year-old knew he wanted to be involved in his favorite sport in any way possible.

"In Marshall, we had built a winning team, had made the playoffs and had beaten Cottage Grove for the first time in eight years last season," said Frey, who also tired of the draining traveling schedule. "They were in good shape because they had about 20 guys, so I decided to step aside."

Frey attended high school and American Legion games, talked to the coaches and started getting to know more folks in Evansville, feeling them out for talent and interest levels in the community.

Jon Frey

Tony Manion

"Brian Cashore said there were enough quality players around, that it was just a matter of digging them up," Frey said of the Evansville High School coach. "So my first two phases were recruiting players and fund-raising, and the third part was all of the off-the-field stuff with the league, getting equipment, figuring out where we'd play and other details."

Everything came together nicely as the Jays were placed in the West Division of the Southeast Section, joining Albion, Orfordville, Stoughton, Oregon and Utica while giving residents another shot at creating and re-creating memories of amateur baseball.

Tony Manion manages the Evansville team, which plays its home games at the high school diamond and expects to gain the services of some high school senior and college players as summer approaches.

Frey said respectability would come in time. But he's pleased with how the players and the community have stepped up to the plate so far and were treated last Sunday to the team's first victory-a 4-3 thriller over Utica.

"Not a lot of people knew me, so I relied heavily on the players as salesmen and to promote the team," Frey said. "Residents know their names, and they've built relationships.

"Some have relatives or friends who own businesses, which have responded positively to our efforts,'' he said. "It started with a couple of names and snowballed from there.

"Word of mouth has been the key. People seem genuinely excited about having a team in town, and we couldn't do it without their support."

The Jays participate in the Home Talent's Sunday afternoon and Thursday night leagues, and Frey said it'll be a building process.

"We play to win on Sundays, and we use Thursdays to get everybody as much playing time as possible," he said. "We either practice or play scrimmages Tuesday nights.''

Manion, 41, said having fun is the most important factor, and the wins and losses will take care of themselves.

"Baseball is my passion, which is why I've been volunteering with the high school to improve that program in any way I can," Manion said. "Hopefully, we'll get some of these younger guys each year to keep things going, and maybe littler kids will see us and provide us with players down the road."

Manion's 19-year-old son, Nick, played college ball in Minnesota and has joined the team, while Alex, 17, is a future prospect.

"Most of our guys haven't played in three to eight years, so it's going to take time," Manion said. "We all knew from the beginning that it might be rocky at first, but Jon asked everybody to make a five-year commitment to the program.

"The hitting will come around, and I can see that we're getting better and gaining confidence. The guys are having a blast."

Text taken from Gazette website on June 6, 2005

Home Talent League baseball: Evansville returns
By Jason McMahon - Capital Times - April 30, 2005
Link to Story

It's been nearly 25 years since Evansville fielded a team in the Home Talent League, but the memories of amateur baseball in town are still alive and well.

Jon Frey found this out in his attempt to revive the program, as he stumped for support throughout the community, visiting with local businesses and organizations.

"People reminisced about the Home Talent team in Evansville. ... I heard a few stories on that, saying 'Oh yeah, I used to go down to the park and watch those guys,' " Frey said. "When I went to the VFW, there were some old-timers who said 'Yeah, I played on that team back in the '60s.' "

Evansville's HTL team lasted from 1962 until 1981, and all has been quiet between the lines since. But that will change Sunday, when Evansville makes its return to Wisconsin's largest adult amateur baseball league.

The new team, the Evansville Jays, will host Stoughton at 1 p.m. at the high school as the HTL opens its 77th season.

"I'm probably more nervous than anything," said Frey, the team's general manager. "This is our first chance to provide a first impression to the community."

Frey ran Marshall's HTL team for eight years, and moved to Evansville in 2001. Since then, he has quietly tried to build support for a local franchise, before stepping up his efforts this past offseason.

He got a strong response from the community - several businesses and even one set of parents contributed $1,000 toward the team's start-up costs - and at one point had a roster of 30 players, which has since been whittled to 22.

The team includes three high school seniors and four players currently on college baseball teams.

Contenders aplenty: Frey knows it's a stretch to hope for an HTL playoff appearance. But several other clubs have postseason aspirations.

After racing through the 2004 season with a perfect 22-0 record - the first undefeated HTL season in 13 years - Wiota hopes to join Cottage Grove as the only repeat champions in the last two decades. Cottage Grove won back-to-back titles in 2000-01, and won three straight from 1996-98.

"It's awful hard to repeat as champion. Cottage Grove somehow found a way to do it," Reilly said. "From the first game to the last game, it ought to be an exciting year."

New big man in blue: The HTL also has a new umpire coordinator, as David Thom takes the reins after being elected at the league's March meeting to serve in the position.

Thom, who has umpired HTL games for eight years and has 30 years of experience calling games, takes over for Tim McIntyre, who decided not to pursue the job again after 10 years as coordinator.

One of Thom's first duties was to tackle the seemingly annual umpire shortage, exacerbated by the change in leadership. Looking for umps with some experience, he sought help from the WIAA.

"We tapped into the WIAA list of umpires and e-mailed them with the opportunity to work in the Home Talent League," Thom said. "We got quite a few returns."


Defending champion: Wiota.

2004 Section champions: Cross Plains (Northern, East Division); Sauk Prairie (Northern, West Division); Ridgeway (Western, North Division); Wiota (Western, South Division); Cottage Grove (Eastern); Jefferson (Southeast, East Division); Albion (Southeast, West Division).

Changes: Evansville is back in the HTL after a 23-year absence, and will play in the Southeast Section's West Division. McFarland moves from the Southeast Section to the Eastern Section. The Western Section lost two teams, as Monroe and Muscoda will not play this season.

Sunday's big games: Cottage Grove at Monona, Sauk Prairie at Waunakee, Albion at Utica, Jefferson at Lake Mills, Ridgeway at Hollandale.

Get connected: Schedules, standings and more are available at the HTL Web site ( The Home Talent Umpires Association has its own Web site (, which includes directions to all area diamonds.

Text taken from Capital Times website on April 30, 2005