Despite all that it has accomplished in the past half-century, the Sheboygan Athletic Club remains among Sheboygan’s least known and least appreciated organizations.
Most have heard of the Sheboygan A’s. Sports fans know the A’s are the city’s baseball club. They play against extremely strong teams throughout Wisconsin and Illinois. They provide young men from around the region who want to play serious baseball with a sterling opportunity.
But while it has been around for a long time, the Sheboygan Athletic Club is not nearly so well identified. In fact, for many, it is a complete non-entity. If you asked, people might say it is a health club. Few would give the right answer. So what is the right answer?
The Sheboygan Athletic Club is the formal organization that oversees the city’s baseball program. While it calls itself a “club,” it really is a non-profit, non-stock corporation recognized by the federal government and State of Wisconsin as a charitable organization.
The Sheboygan Athletic Club has an active membership of about 15-20 workers, and overall membership of about 40-50 - not nearly enough. It is a struggle, but the members keep at it with admirable perseverance and have built an impressive legacy of accomplishments. If you are a fan or a sponsor, congratulations, these are your accomplishments, too.
The Sheboygan Athletic Club does not own Wildwood Park, nor did it own Legion Park. Nonetheless it took on the task of working with the city and with the American Legion to make the city’s ballparks as fine a facility as time, manpower and money would allow. And much, much time, manpower and money has been expended.
The major renovation in 1997-98 came to $505,000. The club raised $400,000 including a magnificent gift from the Mary Testwuide Knauf family and borrowed the rest.
The club then took on the Wildwood Rally project, and phase one was completed in 2010. Phase one included putting in new dugouts, replacing the old fencing with MLB style netting in the backstop, field level seating, and more Due to difficult financial times the club’s capital campaign didn’t go as well as hoped and this phase required taking out a $175.000 bank note. In 2013, the Club completed phase two of Wildwood Rally, which was replacing the original scoreboard with a new digital scoreboard with message center, with final costs being near $130,000. Sargento Cheese, Legend Larry’s, Boneck Printing, Larry’s Distributing, Northwoods™ Superior Chemical, Miesfeld’s Market and Quasius Construction stepped forward to help make it happen.
Phase three is now in progress, which includes new lights, new parking, and new amenities to improve the fan experience.