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Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 82, Number 1 (Nov. 1980)

Student standpoint,   pp. 23-25


Page 23


Student
Standpoint
In which students speak
             of many things,
             directly to you.
Stay Out of the
Midnight Sun
By Tom Rosen '83
Last June 8, while I was home in Milwau-
kee painting my parents' bedroom ceiling
and waiting for the final coat to stop run-
ning from my hair, there came a quite de-
lightful development. My Badger baseball
coach, Tom Meyer, called. He wanted to
know-since I apparently had shown prom-
ise as a freshman pitcher last spring-if I
was interested in going to Alaska with the
team to play two of the finest semi-pro clubs
in the country. He had to make our reserva-
tions fast, so I could have exactly one hour
to choose between spending the summer
getting Mautz Interior Latex Enamel out of
my hair, or baffling future major leaguers.
Somehow it didn't take me an hour.
   A week later, with an overstuffed suit-
case dragging from one hand and a copy of
Ball Four in the other, I embarked on a
childhood fantasy. In my mind, for the next
two weeks I would be Tom Rosen, Profes-
sional Baseball Player.
   Our season had ended just three weeks
earlier, but to the guys on the team it
seemed like we'd been separated for three
months. We met at Camp Randall,
laughing and yelling and slapping each
other on the back, then, after a short van
ride to the airport and a long wait in the ter-
minal, we were ready to board the plane.
At least, most of us were. Jim Graboski,
our shortstop, had only flown once before,
and the idea didn't exactly thrill him. How-
ever, Jim's fears were good for the rest of
us; during the flight we kept in shape by
peeling him off the back of his seat every
few minutes.
   Finally, after a long day of airport coffee
and airplane peanuts, we landed in Fair-
banks. In Fairbanks at 1:00 a.m. it is still
light outside. As I flopped down on the ho-
tel bed with the sun glaring through the win-
dow, I could only wonder if I'd wake up
with a severe sunburn.
   Well, when I awoke I wasn't burned, I
was just confused. With all the tumult the
previous night, I had forgotten to set my
watch back. The watch said it was 9:00
a.m., but it was actually 5:00 a.m. in
Alaska. I spent the next few hours getting
Tom Rosen plans to major in journalism.
my head on straight while I waited for my
roommate, Todd Juntunen, to wake-up.
   My second shock of the day came when
Todd and I went for breakfast. I should say
"when we were taken out by our break-
fast." The cost of food in Alaska is outra-
geous. One day the price of a single waffle
was $1.50; the next day a similar waffle cost
$2.10. For the remainder of the trip, Todd
and I tried unsuccessfully to find restau-
rants that met our daily meal allowance of
$10.
   Most of the nine games we played were
at night. On the afternoons of those days
we sat in our rooms watching "I Love
Lucy" reruns and psyching ourselves up.
We'd known when we left for Alaska that
we would be playing outstanding baseball
teams. (The Goldpanners had won four
national titles in the previous eight years.)
Still, the Badgers finished fourth in the Big
Ten conference last spring, so we knew we
had something going for us, too. On the
other hand, while the coaching staff wanted
some wins of course, they really accepted
the trip as a chance to see how we reacted
under extreme pressure situations.
   As it turned out, it was a good thing they
were thinking along those lines.Our team
batting average was an anemic .195 com-
pared to our opponents' .369. Our hitters
simply had a hard time adjusting to the high
caliber of pitching.
   The pitching statistics, on the surface,
didn't appear much better. Our ERA of
10.00 seemed even more excessive when
contrasted to our opponents' 2.92 average.
But statistics never do tell the whole story.
Some gutty pitching performances were
turned in by Andy Basten and Todd Jun-
tunen.
   As for me, I was a godsend. For the op-
position. The first game I pitched in, I gave
up a home run to the first batter I faced. I
also gave up a home run to the second bat-
ter I faced. The third batter, Big Al Davis
from Arizona State, could only muster a fly
ball to the wall in center field a piddling four
hundred feet away.
   The next time I pitched in a game, the
balls that were hit off me didn't go over the
wall, but they would have gone through
them if they weren't caught.
   Obviously my fantasy of becoming a pro
took a bit of a jolting. If my ERA on this
trip were the annual rate of inflation, this
country would be in the deepest depression
in history!
   When the last out was recorded, we had
a hard time believing what had happened to
us. When a team has as much pride in them-
selves as we do, any defeat is hard to ac-
cept. So you can imagine how we felt after
being humiliated for the ninth time. But
both Coach Meyer and his assistant coach,
Steve Land, didn't let us get down on our-
selves for long. They knew that we had
played to the best of our ability, and this
was all they were looking for from us.
   There was much more to our trip than
baseball, however. Steve Land's wife, Phy-
llis, was in charge of all the team's sightsee-
ing ventures.
   One day she took us to the Alaskan
pipeline and an old gold dredge. Another
day was spent in a tourist resort called
Alaskaland. Alaskaland has a lively saloon
that features can-c.an girls. It also featured
Pepe Randolph, our second baseman, who
kept the audience jumping with his disco
rendition of "A Rapper's Delight."
   Another pleasant experience for us was
a trip to the home of Ken and Penny Alt.
Ken, who is a Spring Green native, had met
Coach Meyer earlier and invited the team
to a fish fry at his home. We had a great
time sampling the various fish that Ken
fried for us. But what really impressed me
about Ken and Penny, besides their obvi-
ous generosity, was that they built their
own beautiful home in the wilds of the
Alaskan countryside!
   We also had fun meeting Ron ('50) and
Phyllis Nord. Ron, who was a player and
then an assistant basketball coach here at
the University, runs the Arctic Acres golf
course and a thriving motel in the Fair-
banks area.
   The highlight of the trip, at least for me,
was the team's visit to McKinley Park. The
sereneness of the mountains in the park
gave me a new perspective in regard to
baseball and life in general. The knot that
had formed in my stomach for the past few
years suddenly became untied. For the first
time in a long time, I was free from pres-
sure. At that precise moment, I realized the
importance of trying to live my life so I
could benefit from the greatness of God's
many creations.
   The two weeks in Alaska passed
quickly, but the Badger team that departed
from Alaska was a different team than the
one that arrived. Through our constant
contact with each other, we left not as a
group of individuals, but as a true team. All
I can say is: watch out for Wisconsin in
1981!                               F1
Nov. / DEC. 1980 / 23


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