Reusse: Town ball rivalry has a bit of brotherly shove

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 8, 2014 - 10:03 AM

Bob and Mike Poppitz have passion for town ball and healthy competition that plays out in the rivalry between the Chaska Cubs and the Victoria Vics.

hide

Bob Poppitz, left, manages the Chaska Cubs, while his brother, Mike, right, leads the Victoria Vics. “We’re competing now in baseball,’’ Bob says, “but as brothers, we’re very close.’’

Photo: Eric Kraushar • Chaska Herald,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Greater Chaska was the town’s version of a chamber of commerce after World War II. Baseball was booming in Minnesota, and the Chaska civic boosters got together to finance and build Athletic Park.

Hauser Lano was the 24-year-old president of Greater Chaska when Athletic Park opened in the spring of 1950. A couple of years ago, Chaska was getting ready to host the State American Legion tournament and Lano said of the ballpark:

“Even after 60-some years, it really is something still.’’

There is only one problem: the danged Minnesota River that is located not far behind the outfield fence. The deluge of late spring caused the river to come out of its banks in mid-June and flood the ballpark all the way to the grandstand.

When the river finally receded, the grass was dead and Athletic Park was unusable.

“We haven’t played a home game since,’’ said Bob Poppitz, the manager of the Chaska Cubs. “And we won’t … not until next season. I think not having the ballpark, for batting practice, for the psychological edge any baseball team gets playing at home, has had something to do with the skid we’ve had lately.’’

The Cubs stopped hitting in late July and lost four of five against their Class B rivals: the Victoria Vics, Shakopee Indians and Prior Lake Jays. On Friday, two best-of-five playoff series — Victoria vs. Prior Lake, Chaska vs. Shakopee — start to determine a pair of entries into the 16-team Class B state tournament.

Two of the Cubs’ late-season losses were to Victoria, 6-1 and 10-3. There’s an extra sting in losses to the Vics, since Mike Poppitz, Bob’s older brother, is the manager and major force with Victoria baseball.

“There’s a legend out here that we don’t get along,’’ Bob said. “That’s not true. We’re competing now in baseball, but as brothers, we’re very close.’’

Mike was the oldest of four brothers. Bob was the youngest. They were raised on a farm in Augusta, a stop on the road near Carver.

The father was called “Hubbell.’’ It was a nickname given to him years earlier in honor of the great pitcher, Carl Hubbell, although no one is sure why, since Hubbell Poppitz was a catcher.

Hubbell helped to organize the Carver Black Sox in 1948 and was the catcher. Mike caught for Carver until he injured his arm. Brothers Rick and Bob caught for Carver.

“The only way to get out of work at the farm with my dad was to play baseball,’’ Mike said. “You would be out there throwing bales for hours on a hot, miserable summer day and he’d say, ‘Keep going. Baling hay makes you hit better.’ ”

Mike quit playing in his mid-20s because of an arm injury and became the manager for Carver. Bob was his catcher for several years. In 1982, Mike moved to Victoria to manage the Vics.

“We’re in the same school district, and the Chaska and Victoria ballparks are five miles apart,’’ Mike said. “The Cubs have a great tradition, and we’ve developed one, too. We’ve been fighting for every ballplayer for years.’’

Dale Welter, now retired as Chaska’s extra-successful high school coach, said: “I was at Eden Prairie years ago and I remember Mike sitting in our dugout during batting practice, trying to get our good kids to play for him. I’d say, ‘Geez, Mike, wait until after the game to recruit. …’

“He’s got my neighbor kid in Chaska playing for him in Victoria now.’’

Mike Poppitz has made his living as a drywall hanger — a task almost as conducive to eating dust as baling hay. He’s never let that get in the way of baseball.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 0
Minnesota 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 3 FINAL
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Hamilton 10/10/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Ottawa 10/11/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Thursday in Green Bay?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close