<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Land and Water Conservation

 

Vernon County
 

 

 

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History of Esofea/Rentz Memorial Park

The park dates back to the 1930’s.  The land originally belonged to the Rentz family.   Esofea Park has a rich history.  Baseball was the game, and Esofea was where the action was on Sunday afternoons in Vernon County from 1939 to 1953.  The South Ridge team called Esofea Park their home field, and it became official on February 3, 1948 when the Vernon County Board approved a lease deal with the South Ridge Ball Club.  This lease deal paved the way for a huge fundraising campaign, including the sale of stock in the team, enabling the club to purchase and install lights and bleacher seating for 900 fans.

1948 South Ridge

Members of the Vernon County Park Commission at the time were Ole Skaar of Viroqua, Thomas Flatimer of Genoa, Thomas Hyland of Hillsboro, Lester Wood of LaFarge, Albert Skolos and Mrs. Curtis Erickson of Westby, and Mrs. George Sather of Coon Valley.  The Directors for the South Ridge Ball Club at the time were Stanley Sebion, Engman Engh, Halmer Williams, Harry Bluske, Pete Stendahl, Ralph Johnson and Oscar Theige.  David Davidson was named manager and Clarence Jacobson was elected business manager.

Stock sold for $100 a share and supporters of South Ridge baseball proved to be generous.  Enough money was raised to erect and wire the lights at a cost of around $8,000.  A backstop, bleachers, press box and concession stand were also built.  Crowds reached as high as 3,000 spectators for some games, and the gate and concessions for a single night sometimes reached $4,000.  How much would that be with the value of the dollar today?

South Ridge Baseball Stock

Unfortunately the baseball journey was short lived.  What began in 1939 was nearing its end by 1953.  Interest in baseball was waning.  Televised games were becoming popular and when the National League Braves moved from Boston to Milwaukee, many fans traveled across the state to watch professional baseball.  In 1953 the South Ridge Baseball Club disbanded.  They sold the lights to the City of Boscobel.  The framing and bleachers were removed and sold as well.  Baseball at Esofea Park was essentially finished.  For more information on the history of baseball at Esofea Park, a book written by Jean Theige-Marck is available for purchase at some local stores, or on Amazon.com.