Former Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Don August was called up to the Brewers in 1988, three years before the University of Wisconsin-Madison intercollegiate baseball program was terminated.
At that time, UW-Madison did not have the best athletic program. The Badgers lacked attendance in the nation’s two major sports, football and men’s basketball, which did not help out the financial situation. Throw in a Title IX investigation that started in 1989, and baseball got the axe.
“When baseball was first eliminated,” August explained in a phone interview. “I had the thought that hopefully they could bring it back soon – or eventually. People have been hoping baseball would come back, but it takes a lot of effort.”
That first effort was finally made by UW club baseball head coach Jeff Block, who wrote out the 14-page proposal that has been passed all around the state this week.
“There has been a real strong push for it,” August said. “I’m sure Barry Alvarez knows being the athletic director all these years. The great thing is it just took someone like Jeff to take the initial step. He took the effort and got a lot of information out there, which got the momentum going.”
With the Madison community and rest of the state voicing support for the issue on social media, August decided to be one of the first well-known voices in Wisconsin baseball to publicly support bringing back baseball to UW. He believes, if something more develops, more voices around the state and even past and current ballplayers will support the cause as well.
“I’ve been thinking about it for years,” August said. “I’m willing to speak out in favor of it. Hopefully we get other people to do the same. The more people we can get thinking about it, the more people will take this seriously. A lot of people may not go for it, because it will take a lot of effort. I think people get reluctant in putting their efforts into it. Once it gets a little attention and starts to get going, then there’s a chance.”
“Baseball’s one of the major sports in our country, it’s just a shame that we don’t have a team at UW.”
Don August pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers from 1988-1991. He has been a coach at Menomonee Falls High School since 2006 and was recently brought on as a color analyst for high school baseball on Time Warner Sports Channel in 2014. His son, Logan, graduated from UW last year and played on the club team throughout his time in college.
Photo courtesy of the Trading Card Database.