Thanks in part to a $100,000 donation from the estate of the late Fred Weber, the Sheboygan Athletic Club can now move forward with phase one of the Wildwood Park Revitalization project, which is replacing the facilities aging lighting system.
Combined with support from area foundations and businesses such as Plenco, Sargento, Kohler Company, the Brotz Foundation, the Gutschow Foundation and more, the Athletic Club has raised close to $500,000 for the overall project, which is estimated to be about $2 million in total improvements and upgrades.
Weber, a former amateur and semi-pro baseball player who was named to the Sheboygan County Baseball Hall of Fame in May 2017, has allowed phase one of the project to get underway.
At 18, Weber, a Sheboygan native, signed with the Oshkosh Giants of the Wisconsin State League and played against Joe Hauser’s Sheboygan Indians. Hauser had given Fred batting tips when he was a youngster, and paid for them as Weber hit a home run against Hauser’s Indians.
Weber was promoted to the Giants’ Sanford, Florida, team and advanced to Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League, where his professional career ended. He enlisted in the Navy, where he played — and later managed — the Navy’s all-star team.
Weber fell ill before the May banquet and was not able to attend, but Baseball Association President Tom Grams and secretary Mike Martin went to Weber’s Sister Bay home to deliver the Hall of Fame plaque to him.
Weber left $100,000 in his will to be used for the park’s revitalization, which allowed the Athletic Club to begin the lighting project.
The new lights will greatly improve visibility at the facility, as the current lights were installed when the facility was first built in 1981.
New lights will be a key factor in the A’s attracting more events and higher-profile baseball tournaments to the park.
Denny Moyer, general manager for Sheboygan A’s, said site work will begin this fall in the hopes that the lights will be up and running before the first game next spring.
In addition to the lighting, other upgrades in the works are additional parking, an expanded concourse with more family activities, a new souvenir building, concession upgrades, party decks, and more. Work on those projects will be contingent on money being raised.