LumberKings

There is a lot of uncertainty and animosity surrounding Minor League Baseball right now.

There are 42 teams facing it directly after being noted by Major League Baseball that they are one of the teams to be cut in a proposed realignment plan. The Clinton LumberKings – along with two other Midwest League teams – are on that list.

For that reason, I felt it was important to start sharing some of our local stories that live and breathe in NelsonCorp Stadium, surrounding one specific topic: What do the minor leagues mean to you.

We need to remember two things. One – we still have a concrete and guaranteed 2020 season that the LumberKings staff is preparing for. Don’t forget that one of the biggest things you can do for the club is buy tickets, go to games, and continue to make memories.

Two – we have a wonderful baseball team and infinite memories and relationships that have been formed because of it. We need to remember the positives, and remember that we have a voice in that we can share those positives.

That’s the goal of the LumberKing Loyals story series is to share those stories from our fans, board members, staff and more. If you have a story, memory or special connection to NelsonCorp Field or to the Clinton LumberKings, please reach out to me at ckuehn@clintonherald.com so we can find a time to talk and share your story.

Here is Michael Broskowski’s story:

Michael Broskowski was able to turn his love of baseball into a career. That career brought him to Clinton just a few months ago.

Broskowski grew up in Wisconsin in a family that loved the sport. They’d get to Milwaukee Brewers games once or twice a summer, but that’s not where he got the majority of his baseball in.

Nope – it was in Beloit.

“When I was kid growing up I’d go to Beloit Snappers games,” Broskowski said. “In high school, once I got my license, I’d go to just about every home game. Every night I was there.”

When he was in middle school he was flipping through a minor league baseball magazine and read an article that chronicled the daily life of a radio broadcaster calling minor league games like those of the Beloit Snappers. His father worked as a radio DJ, and the thought peaked his interest immediately.

“I thought, that sounds pretty fun,” Broskowski said. “Better than a normal job.”

After summers watching the Snappers and a high school graduation, he moved down a state to Illinois to become a Leatherneck. He started at Western Illinois University in 2008 – also where he began a career in broadcasting.

After college, he landed a job with the Midwest League’s Burlington Bees.

“Baseball is always what I’ve loved,” Broskowski said. “I like calling other sports but something always gravitated me towards baseball. I’e always loved radio and it just combines with my love of baseball.”

For four years he traveled the MWL and called games for Burlington, including several trips to Clinton to visit the LumberKings. After the Bees eliminated that position from their full-time staff, he moved on to Orem, Utah.

As broadcaster for the Owlz, he got an even deeper look into the minor leagues. The Owlz are a part of the Pioneer League, a rookie league affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. During his time there, he got his favorite radio call of his young career.

The Owlz were long out of playoff contention and just riding out the season with one of the worst records in the league. That night, they scored five runs in the eights for a comeback rally, and a home run sent them soaring to the lead.

As the slugger was rounding third and Broskowski was making a riled call for his listeners, they waived off the homer.

“I’ll always remember it,” Broskowski said. “I don’t think I’ll ever get a call that good again.”

When former Clinton broadcaster Erik Oas announced he was leaving, Broskowski knew this was a place he wanted to be. It was closer to where he was from and it was back in the Midwest League where he spent four years prior.

“I know there’s great support coming from here,” Broskowski said. “I know they can get huge crowds, but I like the atmosphere here. The old time feel and that people love the LumberKings.”

He’s familiar with the league and the team, and has been acclimating even more while sports are on pause thanks to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). As a radio junkie and baseball fan, though, he’s getting as restless as anyone to be back in the stadium and back in the booth.

“I try to bring a mix of information and entertainment,” Broskowski said. “I’m not over the top, I’m a little more old school.”

Coincidentally, both team he has worked for in the past appear to be on the chopping block with MLB contraction talk. That’s not something anyone in Burlington or Clinton wants to see happen, especially someone with such a personal connection like Broskowski.

But those talks are on hold, as is the season for now. He’s just hoping to get back to the game so he can get back to telling the stories he’s come to love as a broadcaster.

“It’s fun when you get to broadcast for a team for the whole season,” Broskowski said. “You see the storylines and you get to build on that.”