The Huntsville Stars’ biggest fan

Werner Gorshe roots on his team, the Huntsville Stars

Driving past what appears to be an abandoned airport, you come to Joe Davis Stadium, the oldest stadium in the Southern League and home to the Huntsville Stars, the AA affiliate for the Milwaukee Brewers. Only a few cars littered the parking lot just an hour before game time and it seemed a small crowd was on hand for the double header against Tennessee Smokies. Having been rained out for the two previous days, we, along with the Stars appeared ready for baseball.

Tickets for Huntsville games are 8 bucks are general admission. Want front row seats? Just get there before anyone else. Will and I took a few pictures and scoped out the surroundings and a friendly spectator approached us. Wearing a camouflaged Green Bay Packers hat and a bright green shirt (there’s irony in that, I’m sure) he introduced himself and asked us if were ready to enjoy some baseball.

Thus begins the first interesting baseball fan we’ve met so far during Root for the Home Team. A die-hard fan, Werner Gorshe regularly makes his way from Wisconsin down to Huntsville, where his son is the strength and conditioning coach, to see his Stars play ball. Gorshe seems to be a bit of a celebrity at Huntsville games, always telling fans, stadium employees and even players a friendly hello.

Gorshe provides almost every player with a nickname and roots like hell for them, on both sides of the ball. He’ll give you a scouting report on the starting pitcher and players to keep an eye on, and he never strays far from the action. His passion for the game is unbelievable, having coached baseball since his son played tee-ball. Now retired, Gorshe spends much of the summer traveling back and forth to Huntsville seeing Stars games and seeing the up and coming talent for his beloved Brewers.

The dedication and passion Gorshe expresses is what makes baseball great. Without hesitation he approached Will and I, introduced himself and start talking about baseball. While we are just starting this project, it was still a pleasant surprise to find a fan so willing to discuss baseball, the Stars and his love for the game. Never have I been to a sporting event where a stranger was so willing to strike up a conversation and it certainly defined what “Root for the Home Team” means.

Werner discussed in depth, the issues surrounding the lack of a strong fan base in Huntsville and how the team isn’t helping.“They [Huntsville Stars] need to reach out to families and start marketing more. It’s the only way to build a strong fan base,” Werner told us. “They’ll never get big crowds without it.”

Looking around at the sparse crowd that came out on a Saturday afternoon for a double header, you could see that Werner might’ve nailed the problem. Whether you’re in New York, Atlanta or Huntsville, it’s great to have a local team, Major League or Minor League. However, while the crowd might’ve been rather small, there was one consistent element to Huntsville Stars games. Families. Nearly everyone at the game had children with them, talking to them about baseball, with many kids clutching onto their baseball gloves ready to catch a foul ball that made it into the stands. Big crowd or small crowd, people were excited to see the next generation of Milwaukee Brewers. Good marketing or poor marketing, there were still many eager baseball fans in the park yesterday.

After spending nearly 30 minutes wandering around the stadium grounds with Werner, Will asked him if we could sit with him for the game. “You don’t want to sit near me,” Werner proclaimed. “I make a lot of noise and I’ll embarrass you.”

Will and I found seats a section over and a few rows down. Sure enough, as soon as the game started Werner started rooting for his team, quite loudly. Heads turned to look at him, most chuckling a bit, Will and I included. Then we did our part and started rooting for our new home team. The Stars lost the first game of the double header 5-2, but came back strong in game two winning 3-2. We clapped, hooted and hollered and did our part to be part of the team, just like Werner.

With our first game under out belts, we made our way out of Huntsville and onto Birmingham watching a beautiful sunset to our west. Evening had come to northern Alabama, but we were ready for a new day. Yesterday we Stars fans, today we’re rooting like hell for the Barons.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by James on August 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Families and inexpensive tickets make going to a game a memorable experience. By watching the players preform a remarkable play, this makes you wonder, “will I see this guy in the majors?” Great post Joel.

    Reply

  2. […] looking forward to enjoying the Dodgers’ AA team take on the Huntsville Stars (who I saw last season in […]

    Reply

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