Koeppens’ gift up in time for A’s championship win
By Scott Bellile
The new baseball scoreboard in W.A. Olen Park kept score Sept. 6 for the Clintonville A’s 14th Badger Amateuer Baseball Association championship victory.
Former mayor and A’s player Dick Koeppen and his family donated the $15,000 digital scoreboard this summer, and it was installed at the park’s Don Jirschele Stadium last week.
At the grand championship game Sunday, the new board displayed the A’s runs inning by inning, the batters’ numbers and the names of both teams playing, all information the old board couldn’t display.
At the conclusion of the game, the board glowed the A’s winning score of 4-0 over the Elderon Whiskey Jacks.
Koeppen said he wanted to help the park where he had spent 43 nearly continuous years on the field playing for Clintonville High School and the A’s.
“I love Clintonville,” Koeppen said. “It’s been my home. Clintonville’s been so good to me and the Clintonville A’s have been so good to me during my career.”
The idea came to Koeppen three years ago when he was watching a ballgame in the stadium with family members and A’s coach John Fietsch. Dick commented that the park could use a new scoreboard, and while Fietsch agreed, he replied the money was not there for one.
Koeppen had wanted to give Clintonville’s baseball teams a grand thank-you gift anyway, and having fought recent battles with cancer, he opted to donate something before it was too late. (His cancer is now in remission.)
He worked with the city government to secure a new scoreboard.
“I thank the city of Clintonville for accepting this gift,” Koeppen said.
His wife Nancy said she was happy the family made a difference.
“I think the scoreboard is actually very beautiful,” Nancy Koeppen said.
Fietsch also said the scoreboard was a beautiful addition to the park.
“I love it,” Fietsch said. “It’s unbelievable. The Koeppen family did an outstanding job to make this thing happen.”
As a sign of thanks, the A’s invited onto the mound Dick Koeppen and his sixth-grade granddaughter Bella to throw the first pitches of the grand championship game.
His granddaughter threw the first pitch. It was a perfect strike into the catcher’s glove.
Dick Koeppen stepped up next. He wound up and tossed. The ball crashed straight into the ground.
“I haven’t thrown a baseball in a while,” Dick Koeppen said after the game started. “Gosh, I didn’t know those baseballs were so heavy.”
He said he was impressed by his granddaughter’s pitch.
“Bella’s a little athlete,” Dick Koeppen said. “She plays basketball and she swims. She’s really a great little soccer player, too.”
Dick Koeppen began playing with the A’s in 1959 and stayed until 2000. He took off one year in 1971 to play for the Green Bay Blue Ribbons but wrecked his knee and returned in 1972.
His sons Jeff and Bob played for the A’s as well.
Dick Koeppen’s league accomplishments include winning the East-West Division home run title in 1965, tying for the title with a young Mike Jirschele in 1977 and winning the batting title in 1975. He batted .400 for three seasons over the age of 40, and his last home run was at the age of 49 in 1990.