FARM COLUMN: Baseball has many ties to agriculture

6:17 PM, Jan. 24, 2013  |  Comments
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With cold weather throughout the past week, it is too early to think about spring - spring flowers, spring showers, spring training.

However, it is never too early to think about spring training. Many have been thinking about it since the Packers' season ended. A Wisconsin news report showed Brewers' staff readying for the upcoming spring training in Arizona (At least is will be warmer down there). In just over two weeks, pitchers and catchers are due to report.

While I have to admit I was not always the biggest baseball fan, being married to someone who loves to watch the game I have taken a liking to the sport. After all, it is America's pastime.

Whether you play on a baseball team or just enjoy a good catch in the backyard, everyone has a memory of baseball. One of the best movies I have ever seen is "Field of Dreams." The scene where James Earl Jones speaks of the love of baseball reminds us how "all-American" the game really is.

"And they'll walk off to the bleachers and sit in their short sleeves on a perfect afternoon. And find they have reserved seats somewhere along the baselines where they sat when they were children and cheer their heroes," he says. "People will come, Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again."

So why all this talk about baseball? One of our Agricultural Ambassador programs focuses on things made from the by-products of agriculture. Yes, we raise livestock and crops for our food, but throughout time we have developed ways to use our agricultural resources.

Ever think about what a baseball is made of? While the outside of the baseball was once made with horsehide, due to the lack of the supply manufacturers began using cowhide, which is still used today.

The inside of a baseball is made of cork from our abundant forest supply. This cork is covered with two thick rubber wrappings. Rubber can be made from a variety of materials, from tree sap to livestock byproducts.

There are more than 370 yards of different colored wool yarn from sheep in your baseball, too, not to mention the 88 inches of red thread used to stitch the baseball 216 times.

Agriculture really does contribute a great deal to the game of baseball.

Join us for our baseball-themed 10th annual Fond du Lac Agriculture Showcase set for 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday March 2, in the Fond du Lac County Fairgrounds Recreation Building. This year's showcase hosted by the Association of Commerce Agri-Business Council will feature many of the things that make us all-American - baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and cheddar cheese.

There will also be visits from Fang, the mascot of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers baseball team, the Brewers racing sausages, an apple pie contest and delicious samples. The showcase has something for everyone. Come and see what Agriculture is all about.

Brenda Gudex is the director of Agricultural Programs with the Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce. Contact her at 921-9500 or

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Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports