A business-man as much as he is a baseball-man, Richard Radatz, Jr., owner of K181 Enterprises, which holds the recipe and license for the Five Tool brand, had a vision of introducing beer lovers to a custom beer through the ballparks in the Northwoods League. There have been teams throughout baseball that sold branded-beer, but to his knowledge it had never been done on a league-wide basis. And the Northwoods League seemed like a perfect fit – spread across the Midwest where craft breweries dominate the landscape and the appetite among adults for barley and hops runs high.
Upon finding a brewing partner, it was time to settle on a recipe. While test batches produced multiple flavor options, Five Tool eventually came to life in the form of a smooth, American cream ale – pleasing to many palates and perfect for a summer night at the ballpark.
Baseball…a Family Tradition
When baseball fans of today hear the words “Boston” and “Monster” together, their first thought is typically of the Green Monster – Fenway Park’s iconic green wall in left field. But ask the generation of Boston fans, or any Major League hitter for that matter, from the 60s what comes to mind when they hear “Boston” and “Monster” and most will quickly reply: Dick Radatz.
Dick Radatz was a 6-6 reliever with a fastball that made even the likes of Willie Mays take pause when approaching the plate. He earned his nickname, “The Monster” after a coming into a game against the Yankees in Fenway Park with bases loaded. He proceeded to strike out Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Elston Howard, all American League MVPs at one time, on just 10 total pitches.
Former teammate and starting pitcher Bill Monbouquette was quoted once when asked about Mr. Radatz ”I never used to give the ball to the manager when he’d come to get me, I’d wait to give it to the guy coming into the game. I used to say to Dick, ‘You’d better get these guys out or I’m going to kick your [butt],’ He’d say, ‘Go in the clubhouse, crack me a Bud, and I’ll be right up.’ And he would.’ ”
Dick Radatz, Sr. twice led the American League in saves, was a 2-time All-Star, and to this day holds the Major League record for strikeouts in a season by a reliever with 181. Yep, that’s 181, as in K181 Enterprises, a fitting homage to a father from his son.
Baseball and Beer…a Long-Standing Tradition
Beer drinkers and baseball fans today might find it hard to believe that in the game’s early days (pre 1900), beer sales were actually shunned by owners of the National League, who kicked some teams out of the league just for selling beer and whiskey. In the modern era, baseball and beer are as natural a duo as Abbott & Costello.
- The New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, and Toronto Blue Jays were all at one time, or currently are, owned by a brewery.
- The Milwaukee Brewers adopted their name in 1970 as a tribute to the city’s long association with the brewing industry.
- For years, national breweries were some of the largest sponsors for Major League baseball teams – think Chicago Cubs, Harry Caray and Budweiser.
- Regional brewers can now be seen in prominent locations at ballparks big and small – Summit Brewing at Target Field in Minneapolis, or the Point Craft River in Wisconsin Rapids (Northwoods League) where guests get their beer delivered on mini-rafts floating down a small river.
- Three Northwoods League teams will offer team-branded beers in 2017: the Eau Claire Express (The Kurve), the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders (Dock Spiders Pale Ale) and the La Crosse Loggers (Logger Lager).