Per Eric Kraushar of the Chaska Herald, on Twitter: “Sad news to report as Victoria Vics baseball manager Mike Poppitz was found dead today (Dec. 6). Mike was instrumental in making the Victoria field what it is. A lot of passion for baseball, his players. He will be greatly missed.”
Since 1982 – that’s 36 seasons – Mike Poppitz was the manager and face of the Victoria Vics. He was a true character of Minnesota town-team baseball. Two of his career highlights included the renaming of Victoria’s playing field in 2009, to “Poppitz Field,” and leading the Vics to their first and only MBA state championship in 2012, after beating the Cold Spring Springers twice to claim the Class B title.
“You have to believe in your players and I believed in them,” Victoria head coach Mike Poppitz said, upon clinching the Vics’ first state title. “And they believed in one another. To be honest, I knew I had the pitching and I knew we had the hitting. We just needed to have both at the same time and we got that. I’m just so proud of what these guys accomplished.”
[READ KRAUSHAR’S ARTICLE IN THE CHANHASSEN VILLAGER, “FIVE WINS IN FOUR DAYS FOR A STATE TITLE”]
“It feels great,” Vics manager Mike Poppitz said, shortly after clinching the 2012 Class B championship. “You know this team here is just amazing. It seems like the more they play, the harder they play and the better they hit. We lost that game in Cold Spring and they weren’t down, they just said ‘hey, now we just got to run four in a row and let’s play some ball,’ and they did.”
[READ C.J. SIEWERT’S ARTICLE, 2012 CLASS B CHAMPIONSHIP GAME RECAP FROM THE MINNESOTA BASEBALL ASSOCIATION WEBSITE]
“The only way to get out of work at the farm with my dad was to play baseball,’’ Mike Poppitz said. “You would be out there throwing bales for hours on a hot, miserable summer day and he’d say, ‘Keep going. Baling hay makes you hit better.’ ”
[READ PATRICK REUSSE’S 2014 ARTICLE, “TOWN BALL RIVALRY HAS A BIT OF BROTHERLY SHOVE”]
"Pride is a pretty big thing," Mike Poppitz added. "And there's a lot of pride in what you are presenting. There's never an end to how much you can get done. And I've got a lot of pride in the baseball field, so I just keep bangin' up there.”
[READ THE VICTORIA GAZETTE’S 2012 ARTICLE, “CONGRATULATIONS, MIKE POPPITZ & VICTORIA VICS ON BEING MINNESOTA STATE CHAMPIONS!”]
Finally, watch the 4-minute video by Southwest Newspapers’ Unsie Zuege, “Poppitz Field Dedication,” from July 14, 2009.
Rest in peace, Mike. The River Valley League won’t be nearly the same without you.