The Manitowoc Bandit’s Baseball Wives

May 26, 2011

You might say it was love at first strike for Jessica “Jess” and Josh Krowiorz of the Manitowoc Bandits.

Wisconsin State League

*Note – This article was written and published by Lakeshore YOU Magazine is a product produced by the Herald Times Reporter. The May 2011 issue was released on Friday, May 13. The magazine is included in the Herald Times Reporter on the second Friday of each month. The Wisconsin State League does not take credit for this article or the photos.

You might say it was love at first strike for Jessica “Jess” and Josh Krowiorz. Little did they know at the time that two sports involving a bat and a ball would draw them together and become an integral part of their lives.

“We both were athletes at St. Norbert,” said Jess. “He played baseball and I played softball.” They were captains of their respective teams.

Josh grew up in Manitowoc and has played with the Manitowoc Bandits at various positions, including center field, for 13 years despite the fact that the couple lives in Milwaukee. He’s also managed that team since 2007. Oh, and the couple is expecting their first child who is due on July 26, which just happens to be a doubleheader date in Manitowoc against the Kenosha Kings. Jess admits she’s curious about when her child will make his or her arrival.

“I’m picturing myself in the delivery room in a baseball uniform, slipping on the floors because I’ve still got metal cleats on!” Josh said when asked about the baby’s delivery.

The couple has decided to keep the sex of the baby a surprise. They’re also attempting to sell their house in hopes of finding something bigger in a northern suburb.

Hanging out at the park with their newborn is something that appeals to Jess and Josh. He admits to having watched players and fans interact with their kids by running bases, playing catch and hitting wiffle balls.

“Jess and I want our kids to experience sports and outdoor activities the same as we did growing up,” he said. “What better place to start than the baseball park?”

“I think we both look forward to the fact that these people are our family during the summer,” Jess added. Many of the players and fans have seen the two throughout the different phases of their relationship.

“Once the baby comes we’ll see how it goes. (Josh) has every intention of playing this year (and completing the season),” Jess said. “Sometimes the schedule does get a little hectic and you wish that you could do other things, like camping.”

The couple has discussed whether or not Josh will continue to play over the last three to four years, but thus far the outcome has been the same.

“It is a discussion every year and it’s something that we put off until the last minute,” Jess admitted.

With the commute, Jess doesn’t often make it to games during the week, but will meet Josh at park and rides to carpool to games after work. The couple admits they tend to plan their week based around baseball schedules. Between Bandits games, Josh’s job as an application manager for the Milwaukee Brewers and catching Brewers games as season ticket holders, the Krowiorzes keep their weeks during the summer pretty full. E-mail, text messages and phone calls keep the two connected. Jess typically will send notes at the end of the day.

“I know (Josh) does his best thinking in the car,” she joked. “I do enjoy going to the games. … I wouldn’t be participating in going to the Brewers games if I didn’t enjoy it.” Besides seeing Josh’s family at the Manitowoc games, Jess also looks forward to the trips to Appleton where her family is located and seeing friends who live in Green Bay when the Bandits travel.

“It really is very admirable that someone finds something they love and puts their heart into it,” Jess said of Josh’s dedication to the team.

“(Jess) supports me because she knows how much playing means to me,” Josh said. “I’ve been very, very fortunate to have that degree of love and support from her for so many seasons.”

The Halls (featured in main image)

“It’s fun, It’s a lot of fun. It’s something that our family gets to do that other families don’t get to do,” said Jessica Hall, wife of Bandit’s first baseman Mike Hall who has played with the team for eight seasons. The Halls enjoy being active outdoors with their children.

“It’s always been a part of him, it’s part of his blood. … I knew it came with the package,” Jessica said. Mike began playing at Lincoln High School and continued at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

As the couple’s two daughters – Audra, 3½, and Anya, 1 – continue to grow up, fitting baseball into the family’s schedule has become more of a challenge.

“As the girls get older, it’s a little bit harder because the girls want to see their daddy more,” Jessica said. “The biggest thing is just making sure that I have everything for the weekend.” She noted that it’s not so easy to drop everything and just run to the grocery store when she’s out of a particular item, like ketchup.

Jessica and the girls don’t make weeknight games because they tend to fall around bedtime, but are eager to support Mike at the diamond when they can.

“Between work and the kids, it’s hard to make it to the games,” Jessica said. “We’d love to go to more, but it’s just too much.” She noted that she’s fortunate to have the support of not only her parents, but her husband’s who pitch in when needed.

Audra, who has her own pink glove, coaches her dad by telling him “to hit the ball really far” and is known to watch the occasional baseball game on TV.

“She really enjoys coming to the games, she will usually come up to the fence to tell me t hit the ball harder or ask why I didn’t get a hit last time,” Mike said. “Hopefully both Anya and Audra see how much fun I still have and someday find a sport they enjoy as well.”

The Halls also have the annual discussion about whether or not Mike will continue to play.

“He used to say, ‘I’m the Brett Favre of the Bandits,” Jessica said. “I’m never going to be the one to say, ‘You need to stop playing.’ … He always says, ‘Well, I think I’m going to play’ and I say, ‘Well, that’s OK. I said you could play as long as you want.’”

“I am very lucky,” Mike said. “Jessica has been amazing. The amount of games can be tough sometimes, but we make it work and she has been nothing but supportive and encouraging.”

Visit the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter to view the full article.

Story by: Amy Hanson – Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter
Photos by: Doug Sundin – Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter

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