Local man celebrates 50 years in baseball

During every baseball game this summer at Onalaska Legion Field, you can find Bill Martinson sitting in the press box down the left field line.

“What more could you ask for, sitting in an air-conditioned press box like this. I wouldn’t pass up this view for anything,” Martinson said.

An Onalaska native, Martinson, 61, is the official scorekeeper at the ballpark. This summer, Martinson is celebrating his 50th year in baseball.

“50 years ago I started doing the scorebook for the little league back home. I never had a whole lot of skills. I always enjoyed baseball,” Martinson said.

Before finding his permanent seat in the press box, Martinson worked behind the plate as an umpire for more than 30 years. A retired math teacher in the Tomah school district, Martinson enjoys keeping track of the numbers and stats for each game. An avid Chicago Cubs fan, Martinson has plenty of stories to share about his favorite team when there is a break in the action.

“The night the Cubs won the World Series, I was up until 2:00, 2:30 that night because my cell phone was ready to blow up after all my kids and friends were texting me and calling me to congratulate me,” Martinson said.

Martinson said the game has changed quite a bit over the last five decades, but the reason he comes back to the ballpark every year stayed the same.

“Legion baseball hits my heart a little bit because back when I was in high school I was a Badger Boy Stater,” Martinson said. “As I got older, it was being around the kids and let the kids show me a few little things and having fun with them once in a while too. I know some point in time I will pass the torch on here, but for the time being I enjoy doing this.”

Get your weather forecast from people that actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.