As a self-described Type A personality dedicated to supporting education, children and sports, Fox Valley philanthropist Mary Beth Nienhaus is a perfect match to help renovate the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s deteriorating baseball field.
The current field, a natural surface baseball field built on a former landfill, has been plagued in recent years with low spots that fill with rainwater, spring thaw issues and significant erosion from runoff. The field’s precarious condition means greater risk of injury to players, and the Titans baseball team has been forced to travel far and wide annually to compete for much of the early spring season.
“Our potential is limited by the condition of our field and how much time we must spend preparing it to play,” said Head Baseball Coach Kevin Tomasiewicz. “The 2022 spring was one of the worst I have experienced as a player or coach. We worked countless hours to remove water, snow and ice from the field. This experience drove me to seek help in enhancing the baseball experience for future Titans.”
Indeed, it could soon be a whole new ball game for the Titans and area high school baseball players as Nienhaus has made a $500,000 matching gift pledge toward a proposed $2.425 million project to improve the field.
“For many years now, Mary Beth has been well-known in Appleton for her generosity and love of athletics. After meeting with her, it was very evident that she is passionate about community and finding ways to enhance the experience for its members,” Tomasiewicz said.
He added that the entire community will be “forever indebted” to Nienhaus for jumpstarting the campaign to update the Titans baseball facilities.
Nienhaus, the first female varsity student-athlete at Marquette University, said she has been blessed with career and athletic opportunities throughout her life and is pleased to give back and rally support for the Field for the Future: Enhancing Titans Baseball fundraising effort.
“I have a strong work ethic and was blessed to have careers as a physical education teacher, professional golfer and golf course owner,” she said. “I invested wisely, and now I enjoy sharing and making other people happy.”
The renovation project will include installing an artificial surface and adding lights.
Besides enhancing the experience for Titans baseball players, the improved field will provide additional space for spring practices and intramural baseball opportunities and generate revenue with a rentable facility for high school and college baseball games.
“There is a definite need here and I hope others are encouraged by my matching pledge to support this project,” said Nienhaus, who has been described as a “local treasure” for the giving of her time and treasure to countless projects in the region.
Those efforts have included sports complexes, Habitat for Humanity projects, veterans housing and even a pickleball complex and a 10,000-flower Marigold Mile beautification project in Appleton.
Learn more or contribute to UWO’s Field for the Future campaign.