by Bryon Graff
WAUSAU (WAOW) - Earlier this week Wisconsin Rapids native Ben Long was named a Northwoods League all-star. Then he homered in the Chucks game in Stevens Point.
Ben Long already knows his way around Athletic Park. He played with the Chucks two years ago. He started this season with the Madison Mallards and even led the league for a time in the triple crown categories of batting average... homers and runs batted in.
Woodchucks Catcher/1st Baseman Ben Long: "It's really nice. It's nice for my parents too because they live only an hour away so they make it up for pretty much every game."
Long is a much improved player from his previous Chucks tenure. He's counted on for his power in the middle of the order.
Woodchucks Manager Brandon Steele: "When he was here before he was hitting in the seven, eight hole for us a couple years ago. Now he's going to be three through five for us every time he's out there."
Long plays both behind the plate and at first base. It's a transition he made at UW-Milwaukee where he was second team all-conference two seasons ago when his six homers were second on the team. A year later his batting average jumped from .298 to .339.
Ben Long: "They wanted to try me out at different positions to keep me in the lineup a little more. I think I made the transition pretty well."
Brandon Steele: "He's much stronger physically, a much more confident hitter with more power to the gaps."
Long's younger brother Jake joined him with the Panthers this past year. So they're not only teammates but roommates as well. Jake plays baseball this summer for the Marshfield Chaparrals.
Ben Long: "It's fun to play with him again. We live together. So it's good to be around him too."