Otsego couple hits the big leagues for silver anniversary

Virginia Ransbottom

Some people have shotgun weddings. Joe and Barb Wine had a baseball wedding and have run with it ever since.  
For their 25th wedding anniversary, Joe gets to throw out the first pitch at the Detroit Tigers game on June 10 at Comerica Stadium. The couple from Otsego will then renew their vows in the Corner Ballpark and Willie Horton’s Field of Dreams at the former Tiger Stadium.
Joe pitched the idea of marrying on the baseball diamond. Barb caught the idea and jumped on base. The wedding took place on June 12, 1993, at Memorial Park’s Diamond 5 in Otsego.
Diamond 5 was the field Joe played ball on three to four times a week.
“Why not have it someone you love?” he said. “To my surprise she said ‘yes.’
Barb said she didn’t even like sports then.
“But at least I knew he wouldn’t stand me up because he’d already be there,” she joked. “We had both been married and divorced before we met, and already experienced a normal wedding in a church with a white dress and tux.
“This time we wanted to do something that would last.”
On their fifth anniversary, vows were renewed between a Kalamazoo Kodiaks double-header. On their 10th anniversary, they wanted to start moving up to the pros and hoped the Detroit Tiger affiliates, the West Michigan Whitecaps, would let them renew vows on game day but they agreed only if it was not a game day.
“What fun would that be?” laughed Barb.
However, the Battle Creek Yankees, who were affiliated with the New York Yankees at that time, didn’t balk and welcomed them with open arms.
On their 15th anniversary, the Wines moved up to the minor league with the Jack-sonville Suns, a team Barb and her friends knew when she lived in Jacksonville.
After the Wines renewed their vows, Joe threw out the first pitch. It was a strike.
For their 20th anniversary, the Wines chose a Toledo Mud Hens game to renew their vows because the team is a Detroit Tigers affiliate. They were called out onto the field from the dugout like a starting lineup during opening ceremonies.
Pitching for the event was Joe. Catching for the event was Barb. Officiating the ceremony was their umpire, Pastor Jeff Selph of Kalamazoo.
Four bridesmaids and four groomsmen were also called onto the field as spectators in the upper deck watched on the Jumbotron.
Barb had another surprise that evening when the couple returned home. She purchased the Memorial Park Diamond 5 sign from where the couple originally married. (She paid the City of Otsego for a new sign so her husband could keep the old one).
“That just blew me away,” Joe said.
Now for their silver anniversary, they’ve finally made it to the major league.
Although Comerica Park does not allow ceremonies in the park, they’ll be renewing their wedding vows with a whole team of friends as their starting line up at the former Tiger Stadium.
Barb plans to unseal the wedding invitation-style letter she wrote 12 days after meeting Joe on a blind date.
“That’s when I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him,” she said.
The letter hasn’t been unsealed since it was written.  It predicted the couple would be married on June 10, the date that came true for their 25th anniversary wedding vows.
For their reception, Joe will throw out the first pitch at the Detroit Tigers game at 12:10 p.m.
“I doubt anyone will see it on TV unless there is a rerun because there is a special Negro League celebration before the game, which doesn’t officially start until 1:10 p.m.” Barb said. “But our names will be on the Jumbotron and the wedding party gets to sit in a Comerica Park suite where we’ll be waving to people.”
After all these years building up to the major leagues—what will they bat for on their 30th?
“We also like to golf and are big University of Michigan fans—maybe we’ll shoot for the Big House,” she said.
For the Wines, life just gets better with the game.
“By renewing our vows every five years, we stay newlyweds, recommitting and reminding us of our vows,” Barb said. “It’s a whole new beginning again.”
Joe agrees.
“It makes some good memories and keeps it fresh,” he said.
Virginia Ransbottom can be contacted at vransbottom@allegannews.com or at (269) 673-5534.


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