Racine Raiders Football Club | Racine, Wis. |

Raiders to Honor 1989 World Championship Team Saturday Night

1989 Racine Raiders Team PhotoThe Racine Raiders are one of the oldest teams in semi-pro football. The Raiders have also paved the way for many innovations in semi-pro football over the years and claimed nine national and world championships. During Alumni Night on Saturday, July 13, the organization will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1989 World Championship team. In addition, four members of that team will be inducted into the Racine Raiders Hall of Fame and all members of the Racine Raiders Alumni Association will be honored at halftime.

The 1989 Racine Raiders cruised through the Midwest Football League, going 7-0 and outscoring their opponents, 282-69. The team finished with a barely blemished record of 13-1 overall, falling to the Brooklyn Mariners, 10-0, in the third week of the season at Horlick Athletic Field. The Raiders played teams from Washington, New York, Louisiana, and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada to claim the Minor League Football Alliance World Championship in 1989.

The “Snow Bowl” was the flip-side to the “Mud Bowl” National Championship of 1988. The championship game was played in Ottawa during a raging blizzard and a temperature of just 5° at kickoff with a wind chill that made it feel like -40°. The Raiders not only had to battle the Ottawa Bootleggers and the elements, but the crowd of over 6,200 fans was extremely hostile towards the Americans.

Ottawa took a 7-0 lead on a 62-yard pass play. Racine’s Les White answered with an 80-yard run, but Steve Schonert’s point after attempt was blocked. Schonert kicked a 24-yard field goal to give the Raiders a 9-7 lead heading into the half. Ottawa took back the lead in the second half. Trailing 13-9 with 1:50 to go in the game, Charlie Bliss threw a game-winning 50-yard touchdown pass to Ron Daugherty. The most valuable player of the game was defensive tackle Mark Trudel, who was just inducted into the American Football Association Hall of Fame in late-June in Canton, Ohio, and will join the Racine Raiders Hall of Fame at halftime of tonight’s game against the Fox Valley Force.

Celebrating 1989 World ChampionshipIn the end, the Raiders rolled out “Old Glory” on the Canadian field, sang our National Anthem, and drank heartily of the champagne and beer the Bootleggers left behind. It was a most satisfying win! General Manager Joe Mooney said it was like “us against the world” and when it was all over, Joe kept telling himself he didn’t want the day to end.

Playing the game in Canada allowed the Raiders to file for 501c(3) not-for-profit status with the Internal Revenue Service because they participated in international sports competition. The application was approved, a first for a semi-pro football team, and now dozens of semi-pro teams benefit from the not-for-profit status across the country. It’s just another way that the Racine Raiders have set the bar in semi-pro football. 

Joining Trudel in entering the Racine Raiders Hall of Fame on Saturday night will be Dan Dragan, Greg Erchull, and John Scardina. A special ceremony will be held at halftime where all members of the Racine Raiders Alumni Association will be recognized as well. Alumni of the Racine Raiders and Racine Gladiators can purchase an annual membership for $20 or a lifetime membership for $120. The back gate opens to Alumni Association members at 5 pm for the special tailgate party. Any new members can join the Alumni Association on Saturday night (cash only payment).

The Raiders host the Fox Valley Force in a MidStates Football League Richhart Conference game. Gates open at 5:30 pm and kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm at Historic Horlick Athletic Field in Racine. Discounted tickets can be purchased online. The first 250 fans 18 and over through the gate will receive a card for a free Jupiter Wash at Rocket Wash and $5 off at The Dish.