Honoring La Crosse Baseball Legends


Hall of Fame Members

Hall of Fame


Eligiblity

Who is Eligible for Induction into the La Crosse Area Baseball Hall of Fame?

Three categories of honorees

Local Legends. These honorees made major contributions at the local level as players, coaches or benefactors. In order to be eligible for election they must be retired from playing or coaching. 

Living Legends. These honorees played baseball professionally. They have local ties but made their mark at the national level. In order to be eligible for election players must be retired for at least ten years. 

Golden Legends. These honorees played baseball professionally. They have local ties but made their mark at the national level. Sadly, our golden legends have passed away. 

For more information please contact Mike Haupert at mhaupert@uwlax.edu.

Nomination Process

If you would like to nominate someone for consideration for induction into the La Crosse Area Baseball Hall of Fame, use the nomination form. If you have a photo to include, please email them to mhaupert@uwlax.edu 

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2017 Class of Inductees

Paul Wuest - La Crosse Baseball Hall of Fame
PAUL "PIP" WUEST 
Paul “Pip” Wuest was born in La Crosse on April 10, 1910, graduated from Central High School in 1929, and attended La Crosse Teacher’s College (UWL), where he played football for one season. In 1935 he married Marie Wahlstrom of Waukon, IA, and they raised two children.

Wuest was an outstanding all-around athlete, and was inducted into Central’s Hall of Excellence in 2005. He starred in football, basketball and track, eventually joining the semipro football Old Style Lagers, before turning his attention to baseball.

He coached and played baseball and softball in the La Crosse area for more than 30 years, turning down a contract offer from the Chicago Cubs at the age of 28 because he didn’t want to start a new career at such an advanced age. He was a feared slugger on the diamond, leading the Bodega softball team to a national title in 1932 and the UAW of America Union 396 team to the 1939 state amateur baseball championship. He was also a respected and successful manager. His 1954-55 American Legion teams lost only three games and qualified for the state tournament both years.

Wuest served two terms as La Crosse county sheriff in the 1960s and worked thirty years at Electric AutoLite, never losing his passion for local sports. He was a regular at nearly every Central High School sporting event, and frequently provided baseball equipment to the team when athletic budgets were tight. He was also involved in the early organization of the Stars of Tomorrow tournament.

He died on June 23, 1980 while listening to a baseball game on his car radio. Three years earlier he had been recognized by the Oktoberfest committee for his community service when they named him Maple Leaf parade marshal.


Jerry Augustine - La Crosse Baseball Nominee
JERRY AUGUSTINE
Jerry Augustine has done it all when it comes to baseball in his native state of Wisconsin.  He was born in Green Bay in 1952 and raised in nearby Kewaunee, where he began his baseball career at Kewaunee High School.  In 1971 he took his talents across the state to UW-La Crosse, then back east for a decade with the Brewers.  Since retiring from professional baseball, he spent 12 years as head baseball coach at UW-Milwaukee, and for the past nine years he has been calling games for the Brewers on FOX Sports Wisconsin.

While at UWL, Augustine helped lead the Eagles to back-to-back conference titles in 1972 and 1973, when he was named to the All-Wisconsin State University Conference First Team.  His 14 career wins are tied for 13th in school history, and his 186 strikeouts are fifth on the school’s all-time list.

The left-handed Augustine was drafted by the Brewers in the 15th round of the 1974 amateur draft.  He made his MLB debut at age 23 on September 9, 1975 after only 28 minor league appearances, and stayed with the Brewers for the next decade.  He was part of a Brewers staff that transformed the team from 90+ losses each year from 1975-77 into division winners in 1981 and a World Series appearance in 1982.

Augustine compiled a career record of 55-59 with a 4.23 ERA in 944 innings.  He began his career as a regular in the Brewers rotation, starting 87 games in a three year span, going 34-42 with a 4.14 ERA.  He led the AL in fielding in 1978 when he won a career-high 13 games.  He ranks sixth in all time appearances for Brewers pitchers with 279 and 10th in complete games with 27.  His six career shutouts are 9th on the Brewers all-time list. 

In 1979 he made a successful move to the bullpen, where he spent the remainder of his career.  He was one of the first pitchers to be used in the role of what has now become known as the set-up man, most often entering in the 7th or 8th inning and then giving way to the likes of Hall of Fame closer Rollie Fingers.

His best season was 1976, when he posted a career-best 3.30 ERA and was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie Team and the AL All-Rookie Team.  He was also selected by Milwaukee baseball writers as the Brewers Rookie of the Year.    
Augustine finished his professional career at the AAA level, playing for the top minor league clubs of the Yankees and Orioles in 1985 and 1986 after finishing his Brewers career in 1984.  He retired at the conclusion of the 1986 season, and left baseball to open an insurance agency.

He did not remain out of baseball for long, however.  In 1995 he accepted a position as head coach of the UW-Milwaukee baseball team.  He remained in the position for twelve seasons, retiring in 2006 as the school’s all-time winningest coach with a 347-297-1 record and three NCAA tournament appearances.  He was named Midwestern Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year in 1997, 2000, and 2001.

Jerry Augustine was inducted into the UW-La Crosse Wall of Fame in 1984 and the Milwaukee Brewers Wall of Honor in 2014.  In 2012 he was named to the WIAC All-Time Baseball Team.

Augustine and his wife Nancy have five children.  He continues to operate his insurance company and call games for the Brewers on Fox Sports Wisconsin.


2016 Class of Inductees

Craig Robert Kusick - La Crosse Baseball Nominee
CRAIG ROBERT KUSICK 
Craig Kusick was born on September 30, 1948 in Milwaukee. He enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in the fall of 1969 and graduated in 1972, two years after he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins. While at UWL he earned all-conference honors in 1970, and led the team in RBI in 1969 and 1970, batting .325 over the two seasons. His career slugging average of .641 ranks third all-time at UWL. He was named to the WIAC All-Time Centennial Team in 2012.

Kusick made his major league debut on September 8, 1973, going 0-4 against the White Sox. That year he appeared in 15 games, batting .250 with two doubles and four RBIs. He played seven seasons in the majors with the Twins and the Toronto Blue Jays. He was a slugging first baseman and designated hitter, pounding 23 home runs and 25 doubles in only 631 at bats over the course of his two most productive seasons in 1976 and 1977. He even saw some action as a pitcher, appearing in one game with the Blue Jays in 1979.

Over his career, Kusick appeared in 497 games, batting .235 with a .392 slugging average, 46 home runs, 99 extra base hits, and 171 RBIs. His best single season was 1976, when he hit .259 with 11 home runs, 13 doubles, 33 runs scored and 36 RBIs in 109 games.  

He also played eight seasons in the minors, finishing his career in Hawaii in 1981, appearing in 43 games and batting .272 with 16 extra base hits in 125 at bats. Over the course of his minor league career, which included stops at St. Cloud, Lynchburg, Charlotte and Tacoma before his promotion to the Twins, he batted .288 with a .492 slugging average and 113 home runs.

After his playing career ended, Kusick served as assistant baseball coach at Rosemount (MN) High School from 1982-1990 and head coach from 1991-2004. His teams posted a 262-154 record and won seven sectional championships. He was named sectional coach of the year six consecutive years. While at Rosemount he also coached football and basketball and was responsible for fundraising that refurbished the baseball field.  

Craig Kusick was inducted into the UWL Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Minnesota High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2010. He passed away on September 27, 2006 in St. Paul, MN.


George Erik Williams - La Crosse Baseball Nominee
GEORGE ERIK WILLIAMS 
George Williams was born in La Crosse on April 22, 1969, and graduated from Central High School in 1987, when he was named the Wisconsin Amateur Baseball Player of the Year. He played college ball at Des Moines Area Community College, Mira Costa College, and the University of Texas Pan American before being drafted in 1991 by the Oakland Athletics.

Williams made his major league debut in 1995 after parts of five seasons in the minor leagues. A switch-hitter who saw most of his time at catcher, he played in 29 games with the A’s in 1995, hitting .291 with five doubles, three home runs and 14 RBI. He appeared in 56 games in 1996 and in a career-high 76 games in 1997 when he hit .289 and set career-highs in runs (30), hits (58), doubles (9), RBI (22), walks (35) and on-base percentage (.397). He also tied his career-high with three home runs. He finished his major league career with San Diego in 2000, appearing in 11 games. He was signed by the Boston Red Sox in 2001, but an early season elbow injury ended his playing career. His career totals included 172 games, a .243 batting average with 10 home runs, 19 doubles, two triples, 104 hits and 62 runs scored.

Williams was named head coach of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse baseball team in 2002, leading the team to a 26-18 record (19-9 conference). His teams went 60-60 over three years, and 23 of his players earned All-conference honors.



Louise Erickson Sauer - La Crosse Baseball Nominee
LOUISE ERICKSON SAUER  
Louie Erickson Sauer was born on June 2, 1929 in Whitehall, WI. In 1948 she made her professional baseball debut for Racine of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. Prior to her professional debut, she had never played organized ball. There were no girl’s sports when she attended Arcadia High School, where she graduated in 1946, but she coached in a summer softball league and played neighborhood pickup games with the boys.

“Lou” Erickson moved to Rockford for the 1949 and 1950 seasons. She was named to the 1949 All Star team on the strength of her 17- 6 record, which included seven shutouts. She went 16-10 in her final season and was again named an All Star. She helped Rockford to the league championship in both 1949 and 1950. By the age of 21 she had already been named to two All Star teams, had a .680 career winning percentage with a 2.13 ERA and compiled a 4-1 postseason record, helping her team to two championships. However, she retired following the 1950 season when she married Burton Sauer.  

She and Burt returned to Arcadia, where they raised two children and ran a bowling alley. In her retirement, Erickson-Sauer coached softball and took up bowling, a sport she played for more than 30 years. She still lives in Arcadia, making occasional appearances at baseball events and Loggers games.


Robert Carroll - La Crosse Baseball Hall of Fame
ROBERT "KOOTCH" CARROLL 
Robert “Kootch” Carroll was born in La Crosse on October 8, 1915 and died there on January 11, 1988. In between, he and his wife Marilyn raised eight children, he starred on the baseball field, and made a mark on the community that has been commemorated with a baseball field and an apartment building bearing his name.

Carroll graduated from Aquinas High School in 1932, joined the U.S. army in 1942 and retired four years later at the rank of Major. He worked for the Post Office for 35 years, retiring as Assistant Postmaster in 1971, and served as a La Crosse County Board Supervisor for 24 years. 

“Kootch” was a regular on the ballfield for 18 years. When his playing days ended, he turned to coaching, umpiring, and part-time scouting for major league teams. And when that wasn’t enough, he organized a baseball league (the 13th Ward Baseball League, founded in 1961) and a tournament that grew to be one of the biggest in the country. He founded the Stars of Tomorrow baseball tournament in 1967 and guided it through its first six years before stepping down due to health reasons. He was known locally as the father of youth baseball, in part because of his oft repeated philosophy to “let ‘em all play.”

Stepping away from the baseball diamond did not mean he stopped contributing to the community though. Over the last twenty years of his life, “Kootch” was a regular lunchtime guest at local retirement homes, where he visited with residents and provided entertainment in the form of games, quizzes and prize drawings. He also helped establish the local meals-on-wheels program.

Carroll was highly decorated for a lifetime of selfless service. He was chosen to serve as Oktoberfest Parade marshal in 1969, named Man of the Year in 1971 by the greater La Crosse area Chamber of Commerce, and was honored by Viterbo University in 1985 as a recipient of the prestigious Pope John XXIII Distinguished Service Award. 


2015 Class of Inductees

Corrine Zielke - La Crosse Baseball Hall of Fame
CORINNE ZIELKE local legend
Corinne Zielke was a true friend of baseball. Upon her death on February 5, 2000 she left nearly $1 million to be used for the support of baseball in the La Crosse community. To date the Corrine Zielke Fund has provided a half million dollars to area teams, communities, and schools for baseball equipment and facilities. The largest single grant, $300,000, was used to renovate Copeland Park in 2003 to host the La Crosse Loggers, an expansion team in the Northwoods League .

Zielke was born Corinne Swenson on February 18, 1916 in Ettrick, and grew up on a farm near South Beaver Creek, seven miles east of Ettrick. After World War II she settled in La Crosse, first working as a clerk at Trane Company, then starting a restaurant on the Trane campus. In 1950 she opened Corinne’s Café at 2215 South 17th Street in La Crosse and operated it until 1970, when she retired and sold the property to Trane. The wise investment of the proceeds of the sale grew into the endowment that she provided for local baseball.

In 1953 she married Arthur J. Zielke. After his death in 1975 she returned to work, running the tea shop at Doerflinger’s. She retired again when the store closed in 1984, but volunteered at the Gundersen Lutheran Hospital gift shop until shortly before her death.

William Boober Parizek - La Crosse Baseball Hall of Fame
WILLIAM "BOOBER" PARIZEK local legend
Boober Parizek, known as “Mr. Baseball,” was described as a walking baseball encyclopedia. He was a historian of the game and an eager and talented participant. He played on several outstanding local teams, ranging from Barre Mills, La Crosse, and Onalaska, to Richland Center, Stoddard, and Hokah. He managed local American Legion and semipro teams for six years before taking over the Western Wisconsin Technical College team. He served as a scorekeeper and umpire for area leagues and the Stars of Tomorrow tournament, remaining active into his 70s. He and Leo Mashak ran the National Baseball Congress tournament for over 40 years.

He was born on August 5, 1919 in La Crosse, and except for a few years in rural Westby, lived his entire life here. He died on May 24, 2008.

Parizek worked at La Crosse Peerless Brewery, the La Crosse Rubber Mills, and the La Crosse Post Office. He served as a private in the U.S. Army during World War II.

His baseball career began as a ten year old in the Powell Park midget league, helping his team to the championship, his first of many. He played baseball for local legion and semipro teams and in city softball leagues for more than 25 years, playing his final game on his fiftieth birthday. In 1953 he was awarded the annual Claire Raith trophy for all around baseball ability, character, and sportsmanship on and off the field. Later that same year he was honored by the city of La Crosse for his lifetime contributions to the local softball scene.


Frank Thornton - La Crosse Baseball Hall of Fame
FRANK THORNTON  local legend
Frank Thornton was born in Portage, WI on February 25, 1944. He graduated from UW-La Crosse in 1968, lettering in baseball. Before he joined the Central High School faculty, Thornton had a brief career as a railroad fireman.

He spent two years as assistant baseball coach at Central High School before taking over the head coaching duties, which he held for 30 record-setting years. Before he hung up his spikes, he took the Central baseball team to 17 state tournaments, winning twice (1978 and 1986) and finishing second six more times. The 1986 team finished the season ranked 19th in the nation by USA Today. He also guided his teams to 23 regional titles, 18 MVC championships, and 24 city championships.

In 30 years he compiled a 459-131-1 record. His teams never had a losing season. He is the winningest coach in Wisconsin high school baseball history, and was inducted into the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1990.

Thornton was twice named the Wisconsin baseball coach of the year (1980 and 1986) and in 1999 became the first recipient of the La Crosse Tribune’s Sportsperson of the Year award. 81 of his former players went on to play baseball at the collegiate level, and nine of them signed professional contracts.

He assisted Jay Buckley in running the Stars of Tomorrow baseball tournament for 29 years, and umpired and officiated local baseball, football, and basketball games for more than 30 years.

In addition to baseball, Thornton also coached basketball, football, and both boys and girls skiing. He guided the girls ski team to the 1979 state championship. The boys were state runners-up that same year.

After retiring from teaching he has kept busy with his passion for stock car racing. He is a regular on the circuit, where he races as “Thunder” Turner.


Edward Big Ed Konetchy - La Crosse Baseball Hall of Fame
EDWARD "BIG ED KONETCHY  golden legend
Edward Joseph Konetchy was born in La Crosse on September 3, 1885. He left school after the eighth grade and began working at the Funk Candy Company. When he was 16 he joined the competitive factory team, and at age 20 he signed his first professional contract with the La Crosse Pinks of the Class D Wisconsin State League.

The big right hander usually batted cleanup and eventually attracted the attention of professional scouts. He was hitting .359 when the St. Louis Cardinals purchased his contract for $1000 in June of 1907. The next day he made his major league debut, getting his first hit in a 4-3 loss to the Reds.

Over a fifteen year MLB career, Ed Konetchy led National League first basemen in fielding eight times and batted .281 in 2,085 games. His 2,150 hits included 344 doubles, 181 triples (17th all time), and 74 home runs. He even contributed on the mound, appearing twice in relief and once as a starter.

In 1910 Konetchy put together a 20-game hitting streak, batted over .300 for the first of four times, and won the Triple Crown in fielding, leading NL first basemen in fielding percentage, putouts, and assists.

In 1911 the Cardinals team was involved in a train wreck on a trip to Boston. A dozen passengers were killed and 47 others injured. Konetchy and Cardinals manager Roger Bresnahan led the rescue effort, carrying several passengers to safety.

Before the 1914 season Konetchy was traded to Pittsburgh for five players. That year he batted only .249, resulting in a reduced contract offer from management, spurring him to sign with the Pittsburgh Stogies of the Federal League. In his only season in the Federal League, Konetchy set career highs in batting average (.314), hits (181), and triples (18), finishing in the Top Five in almost every offensive category while winning his second fielding Triple Crown. When the Federal League folded in the fall of 1915 Konetchy was purchased by the Boston Braves.
 
After three years with the Braves, Konetchy was sold to the Brooklyn Dodgers before the 1919 season. On June 28 that year he began an incredible streak, knocking out two singles and a double. He followed that up the next day with four singles and a triple, then started the following game with two more singles. When the hitting barrage ended, he had collected ten consecutive hits, tying a record set in 1897 that would stand until 1952, and is still the second most consecutive hits in MLB history.

In 1920, his 13th season in the majors, Koney, as his name was often shortened in box scores, played in his first and only World Series. He struggled at bat, collecting only four hits in seven games, but excelled in the field, setting a single game World Series record for most chances accepted by a first baseman with 19.

1921 was his last season in the majors. He was released by the Dodgers in July and claimed on waivers by the Phillies. He finished the year hitting .299 with a career-high 11 home runs, and a single-season record five unassisted double plays.

Konetchy's playing days, however, were far from over; he remained active in the minors until 1926. After a year with Toledo of the American Association, he became player-manager of Omaha of the Western League in 1923. The following year he held the same role for Petersburg of the Virginia League, leading the circuit in home runs. In 1925, while playing for the Ft. Worth Cats, Konetchy, who turned 40 at the end of the season, batted .345 and led the Texas League with 41 home runs and 166 RBIs. He retired as a player after the 1926 season and remained in Texas for another ten years, managing the Brownsville entry in the the Texas Valley League in 1938 before returning to LaCrosse to take the helm of the new La Crosse Blackhawks in the Wisconsin State League. He led the Blackhawks to the league title that year and continued to manage the team until the league dissolved after the 1942 season. That season was Ed’s last in professional baseball, and he retired back to Texas, becoming a foreman at the Convair plant. He also owned a restaurant and chicken farm and worked occasionally as a scout for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Ed Konetchy died from heart disease on May 27, 1947. He was posthumously inducted into Wisconsin's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1961, the first La Crosse native to earn such a distinction.


Scott Servais - La Crosse Baseball Hall of Fame
SCOTT SERVAIS living legend
Scott Servais was born on June 4, 1967. The Coon Valley native played baseball at Westby High School and Creighton University before being drafted by the Houston Astros in 1988.

He began his professional career with Osceola in 1989, quickly rising through the Astro’s system to AAA Tucson, where he batted .324 in 1991 before being called up to the majors.

Servais made his Major League debut on July 12, 1991 for the Astros in a pinch hitting role. He played sparingly until late September when he garnered his first two major league hits in a game against the Giants and finished the season on a 6 for 16 tear. During an eleven year career that included time with the Astros (1991-95, 2001), Chicago Cubs (1995-98), San Francisco Giants (1999-2000) and Colorado Rockies (2000), Servais batted .245 with 130 doubles, 63 home runs and 319 RBI in 820 games. Three times (1993, 1994, 1998) he ranked among the top three NL catchers in fielding percentage. He got his only post season experience with the Cubs in 1998, and made the most of it, getting two hits in three at bats.

He enjoyed perhaps his finest offensive season in 1995, when he was traded from the Astros to the Cubs in mid-season. He hit .286 with 12 homeruns after the trade. For the season he hit .265 with 13 homeruns, 22 doubles, and 47 RBI.

In 1999 he signed with the San Francisco Giants as a free agent, hitting .279 and sharing the catching duties with Brent Mayne and Doug Mirabelli. He split the 2000 season between the Giants and Colorado Rockies before returning to Houston in 2001.

After retiring in 2002, Servais held the position of roving catching instructor for the Cubs. After two seasons with the Cubs organization, he became a professional scout for the Rockies. Following the 2005 season, he was named Senior Director of Player Development for the Texas Rangers.

In 2011 Scott Servais joined the Los Angeles Angels as Assistant General Manager of Scouting & Player Development. He had spent the previous six seasons in the Texas Rangers front office.

Servais played college baseball at Creighton University, where his head coach was former Cubs GM Jim Hendry. He was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame in 2003. He also helped Team USA win a gold medal in the 1988 Olympics and a silver medal in the 1987 Pan American Games, and earned USA Baseball’s Alumni Award in 1994.


Everett Johnson - La Crosse Baseball Hall of Fame
EVERETT JOHNSON  living legend
Everett Johnson was born on October 7, 1926 in Onalaska. He caught for the Onalaska high school team as a fifth grader. Having nearly reached his full grown height of 6’1” and 185 pounds, he did not look out of place. By the time he reached high school age he had to drop out and go to work to help support his family. He continued to play ball in his free time however, and signed his first professional contract with the Cubs at age 17 in 1944. Before he could report however, he was drafted into the navy, where he played the next two years for the Kaneohe Klippers, a naval team stationed in Hawaii.

He finally began his professional career in 1947 with the Hutchinson Cubs in the Western Association. His first hit was a pinch hit grand slam. He finished the season with six home runs and a .240 batting average in 108 games.

He was limited to a 135 games over the next two seasons, but hit well enough (.290 with six home runs) to attract the attention of the Cincinnati Reds, who drafted him out of the Cubs organization and put him on their opening day roster in 1950.

Johnson stuck with the Reds for half the season, serving as the bullpen catcher, but never saw action, finally being sent down to Charleston of the Central League, where he hit .269 in 34 games. He finished his professional career in the Reds organization, with stops in Tulsa and Columbia before retiring after the 1953 season, his career cut short by a shoulder injury he suffered during the 1952 season. His minor league career spanned seven seasons and a total of 367 games. He hit .269 in 1101 at bats with 22 home runs, 13 triples and 44 doubles.

In 1956 he took a managerial position in Dickinson, South Dakota, but was soured by the fact that the team refused to allow black players on the roster. After having played against the likes of Hank Aaron and Jackie Robinson, Johnson wasn’t interested in segregated baseball. His interest in managing waned after that, and he turned down an offer to manage in the Reds minor league system, instead returning home to Onalaska where he continued to play ball on local teams while working in the construction business.

Onalaska honored their local hero with Everett Johnson night in 1968. Johnson continues to live there and can frequently be seen in the stands at Copeland Park during a Loggers home stand.


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