Class of 2010
Boyd 1940-41; Ludington 1952; Boyd Bees 1953-54
Jerome “Chief” Gerrits had the misfortune of seeing his promising amateur baseball career halted by World War II, as league play and area baseball almost entirely disappeared during the war years of 1942 to 1945. Nonetheless, the dominance exhibited by the venerable lefty over half a century ago still resonates strongly in the CRBL’s ledger.
Pitching for upstart Boyd in 1940, Chief’s first year in league play saw him lead the loop with 124.1 innings pitched, a 1.95 ERA, tie for the league lead with 10 wins, and set a since matched single season record of 4 shutouts. For good measure, he struck out 162 batters in fueling the Boyd team to a 10 and 4 record and a birth in that year’s league championship series verse the Bloomer Pines. Hurling 1-0 shutouts in the opener and the game 3 clincher, Gerrits almost single-handily staked Boyd to a league title in the team’s first year of circuit play.
For an encore, Chief topped that performance in 1941 when he won the pitcher’s triple crown (wins, ERA, and strikeouts) by going 10 and 0 in 88 frames with a 0.92 ERA, 137 strikeouts, and 3 shutouts. Gerrits’ 10 wins accounted for each one of Boyd’s victories that year as they captured their second consecutive title in outright fashion with an unblemished 10-0 record in what would be their last year of league play. During this sterling campaign, the Chief amassed a streak of 49 consecutive scoreless innings, a mark that still stands as a CRBL record.
Playing in area leagues after World War II, Jerome returned to the Chippewa Valley League with Ludington in 1952. Logging a 4.27 ERA in 66 innings, Chief tied for the league lead with 7 wins while losing only one decision. From the batter’s box, Gerrits rapped 2 doubles, 1 triple, 2 home runs, and 12 RBI’s while scoring 14 runs and compiling a personal league best .360 batting average. Chief’s clutch play helped lead Ludington to its only division title during the franchise’s seven seasons of league competition.
In 1953, he came back to Boyd to pitch for the Bees. Re-emerging as an ace, Gerrits went 7 and 1 with a 3.96 ERA in 72.2 innings pitched as the Bees won their only division title and qualified for their lone WBA tournament in their four year league existence.
During a part-time role in 1954, Chief went 1 and 0 with a 3.79 ERA in 19 innings while leading the league in shutouts with 1.
Although his time in CRBL history was relatively short, it is apparent that Chief Gerrits was a relied upon, dominant difference maker. Out of his five years in league play, Chief’s teams won a division title four times and staked a league title twice.
The success Gerrits helped create is on display in his #1 all-time ranking in career winning percentage. Upon induction, he is also ranked 3rd all-time in ERA, 5th in shutouts, and 8th in strikeouts per nine innings.