Scott Wolfe

Class of 2017

Shortstop, 3rd Baseman, Closer

Augusta Athletics 1999; Eau Claire Bears 2000-10

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Often referenced but rarely seen, a “five tool” player is the unique ball player that can hit for power, bat for a high average, run with speed, throw with velocity, and play defense with accuracy and flare.  In the world of amateur baseball in the CRBL and the state of Wisconsin, few individuals exhibited those skills better than the Eau Claire Bears’ Scott Wolfe.

After spending his rookie CRBL season of 1999 as a part-time player for the Augusta Athletics, the lanky infielder came back to his hometown of Eau Claire to play for the Bears in 2000.  After hitting .319 (14 for 44) that season, “Wolfie” emerged as a standout all-around player the next season for Eau Claire.  In the CRBL’s return to wood bats in 2001, Scott hit .362 (21 for 56) while leading the league in runs scored with 16.  He also appeared in his first All-Star game and was recognized as an All-CRBL third baseman, his first such award.

In total, the right-handed stick hit over .300 in nine of his twelve CRBL seasons, including .400+ marks in 2003 (.412, 28 for 68) and 2004 (.489, 22 for 45).  In addition to his leading 16 runs scored in 2001, Scott also paced the CRBL with 73 at-bats in 2006, 8 home runs in 2007, 6 doubles (tied) in 2010, and tied for the circuit lead in saves with 1 in 2002 and 2 in 2004.

Beyond the obvious quantifiable numbers, Wolfe had the immeasurable intangible of excelling in the clutch within all facets of the game.  Used primarily as a closer, Scott received a rare start in the 2002 South Division tie-breaker vs. the Augusta Athletics.  At Augusta, the righty twirled a 3-hit, 7 inning shutout while striking out 8 and walking just 1 in the Bears’ 11-0 win.  Two weeks later, Wolfie’s bottom of the 10th two-run homer put Eau Claire past Ellsworth 6-4 in the first game of the WBA tournament as the Bears were on their way to their first Final 8 appearance.

Earlier in the 2002 campaign, Scott had been named the MVP of the CRBL All-Star game at Hallie in the South’s 7-4 win over the North as he had the go ahead single in the bottom of the 7th inning to put the South ahead 3-2 in addition to being the winning pitcher in relief (4 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 HA, 0 BB, 2 K).

Further evidence of Scott’s clutch DNA are numerous.  In the 2006 CRBL championship at Carson Park, Wolfe was named game MVP by going 2-for-4 with 1 run, 2 RBI’s and a double.  Moreover, Wolfe was remarkably named the Most Valuable Defensive Player of the WBA tournament three times (2005, 2008, 2009) with each recognition coming for his play at the shortstop position.  As of 2016, Scott is one of only three players to have ever won the WBA Defensive MVP award more than once.

Of course, Scott shined in the regular CRBL season as well.  Perhaps his brightest day occurred on Sunday, July 15th, 2007 in the Bears’ doubleheader sweep vs. the Whitehall Wolves.  In the Bears game two, 11-0 six inning win, Wolfe drilled 3 home runs and drove in 5.  In the game one’s 9-1 victory, Scott hit one home run and drove in 2.  On the day, the big Wolfe was 5-for-6 with 4 home runs, 7 RBI’s, 5 runs scored, and a double.

The string of success that the Bears enjoyed throughout the 2000’s was unquestionably tied to the presence of Wolfe in their line-up.  In Scott’s eleven seasons playing for the Bears, Eau Claire won eight South Division titles (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010), five league titles (2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009), made it to seven Final 8’s (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009) and captured three WBA state crowns (2005, 2008, 2009).

Individually, Wolfe played in five All-Star games (2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010) and received six All-CRBL awards (2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010), with his first three at third base and his last three coming at shortstop.

Upon induction, Scott can be found amidst the all-time CRBL leaders in saves (tied for 8th), batting average (26th), slugging percentage (tied for 32nd), and doubles (32nd).

Denny O’Melia

Class of 2016

Pitcher

CRBL:  Leif’s Conoco Oilers 1952-53

ECCBL:  Eau Claire Tommy Millers 1960-62

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With his induction in to the CRBL Hall of Fame, lefty Denny O’Melia should be remembered as one of the most overwhelmingly dominant and superbly talented amateur pitchers to ever toe the rubber in Northwest Wisconsin.

Denny’s rookie year of amateur baseball came in 1952 when he logged a modest 3.1 innings in Chippewa Valley League play for the Leif’s Conoco Oilers of Eau Claire.  Denny’s incredible talent began to shine in 1953 when he led the CVL with 100 strikeouts in 66.1 innings pitched while tying for the circuit lead in the categories of wins (7), winning percentage (1.000), and shutouts (1).  In compiling a 2.04 ERA that season, O’Melia was also part of the league’s 10th no-hitter as he and teammate Jim Rogneby combined to no-hit Fall Creek 11-2.  The slender lefty’s sizzling fastball and big breaking curve quickly caught the attention of professional scouts.  Before the summer of 1953 was over, Denny had signed and debuted with the hometown Eau Claire Bears, who at the time were affiliated with Milwaukee Braves.

After serving in the military from 1954 to 1956, Denny was signed by the Kansas City Athletics. Rising quickly through the A’s ranks, O’Melia received an invite to the Athletics major league spring camp in 1957.  In playing for three organizations (Milwaukee Braves, Kansas City Athletics, Cincinnati Reds) across three levels (Single A, Double A, Triple A) within six seasons as a professional (1953, 1954, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960), O’Melia’s pro numbers include 114 appearances, 35 wins, 31 losses, a .530 winning percentage, 512 innings pitched, 506 strikeouts, and a 4.82 ERA.  Denny is also on record as having multiple 20 strikeout games as a pro and also throwing a no-hitter for the Missoula Timberjacks (Double A, Cincinnati Reds) in 1960.

After throwing 3.1 innings for the Eau Claire Tommy Millers of the Eau Claire Classic League in 1960, Denny returned full-time to the amateur ranks in 1961 with terrific dominance.  As player/pitcher/manager for the Millers, the smooth lefty posted a 1.96 ERA and led the ECCBL in innings pitched with 119.1, strikeouts with 186, wins with 12, a winning percentage of .800, and shutouts with 4.  O’Melia’s overall totals from 1961 – ECCBL games and non-league games combined – were astounding.  In 152.1 innings, he struck out 231 batters while posting a 16 and 3 record with 5 shutouts, a 1-hitter, and a no-hitter all while walking just 47 batters.  Unofficially, the 231 K’s are an Eau Claire baseball record for a single-season of pitching.

Fueled by O’Melia’s dynamic left arm, the 1961 Tommy Millers went a ECCBL best 13 and 5 and swept the Eau Claire Twin City Sports 2 games to 0 in the ECCBL championship series.  In the game one 6-0 victory, O’Melia threw a 5-inning, 1-hit shutout with 12 K’s.  In the game two clincher, O’Melia mowed down 20 Sports in the nine-inning, 5-2 victory.  The Millers would go on to win the 1961 WBA championship with a 5 and 1 tournament record, beating Pepin at New Richmond to clinch the title.  True to form, O’Melia went 2 and 0 with two complete game WBA victories, striking out 24 in 18 innings while giving up 3 earned runs (1.50 ERA) and allowing 8 hits.

1962 was O’Melia’s last year playing baseball full-time in the Chippewa Valley, and he did nothing but fortify his place as one of the largest baseball giants to ever come out of this area.  Again acting as player/pitcher/manager for the Tommy Millers, Denny continued to own the ECCBL.  In 58.1 league innings, the standout southpaw had an ERA of 1.08, struck out 87, led the ECCBL with 7 wins and a .875 winning percentage (7 wind and 1 loss) while also tying for the lead in saves and shutouts with 1 apiece.  In staking the outright ECCBL championship with a 9 and 2 record, O’Melia and the Millers rolled in to the WBA only to lose in the title game 6-5 to Pepin at Cushing.  Despite being the losing pitcher in the championship, O’Melia was named to the 1962 All-WBA team after earlier hurling a 2-0 shutout, logging 18 tournament innings, striking out 31, and giving up 4 earned runs (2.00 ERA) while allowing 12 hits.

Denny would go on to pursue teaching and baseball coaching jobs at Winter (1962-65) and Chetek (1966-68) high schools before taking a position in Inver Heights, MN at Inver Hills Community College where he started the baseball program in 1970 and remained the head coach for the next nine seasons.

O’Melia’s playing days were far from over, however.  Pitching for the Barron town team out of the Barron County League, Lefty propelled the Barron team to their lone WBA championship in 1965 when they captured the Class B crown.  Denny was named the outstanding pitcher for Class B as he threw a no-hitter, had 2 complete game wins, made 3 appearances, pitched 21 innings, and gave up only 3 knocks.

The connection O’Melia made in the minors brought him back to the pro ranks in 1975 when Minnesota Twins manager Gene Mauch called upon him to act as a batting practice pitcher, specifically when the Twins were to face a left-handed hurler.  For the next five years, Denny toed the rubber at old Met Stadium to fill the role of “Scout Team Lefty” for Minnesota.

In a strong testament to the type of enduring skill and devotion O’Melia possessed, the great lefty pitched in to his mid-60’s for the highly competitive Exeland Braves semi-pro squad, thus crafting a pitching career that qualitatively stretched across five decades, beginning in the 1950’s and finishing in the 1990’s.

In just two full-time seasons of play in the ECCBL, Denny stands as the league’s all-time leader in shutouts (5), winning percentage (.826, 19 wins vs. 4 losses), and K/9 IP (13.82).

Although his stop in CRBL history amounted to only five seasons, the brevity of his existence should not minimize the certainty that O’Melia was a super nova pitching talent rarely seen at any amateur baseball level.  Upon induction, the Chippewa River Baseball League Hall of Fame officially acknowledges Denny O’Melia as one of the greatest baseball individuals the league will ever know.

Harv Tomter

Class of 2015

Pitcher, Utility

CRBL: Leif’s Conoco Oilers 1952; Chippewa Falls Triangle Sports 1959; Eau Claire Tommy Millers 1960

ECCBL: Eau Claire Tommy Millers 1960-63; Strum Merchants 1964

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Throughout the Chippewa Valley, Harv Tomter is known as the legendary manager of the Eau Claire Cavaliers.  It should never be forgotten, however, that Harv Tomter the baseball player was a clutch performer, professional prospect, and game changing talent from both the mound and the batter’s box.

A right-handed thrower and left-handed hitter, Tomter broke in to amateur baseball in 1952 with Leif’s Conoco Oilers of Eau Claire.  In just two appearances, he tied for the league lead in shutouts with 1, going 1 and 1 with a 3.46 ERA in 13 innings.

Signed by the New York Giants organization in 1953, he split time that season between their Class D (Single A) affiliates Oshkosh, WI Giants and Mayfield, KY Clothiers.  In total, the righty went 6 and 8 with a 5.52 ERA in 137 innings through 12 starts and 33 appearances.

In 1954, Harv switched to the Baltimore Orioles organization where he again pitched at the Class D level, this time for the Americus-Cordele, GA Orioles.  Making 26 starts and 34 appearances, Tomter commendably logged 205.1 innings with a 5.00 ERA and a 6 and 17 won/loss record.

Playing in surrounding amateur circuits from 1955 to 1958, Tomter returned to the CRBL in 1959 with the Chippewa Falls Triangle Sports.  On the hill, Tomter went 4 and 3 in 46 innings with a 4.70 ERA and tied for the CVL lead in saves with 1.  With the stick, the Sport hit 2 homers and drove in 8 RBI’s in 9 games.

In 1960, Tomter emerged as one of the Chippewa Valley’s dominant amateur players, competing in both the CVL and ECCBL for the Eau Claire Tommy Millers.  Going 3 and 0 in the CVL and 7 and 0 in the ECCBL, he led both circuits in winning percentage  at 1.000.  Harv’s 1960 pitching totals were a sterling 10 and 0 in 79.1 innings with 84 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.72.  As a hitter; Tomter bombed 2 long balls and had 5 doubles in 19 games.

Tomter rose to legendary status in 1961.  During the regular season, Harv was named All-ECCBL at utility for hitting .377 (20 for 53) with 5 doubles while going 1 and 0 in 15 innings of pitching for the Tommy Millers.  In the WBA, the righty’s ironman heroics from the mound led the Eau Claire squad to a state title in New Richmond.  In the double-elimination Final 8 format, Tomter hurled back-to-back nine inning complete games in the same day, beating Pepin 4-1 in the first game and Pepin again in the championship match, this time by a 9-3 ledger.  Accordingly, Tomter was named the tournament’s most valuable pitcher.

Hitting .372 (16 for 43) in 1962, Harv tied for the ECCBL lead in doubles with 3 while posting a 2 and 1 record with a 1.52 ERA in 23.2 innings for the league champion Millers.  Continuing his stellar play in the WBA, he was named to the 1962 All-Tournament Team as a pitcher/1st baseman for the Eau Claire squad that lost in the WBA championship, 6-5 in a rematch with Pepin at Cushing.

In no uncertain terms, Harv was a one man gang in 1963.  With his Millers going 10 and 5 and winning their fourth ECCBL championship in a row, the curve balling righty claimed all 10 of his team’s victories, going 10 and 2 in 103 ECCBL innings with a 2.53 ERA, 83 strikeouts and 1 shutout.  His 10 wins paced the ECCBL during the season in which he made his lone ECCBL All-Star appearance.  In WBA play, Harv and the Millers were bumped before making the finals.

Fittingly, Tomter’s last full year of amateur baseball was his best.  Playing with the Strum Merchants in 1964, Harv led ECCBL pitchers with 93.1 innings and tied for the lead in wins with 5 while posting a 2.53 ERA augmented by 75 strikeouts.  From the plate, the portside swinger cracked a league leading 3 homers and 21 RBI’s while tying for the lead in hits with 25 within a healthy.385 average in 62 at-bats.

Drafted by the ECCBL champ Eau Claire Twin City Sports from Strum in 1964, Tomter incredibly shined in the post-season again.  In the double-elimination WBA semi-finals, Harv crafted a 6 to 2 victory with 10 K’s and 4 walks verse a familiar foe, the Pepin Lakers.  In the next game, again vs. Pepin, the curve ball specialist threw 7.1 innings of relief with 4 strikeouts and 2 walks in the 9 to 3 title bout victory.  Winning the WBA’s most valuable pitcher award for the second time, Harv still remains one of only seven individuals to be bestowed the prestigious honor multiple times.

With the closure of the ECCBL in 1965, Harv finished as the all-time leader in pitching wins (21), and is second in winning percentage (.778, 21 wins and 6 losses) and base hits (83).

Of course, Tomter went on to legendary accomplishments with the powerhouse Eau Claire Cavaliers baseball teams.  From 1979 to 2005, Coach Tomter compiled a striking 1,595 and 437 won-loss record (.785 winning pct.), including 5 Continental Amateur Baseball Association World Series titles.  Upon induction, Harv Tomter takes his rightful place as one of the largest baseball giants to ever be a part of the Chippewa River Baseball League.

Kurt Stellpflug

Class of 2014

Pitcher, Utility

Augusta Athletics 1989-96; Osseo Merchants 1999-2004; Whitehall Wolves 2005, 07

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Kurt “Plugger” Stellpflug was an extremely tough and highly respected competitor during his 16 seasons of play in the CRBL.  The dominance and humility that he exhibited throughout his outstanding amateur baseball career makes Stellpflug an overwhelming selection to the Chippewa River Baseball League Hall of Fame.

A big right-hander with a rocking, high kicking delivery, Plug’s hard fastball and knee buckling curve were let loose from a deceptive three-quarter release point.  Collectively, these components became synonymous with his lengthy success from the mound.  Averaging over nine strikeouts per nine innings, Kurt led the CRBL in K’s four seasons (60 in 1993, 59 in 1996, 81 in 2002, and 73 in 2003).  In total, the right-handed ace led or tied for the CRBL lead 15 times in six different pitching categories.  In addition to his strikeout belts, Stellpflug led the CRBL once in innings pitched (73 in 2002), twice in ERA (1.36 in 2002 and 0.56 in 2004), twice in wins (8 in 1993 and 7 in 2002), twice in saves (1 in 1995 and 3 in 1996), and four times in shutouts (1 in 1991, 1 in 1993, 2 in 1995, 1 in 2001).

Shining among these league leading totals was Stellpflug’s historical 2002 season.  Pitching for the Osseo Merchants at the age of 40, Kurt became the sixth pitcher in CRBL history to win the CRBL’s Triple Crown of pitching.  His 7 wins, 81 punch-outs, and 1.36 ERA were all pace setting marks, as was his 73 innings pitched.

Plugger’s game altering abilities from the mound often overshadowed the prowess he possessed from the right-handed side of the plate.  In his 11 seasons as a full-time player, Kurt hit over .300 five times (1990, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2003), over .400 four times (1992, 1993, 1999, 2000), and a lofty .525 (31 for 59) in 1994.  His 31 safeties in 1994 tied for the CRBL lead in that category.  In the same season, Kurt also became one of 13 hitters to garner 6 hits in a game, doing so vs. the Hallie Eagles in a 13 to 9 Augusta win.  Offensively, Kurt’s other league leading offensive total came later in 2003 when he banged 10 doubles for Osseo.

A member of the Augusta Athletics from 1989 through 1996, the classy Stellpflug’s presence on the young franchise helped jump start amateur baseball in an area where it had been dormant for over 30 years.  After a two-year sabbatical from the CRBL in 1997 and 1998, Kurt returned with the fledgling Merchants of Osseo, playing from 1999 to 2004 before finishing as a part-timer with another new franchise, the Whitehall Wolves in 2005 and again in 2007.

A game changing winner wherever he played, Plug was part of four division winners, three CRBL champions, 12 WBA qualifiers, six WBA Final 8 teams, and one WBA champion with the Augusta Athletics in 1994.  His individual contributions were clearly recognized in his eight All-CRBL awards (1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002), two Honorable Mention All-CRBL awards (1999 and 2003), and Most Valuable Pitcher Award of the 1994 WBA Finals.

Upon induction, Kurt’s highest all-time ranking can be found in pitching wins where he is 6th.  Other top marks from the slab include winning percentage (12th), innings pitched (12th), strikeouts (13th), ERA (17th), saves (tied for 15th), shutouts (tied for 13th), and K/9 IP (19th).

As a hitter, Stellplug is highly ranked in batting average (17th), slugging percentage (22nd), homeruns (tied for 35th), runs scored (36th), doubles (tied for 38th), total bases (39th), RBI’s (tied for 39th), hits (tied for 40th), and singles (tied for 42nd).

Dale Prince

Class of 2012
Pitcher, Outfielder
Tilden Terrors 1962-64; Tilden Tigers 1965-73, 75-76
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The possessor of marksman like control, a barreling fastball, and a razor sharp slider, Dale Prince toed the rubber in Tilden for over 10 seasons to become one of the most successful left-handed pitchers in CRBL history.
In his first year of league play in 1962, Dale was an immediate winner, leading the Chippewa Valley League with an .857 winning percentage due to winning 6 of 7 decisions for the 9 and 3 North Division champion and WBA qualifying Tilden Terrors.
A reliable and durable pitcher, Dale logged over 60 innings in each of his first six seasons, with a league leading total of 90 in 1964. His workhorse effort of 1964 enabled him to tie for the Chippewa Valley League lead in wins (8), winning percentage (.800, 8 and 2) and shutouts (1) while posting a 2.60 ERA with 89 strikeouts. His 8 wins that year accounted for each of the 8 and 3 Tilden Terrors’ victories as they won a Western Division title and again made it to the WBA tourney.
With the return of the Tigers moniker in 1965, Prince had his most dominant season pitching for Tilden. Slinging a career best 90.1 innings that year, the lefty led the C.V.L. in wins with 7, strikeouts with 140, and became only the 14th pitcher in league history to throw a no-hitter when he blanked the Elk Mound Mounders 14-0 in a 15 K, 1 walk performance on August 15th, 1965. This 1 shutout also tied for the league lead in that category for that year.
Dale’s other league leading efforts were 117 strikeouts in 1966, 3 saves in 1969, 1 save in 1970 (co-leader), and 2 saves in 1971. Prince’s emergence as an effective relief pitcher helped the Tigers claim C.R.B.L. titles in 1968, 1969, 1970, and 1971. Throwing a handful of innings in 1972, Dale remained a regular in the line-up for a Tilden team that won its league record-tying fifth consecutive title that season.
When he wasn’t pitching, Prince could typically be found patrolling the outfield for the Terrors and the Tigers. Offensively, Dale collected 181 hits, 113 RBI’s, hit 14 homeruns, and scored 139 runs.
A participant in four all-star games, Prince competed in the era prior to All-CRBL awards becoming an annual right. Fittingly, Dale’s highest all-time rankings can be found off the mound. Upon induction, he shares a spot in the categories of saves (10th place) and wins (13th place), while standing alone in strikeouts per nine innings (11th place), strikeouts (12th place), and innings pitched (15th place).

Rich Woodford

Class of 2011

Pitcher, 1st Baseman

Cadott Red Sox 1969-74; Lafayette Indians 1969, 83-88; Lafayette Lakers 1976-83

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Difference makers from the mound and the plate are rare but sought after commodities in CRBL play.  Through 82 seasons of league history, roughly 25 players have excelled within these parameters.  Rich “Butch” Woodford was one of those players.

After getting his start as a part-time player for the Lafayette Indians and Cadott Red Sox in 1969, the wiry lefty led the CRBL with 3 triples in 1970 during his first year as a full-timer for Cadott.  Rich tied for the high mark in triples with 2 during a 1973 season in which he hit .310, his first .300+ effort.  Offensively, his other pace setting total came in 1976 with 4 doubles and in 1987 when he scorched a career best .519 (28 for 54) average to lead the CRBL for the 12 and 5 Lafayette Indians.  Woodford’s .331 career average was sculpted through eight seasons hitting over .300 (1973, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1983-1986), two seasons over .400 (1979, 1980) and the previously mentioned .519 in 1987.

In 1971, he also was a league leader, but this time from the mound with a 2.10 ERA (7 ER/30 IP) while winning 3 and losing 1 for the 11 and 6 Red Sox. 10 years later, Butch’s suffocating 0.58 ERA (2 ER/31 IP) in 1981 was also tops in the CRBL.  Had a career high 6 wins in 1982, helping the Lakers of Lafayette cap off three straight Final 8’s (1980-82).  Notched five sub-3.00 ERA seasons (1969, 1971, 1977, 1981, 1983).

Used primarily as a reliever and spot starter throughout his CRBL career, Butch logged a personal best 63 innings in 1976 during his first season with the Lakers.  In collecting 14 career saves, the southpaw tied for the league lead in this area with 1 in 1980 and led outright with 3 lockdowns in 1983 and 1986.

A competitive winner during his time in the CRBL, Woodford played on 16 winning squads (1970-1971, 1973-1974, 1976-1985, 1987, 1988), two .500 teams (1972, 1986), and only one losing squad (1977).  He was a member of one league champion (1973 Cadott Red Sox), three division champions (1973, 1985, 1988) 14 WBA qualifiers (1970-1974, 1977, 1979-1983, 1985, 1987, 1988), and four Final 8 clubs (1974, 1977, 1980, 1981).

A participant in six All-Star games (1973, 1980, 1981, 1983-1985), Butch was voted All-CRBL in 1974 for the Cadott Red Sox, 1979 as a Lafayette Laker, and 1987 as a Lafayette Indian.

Upon induction, the Lefty’s best all-time rankings can be found in saves (4th place), triples (4th place), and stolen bases (10th place).

Russ Nelson

Class of 2011

Pitcher, Utility

Jim Falls Mobile 1969-70; Jim Falls Saints 1971-87; Jim Falls Sturgeons 1988-91, 2002-03; Bloomer Merchants 1992;

Bloomer Fightin’ Woodticks 1993-2001

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In a league career that spanned a remarkable 35 seasons, Russ Nelson rubber-armed his way to the likely insurmountable totals of 1,770.1 innings pitched and 1,163 strikeouts.  A durable and inventive pitcher, Nelson is remembered as much for his longevity as he is the fiery competiveness that permitted him to cross five decades of play in the CRBL.

Naturally, Russ was a pace-setter in innings pitched during multiple years, doing so in 1985 with 96 innings, 79 innings in 1988, and 71 innings in 1992.  Nelson’s personal best, workhorse mark of 104.1 innings pitched came in 1979, the only year in the Jim Falls Saints’ 17 season existence in which they qualified for the WBA tournament.

Nelson surpassed the 50 inning mark a league record 23 seasons, doing it for the first time with 52.1 innings in 1971 for the Saints at the age of 19.  25 years later, he notched his last such effort with 62 innings pitched in 1996 for the ‘Ticks when he checked in at 44 years young.

Russ’ one season as the top winner in league play came in 1988, when in his first year as a Sturgeon and 20th year in the CRBL, he set a career high with 9 wins to embroider his league best 79 innings hurled for the 14 and 2 Fish of Jim Falls.  His stalwart performance and winning contributions earned him a well-deserved All-CRBL nod at pitcher.

Nelson also led the league in saves with 2 in 1984 and tied for the lead in shutouts with 1 in 1982, 1989, and 1991.

1989 found the righty chewing up 62.1 innings while going 5 and 2 in helping the North champ Sturgeons win their first division title since 1973 with a team won/loss record of 12 and 4.  Fittingly, Russ hurled his last 4.2 innings for the 2003 Sturgeons in a part-time role.

From the batter’s box, Nelson hit over .300 in 5 of his 23 seasons as a regular in the line-up as he steadily built some healthy offensive totals.  His season best average of .357 (15 for 42) came in 1982.  His lone offensive leading total came in 1975 when he rapped 5 doubles.

Participated in seven All-Star games (1971, 1981, 1983-1986, 1988).  In addition to his All-CRBL award in 1988, Russ was recognized with Honorable Mention All-CRBL in 2002.

Upon induction, Nelson is the all-time leader in innings pitched and strikeouts, ranks 3rd in wins and is tied for 15th in shutouts.  Offensively, Russ is 5th all-time in games played, 7th in at-bats, and 10th in walks.

Williams Manke

Class of 2011

Pitcher

Cadott Club 1908-09

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The CRBL’s embryonic beginnings found nine teams and roughly 200 players marking the rudimentary existence of the “Chippewa Valley League” in 1908 and 1909.  From this era, right-hander Williams Manke of the Cadott Club will be remembered as the lone Hall of Famer.

Manke’s induction is due largely to his trailblazing pitching feats, but also in part to his conspicuous existence in league play.  On July 9th of 1908, the Eau Claire Leader reported that Manske had been “signed” by the Cadott Club from the Eau Claire Tigers of the amateur Western Wisconsin League.  In his first recorded start for Cadott, Williams lost a tough 1-0 contest to the league rival Eau Claire Badgers in which he allowed just 2 hits.  One week later, he shutout the same Badgers 2-0 on a 6-hitter.  The righty finished the 1908 CVL season with a 4 and 3 record in 61 innings with a 2.07 ERA, 1 shutout, and 46 strikeouts.

In what would turn out to be the CRBL/CVL’s last go around until 1927, Manke shined in the controversial season of 1909.  A reported spitball artist, Williams used his specialty to garner the league’s first pitching triple crown, leading the young circuit with marks of 10 wins, 117 strikeouts, and an ERA of 2.56.  His totals of 123 innings, a .714 winning percentage, and 2 shutouts were also CVL leading totals.

On July 18th of 1909, Manke spun the first no-hitter in CRBL history, doing it against the Colfax Skidoos in Cadott.  Described as the “best twirler in the league” (Eau Claire Leader, Aug. 29, 1909) this gem highlighted the spitballer’s dominant year in which he accounted for every one of his team’s 10 wins and 4 losses.  The strength of Manke’s effort propelled the Cadott Club to a disputed Chippewa Valley League championship.  Managed by Doc Cunnigham, a well known baseball promoter of that day, Manke and his teammates were accused of being on a payroll as well as counting a Manke pitched 3-1 loss to the Eau Claire Giants simply as an exhibition, thus allowing them to capture the flag by a half game over the 10 and 5 Menomonie Blue Caps.  Over 100 years later, the “famous Cadott team” (Eau Claire Leader, Aug. 4, 1909) is still viewed as the 1909 Chippewa Valley League champ.

Any chance Manke had of making a deeper mark on the league record book was eliminated with the inexplicable disappearance of the CVL from 1910 to 1926.  Nonetheless, the spitballing righty did enough to be remembered as the biggest star of 1908 and 1909, as well as one of the greats in CRBL history.

Mike Meindel

Class of 2010

Pitcher, Outfielder

Bloomer Blackhawks 1968-78; Bloomer Merchants 1980

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The path of Mike Meindel’s 12 seasons in league play saw him roar on to the amateur baseball landscape as an iron-armed strikeout machine before developing into an efficient part-time starter.  At the plate, he remained an extra base threat and run producer throughout his career.

In his rookie summer of 1968, Meindel went 3 and 4 while striking out 54 batters in 57 innings to go along with a 3.00 ERA.  These solid but uneventful numbers gave little indication of what was soon to follow.  In 1969, the right-handed Meindel would log a league high 145 innings with a 9 and 6 record, a 3.10 ERA, and the mammoth, still unbroken season record of 180 strikeouts.  In accumulating this staggering total,  Meindel pitched in 18 of the Bloomer Blackhawks’ 19 games that season, notching 9 games of double digit strikeouts with a game high of 19 punch-outs verse the Wheaton Warhawks in an 11-inning, 4-3 Bloomer win.

This began a prodigious four year period in which Mike would lead the league in innings pitched (145 IP in 1969, 87 IP in 1970, 125.1 IP in 1971, and 130 IP in 1972) and strikeouts (180 K’s in 1969, 99 K’s in 1970, 141 K’s in 1971, and 137 K’s in 1972).  During this time frame, Mike would also lead the league in wins with 9 in 1970, winning percentage at .900 in 1972, shutouts with 2 in 1971, and tie for the league lead in wins with 10 in 1971.  A summative look at 1969 to 1972 shows Meindel averaging 121.2 innings pitched, 9 wins, and 139 strikeouts with an accumulative ERA of 3.12.  The righty would then win 10 games in 1972, coinciding with his first sub-3.00 ERA mark of a 2.77.

For the remainder of Meindel’s career, his workload would be diminished but not his effectiveness.  A 4 and 2 mark in 1973 came with a career low 2.28 ERA during 47.1 innings pitched with 68 strikeouts and 2 saves.  In weaving a streak of five consecutive seasons with a sub 3.00 ERA, Meindel capped it off with a 2.91 ERA in 21.1 IP in 1974, a 2.83 ERA during 28.2 innings in 1975, and a 2.79 ERA in 42 innings worked in 1976.

Meindel’s dominance during those years coincided with the Blackhawks lone WBA appearance, as Bloomer made the tourney in 1970.  In 1971, Meindel’s 10 and 4 season and 141 whiffs launched the Bloomer Blackhawks to their lone championship game bout, where they lost a tough 2-0 decision to Tilden despite Mike’s complete game effort in which he allowed 5 hits and K’d 5 Tigers.

As a regular in the Bloomer line-up, Meindel was a consistent threat to reach a gap or hit a long ball, as shown by his career total of 10 triples which is currently tied for 4th all-time.  Offensively, his best year came in 1971 when he hit on career highs of 3 triples, 3 home runs, and 13 RBI’s.

An All-Star game participant in 1970, 1971, and 1972, Meindel was named All-CRBL as a pitcher in 1972, one of just two years the league gave such an honor before it became a yearly tradition in 1978.

Upon induction, Mike ranks 7th in ERA, 8th in strikeouts, 9th in innings pitched, 13th in K’s per 9 innings pitched, and tied for 11th in wins.

Jeff Lawler

Class of 2010

Outfielder, Pitcher

Lafayette Indians 1975-88; Bloomer Merchants 1989-91

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            An extremely potent hitter, solid fielder, and serviceable pitcher, Jeff Lawler was a dedicated and respected ballplayer whose family name was synonymous with league events and winning baseball throughout the righty’s 17-season CRBL career.

A participant in eight All-Star games (1981, 1983-87, 1989, 1990) he was also a member of five All-CRBL teams (1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984).  The lanky, right-handed swinging Lawler hit over .300 in 12 seasons, with a career high of .455 (30 of 66) in 1984.  In total, Lawler registered five .400 campaigns, as he also hit .449 in 1978 (31 for 69), .415 in 1979 (27 for 65), .437 in 1983 (31 for 71), and .411 in 1987 (23 for 56).

With this productivity came several league-leading marks, the first of which came in 1978 when Jeff’s 31 hits tied for the league high while leading hitters outright with 8 doubles.  In 1979, he trumped the CRBL in two-baggers again, this time with 7.  Fast forward to 1983, his effort of .437 yielded league leading totals of 31 hits, 8 homeruns, and 20 runs scored while driving in a career high 22 runs.  For a follow up in 1984, Lawler’s totals of 30 hits and 66 at-bats set the pace for CRBL hitters.

Of course, Lawler’s accomplishments at the dish became one of the main ingredients in the Indians’ recipe for winning play.  Playing primarily out of family run Lawler’s Field, the Tribe from Lafayette won a league championship in 1976, four Southern titles (1976, 1978, 1985, 1988), qualified for 10 WBA tournaments (1976-78, 1980-83, 1985, 1987-88), and battled to two Final 8’s (1977 and 1978).

Once the Indians departed from league play after 1988, Jeff concluded his career with the  Bloomer Merchants.  In Bloomer, Lawler capped off a run of 10 straight .300+ seasons by hitting .333 in 1989 (14 for 42) and .358 in 1990 (19 for 53).

Throughout his time in the CRBL, Lawler doubled as a spot pitcher who exceeded 30 innings in a season 7 times and 40 innings twice, with a high of 49 in 1986.  In the 1984 season that saw him hit a career high .455, he also went a personal best 4 and 2 from the mound in 39 innings pitched.

Upon induction, his all-time rankings include being tied for 12th in doubles, tied for 16th in RBI’s, alone at 14th in batting average, 15th for hits, total bases at 17th, and slugging percentage at 14th. (Biographical information amended, 2018)