Rocky Thompson

Class of 2017

Manager

Osseo Merchants 2001-2006

Board Member & Organizer

1999 through induction

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Since their inaugural season of CRBL competition in 1999, the Osseo Merchants have admirably developed in to one of the elite amateur baseball organizations in the state of Wisconsin.  In figuratively and literally laying the groundwork for the Merchants’ existence, Rocky Thompson has remained one of the most dedicated, supportive, and influential members of Osseo’s enthusiastic baseball culture.

Thompson’s most visible role for the Merchants occurred from 2001 to 2006 when he selflessly fulfilled the role of team manager.  Over Rocky’s seven season tenure, Osseo’s CRBL squad qualified for the WBA tournament in four seasons – 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2005.  Fueled by a crew of veteran ballplayers, Thompson’s Merchants attained the franchise’s first Final 8 appearance in 2002, losing their opening Finals game 12-10 to the Oulu Blue Jays at Augusta.

Returning the next year to the Final 8, the Merchants met a similar fate, this time in Abbotsford but once again to Oulu, as they were beaten 11-1 by those same Blue Jays.  In returning to the WBA’s Final 8 in 2003, the Osseo Merchants and Rocky became only the sixth team in CRBL history to make consecutive Final 8 appearances.

After stepping away from the managerial reigns in 2006 – a season in which he was given a CRBL Honorable Mention award as a coach — Mr. Thompson remained a vital part of the Merchants and the Osseo baseball community.  Lauded for everything from his book keeping to his willingness to work in the concession stand, Rocky truly has been a man willing to lend his skills and knowledge to the betterment of baseball in Osseo as well as in the CRBL.  An affable gentlemen, the Chippewa River Baseball League appreciatively recognizes Rocky Thompson as a deserved member of its elite Hall of Fame.

Jon Soiney

Class of 2016

Field & Facilities Manager

Osseo Merchants 1999 through induction

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Formed in 1999, the Osseo Merchants enjoy the privilege of playing at one of the nicest amateur baseball parks and facilities in the state of Wisconsin.  Talk to any Merchant player and Merchant supporter about their top-notch field, and credit will quickly and unabashedly be given to Mr. Jon Soiney, Field and Facilities Manager for the Osseo Merchants baseball organization.  In honor of his tireless efforts and incredible work, the Chippewa River Baseball League Hall of Fame proudly recognizes Mr. Soiney as a worthy member of its exclusive Hall of Fame.

An accomplished athlete in his formative years, Jon played high school and amateur baseball in Lanesboro, MN.  After garnering attention from professional Independent League teams out of the St. Paul, MN area, Soiney moved to Eau Claire in 1967 to pursue a job at Presto Industries.  Still the competitor, Jon began a fastpitch softball career that would last over 20 years.  In progressing to Masters Division softball, Mr. Soiney played 10 years at that level, enjoying an immense amount of success as his teams won 9 state titles and one national championship.

Never far away from baseball, Jon was instrumental in the formation of the Osseo Merchants amateur team.  When the Merchants made their CRBL debut in 1999, it ended almost a 40-year absence of men’s amateur baseball teams from the town of Osseo.

Serving as an assistant manager for six years (1999-2005), Jon stepped forward to be part of a small group of individuals who purchased the land where beautiful Merchant Park would eventually be built.

In a historically significant date for both Osseo and the CRBL, the first game at the newly built field was played on April 21st, 2001.  That summer, Jon took over as head groundskeeper and became the backbone for developing and maintaining a playing surface that is considered to be second to none.

To say the least, Mr. Soiney has taken the craft of field care to a level of expertise rarely – if ever – seen in the world of amateur baseball.  Attending numerous seminars and conferring with professional baseball groundskeepers to hone his skills, Jon has traveled with the Milwaukee Brewers head groundskeeper Michael Boettcher, putting on seminars for area groups interested in improving their fields and playing surfaces.

Each season, from April through September, Mr. Soiney uses his knowledge and energy at Merchant Park, working more than 40 hours a week entirely on a volunteer basis.  In a lasting testament of respect and appreciation for his contributions, the Merchants renamed their playing field “Jon Soiney Field” in 2015.

While players and managers receive many of the accolades and attention from their on the field accomplishments, it is the selfless efforts of people such as Jon Soiney that enable amateur baseball to flourish in small communities.  Thank you Mr. Soiney for everything you have contributed, and enjoy your deserved place as a Chippewa River Baseball League Hall of Famer.

Scott Biederman

Class of 2016

Player/Manager

Eau Claire Bears 1998-2007

Player

Chippewa Falls Lumberjacks 1993

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~                From 1998 to 2007, Scott Biederman’s dedicated and stand-up brand of leadership was a visible part of the Eau Claire Bears’ immense success.  On and off the field, his strong managerial presence undoubtedly helped transform the Bears from a beginning CRBL organization in to a resounding amateur baseball dynasty.

Biederman’s time in the CRBL began as a part-time player for the Chippewa Falls Lumberjacks in 1993.  Then, after fulfilling a similar playing role for the unaffiliated Eau Claire Bears over the next several seasons, Scott claimed their managerial spot in 1998.  That year coincided with the Bears’ first season in the CRBL, one in which they admirably finished 9 and 7 and qualified for the WBA before losing their first round game to the eventual 1998 WBA champions, the Sparta Millers.

After failing to play .500 baseball over the next two years within the unforgiving competition and structure of the CRBL, Biederman’s 2001 Eau Claire squad began turning the corner with a 9 and 9 league mark while narrowly missing a WBA berth.  With a growing core of excellent young players, Scott’s 2002 team went 13 and 6 in winning the franchise’s first South Division title by beating the established Augusta Athletics 11-0 at Augusta in a divisional tiebreaker game.  After losing 4-2 to Tilden in the 2002 CRBL championship bout, Biederman led the black and white clad crew to their first Final 8 appearance where they lost the opening quarterfinal game 2-1 to the Spring Valley Hawks in Augusta.

With another strong showing in 2003, one that saw Eau Claire go 12 and 6 and qualify again for the WBA, Biederman and the Bears were on the verge of embarking on one of the greatest runs of success the CRBL will ever see.

From 2004 to 2007, the Bears used the baseball pillars of dominant pitching, good defense, and clutch hitting to win four consecutive South Division titles, three CRBL crowns (2004, 2005, 2006), as well as clawing their way to the WBA’s Final 8 each year.  When including the 2002 and 2003 seasons, the Bears went a CRBL best 86 and 22 (.796 winning percentage) during Scott’s last seven seasons as the skipper, including a sterling 17-1 record in 2006.  The pinnacle of this remarkable run came in 2005 when the Biederman guided Eau Claire nine beat the Everest Merchants 10-7 at Chaseburg-Coon Valley to win the coveted WBA championship.  At that time, it was only the fifth WBA title ever captured by a CRBL team.

The CRBL co-manager of the year in 2006, Biederman’s accumulative managerial totals during his 10 seasons at the helm of the Bears are historically significant.  Upon induction, Scott ranks (tied for) 2nd in WBA titles, 3rd in WBA wins, 3rd in WBA Final 8’s, (tied for) 3rd in divisional crowns, (tied for) 5th in CRBL titles, (tied for) 9th in WBA appearances, 10th in CRBL wins, 10th in CRBL winning percentage, and 11th in CRBL games managed.

Stan Lokken

Class of 2015

Utility

CRBL: Foster 1957-58; Bracket Orioles 1960; Beef River Bullfrogs 2000, 07

ECCBL: Strum Merchants 1961-63

Manager

Beef River Bullfrogs 1996-2008

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Stan Lokken’s energetic and competitive persona enabled him to enjoy a career in amateur baseball that spanned over 50 years.  It was during his reign, however, as organizer and manager of the hard-hitting Beef River Bullfrogs that Lokken indelibly made a historical mark on the existence of the CRBL.

A native of the Strum area, Stan was a fixture as a utility player for the Foster, Bracket, and Strum teams of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  He then finished the first stage of his amateur career by playing for the Strum Merchants of the Eau Claire Classic Baseball League from 1961 to 1963.

33 years later, Lokken was instrumental in reconnecting the Strum community with the CRBL, as the Beef River Bullfrogs debuted in 1996.  Success came quickly for the Frogs when in 1997, they finished 9 and 7 from the South Division and qualified for the WBA tourney, winning their first round game 11 to 9 vs. Ashland in Ashland.

After three sub-.500 campaigns, Stan and the Bullfrogs leaped to a South Division crown in 2001 with a 12 and 6 record.  In the CRBL championship game, they lost a well-played 4 to 0 contest vs. the Chippewa Falls Lumberjacks at first-year Casper Park.

Two years later in 2003, the amphibious crew from Beef River was back in the CRBL title bout.  Facing the veteran Tilden Tigers at Tilden, the explosive line-up that Stan had assembled piled on the runs in a 14 to 8 victory.  It was the first amateur baseball championship for a Strum region team in over 50 years.

2003 also marked the beginning of an impressive five season run (2003-2007) where the Strum based squad won 11 or more league games and qualified for the WBA tournament in each year, stamping their place as a marquee foe in CRBL competition.

Playing on as needed basis for Beef River, Stan set the unique record for the longest time between league games played at a sizeable gap of 37 years.  Having played for the Strum Merchants in 1963, Lokken did not play again until 2000.  Impressively, Stan’s last CRBL game came in 2007, when he again set another record, this one for being the most senior statesman to appear in a league game at the age of 77.

Known as a selfless promoter of his Bullfrogs players as well as the Eleva and Strum communities, Lokken single-handedly organized countless promotional nights and events during his 13 seasons at the helm of Beef River.  Additionally, Lokken commendably assisted several of his players in receiving scholarships to play college baseball across the country.

Upon induction, Stan ranks 6th in games managed with 227, 7th in managerial wins with 121, and 8th in WBA appearances with 7.

Rick Ruf

Class of 2012
Manager
Tilden Tigers 1990-2003
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A dedicated and intelligent baseball man, Rick Ruf’s understanding of the game and adept handling of his players enabled him to steer Tilden through 14 seasons of dominant play in the storied Chippewa River Baseball League.
Beginning as a player for the Tigers in 1986, Rick took on full-time managerial responsibilities in 1990, leading Tilden to a 10 and 5 record and an appearance in the WBA’s Final 8.
The maroon and yellow clad Tigers won their first of 11 division titles and four CRBL championships under Ruf in 1991. Tilden’s 7 to 5 victory over the Augusta Athletics that season began an unprecedented run of nine championship game appearances in 10 seasons (1991 to 1994, 1996 to 2000). The Tilden squad of 1991 also made the franchise’s third appearance in a WBA title game, losing a tough 7 to 6 decision against the Merrill Giants.
Tilden’s other CRBL title belts under Ruf took place in 1994 and 1997 vs. Augusta, and in 2002 vs. the Eau Claire Bears.
Rick would bring the Tigers back to the WBA title fight in 1995, where they would prevail over Wausau 10 to 6 at Haugen, becoming only the third CRBL team at that time to win a WBA crown. In total, Ruf and the Tigers made an appearance in the WBA during every one of his 14 seasons as manager, surviving to prowl in seven Final 8’s in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 2000, and 2003.
Amidst all the championships and titles, the simplest and best barometer of Rick’s managerial skills may be found in the fact that Tilden never had a losing record with him at the controls. The Tigers’ shining 16 and 1 mark in 1992 was the best regular season with Ruf as they also won the North and made the Final 8 in that noteworthy campaign.
Rick should also be acknowledged for his service to the CRBL, acting as the storied organization’s president for four years, holding the post from 1994 to 1997.
Through the yearly harnessing of a competitive and hard playing group of ballplayers, Mr. Ruf currently ranks 2nd in managerial wins, 4th in winning percentage, 1st in division titles, tied for 3rd in league championships, 1st in WBA wins, 2nd in WBA tourney appearances, and 1st in Final 8 appearances.

Barney Meinen

Class of 2012
Manager
Tilden Tigers 1967-77
Catcher
Tilden Tigers 1950-59, 65-68; Tilden Terrors 1960-64
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Roland “Barney” Meinen had a long and durable stay as a catcher, enjoying a 19-season career competing for Tilden. Meinen’s place in CRBL history was cemented, however, during his 11-year reign as the Tilden Tigers’ hard-driving and competitive manager.
With his playing career beginning in 1950, Meinen is on record as a full-time player and catcher until 1965 before finishing his career in spot duty through 1968. Along the way, he accumulated 185 hits in 784 at-bats while driving in 93 runs and scoring 119 tallies.
Acting as player/manager in 1967 and 1968, Meinen led the Big Cats from Tilden to a 15 and 3 record, a CRBL championship, and a spot in the WBA tourney during his second year at the helm. From 1968 to 1972, Meinen’s Tigers won a league record five consecutive league championships, winning the title outright in 1968 and 1970, while prevailing in championship games vs. the Cornell Hawks in 1969, the Bloomer Merchants in 1971, and the Lafayette Indians in 1972.
With divisional play returning to the CRBL in 1973 from a five year hiatus, Barney guided the Tigers to Northern Division crowns from 1974 to 1977, his last four seasons as the head man. During this time frame, two more championships were copped when Tilden beat the Lafayette Indians in 1974 and the Cadott Red Sox in 1977.
Meinen’s WBA resume concluded with nine appearances in his 11 years and four Final 8’s (1972, 1973, 1974, 1976). The one jewel missing from Barney’s crown was a WBA championship, although he did make it to a title bout in 1976, where Tilden lost to Merrill, 3-0.
Barney’s summative ranks among league managers are 1st for league championships, 1st in winning percentage, 4th in WBA appearances, 4th in WBA wins, tied for 4th in Finals 8’s, 5th in league wins, tied for 5th in division titles, and 10th in league games managed.

Rick Rubenzer

Class of 2011

Utility

Jim Falls Sturgeons 1977-83, 85-98

Manager

Jim Falls Sturgeons 1985-98

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A sure-handed fielder with a smooth and easy left-handed swing, Rick Rubenzer’s playing and managerial career left an indelible mark on the CRBL during his 21 seasons with the Sturgeons of Jim Falls.

The breadth and quality of Rubenzer’s time in the CRBL is illustrated in his stature as the only person in league history to gather 100 managerial wins, 300 hits, and 300 innings pitched.

As field general for the Prehistoric Fish from 1985 to 1998, Rick’s managerial methods resulted in six WBA appearances (1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992), one North division title (1989), one Final 8 showing (1991), and seven winning seasons (1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1995)  — an unmatched run of success for one of the CRBL’s oldest franchises.

Manager Rubenzer was also one tough out.  Upon induction, he can be found in the Top 20 all-time for nine offensive categories.  Rick’s highest perch is in walks, where he is ranked 4th.  His other Top 20 ranks include being 6th in games played, 8th in at-bats, 9th in hits and singles, and 10th in RBI’s, runs scored, doubles, and total bases.

The impressive summation of these totals featured a .460 (23 for 50) batting title in 1981.  The 23 hits that season tied for the league high.  Rubenzer’s other league leading effort occurred in 1988 when his pile of 28 RBI’s coincided with the Sturgeons stellar 14 and 2 regular season record.

Including the .460 batting crown in 1981, Rick topped .400 in a total of four campaigns, doing it in 1981 (.460), 1987 (.404), 1988 (.435), and 1992 (.408).  In seven other seasons (1980, 1983, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1999, and 2000) he was on the north side of a .300 batting average.  His 270 career walks were built on 15 seasons in which his keen batting eye garnered 10 or more base on balls.

The consummate utility man, Rick accumulated 368 innings off the mound.  His career high of 55.2 innings also came with a personal best 6 wins in 1983 for 12 and 6 Jim Falls, the Sturgeons’ first winning record since 1975.

Rick was selected All-CRBL in 1988 as a shortstop for his outstanding 28 RBI, .435 AVG., 2 HR, 18 BB season.  His 14 All-Star game appearances (1980, 1981, 1983, 1985-1989, 1991-1995, 1999) are currently the 6th most in league history.

Rick is the second member of his family to be immortalized as a CRBL Hall of Famer, joining younger brother Randy who was in the Inaugural Class of 2009.

Ben Pitsch

Class of 2011

Utility

Jim Falls Fallsmen 1927,30; Eagleton Eagletons 1928-29; Jim Falls Cardinals 1931; Anson Ansonites 1932; Jim Falls

Old Abes 1937-38; Jim Falls 1939-41; Jim Falls Legion 1947-50; Holcombe Old Abes 1951-52; Jim Falls Dairymen 1953

Manager

Jim Falls Fallsmen 1930; Jim Falls Old Abes 1937-38; Jim Falls 1939-41; Jim Falls Legion 1948-50

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Nearly 60 years after his last game, Ben Pitsch is remembered as a patriarch of one of the most recognizable family names in CRBL history.  On the playing the field, he carved out an admirable and devoted playing career over 18 seasons of league competition.

Playing the bulk of his career in what should be viewed as the “dead ball” era of the CRBL, Benny was a consistent and reliable performer from both the batter’s box and the mound.

Averaging over 1 hit a contest during his 234 game career, Pitsch hung up his spikes as the league’s all-time leader in games played, at-bats, hits, singles, doubles, RBI’s, runs scored, walks, and total bases.  In 17 of his 18 league seasons, Ben collected 10 or more hits, with his career peak of 18 knocks coming in 1951.  Batted over .300 twice, doing so in 1938 at .340 (17 for 50) and 1947 at .304 (17 for 57).  Consistently used as a pitcher during the 1930’s, Pitsch tied for the Chippewa Valley League lead with 1 save in 1936.

During his nine seasons as a player/manager for four different Jim Falls teams, Mr. Pitsch led his squads to three winning records and two .500 finishes.

Playing in a time period when amateur leagues and teams were much more commonplace in the Chippewa Valley, Ben was also a standout for Jim Falls teams in the Cloverbelt, Yellow River, and Eastern County leagues during the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Even with this cross-section of amateur baseball experiences, Pitsch’s name can still be found on the CRBL’s all-time lists.  Upon induction, Pitsch is 21st all-time in at-bats and singles, tied for 29th in walks, tied for 30th in games played, and tied for 34th in hits.

Participated in the 1953 All-Star game, one of only four seasons in which the league exhibition was held during Pitsch’s career.

Jim Stuckert

Class of 2010

Catcher

Bloomer Pines 1959-64; Bloomer Blackhawks 1975-78

Manager

Bloomer Merchants 1979-89

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A strong-armed catcher, consistent hitter, and long-time manager, Jim Stuckert’s contributions to the CRBL and to Bloomer baseball might be better measured by the fondness and the esteem in which he is remembered rather than the numbers he amassed on the baseball diamond.

The first stage of Jim’s career was spent with the Bloomer Pines, where he participated in four straight All-Star games (1961-64).  His rise to league standout coincided with the Pines capturing division crowns and qualifying for the WBA in both 1961 and 1963.

After a departure from league competition for 11 seasons, Stuck and his stick returned in 1975, hitting .372 (16 for 43) for the Bloomer Blackhawks.  His encore average of .326 (15 for 46) in 1976 was the fourth of six seasons in which he would hit .300+ as a regular.  His career high notably came as a player/manager for the Bloomer Merchants in 1980, when at the age of 39, Jim hit .500 (16 for 32) with 2 round trippers and 10 RBI’s.

During his 11 season tour as skipper of the Merchants, Stuck led the Bloomer bunch to five WBA tournaments (1981, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1987) and the franchises’ lone Final 8 birth in 1987.

Off the field, Jim was one of the driving forces behind the construction of Bloomer’s community baseball field, which opened to the Merchants sweeping the Cadott Red Sox in a doubleheader on Sunday, June 17th, 1984.

Just over fifteen years later — on July 3rd, 1999 — Jim’s legacy and many contributions were rightfully recognized by the city of Bloomer.  Prior to that day’s CRBL All-Star game, the field that now acts as home to the Bloomer Fightin’ Woodticks, Bloomer high school, and several area youth baseball organizations fittingly was renamed “Stuckert Memorial Park”.

Jan Krueger

Inaugural Class of 2009

Manager

Augusta Athletics 1989-2004

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The founder, architect, and fearless leader of the Augusta Athletics, Jan Krueger will forever be remembered for his fiery nature, competitive spirit, and unequivocal dedication to the game of baseball.

Jan was a promising young catcher and pitcher in the late-1970‘s before being rendered a quadriplegic in a swimming accident just days after graduating from Augusta High School.  Krueger’s uniquely determined nature and love of baseball were clearly displayed when less then three years after his accident, he was the driving force behind the founding of what was then known as the Augusta Alumni Team in 1980.

After playing independently through much of the 1980’s, Jan and the Augusta Athletics officially became members of the CRBL and the league’s South Division in 1989.  Their first season was a successful one as they went 9 and 7 and qualified for the WBA.  Over the course of Krueger’s 16-year reign, Augusta developed into a fearsome crew of hard-hitting sluggers and power-armed pitchers.  In total, Jan’s teams won seven Southern Division titles (1992-1995, 1997-1999), captured five CRBL championships (1992,1993,1995,1998,1999), qualified for 15 WBA tournaments (1989,1990, 1992-2004), made six WBA Finals 8’s (1992-1995, 1998, 2002), and proudly claimed one WBA championship (1994).  Augusta’s WBA title in 1994 was the first time since 1953 that a CRBL team had won that elusive prize.

For his managerial league career, Jan ranks 1st in wins with 186, tied for 2nd in games managed with 272, 5th in winning percentage at .684, 2nd in division titles with 7, 2nd in league championships with 5, 2nd in Final 8 appearances with 6, 2nd in WBA wins with 22, and 1st in WBA appearances with 15.

Beyond the numerous championships and countless memories, Jan can forever rest easy knowing that his Augusta Athletics have staked a spot as one of the great franchises in CRBL history.

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Managerial Record:    G         W        L          Pct.      Division Titles         League CS

(Regular Season)     272    186     86  .684           7                                5

 

(WBA)                   App           G         W        L         Pct.      Final 8’s          WBA CS

15      36   22      14    .611              6                      1