Rome Raiders Baseball

  Land O Lakes Southwestern Division

Rome Baseball History

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Chapter the Last

Posted by romeraiders on May 7, 2012 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Former Rome player and manager Ron Kutz was nice enough to share his memories of a number of different things, from old Rome teams, the town of Rome in general, and miscellaneous musings of facts and personalities around town. You can find a lot of interesting stories told by Ron in this here part of the site, as he grew up a Rome kid.

 

He, along with others, also took time out of their schedules to research a lot of information. The cherry on top is these two photos that were found - one on ebay - of old Rome teams that date back all the way to 1894 (bottom picture).

 

Pretty amazing when you think about it. Although baseball in this Lakes era is a bit different with only a handful of players playing for their home towns, the lineage in the small town of Rome's history is fun to hear about. Thanks again to Ron and all of his contributors for some entertaining stories.

 

Chapter 20

Posted by romeraiders on August 15, 2011 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Little Rome, Wisconsin would even have a fictional TV series based on it in the early 90’s called Picket Fences. It ran from 1992-1996 and during the first season or two the one-hour weekly program would open with scenes from around town. Pictures of the Lutheran church , the Feed Mill, the Boy Scout cabin that some of us had built with our dads, and other pictures would flash across the screen as the program would begin.

 

The intro to the series as stated on the web,,,,“ An aging sheriff tries to keep the peace in a small town plagued by bizarre and violent crimes.” We didn’t have violent crimes but we did have some of the bizarre like many other small towns of America do.

 

That makes me remember Udo driving his car off his man-made ramp and into the Picket Fence pond to kick off the World’s greatest Junk Parade one year. With as many people who did show up, I guess that would qualify as part of the bizarre.

 

The tv news stations from Madison and Milwaukee covered the Junk Parade from day one. I called Producer David Kelly’s office in California a few weeks ago to ask if someone could get back to me and explain why Rome, Wisconsin was ever picked for a fictional tv series, but no one has yet called back. Maybe you as the reader has the answer to that question. Wikipedia says that Picket Fences is still a popular rerun in Western Europe, especially France, Germany and Denmark.

 

So, Rome, Wisconsin has gone global, and continues to do so.

 

 

Musings:

 

 

Luella Maul.... the sweet little old lady of Rome in the brown brick house down from the church while I was growing up. I mowed her lawn as an early teen. When finished mowing she would have me come in and fill out the checkbook and then she’d sign it. She was in her 90’s and her vision was almost gone. She was one that had early days knowledge of Rome. As I got in my mid-teens I had a summer or two of mowing the Rome Fireman’s Park. Hop on the red McCormik C and take it down to Louie’s garage for gas and oil changes.

 

 

 

Dempse Behling.... the poor guy had a stress syndrome from the war, it wouldn’t take much for him to get into a stuttering pattern from something that would set him off.

 

Smitty was the World War I veteran from Rome who I could remember riding in the Memorial Day Parade as a kid. I always thought that was pretty neat, having a World War I vet in our town.

 

Clifford Streich....the older man who would walk around town with his arms spread out stiff from his side, not sure what the poor man was dealing with in that.

 

Arnie Radisky....the man from the edge of town who had his personal demon found in the bottle.

 

Was Rome really founded on seven hills as Rome Italy was? Not sure if that had anything to do with its naming, but it was one theory that would sometimes pop up.

 

Don Barnes said that Dick Krueger, Rome resident and left handed batter who played in the late 50's and early 60's for Rome, was a member of the 1954 Jefferson High School football team line. The line was known as being bigger that year in size than either the Badger or Packer line. Sports Illustrated had a picture of all the Jefferson lineman in an issue during the 54 football season.

 

The sledding hill at the edge of the Campground brought a lot of fun, pretty steep to get back up. The older guys of town for a short time had a go-cart track down below the sledding hill.

 

I remember as a middle school boy listening on my transistor radio in the winter as the Jefferson High basketball team with Rome’s Dale Walton would battle Fort lead by Deke Dullere. Walton and Dullere had some great battles. And then the outdoor basketball games in Keith and Kent’s driveway. A lot of town guys would at times would show up for those games as well.

 

Time would go on and we’d have the city league softball, basketball and flag football games in Jefferson. For a number of summers it also seemed like there was a softball tournament to get into somewhere just about every weekend. Rome would often have at least two teams for each, flag football maybe being the exception. Sometimes we would take on guys from other towns for tackle football. One time we played a Waterloo team on Fisher Field in Jefferson, we called them the Waterloo Plowjocks, they had a few mammoth guys.

 

The summers of Fireman’s Picnics for Rome and the other surrounding towns are also a part of our memories. One year I was surprised to find out that the wrestlers who just a short time earlier were trying to destroy each other, were actually pretty good friends as they waited for each other to shower up in my Uncle Red’s backroom bathroom.

 

 

The memories could go on and on, perhaps you are having some of your own as you read these accounts. This whole endeavor began for me this summer as I attended two Rome games, as they were playing in the Fort Tournament. After visiting with Kent and Denny during the first game and finding out that the team had a website I thought I’d write a few things.

 

I had no idea I’d write as much as I did, it kind of turned into a summer project. I even witnessed a triple play that Rome pulled during their win, I don’t think I had ever witnessed that live before. It also dawned on me while watching them play that they hardly ever struck out. What a contrast that was from how we batted especially in that first year of 74. We were experts of the whiff. Some of us had played for Merle Fischer’s Woodchopper softball team. We could whiff every way possible, in the dirt , out of the strike zone, above our heads with the high woodchopper chop, or with the bat staying on the shoulder. We got better as time went on but these current players are good.

 

 

When teams play a sport they want to win. Sometimes it happens but usually it doesn’t unless you are part of some kind of dynasty. What I found out is that Rome took first in 33, 39, 47, 49 and 57. Rome took second place in 58, 62, 76, 77,and 78. It was also found that Rome took third place in 61, 83 and 93.

 

I wrote from just a small sliver of time and closer research will undoubtedly find many other high finishes. My research didn’t go much beyond 78, the time that I’d move on and start a different direction and location with my life. But growing up memories remain.

 

I grew up on a farm near Cushman’s Mill, attended the one room school at Cushman’s Mill for grades 1-3, the whole school was grades 1-8 that had one teacher. We also had outhouses and a pump in front of the school to get the water for everyone. I was the smartest kid in my class at Cushman’s Mill because I was the only kid in my class. A friend once reminded me that I was also therefore the dumbest kid in my class.

 

Ron Hachtel was one of the older boys at Cushman’s Mill and he’d go on to Jefferson High School and have just great seasons in football and wrestling. At age 9 our family moved to Rome and that was where I was till I left the home of my parents Ken and Bev Kutz.

 

 

Games may go one way or the other but the important thing to do for certain is to win at life. Jesus said in Mark 8:36 , “For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul.”

 

Hebrews 9:27 says, “ And as it is appointed unto man once to die but after this the Judgment.” The bible says that the soul lives forever and that it will live in either heaven or hell. What one does with Jesus will determine the soul’s destiny.

 

In John chapter 3 vs.3, Jesus told Nicodemus that unless a person is born again he will not see the kingdom of God. Jesus was saying that Nicodemus needed a spiritual birth, he had the physical birth, he now needed to become a new creation in Christ with a spiritual birth. Salvation or being born again is offered as a free gift. If Nicodemus, a religious man and teacher of the Jews needed to hear this, certainly I needed to hear it along with all others.

 

Eph. 2:8-9 states, “ For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the GIFT of God, not of works lest any man should boast.” A gift has to be received to have it in one’s possession.

 

Romans 6:23 states ,” For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Ephesians 2:1 adds, as it is speaking to the believers at Ephesus, “ And you hath he quickened (made alive spiritually) who were dead in trespasses and sins.”

 

John 3:36 puts it as straight as it can be put, “ He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life but the wrath of God abideth on him.” In John 14:6 Jesus would say, “ I am the way the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”

 

The gospel message would be so important that Acts 20:21 tells us that the Apostle Paul would go from house to house taking the message of, “ Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

Mickey Mantle realized these truths before his days on earth came to an end and so did Pete Maravich the basketball player.

 

Albert Pujols came to life in Christ a few years back and his info about this can be readily found on the web.

 

John chapter 3 and and Romans chapters 3, 5, 6, and 10 are just some of the great chapters of the bible to read about salvation. Make sure these truths become real and personal to you, the bible says that your eternity depends on it.

2 Corinthians 5:17 declares the big IF, it says, “ Therefore IF any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (creation), old things are passed away (passing away,) behold, all things are become (are becoming) new. That’s new life in Christ, seek it and receive it.

 

Thanks for tagging along on this trek. May God’s richest blessings be upon you. Ron Kutz, Cambridge, Wis.

Chapter 19

Posted by romeraiders on August 12, 2011 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

This n’ That Part 2---- After further information it has been found that Rome started up play again in 1974 and not 1973. 1973 would be the year of planning. 1973 would be Hebron’s last year in the league and Rome would take their place in 1974.

 

Rome won two games in 74, not one as was previously noted, the first win was against Dousman, and the second win came later in the season against undefeated Genesee.

 

In 75 Rome would go 8-8 and in 76-78 it would finish in 2nd place each of those three years. In one of those three years Rome came right down to the end with Dousman and we would have the big game with them at Rome. The problem was that our top pitcher Mike Moyer was hurting going in with a bothersome arm. The dilemma was, do we start Mike and get as much out of him and then go to our # 2 pitcher Marty, or do we start Marty and then go to Mike.

 

Marty was not as experienced as his older brother Mike who was our ace and as good as almost any when he was healthy and on. To be honest, I don’t remember for sure which way we started, both pitched and neither one of them had it that day. It was a lot to ask of each of them and they, along with the rest of the team, gave it their all.

 

We had a big crowd show up, a lot of the old timers as well, and we all went home disappointed. But baseball is just a game. Winning first place in any encounter is quite an accomplishment. We had to hand it to Dousman, they had a run of many years of just having a wonderful team. They had experience and skill and they could beat you in many ways. They certainly knew how to play the game of baseball during that stretch of quite a few years.

 

Losing at the end of the year to them was tough, and it’s still the one that hurts the most in my memory bank. You can use every excuse in the book but none of them count. We got beat by the better team on that day, it’s just the way it was. Al McGuire, the old Marquette coach used to say, “ If life was fair, there wouldn’t be anyone in wheel chairs.” He’d also say, “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.”

 

At our high school sports banquet in 1972 in Jefferson somehow someone arranged it that Al McGuire would come to speak. His message was, “Use sports, don’t let it use you.” Pretty good advice both then and now. Right after the banquet he came up to me and while pinching me on my side above my belt, with what I thought was as hard a grip as was possible , he looked me in the eye and asked, “ Young man, are you a basketball player?” I replied Nooo as I was hoping he’d let go of the death grip any second as by now he had me up on my toes. I played football and baseball and noon hour high school intramural basketball with the Rome boys. I wasn’t a D1 college basketball prospect. But that was Mcguire, leaving no stone unturned and I guess the “squeeze” was how they checked the body fat back in those days.

 

Rome’s first entry into the Land O Lakes went from 1949 to either 1964 or 1965. We know that Rome had a team in 64 and that they didn’t have a team in 66. Not sure if Rome had a team in 1965 or not.

 

Of course Rome played in the Land O Rivers before entering the Lakes in 49. Records of Rome teams go way back to the early 1900’s as found by the pictures and other info in the Rome museum baseball section. Saw one record of Louie Auerbach playing for Rome. Louie would have been Bob’s dad and Ronnie’s grandfather.

 

 

In 1947 Rome also won the Division Championship. This we just found out a few days ago. Young 17 year old Warren Sukie Ley would have a 14-2 record that year and pitch Rome to the championship. After the season he would sign a minor league contract with the Boston Braves organization in February of 1948.

 

Bub Barnes would take Sukie and his dad into Milwaukee for a tryout and the young Roman would be signed to a contract that day. On April 1, 1948 Warren Sukie Ley would be assigned to Mount Vernon of the Illinois State League. Sukie would later be traded to the New York Giants organization and play four promising years of minor league ball before suffering an arm injury. On that 47 Rome championship team, Tine Ley batted .407 to lead the league in batting.

 

Ten years later, Sukie’s younger brother Bobby Ley would help pitch Rome to the 1957 Land O Lakes Championship. Bobby and 3 or 4 other Rome boys would graduate from Jefferson High School in 57 and jump right unto the Rome roster to help it win its last ever Land O Lakes Championship. Seven of the nine players on the 1957 Jefferson High School Badger Conference baseball championship team would be from Rome. The 57 Rome team even had a few boys on its roster that still had a year left of high school. Rome would take second place in the Lakes in 1958 after losing an end of the year first place playoff game against Sullivan.

 

From the Milwaukee Journal/ Sentinel archives---

June 15, 1959 Rome buries Hebron 15-1. Don Wagie gives up 4 hits, strikes out 17. Rome with 15 hits, Bob Higbie 3x4, 3 rbi. Dick Higbie has triple , double, single

 

May 7,1962 Rome nipped Hebron 5-4. Dick Higbie 2x4 with a homer, Dick Doebriner with 2 homers in a losing Hebron cause.

 

May 5, 1975 Dousman edges Rome 3-2 behind Bill Owens 3 hitter, Steve Messmer takes the loss and homers for Rome

 

August 14,1960 Ashippun defeats Rome 6-4 despite Bob Ley’s 3 run homer for Rome.

 

July 11,1961 Rome 9 Ixonia 8, 10 innings. Dick Higbie slams double driving in two runs in the 10th.

 

Aug 15,1974 Rome upsets Genesee 5-2 giving them their first loss

 

June 16,1975 Rome commits 5 errors, 3 in the second inning that allows Helenville to score 4, Rome loses 8-4

 

May 26,1958 Rome runs over Helenville 13-5, Rome has 6 run first, Don Barnes has 3 rbi with a double and single

 

Sept 5, 1957 Bob Ley hurls 5 hitter fanning two walking none, Allen Ley, Dick Krueger two hits each, Rome whips Sullivan 6-1 and is crowned SW Div Champs

 

Aug 22,1960 Rome 11, Farmington 7. Dick Krueger has a pair of 3 run homers and 8 rbi for the day

 

May 30,1957 Dick Krueger hits 3 run homer in the 4th, leads Rome to 12-7 win over Sullivan and first place in the standings

 

July 18,1960 Sullivan 8-7 over Rome in 11 innings, despite 3 safe blows for Rome by Dick Krueger, Harley Hayes winning pitcher for Sullivan

 

July 16,1957 Larry Trebitowski gets 3 of Rome’s 9 hits, Bob Ley spaces out 7 Sullivan hits. Rome defeats Sullivan 8-1 and is now 8-1 for the year and in first place.

 

April 27, 1980 Mike Trebitowski resigns as commissioner of Land O Lakes SW Division, replaced by John Nelson

 

June 16, 1958 Rome starts season 6-0, Defeats Wales 7-6, Rome wins in the 9th, Dick Higbie doubles in winning run, Chet Trebitowski scatters 10 hits for win,

 

 

Chapter 18

Posted by romeraiders on August 8, 2011 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (1)

This and that. The names of the players on the 1933 Rome Bark River Valley League Championship Team; First Row: Art “Buck” Schultz, Leslie “Tuff” Ley, Merrill Deesh, Toad Schultz 2nd Row: Thurlow “Bub” Barnes, Herb Rieck, Jim Monogue, Harold Roethel, Warren Higbie, Third Row: Grantley Pagel, Nathan Barnes, Bill Pagel, Jack Higbie, and Bill Westphal.

 

The names for the 1957 Rome Land O Lakes Championship team were Donnie Boos 3b, Lawrence Trebitowski ss, Roger Boos 2b, Donnie Barnes of- 1b, Dick Higbie c, Bobby Ley and Chet Trebitowski pitchers, Babe Ley of, Bud Messmer if, Jerry Herdendorf 1b, Frank Merson of, Pat McCarthy inf, Dick Krueger 1b, and Tine Ley cf and player –manager.

 

Vic Bente had a year of high school to attend yet when Rome won it in 1957. The Sept. 3, 1957 Milwaukee Sentinel said that Rome wrapped up the Championship on the last game of the season with Bobby Ley getting the win and Allen Ley and Dick Krueger getting two hits each.

 

A late season 1974 Milwaukee Sentinel article stated that winless Rome got its first win of the year over undefeated Genesse by the score of 5-2. I remember Genesse not being too happy about that and we were kind of mystified ourselves.

 

A 1975 article of the same paper said that Rome was 3-3 and in the middle of the pack after the season’s first six games. Rome would end the 75 season at 8-8 in fourth place in the nine team division, so things were beginning to look up.

 

Former Rome resident Jay Van Valin would often mention the exploits of his UW Madison roommate Harvey Kuenn who would go on to play successfully in the major leagues leading the AL in batting in 1959 with a .353 average. He’d eventually manage the Miwaukee Brewers to almost being World Series Champions in 1982.

 

Jay’s son Reed would play on the early Rome team in 1973-4 or thereabouts.

 

Rome at one time had three general stores. There was a general store that burned down where the Texaco station run by Art Pinnow would eventually be built. From the believe it or not folder about Rome. A 1983 article written by David C. Such , Jefferson County UW-Extension Resource Agent would be entitled “Rome Pond.” He begins his article in this manner. On Oct. 19, 1916, a headline in the Sullivan News stated, “Squirrel hunt at Rome 50 years ago last week.” The account of the 1866 hunt went on to tell of teams of hunters that started into the woods on a Saturday morning. By six that evening, the winning team had shot 3,686 black, red, and fox squirrels (that was not a typo). Two of the more successful hunters claimed 418 and 410 squirrels apiece.

 

In addition, numerous partridge, ducks, quail, crows, pigeons, woodchucks, and raccoons were taken. End of story.

 

It sounds like it was not a good day for ground rodents and just about all of God’s animal creations around the Rome Pond Wildlife area on that Saturday in 1866.

 

Some tell of how an early owner of the now bowling alley establishment used to be a driver for Al Capone in Chicago. I will leave out the name to protect all of us. And as previously mentioned several have stated how mob folks liked to hang out at the old Bark River Resort by the bridge, it’s said that they liked the hunting and fishing around the Rome Pond area.

 

Apparently the critters had re-populated after that 1866 massacre. Don’t be too critical of those 1866 hunters of yesteryear , some of them may have been your distant relatives. I guess the DNR hadn’t been yet formed.

 

When Rome lost their Grand Championship home playoff first game in 1949 against Waukesha CYO and big Joe Long in a 1-0 heartbreak, it’s said that they were hoping to break their home record attendance of 500, but the threatening skies that day kept the crowd a bit below that.

Chapter 17

Posted by romeraiders on August 8, 2011 at 11:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Rome boy makes it into professional baseball.

 

In 1948 young 18 year old Warren “Sukie” Ley was taken into Milwaukee for a professional tryout by former Rome player Bub Barnes. Bub had played and umpired before Sukie’s era and was familiar with talent. Bub was right, Sukie was signed the same day as a pitcher by the Boston Braves organization.

 

Donnie Barnes, Bub’s son, remembers the story well. Back then the old triple AAA Milwaukee Brewer were a Braves affiliate. At the young age of 18 Sukie would begin a four year trek through minor league baseball. All of Sukie’s stats can be found on line if you google “ Warren Ley baseball.”

 

Sukie’s younger brother Bobby pitched just out of high school on the 1957 Rome championship team. Sukie would be almost 12 years older than Bobby and Bobby is now 72 and living in Verona. Bobby got out of high school the same year as Dick Higbie and Roger Boos and they were altogether on the 1957 team.

 

In 1958 those guys also took second place in the Lakes. Bobby said that Sukie probably played with Rome when he was still in high school at age 16 and 17. Sukie may have played briefly with Rome after leaving the minor leagues. Tine said he was managing Rome when Sukie came back to the area and he told Sukie that he could play wherever he wanted on the team.

 

Sukie would for the most part play for Jefferson after eventually settling in that area, though his pitching days would be over. Dick Higbie said that Sukie was one other batter he knew of who could also hit Ken Brereton’s barn in left field. Sukie’s arm went bad on him in his last year in the minors. Tine Ley, Sukie’s cousin said they overworked him.

 

Tine went to watch Sukie pitch one time in the minors and he said Sukie struck out the first nine players he faced. In one of his years in the minors, he had the second highest winning percentage as a pitcher and second highest batting average on the team.

 

Sukie was apparently the real deal, big, strong, and usually one of the youngest guys on his roster. The Braves would trade Sukie after a year or two to the New York Giants organization. Bobby said that for a brief time Sukie and Willie Mays were on the same team. He also said that for a time Dell Crandall would catch for Sukie and that Johnny Logan would also be a team mate. Warren and Bobby’s older brother was Donald - or Moose or Brick (two nicknames). He was about a year older than Sukie.

 

Moose didn’t play for Rome but a few recall how he would come to practices at times and hit fly balls to the outfielders. They all said the same thing, he’d crush it or hit it a country mile. Ralph Boos was one of a few that had this memory. The three Ley boys were cousins to the other group of Ley boys of Les, Tine, Huss and Babe.

 

Sukie’s dad was Elroy. Tine said that Elroy sold Buicks out of the big barn across from Les’s tv shop and Elroy also had Texaco gas pumps out in front of the big barn. When Elroy sold the barn, he just dug them out and moved the pumps just down the road in front of his house and kept selling gas.

 

Les’s tv shop was previously the Rome hardware store which Tine’s dad William ran. No one seemed to know how Sukie got his nickname. Small towns, big families, baseball fun.

Chapter 16

Posted by romeraiders on July 26, 2011 at 10:49 PM Comments comments (0)

When Rome won it. Rome won baseball championships in 1933, 1939, 1949, and 1957.

 

Warren Higbie, who would be named to the LOL Hall of Fame, would play on the first three championships. In 33, Warren was 20 and on the 49 team he was 36. Warren’s son Dickie would be 18 and just out of high school on the 57 Championship team. Warren would also manage in later years.

 

Grantley Pagel and Les Ley would also be on the first three championship teams. The first place trophies for the first three championship teams are located in the Rome Firehouse. A huge colored picture of the 33 team is also there, that same picture is also in the old Rome school museum.

 

At this time not much is known of the 39 team. There may be more info about it in the museum. Tine Ley said that he was a bat boy on the 39 team and that Warren Higbie was one of the best players he saw play. Tine said that Warren could play anywhere. The generational remembrances are interesting.

 

Dickie Higbie would say that Tine Ley was the best center fielder he ever saw play in the Lakes. Dickie would be about 8 yrs. old as he watched Tine and his teammates win it in 49. There is a picture in the Rome school museum of the 57 team that won it .

 

Chet Trebitowski was on the 49 team and the 57 team. The 57 team only had about 10-11 players and they took first place with that group. Names on the trophy of the 49 team; Tom Schultz mgr. Allen “Tine” Ley, G Pagel, A Messmer, B Schreiber, W Higbie, C Trebitowski, L Siebert, K Leiting, A Holat, B Auerbach, W Ley, R Boos, L Ley, W Pagel, E Ley, E Wagie, A Krueger, F Merson, and batboy Jerry Herdendorf.

 

The Sept. 6 , 1949 archives of the Milwaukee Journal and Waukesha Freeman have articles about Rome winning the Division over the last few days of the season. Everything went down to the last games on Labor Day. Rome was greatly helped when Sullivan, their main rival, upset Dousman to give Rome first place all by itself. The Journal article tells how it was Rome’s first year in the Land O Lakes after leaving the Land O Rivers. It said that since Sullivan was going to enter the “Big” league, then of course so would Rome. Rome was the smallest town to have a team and they would have the classic David vs Goliath season.

 

Rome’s main pitcher would get on a roll and pitch and hit the team to the finish line . Along the way towards the end he would win a double header or two with his arm and his bat. Rome would lose the first game of the grand championship playoffs by one run on a heart break of a play. The Rome first baseman would catch the ball at first and head to the dugout thinking it was the third out. It was only the second out and the runner on 3rd would race home with the run that would win it for the opposition. Rome lost that game by like a 1-0 or 2-1 score. In the next game of the playoffs, the horse that Rome had been riding, Mr. Siebert the pitcher, would finally collapse and run out of steam. Siebert would give up like 22 hits and Rome’s Cinderalla season would come to an end.

 

Tine said with a smile that winning the Division in 49 brought with it a great feeling and great celebrations. Tine would average about .400 for about 10 years of playing time in the Lakes and also be named to the Lakes Hall of Fame. He also played some for Jefferson. One time Fort picked up Tine to play against a semi pro team from up north that was coming to play. Tine led off the game with a rocket to center that some remember as ricocheting up in the tree limbs leaving a cloud burst of leaves falling from the sky. It was said that if Tine hit a grounder to the left side of the infield he would almost never get thrown out at first. He batted left handed and he was fast on the bases as well as fleet of foot in covering the field in center. All the exploits of Tine were told to me by those who saw him play.

 

There were also some second place trophies in the Rome Firehouse as well as a third place one. The museum has at least one second place trophy for sure as I was managing that game as we lost to our friend Dave Stewart and his buddies from Dousman in 76, 77, or 78 or so. Dave in his own right, after playing many years for Dousman, would also be named to the Lakes Hall of Fame. At least Dave would end his playing days with Rome and enter into the heritage of Rome Raider baseball.

 

And oh, by the way, the name of the early Rome teams? The Rome Mudhens.

Chapter 15

Posted by romeraiders on July 25, 2011 at 11:12 PM Comments comments (0)

In chapter one it was mentioned that Dick Higbie may have hit Ken Brereton's garage. I spoke with Dick a few nights ago on the phone. He's 72 now and he lives in Illinois. Dick said he hit it twice, he said one time he only got a triple out of it because the fielder was playing him on the other side of the road. This of course was before the days of the fence.

 

Dick also said he also liked playing at Jones Park in Fort as one time he hit one over the road in left field. Dick also told me how Rome won the Lakes division in 57, the summer after he and Roger Boos graduated from high school together. He thought the Rome team folded in about 1967.

 

Some of the guys he mentioned that played for Rome while he played were Roger Boos, 2nd base, Donnie Boos, 3rd base, Donnie Barnes, first base, (he said that Donnie was good at pulling off the hidden ball trick), Chet Trebitowski, pitcher, Bobby Ley, pitcher, Vic Bente, Wayne Boos, and Babe Ley.

 

There were others too but the phone call caught him a bit off guard and he said his memory was a little fuzzy with the call catching him off guard. He seemed to enjoy talking about the memories though. I asked him if he remembered the 49 team that won it, he said he did as he was 10 years old at the time. He said Tine Ley was the best centerfielder that he ever saw play in the Lakes. Andy Holat also played in the Tine era. He said something about his dad Warren and the story of his dad throwing his spikes out the car window while passing through Sullivan after a game in 33. Warren Higbie and Tine Ley would be early players from Rome to be voted into the Land O Lakes Hall of Fame. As the years would pass by Commissioner Mike Trebitowski, Kent Hoffman, and Dennis Linse would follow.

 

Dick said the Rome diamond used to be behind the old Albert Sears home in Staude field before its present location. Dick also said Rome should have won it all in 57 as they had the bases loaded with none out and couldn't score. Dick ended up playing with Palmyra and also had some time with the team in Ixonia.

Chapter 14

Posted by romeraiders on July 11, 2011 at 11:59 AM Comments comments (0)

Disagreements and baseball-- Rugby has its scrums and baseball has its rhubarbs. In my six years with the team thankfully we never had the old fashioned rhubarb but we did have a few disagreements.

 

Baseball and disagreements seem to go hand in hand. One disagreement that I remember and Keith kind of remembers it, took place before we were even an official team to be back in the Lakes again for the 73 season. We were holding a practice on the Rome diamond the summer or fall before we would be starting up. Mike Trebitowski, who was the Lakes comish at the time, and who also lived in Rome, came flying out to the diamond in his big old, I think white, pickup truck. He raced up to the backstop , got out and began yelling at us, waving his arms and jumping around. It was like he was screaming in some foreign language at us as he was pretty worked up.

 

At first we didn’t have a clue as to what he was trying to tell us and what we were doing wrong. We then figured out that he was telling us that we for some reason weren’t supposed to be practicing. Mike was known as a great guy, we all knew him. Well next thing some of us started barking back and we had a standoff. Eventually Mike got in his truck and tore out. We had our practice while kind of scratching our heads with some nervous laughs mixed in. Yikes, was this what it was going to be all about?

 

To this day I don’t know what we were doing that we weren’t supposed to be doing. Of course we’d see Mike after that and everything seemed fine with no seemingly hard feelings on either side. Mike really was a nice man, he could be very personal and caring but on that day we had apparently broken a cardinal rule of some sort.

 

Fast forward four or five years and we apparently broke another cardinal rule. Kent brought this one up. We were up to Watertown playing a night exhibition game under the lights. We had the full team now and word was out that we were a much improved young team.

 

It was one of the first night games under the lights that we had played and Watertown had a nice field. It was pretty neat stuff for our guys to be in a setting like this. Eli Crogan , an area legend in the high school basketball coaching world, was the Watertown manager. Before the game, he was talking to a few of us and was just lauding and praising us up one side and down the other. The butter was pretty thick. Well, then the game started. The Rome guys played pretty well that night and we ended up winning against a team that I guess we weren’t supposed to beat.

 

Near the end of the game Mr. Crogan was saying other things about us and by the end of the game we were basically felons of some sort and should expect to never be invited back. Well, the rockets started going off in both directions and we shook the dust off our feet and got out of there. Still don’t know what cardinal rule or rules we broke that night, I don’t think we ran up the score or knowingly did anything to embarrass them. On the other hand we were all young and most of our guys, if they got on, they knew how to, and they loved to run the base paths.

 

That may have been it. On the other hand when you are a young team you always have to be ready for the challenges of the old bucks and their psychology. The old bucks look at you with a little scorn for the bit of brashness that you have with your youth. On the other hand they admire and remember and often miss the care- freeness of their own youth.

 

It’s called competition, who’s going to be the next king of the hill or control the next buck scrape. And along with that a lot of mind games can be played by the older with the younger. So you just have to take your lumps, learn, and keep your chin up and keep your eyes on the prize and keep the train moving towards the goal.

Chapter 13

Posted by romeraiders on July 11, 2011 at 11:53 AM Comments comments (0)

Udo comes to Rome---When I was in fifth grade in the Rome school a new boy showed up who would be in the sixth grade. His name would be Udo Fuchs and all the boys were glad to have another guy in the group.

 

Udo was born in Germany and came to the states as a young boy. He, his mom Martina, and his grandmother, Oma, which I think means grandmother in German, would speak fluent German amongst themselves which the rest of us thought was pretty neat. Udo and his mom came from the background of the importance of physical fitness and academics.

 

Of course back then as kids, many of the rest of us all wanted to know if he was a nazi or not. His mom would talk about the importance of the gymnasium, not gym, and doing well in school. Going to the gymnasium and track was good to work out and get stronger. Udo had the mindset of trying and then mastering whatever sport that he would be introduced to. This would carry over to his Rome Raider days as he would work hard at mastering any spot that he would be put at.

 

As a kid his best sport was probably soccer. Coming out of Germany it was a common sport for him. The rest of us only played it because we had to as a unit in gym class. Most of us considered it a communist sport back then, because it seemed like only the communist countries were the ones that even played soccer.

 

Many don’t probably remember that Udo grew about 3-4 inches after he graduated from high school. He became a very good city league basketball player and at 5’11” he could dunk . He was a good softball player and softball pitcher as well. When we played city league flag football for a few years he was involved in that also.

 

Udo and I spent a lot of time together in the growing up years. The guys liked Mr. Kohn, our first man teacher in the 5th-6th grade classroom. He’d hang a 50 cent coin at the bottom of the basketball net in the gym and tell us that if we could jump up and get it , we could have it. Not sure if any of us ever got it, but it sure made us try. Udo may have gotten it, he could run and he could jump. He would try anything, it would have been fun watching him try, and then gain proficiency in the pole vault. If we got a real good score on our Weekly Reader current events quiz or our weekly spelling test, Mr. Kohn would let us go next door into the gym and shoot baskets.

 

There wasn’t much of a better motivator than that for the boys in the classroom. As the years went on many of us would get our snowmobiles, cycles and cars together. On hot summer days we’d head out to the Van Valins and their nice outdoor swimming pool to cool off. They were a very gracious family to the town kids, well they had four boys of their own and at least three of them were just as mischievous as the rest of us.

 

Udo would get a scholarship and go off to Carthage college for his first year of college. Soon after he got back from that first year his step dad murdered his mom and then took his own life. Udo would transfer to Whitewater and continue there.

 

Udo would play close to twenty years for Rome and would lose his life in a tragic fuel truck, which he was driving, rollover accident. There is a big rock at the Rome diamond that his his picture on a plaque mounted on the stone. Udo was a big part in getting the team up and running again in 1973.

Chapter 12

Posted by romeraiders on July 11, 2011 at 11:38 AM Comments comments (0)

Some teams have real spark plug type players on their roster. I go back to that Rome team from the 60's and remember hearing and watching Roger Boos with Dickie Higbie.

 

was probably about a foot shorter than Dick and to Roger it was all serious business. Watching him play was a lesson in intensity, wearing the Rome uniform with Rome spelled out in block print was serious business to these guys. They set an example of competitiveness .

 

Dick was more quiet than Roger but he also took the game seriously. He was also an assistant Boy Scout leader with Roger Emery so a number of us got to know him in that setting as well. I can remember Dick telling us way back when we'd ask him about pitching, that a pitcher was doing a pretty good job if he could keep his earned run average below four.

 

Dickie was tall, he would pitch amd catch, he probably played other spots too. I can remember after the Rome team folded, going along with his family to games in Palmyra as Dick would then play there. Dick's wife would make fried egg sandwiches, pack them up and off we'd go to watch the games.

 

I think Chet might have played and pitched some for Palmyra too later on at the end of his playing days. I saw Chet this year at the Memorial Day program in Rome, I asked him if he was still working for the Brewers as an usher, he said no, he quit when he was 80. He's 84 now and still looking good.

 

About six years ago at the Rome Memorial Day program I was walking down to the bridge with my family when I saw Chet walking in the crowd. I thought we'd have a little fun, I said hey Chet, show my son Kyle , who was about 13-14 then, how to throw a curveball. Chet loved it and as we were walking Chet was giving a pretty animated lesson on how to throw the curve, the grip, wrist and hand action, the whole bit.

 

Chet had also been one of my coaches when I was young. Later on in the season when Kyle was pitching in a Teener league game he was really breaking off some nice off speed pitches. All of us coaches were wondering where that was coming from as we all just kind of wanted the boys to work on locating the fastball. I asked Kyle about it later and he said dad, remember that man out at Rome, he taught me how to throw the curve ball. I guess the 2-3 min. lesson walking down the street together had worked .

 

I don't know if we really had that feisty spark plug type player in my six years with the team. If you are going to talk that kind of talk you need to walk the walk. The closest we had to that was maybe coach Ira Adsit who I already mentioned in a previous post. His son played and Ira suited up and helped out. If Ira said there were communists on top of the hill across from the ball park, we would have been right behind him going up the hill to get them.

 

My seventh and eighth grades found us Rome kids all being shipped to Palmyra for junior high. Our freshman year found us being shipped back to Jefferson for high school. The border war for what district would have Rome would finally end. My older brother went all four years to Palmyra for high school, I went to Jefferson. Keith Hoffman went to Palmyra for high school and his younger brother Kent went to Jefferson. It was a pretty hot topic for especially some of the dads in town. In hindsight it meant more contacts and friends.

 

I used to dream about playing on high school teams with the guys from both schools. I'd watch some of the older Rome guys like Bob Gramling and Whitey Landgraff play football for Palmyra, but it wouldn't be where I'd be going for my high school days. Whitey had quite a career playing baseball for Sullivan, he had good power, he also played some college football for Stevens Point if I remember correctly.

 

All of this however would be the initial opening to invite the old Palmyra classmates like Jerry Carnes, the Moyer brothers, and Ray Jacquith to come over to Rome and play. It would also be the pipeline that brought others like young Dennis Adsit and his dad Ira.


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