La Crosse Area Baseball Hall of Fame Introduces Inaugural Class
La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -
Edward “Big Ed” Konetchy, Corinne Zielke, William “Boober” Parizek, Frank Thornton, Scott Servais, and Everett Johnson may not have much in common, but now, they all have one accolade which they can all share together—they are now La Crosse Area Baseball Hall of Famers.
On Thursday at Stoney Creek Inn in Onalaska, Konetchy, Zielke, Parizek, Thornton, Servais, and Johnson were inducted into the Hall of Fame's inaugural class.
Zielke, who passed away in 2000, is recognized by the La Crosse Area Baseball Hall of Fame, a non-profit organization focused on preserving baseball history in the La Crosse area, as a “true friend to baseball.” In 2003, the Carol Zielke Fund provided a $300,000 grant to help renovate Copeland Park in 2003 to host the La Crosse Loggers—an expansion team in the Northwoods League at the time.
Parizek, known as “Mr. Baseball,” played baseball in Onalaska, La Crosse, and Barre Mills among other area teams, and also managed local American Legion teams and semipro teams before taking over the head job at Western Wisconsin Technical College.
Konetchy, born in 1885 in La Crosse, is considered a “golden legend” by the Hall of Fame after compiling a 15-year Major League Baseball Career. With the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1919, Konetchy had tied a Major League record of ten consecutive hits—a record which would stand until 1952, and today stands as the 2nd most consecutive hits in Major League Baseball history.
Thornton, a UW-La Crosse 1968 graduate, served as the head baseball coach at La Crosse Central for 30 years, leading his teams to two state tournament titles (1978, 1986). Thornton is currently a member of the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
"It caught me totally off-guard," Thornton said after the announcement. "I'm very humbled, surprised, and grateful that I'm in."
Servais, a Westby-native, played Major League Baseball for 11 years with the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, and Colorado Rockies. A former catcher, Servais served as the Cubs catching instructor for two years before becoming a professional scout for the Rockies. In 2011, Servais joined the Los Angeles Angels as Assistant General Manager of Scouting & Player Development.
Johnson, an Onalaska-native, signed his first professional baseball contract at 17 years old in 1944 with the Chicago Cubs. Johnson though was drafted into the Navy prior to his first professional season. From 1950-1953, Johnson bounced around the Cincinnati Reds organization before returning to Onalaska to play baseball on local teams while working in construction.
"I'm very proud to be here, and I'm one of the lucky ones that got the opportunity to be in the big leagues and play minor leagues baseball too," Johnson said. "I'm very happy."
The Baseball Hall of Fame said they hope to recognize up to 25 individuals over the next five years. The Hall of Fame is hoping to raise $75,000 total to cover the cost of the entire project. Currently, the Hall of Fame has raised $30,000.
If the Hall of Fame is successful with raising all $75,000, they hope to build an actual museum at Copeland Park, which would include more detailed information of each of the Walk of Fame recipients.
Those interested in making a donation to the Walk of Fame can call the La Crosse Area Baseball Hall of Fame at (608) 354-9888.
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