West Central Area Baseball Hall of Fame

Three to be inducted into the West Central Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Kandiyohi County Historical Society is proud to announce the Class of 2021 inductees into the West Central Minnesota Hall of Fame.  This year's inductees include:

  • Don Betzen (Granite Falls, MN) Born and raised in Moorhead, Minnesota, Don played both Little League and high school baseball.  He was a pitcher for the Moorhead Dragons from 1953-1956.  He played baseball with the Williston Oilers, New Prague, the Valentine Hearts in Nebraska.  He settled in Granite Falls and was pitcher there for the Kilowatts from 1960-1972.  Over his career Don pitched 50 shut-outs and 6 No Hitters.  Betzen led Granite Falls to seven state tournaments from 1960-1974.
  • Allen “Ole” Hovey (1929-2012) Born in Litchfield and grew up in Atwater where he lived the rest of his life.  Allen served in the Army from 1951-1953.  He worked at the Atwater Post Office from 1950-1984.  Allen graduated from Atwater High School in 1947 where he lettered in football, basketball and baseball and named 1947’s most valuable senior athlete.  He played town team ball in Lake Lillian and Atwater from 1947-1960.  He coached Atwater Summer recreation boy’s baseball, Atwater Legion baseball and Atwater/Grove City High School.
  • Earl J. “Smitty” Smith (1917-1996) Earl was born in Kerkhoven and graduated from Morris Ag School.  He served in the Navy during World War II.  After returning to Willmar, Smith began his 32-year career of being an umpire.  He umpired high school, town team and church league games.  He was a member of the Willmar Baseball Boosters and the Southwest Minnesota Umpires Association.  Smith give Left Ranweiler credit for his umpiring career as Lefty was the one who encouraged him to start. 
The West Central Minnesota Hall of Fame Class of 2021 induction will be held in sometime in 2021.  Watch for more information to come.

For more information, call Jill Wohnoutka at (320) 235-1881 or director@kandiyohicountyhistory.com.

The Kandiyohi County Historical Society partnered with the Willmar Stingers to begin a West Central Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014. We are seeking nominations for the 2019 class. The West Central Baseball Hall of Fame covers a 45-mile radius of Willmar which includes communities such as Glenwood, Montevideo, Redwood Falls and Dassel-Cokato. In order to be considered for the West Central Baseball Hall of Fame, nominees must fall within the 45-mile radius of Willmar and be featured in one of the following categories:

Player or manager who resided in West Central Minnesota and went on to success in high levels of
professional baseball as a player, coach, or manager.
An amateur player, coach, or manager who was successful as a player in youth, high school, and/or
adult amateur baseball.
Community Involvement
A longtime resident of West Central Minnesota who has achieved great success as a supporter of
baseball and has made significant contributions to baseball.

The Historical Society will begin accepting nominations immediately to be reviewed by the selection committee. If you wish to submit a nomination, a form has been created to submit potential candidates to the Historical Society. The form and 45 mile radius map can be can be obtained at www.kandiyohicountyhistory.com or by contacting Jill Wohnoutka at the Historical Society at 320-235-1881 or kandhist@msn.com. The 2019 inductions to the West Central Baseball Hall of Fame will be held in the early part of 2019.

Nominations must be submitted to the Historical Society by Friday, October 26, 2018 in order to be considered for the 2019 class. All nominations must include a nomination form.
Mile Radius Map

2018 Hall of Fame Class
Randy Haats
(Willmar, MN)
Randy Haats (Willmar, MN) Native of Raymond, MN and graduated from Raymond High School in 1967.  During his high school career, he was a pitcher and shortstop and was named All-Conference 3 times.  Haats played baseball at Willmar State Junior College (Ridgewater) and 2 years at South Dakota State University.  Haats played for the Raymond Rockets for 13 years and was inducted in the Raymond Rocket Hall of Fame in 2013.  Haats coached at Willmar Community College and the Willmar American Legion game.  He spent over 20 years as a umpire for high school, college and amateur baseball.
Wade Adamson
(Willmar, MN)
 Wade Adamson (Willmar, MN) Grew up in Willmar and graduated from Willmar High School in 1975 where he pitched.  During his senior year, the Willmar Cardinals went to the state baseball championship game and placed 2nd.  Adamson played his college years at South Dakota State University during which the team won the conference championship his junior and senior years.  In 1978, Adamson was drafted in the fourth round of the 1978 draft by the Minnesota Twins.  He played Class A and AA until 1981.  He played 10 years with the Willmar Rails and coached for Willmar schools and the Willmar Legion Team.
Mike Johnson
(Willmar, MN)
Mike Johnson (Willmar, MN) Native of Kerkhoven, MN and graduated from Kerkhoven High School in 1963.  He played at the Willmar Community College from 1963-1965 and St. Cloud State University from 1965-1967.  From 1960-1984, he played for various teams including the Kerkhoven American Legion, Kerkhoven town team, Norway Lake, Granite Falls, and Willmar.  Johnson coached from 1971-2010 for Clara City High School, New London-Spicer, Willmar Jr. High, Clara City/Raymond Legion, Willmar Community College & Ridgewater.  Johnson volunteered with youth baseball by coaching traveling teams.
2017 Hall of Fame Class
Greg Kallevig
(Bloomington, IL)
Greg Kallevig (Bloomington, IL) Native of Willmar, MN and graduated from Willmar High School in 1982.  During his high school career, he was named All-Conference and All Area in 1981.  Kallevig played baseball at South Dakota State University where in 1984, he participated in the Division II World Series in 1984.  Kallevig was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1985.  During his time with the Cubs organization, Kallevig played Class A, AA, and AAA.
Howard Tucker
Howard Tucker (1922-1965) Tucker grew up in Swift County.  Tucker graduated from Murdock High School in 1940 where he played baseball.  Tucker played with the DeGraff Legion team, which won the state tournament in 1940.  He also participated in the Corn Belt League until 1944 when he entered the Maritime Services.  Tucker signed a contract to play with the New York Giants in 1946.  He is considered on the top pitchers of his time.
Ronald Tucker
(Willmar, MN)
Ronald Tucker (Willmar, MN) Tucker grew up in Swift County and graduated from Murdock High School in 1945.  He played for the Murdock town team in high school as the high school dropped the baseball program during World War II. He played for Benson, DeGraff and Kerkhoven. Tucker signed a contract to play with the Boston Braves in 1947.  He played his last amateur game in 1962 where he pitched a perfect game against Raymond.
2016 Hall of Fame Class
Marlin Denzer
Marlin Denzer (1909-1985) Born in LeSueur, MN and resided in Willmar until the 1941.  Denzer started pitching in Willmar in 1926.  Denzer lead the Willmar to the state town-team championship in 1934 where he pitched in all seven games for a total of 44 innings and allowed only 8 runs.  The right-handed pitcher helped Willmar reach the state tournament six times between 1928 and 1935.  Denzer enlisted in the Marine Corps the day after Pearl Harbor.  After his service, Denzer moved to Minneapolis.
Henry "Lefty" Ranweiler
Henry "Lefty" Ranweiler (1922-1974) Born in New Ulm, MN and resident of West Central Minnesota since 1949.  While serving in the Merchant Marines during World War II, Ranweiler played baseball from 1941-1945. After his military service, Ranweiler played in the minor league for the Cleveland Indians from 1946-1947.  From 1949-1951, Ranweiler played semi-pro baseball with Bird Island and Olivia.  Ranweiler was recruited to play for the Willmar Rails in 1952 and he continued to play there until 1958.  He stayed involved with baseball by coaching the Willmar State Junior College (Ridgewater) baseball team from 1966-1973.  He played all three outfield positions, first base and pitched when needed.

Steve Schneider
(Willmar, Mn)

Steve Schneider (Willmar, MN) Schneider grew up in Willmar, MN.  Schneider graduated from Willmar High School in 1962 where he played baseball.  Schneider played legion ball in Willmar from 1959-1962 and for the Willmar Red Birds from 1960-1962.  After high school, Schneider went the University of Minnesota on a baseball scholarship.  He played short stop for three years and in 1964 the Gophers won the College World Series.  He played for the Gophers from 1964-1966.   After college he was drafted by the California Angels and played five years in single A ball.
2015 Hall of Fame Class
Norman “Red” Jones 
Norman “Red” Jones (Litchfield) Born in Raymond, MN and got his start playing pee wee and midget games.  From 1954-1957, Jones played for the Raymond High School and the American Legion.  He played for the Raymond Rockets for 14 years, 1956-1969.  After moving to Litchfield, Jones managed the Litchfield Blues 1977-1978.  Jones coached the Litchfield’s Babe Ruth team for 10 years.  Jones organized Litchfield’s Cal Ripken youth baseball program.  He is a founding member of the Litchfield Baseball Association and was instrumental in the construction of the Optimist Park.  In 2013, Jones was inducted into the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame.
William “Porky” Wegner, Jr.  
William “Porky” Wegner, Jr.  (1896-1970) born in Raymond, MN.  He managed the Raymond Legion Baseball team for 20 plus years.  Wegner was manager when the first Raymond team went to the State Amateur Tournament in 1937.  Wegner managed the Raymond Legion team in the State Tournament in 1951.  Wegner was selected as a Minnesota Sport Champion in 1958 for the Minnesota State Centennial.  Wegner served on the Region Amateur Baseball Commission and as an officer in the Corn Belt League. 
Willard Reigstad 
Willard Reigstad (1919-2001) Born in Arctander Township, MN and lifetime resident of Kandiyohi County.  Reigstad played for New London High School where he graduated in 1939.  Reigstad played and managed the Norway Lake Lakers for many years.  The ballpark in Sunburg is named in his honor, Reigstad Field.  Reigstad also played for Belgrade and Clara City.  In the early 1940’s, Reigstad played for the St. Cloud Rox.  In 1971, Reigstad was inducted into the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame. 
2014 Hall of Fame Class
Mike Kingery 
(Grove City)
played professional baseball for 17 years with the Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Oakland A's, Colorado Rockies, and Pittsburgh Pirates. He played VFW and American Legion baseball in Atwater and Willmar.
Howie Schultz 
played five seasons with the Willmar Rails starting in 1950. Prior to coming to play in Willmar, Schultz played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, and Cincinnati Reds.
Barry Wohler 
a Bird Island native played baseball for Bird Island-Lake Lillian high school. He played Legion ball for six years starting when he was in 7th grade. He played at the University of Minnesota and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers and played Triple A baseball.
Sylvester “Blix” Donnelly
a right-handed pitcher and lifelong resident of Olivia, MN. He had an 18 year professional career between 1935-1952. He played for the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, and Boston Braves.
Art Grangaard
was instrumental in building up the baseball interest in Willmar area in the 1950’s. Awarded MVP of the Willmar Rails when they won the 1952 Class AA state tournament. He was both manager and third baseman.
Joe Martinson
started work at KWLM in 1947 where he covered many area high school, Legion and Willmar Rails baseball games with his memorable play-by-play. He was an assistant coach and manager of the Willmar American Legion baseball team.
Rueben “Rube” Nathe

started playing baseball in his youth in New Munich, MN. He has been managing the Litchfield Blues since 1982. Coached the Local American Legion team for 29 years. Served as District and Minnesota State Vice Chairman for 36 years.