Chapter IV: Baseball



The first recorded outside baseball game played at St. John's was with the "St. Cloud Crackers" in 1889, a game that was lost by the score of 15-7. The Record reporter wrote derisively: "We advise the home club to do a little more practicing and a little less mouthing if they want to invert the score" (Record, Vol. 2, p. 54). The next two games were played in May, 1900, with St. Cloud High School. St. John's was the challenger, quite certain of the superiority of its team. But the Cardinal and Blue (the school colors) lost the first game by a score of 4-14. It was a humiliating and wholly unexpected experience when it was discovered that in spite of its thirty-six years of intramural play there was still a lot to learn about caution in challenging outside opponents. The Record, for the comfort of the team, offered the almost naive consolation that, after all, they had not done badly, for "although they lost the game, they nevertheless found the pitcher 'well'- so well, in fact, that if the wind had not been against them the ball would have been batted out of the reach of the fielders" (Record, Vol. 13, p. 194). In a return game, however, St. John's won by the score of 12-11 and the local pride was restored.

These two games, though of little importance in themselves, touched off the movement that ultimately led to the initiation of intercollegiate athletics at St. John's. The two games were well attended and enjoyed on both campuses. It was inevitable that the appetite for more outside games would be whetted to a degree never experienced before, now that the break-through had been accomplished. Moreover, with the public interest in football running high, it was certain that eventually the next proposal to the faculty would be for football games with the St. Cloud High School also-which was exactly what happened. As has already been told in the section devoted to football, permission was obtained to schedule football games with the St. Cloud High School, then with the St. Cloud Normal School, and finally with the other private colleges in the state.

The history of baseball at St. John's until 1907, when the first college games were scheduled, was comparatively uneventful, though it furnished both faculty and students alike with a variation from the accustomed daily diet of intramural sports. On the other hand, with the inauguration of the new St. John’s Athletic Association in 1900, a new spirit was born on the St. John's campus. Intramural sports of all the contemporary varieties then popular were played on a grander scale than ever before, especially baseball. The spring issue of the Record for the year 1901 reports as follows under the title "The Campus": "It will be quite impossible to do justice to the sports of April in the short space allotted for this column. So successful has the new Athletic Association been in its efforts to keep the ball rolling that the sports correspondent is at a loss where to begin." He concludes: "The principal interest was centered on the baseball diamonds" (Record, Vol. 14, pp. 151-152).

- 1900-1906 -

During the period from 1900 to 1906 St. John's "first team" played a total of twelve games, mainly against high schools in the surrounding area such as St. Cloud, Little Falls, Melrose and Sauk Centre, as also with the town teams of St. Joseph and Elk River. Of these twelve games, ten were victories and two were defeats. The "first teams," as they were called, were more representative of the St. John's Athletic Association than of St. John's proper. They were scheduled by the Association and financed in every way by the Association, both in the purchase of uniforms and paying for travel expenses, the supplying of baseball equipment such as bats and balls, etc. It was only in 1907 that the intercollegiate phase of St. John's baseball really had its beginning.

Following is a brief resume of the players and the games they. played from 1900-1906. Beginning with the players themselves, they were not only good athletes and prominent students in their time, many of them became successful men in their public lives. Members of the teams who later became Benedictine faculty members were such priests as Frs. Daniel Bangart, Alphonse Sausen, Pius Meinz, Lambert Weckwerth and Polycarp Hansen. Among the lay members were Alfred Knaeble, '00, the first catcher in an outside game under the auspices of the Athletic Association. Dr. John Sprafka, captain of the 1905 team, later attended the University of Minnesota where he was famed as one of the earliest of Minnesota's football greats. He was well known in athletic circles in the Twin Cities and Chicago. Frank Tewes, '04, who became famous as an architect, was city architect of St. Paul for years and the planner of many of the most important of the St. Paul city public buildings.

Perhaps the best known of all the early baseball players was Fr. Polycarp Hansen, O.S.B., who did all the varsity pitching without a loss for three years, after which time the high schools declined to schedule games with St. John's any further, partly because of the overwhelming defeats they sustained, partly because they began to form their own high school conferences where the competition was on their own level.

Though St. John's tried to schedule games with them, the A.A. finally decided to give up the attempt, thus leaving the year 1906 without an outside game to record.

- 1907 -

As was stated above, no university baseball games were scheduled for 1906, probably because the high schools were discouraged from accepting the St. John's invitations for games only to be clobbered by overwhelming defeats. Moreover, the St. John's A.A. was aware that the baseball teams were in need of stronger competition and that the logical move for the future would be to follow the example of football and basketball and enter into intercollegiate competition.

Accordingly, in March of 1907 games were scheduled between St. John's and two Twin City colleges, St. Thomas and Macalester, with a high school game with Sauk Centre sandwiched between the college games. The Sauk Centre game was won easily, as was usual, with an overwhelming score of 19-1. But the games with St. Thomas and Macalester proved definitely that St. John's was unable as yet to match the experience and power of the Twin City colleges. St. John's lost to St. Thomas 9-6 and to Macalester 17-4.

Stars of the 1907 season were Peter Tierney, catcher, and Edward Callanan (incidentally, the father of Edward Callanan, '39, St.John's first All-American football player). These two losses were partly due to the intermission of baseball in 1906, which forced the management to experiment with entirely new players. On the other hand, much was gained, for the line-up fairly bristles with the names of future stars who were to grace the annals of fbrother athletes who were to appear in the line-ups of all the major sports at St. John's until 1917. Among them were also Matthew (later Fr. Florian, O.S.B.) Locnikar and Fred Thelen, stars in both basketball and baseball.

- 1908 -

The 1908 baseball team was captained by Edward Callanan, who batted an astounding .480 for the season. Spring came later than usual, however, and handicapped the team's progress. Though this was one of St. John's best years in football and basketball, the baseball team lost to Ramline, a team directed by the coaching phenomenon of the period, Professor Bragan. Though St. John's out-hit Ramline 12-8, the fielding was erratic. The Cardinal and Blue made eight errors and were almost defenseless against the clever base-running of the Ramline players.

Again, Callanan and Locnikar were the individual stars of the season. The 1908 team split a double-header with Fargo College (now North Dakota State). Coach for St. John's in 1908 was Frank Cassidy, an outstanding gymnast and professor of Physical Culture, but who knew very little about the game of baseball. This was the period when Physical Culture and gymnastics began to hold first place in the estimation of the faculty.

In the meantime, while the baseball team was struggling against opponents and weather, the intramurals were having one of their best years. In the St. John's Athletic Association report for the year 1908, eight baseball teams played approximately seven games each, for a total of forty-nine games from early spring until June 16. There were two handball leagues, a major league comprising eleven teams, and a minor league of seven teams. Each team played from fifty-four to sixty-two games. A sidelight of the handball season was a "Grand Lunch" served to the champions of the two leagues by Fr. Lambert Weckwerth, O.S.B., manager of the handball program.


Ralf Capron, ’08 ss
Hyacinth Cismowski ’14 1b
Edward Callanan ’08 2b
Raymond Kraus ’10 c
John Gores ’10 cf
John Quinlan ’08 rf
Joseph Kopp 3b
Matt. Locnikar 1f
Scott McHentry’08 p
Fr. Sylvester Harter ’10 p
Norb. Borgerding ’10 3b

Coach -Cassidy
Captain -Callanan
Stars -Callanan, Locnikar



SJU                Opponents


10.....Elk River....7

2......Elk River.....1





- 1909-

Only two intercollegiate teams were played in 1909, with Ramline and Macalester. The first game with Ramline was close until the eighth inning when the opponents scored five runs to win the game 9-4. Again it was a matter of superior play and better batting on the part of Ramline. Ramline out-hit St. John's 11-7, and stole nine bases to six by St. John's. Commended by the Record for the best showing in this game were Captain Ray Kraus, the star slugger, and John Steichen, first base.

The Record correspondent found it too painful to publish the score of the Macalester game. Elsewhere it is listed as a loss, 18-1. That the St. John's correspondent was a true fan we can surmise from his report of the game:

Baseballically, a hurricane must have struck St. John's on May 15. After the dust had finally settled down at the end of a seven-inning affair, the Macalester bunch were eighteen counts to the good, while one run was all St. John's could make. Our men had a decided off-day, which, coupled with heavy hitting by the visitors, ended disastrously for the Cardinal and Blue. Pitcher Davies of Macalester was almost unhittable, allowing only two singles. The particular feature of the game was the slugging by the Mac boys, who clouted the sphere for eleven hits, including four homeruns (Record, Vol. 22, p. 337, June 1909).


John Rowland ’10 1f
John Jershe ’16 c
Ray Kraus ’16 rf
Carl Kapsner ’14 cf
James Morrison ’09 ss
John Steichen ’09 1b
Theo Harter ’09 2b
Louis Gravel ’09 3b
Ray Douville ’10 p

Coach -Frank Cassidy
Captain -Kraus
Stars -Steichen, Kraus


SJU            Opponents



- 1910-

The 1910 Cardinal and Blue was the best hitting team up to this time. It was Coach Flynn's first year as baseball coach and, though the team lost four games, it was a marked advance in power over the past. The team was more solidly dedicated and the game strategy devised for winning was better employed by an admixture of bunts and good base stealing. Philip Boll, a big man from Breckenridge (died in 1977), was a power hitter (.333 for the season) who headed a group of three other players: Carl Kapsner (Fr. Celestine, O.S.B.), batting .208, Bob Hackner (.214), and Herman Vonderhaar (.214).

Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the defensive capabilities of the team. The club as a whole committed thirty-five errors in contrast to the twenty-five errors by the opposition. The lack of fielding skill was offset by the first triple play by St. John's in intercollegiate baseball.

Stars of the season were Philip Boll, Bob Hackner, and third baseman Herman Vonderhaar.


Frank O'Donnell ’11 ss
Phil Boll ’10 2b
Ray Kraus’10 rf
Carl Kapsner ’14 lf
Frank First ’16 c
Herman Vonderhaar ’10, 3b
Gustave Dierkes ’12 1b
Robert Hackner ’14 cf
John O'Brien ’12, p
Ray Douville ’10 p

Coach -Ed Flynn
Captain -First
Stars -Vonderhaar. Boll


SJU               Opponents

9......Elk River........0



4......St. Thomas ....6



- 1911-

Coach Flynn was greeted by a large number of candidates for his third season as coach of the St. John's baseball team. When finally chosen, the team was represented by players of excellent talent but who were not as yet molded into a compact unit. The fielding and the hitting were erratic.

The season record was two wins versus three losses. By a strange misunderstanding of baseball rules, Fargo College forfeited its one game with St. John's by refusing to take the field after the umpire called out a Fargo runner for interfering with a teammate's batted ball. St. John's was leading at the time, a fact which could have contributed to the Fargo coach's emotional refusal to accept the umpire's decision.


Frank O'Donnell ’11, ss
Robert Rackner ’14 2b
Carl Kapsner ’14 lf
Victor Schmitt ’12 3b
Frank Kettler ’17 1b
John O'Brien ’12 p
Ignatius Wiltzius ’12 c
Lisle Jesmer ’11 rf
Alois Goeb ’14 utility
Joseph Tims ’11 p

Coach -Flynn
Captain -O’Donnell
Starts -Kettler and O’Brien


SJU               Opponents


1.....St. Thomas....7




- 1912-

The 1912 baseball club was a worthy representative of St. John's and, except for the bad fortune of losingits stellar pitcher Jack O'Brien through an arm injury, might have gone far. The old saying that "pitching is the game" could never be truer. The team roster was made up of proven hitters, but with mediocre relief pitching the St. John's infield, that was unsteady at times, fell apart under heavy hitting by the opposition.

The first game of the season with Macalester College was won by a score of 6-0. Jack O'Brien was at his best, striking out seven hitters and allowing only three hits for the nine innings. The second game was also a shut-out. O'Brien struck out 15 Mechanic Arts batters and the team produced six hits and stole seven bases.

The third game was a complete reversal. Playing at St. Thomas, St. John's lost to the Cadets by a score of 2-7. O'Brien's fine pitchingthree hits and nine strikeouts-was nullified by eight errors and general poor defensive play. In a return game with St. Thomas, lost by a score of 4-5, O'Brien wrenched his arm in the fifth inning and was replaced by a substitute pitcher. In the seventh inning the Tommies pushed over four runs on the relief pitcher and nosed out the St. John's players by one run.

The final game of the season was an eight to one loss to Macalester. Macalester had developed into a team of sluggers and against St. John's relief pitcher accumulated nine hits, among which were three extra base blows.

Stars for the year were Jack O'Brien, an outstanding athlete who must be ranked with the great pitchers of St. John's early history, Carl Kapsner (later Fr. Celestine, O.S.B.), and catcher Alois Goeb (later abbot of Assumption Abbey, Richardton, North Dakota).


Alois Goeb ’14 rf
Frank O’Donnell ’12 2b
Clyde Robideau,’12 cf
Carl Kapsner ’14 lf
Frank Kettler ’17 1b
David Woulfe,’14 ss
Walter Roche ’14 3b
John O’Brien ’12 p
Joseph Tims ’12 p
Val Rausch ’13 p

Coach -Flynn
Captain -Woulfe
Stars--O’Brien, Wiltzius


SJU                    Opponents


2......St. Thomas.......7

5......Mechanic Arts....0

4......St. Thomas.......5



The new policy of arranging practice games with the faculty, called popularly "The Old Reliables," was found to be a profitable venture in preparation for outside competition, inasmuch as it gave the team the opportunity to iron out deficiencies before the real season started. The season's record was three wins versus three losses. The losses, however, were by close margins that could have easily been avoided with closer defensive play. The Hamline game, lost by a score of 2-1, was one of the best ever witnessed on the St. John's campus. St. John's out-hit the Hamline nine 8-4, but lost the game through two Hamline homeruns. The University of North Dakota defeated the Cardinal and Blue in a well-pitched game by Val Rausch through a homerun in the ninth inning with a runner on base.

Stars for the year were Bob Hackner (captain), Val Rausch, pitcher, Joseph Porwoll (Fr. Method, O.s.B.), and Alois Goeb (Fr. Cuthbert, O.S.B.), catcher. Games and the scores are as follows:


Robert Hackner ’14 cf
Walter Roche ’14 rf
David Woulfe ’14 ss
Clarence Bisenius ’17 3b
Carl Kapsner ’14 lf
Joseph Porowoll ’14 2b
Aloise Geob ’17 1b
Frank Kettler ’17 1b
Val Rausch ’13 p

Coach -Flynn
Captain -Hacker
Stars -Porwoll, Rausch, Goeb



SJU                   Opponents

3......St. Thomas.....4

14....St. Cloud H.S...2

4......N. Dakota U.....6




- 1914 -

The opening game of the 1914 baseball season was a close-score defeat by St. Thomas, 9-10. With the addition to the squad of pitchers Albert Flannigan and Frank Mondloch, however, hopes rose high for a winning season. Shortstop John W. "Stump" Schmitt was also a star in the making, and so the future looked bright to the new team. St. John's won the following two games over Mechanic Arts (11-1) and Macalester (10-9). The final two games were defeats, a 2-6 loss to St. Thomas and 2-4 to Hamline.

Stars for the year were John Schmitt and Frank Mondloch, the latter a Prep School fireball hurler who in 1914 initiated his four-year career on the mound for St. John's. It was also the final appearance on the field of Robert Hackner, a stellar performer in whatever sporting activity he participated. For the next fifty years he held the St. John's 100-yard dash record of 93,4seconds. (For Hackner's athletic record see Basketball.)


Matt Lauer ’15 rf
Walter Roche ’14 cf
Daivd Woulfe ’14 lf
Robert Hackner ’14 cf
Victor Schmitt,’14 ss
Bernard Kuh, ’17, 3b
Frank Kettler ’17 1b
John W. Schmitt ’17 2b
Frank Mondloch ’18 p
Albert Flannigan ’16 p

Coach -Flynn
Captain -Roche
Stars -Lauer, Mondloch, Hackner


SJU                    Opponents

9......St. Thomas......10

11....Mechanic Arts....1


2.....St. Thomas........6


The fact that St. John's opened its 1915 baseball season with a seasoned battery of pitchers and a veteran catcher led to fair hopes for a great year. The Fates were not all propitious, however, and the team had to settle for a record of two wins and four losses. With the exception of two games, all those that were lost could have been won with a touch of good fortune.

The 1915 team on paper was the best produced at St. John's for several years. In the infield were Alfred Wipfli, a little man with a mighty homerun bat, and Johnny "Stump" Schmitt, who captained the baseball team for three successive years. John Flannigan was a seasoned pitcher, and Frank Mondloch, though still a Prep, was a fastball pitcher with great promise for the future. In addition, there were on the team basketball stars James Stroeder, Frank Kettler, and Urban Knaeble.

The feature game of the season was a no-hit-no-run game by Flannigan against Shattuck, won by a score of 2-0. In the fifth game of the season St. John's fell to Macalester by a score of 5-14. Flannigan was off form and left the game in the third inning after allowing five successive hits to Macalester. Frank Mondloch finished the game with not much better success. It was after 1915 that Mondloch became one of the greatest pitchers in St. John's history.


Frank Kettler ’17 1b
Alfred Wipfli ’16 2b
Joe Gaffney ’23 3b
John W. Schmitt ’17 ss
Frank Manley ’15, lf
John J. Schmitt (?)  cf
James Stroeder ’17 rf
Bernard Kuhl ’17 c

Coach --Flynn
Captain --J.W. Schmitt
Stars --Wipfli, Flannigan

-1916 -

The 1916 baseball team was resolved not to be outdone by the champion 1916 basketball cagers. And indeed the baseball men had material to work with. In their squad were four of the basketball stars, Louis Mohs, Urban Knaeble, John Flannigan and the well-known Alfred Wipfli, the last mentioned a short wiry man with a strong arm and an impressive batting record. At times in former years there had been little reason for optimism, but in 1916 there were several first-quality veterans, especially John W. Schmitt (captain) at shortstop, Frank Kettler at first base, and Frank Mondloch, a tried fastball pitcher and power hitter.

The first conference game, with St. Olaf, ended with a winning score of 9-8. Homeruns by Mondloch and Wipfli, and two-base hits by Counihan, Gaffney, and Goblirsch featured the St. John's attack.

Mondloch pitched good ball, but had to be relieved by Flannigan in the eighth.

The second conference game was also a victory, 1-0, over North Dakota Agricultural College in a game called because of rain in the eighth inning.

The third victory of the season was a twelve-inning affair with Macalester, won by a score of 4-3. Mondloch again displayed his power in seven strikeouts and six hits, though he walked five men and was relieved by Flannigan in the ninth. Stars of the game were Mondloch and Counihan, who drove in the winning run in the twelfth inning.

The remaining games were as follows: St. John's over Luther of Decorah, Iowa, in a pitching duel between Flannigan and Streeter of Luther. Then followed a loss to St. Olaf, 3-0, with the St. Olaf pitcher striking out fourteen batters to Mondloch's thirteen. The last conference game of the season was a defeat by Macalester in which St. John's committed the almost incredible number of thirteen errors. The score, 6-17, was the worst defeat since 1909, when Macalester defeated St. John's 18-0. The Record reporter wrote: "Let's forget it. This was the worst defeat St. John's suffered since 1909." Despite the poor ending of the season, St. John's took second place in the Minnesota-Dakota Conference behind St. Thomas and Hamline who tied for the championship.

Stars for the season were the pitchers Mondloch and Flannigan, catcher O'Leary, and shortstop John Schmitt (captain).


Frank Kettler’17 1b
Alfred Wipfli,’16 2b
John W. Schmitt ’17 ss
Joseph Gaffney ’23 2b
Bernard Kuhl ’17 lf
Louis Mohs ’17 cf
Mike Gobliersch ’17 rf
John O’Leary ’16 c
John Flannigan,’17 p
Frank Mondloch ’18 p
Clinton Counihan’17  ph

Coach -Flynn
Captain -J. W. Schmitt
Stars  -O’Leary, Flannigan, Mondloch, Counihan


SJU               Opponents

1.....St. Cloud .......3

9.....St. Olaf .........8

1....N. Dak Aggies...0

4....Macalester ......3

2....Luther College...1

0....St. Olaf ...........3



- 1917-

The United States entered World War I in 1917. As would be expected, the draft had already by springtime reduced drastically the male student population of all the colleges in the country. The Minnesota and Dakota colleges cancelled their spring athletic programs, thereby leaving St. John's without games for the baseball season. St. John's, however, decided to go ahead with a curtailed program along with St. Thomas, a military school with an officer training program. Coach Flynn, with Frank Mondloch the only college student on the squad, managed to scrape up a team by calling on the Prep School seniors and a few commercial students that had not yet been drafted.

In a four-game schedule St. John's garnered three victories against one loss, the latter a defeat by St. Thomas (1-0). The game was scoreless until the ninth inning when, through an error, St. Thomas was enabled to score. The other games on the schedule were victories: over St. Thomas 5-4, over the University of Minnesota High School 8-1, and Park Region College (Fergus Falls) 7-3. Stars were pitcher Mondloch, catcher John O'Leary, and Clinton Counihan, a solid hitter who came through in critical situations.


John W. Schmitt ’17 ss
Francis Welters 20 1b
Clinton Counihan ’17 2b
Joseph Gaffney ’23 3b
Welter ’17 cf
August Kapsner ’20 rf
Bernard Kuhl ’17 lf
Frank Mondloch ’18 p
Clinton Counihan ’17 p

Coach -Flynn
Captain -J.W. Schmitt
Stars -Counihan, Mondloch


SJU            Opponents

8.....U. of Minn. ...1

0....St. Thomas....1


7....Park Region....3

- 1918 -

Early predictions for baseball in 1918 were based entirely on Frank Mondloch, now a four-year veteran with the reputation of being the top pitcher in the conference. As a candidate for the priesthood, he had been exempted from military service and now was the only remaining member of the 1917 team. Coach Flynn's search for recruits among the Prep School seniors and the Commercials was eminently successful, however. Among the Prep School stars were such players as August Kapsner, William "Bart" Rooney, Matthew "Bill" Barry, Matthew "Horse" Weber, a hard-hitting first baseman, and John "Dutch" Daleiden, as backup for catcher "Gat" Hilgers. They even had their "Bird"-Lyle Orchard, a star pinch hitter whose timely base hits won at least two games that would otherwise have been lost.

It was a colorful team, as one can easily surmise from the nicknames. The season's average was five wins against three losses. Defeated were Luther College 8-1, St. Thomas 5-3, Macalester 10-2, and St. Cloud High School 3-1. Losses were to Hamline, 2-3, St. Thomas, 5-6, and St. Cloud High, 1-3.

It was a good season, so good, in fact, that St. John's contested the conference championship claim of Carleton, the official conference winner. The Record reporter wrote as follows: "We also have visions of a conference championship, and if there is any team claiming the championship it ought to be St. John's. We have as much right as any team in the state. Coach Flynn repeatedly tried to schedule a game with Carleton, but he was unsuccessful. It is doubtful if Carleton played two conference games" (Record, Vol. 31, 1918, p. 373).

In 1919, when St. John's indisputably won the baseball championship, the 1918 outcome of the conference was still rankling in the mind of the Record reporter: "At last the baseball honors of the conference championship rest in undisturbed peace at St. John's without any useless arguing or doubtful newspaper quibbling, as was the case last year" (Record, Vol. 32, June 1919, p. 319).


Matt Barry ’20 ss
Matt Weber ’20 1b
Leonard Beneki ’18 2b
August Kapsner ’20 3b
Ralph Bodin ’1, rf
George Reuter ’19 cf
Joseph May ’18 lf
Wm. Hilgers ’18 c
Frank Mondloch ’18 p

Coach -Flynn
Captain -Mondloch
Stars--Hilgers, Mondloch, Reuter, Beneke


SJU                   Opponents

5.....St. Cloud H.S. ....7

3.....St. Cloud H.S. ....1

8.....Luther College.....1

3.....St. Thomas.........3

2.....St. Cloud H.S. ....1



5.....St. Thomas.........6


The year 1919 brought to St. John's its first baseball championship with an overall percentage average of .800, eight victories in a schedule of ten games. In conference play St. John's won five college games with one loss, a 6-4 defeat by their ancient rival, the College of St. Thomas.

It was an eminently successful season. Coach Flynn's young team, made up partly of senior members of the Prep School, played superbly both in the field and at bat and slugged their way to the Minnesota- Dakota Tri-State championship with timely hitting balanced by good defensive play. Captain Matthew Barry, a fine shortstop, led his teammates with a batting average of .416, with centerfielder George Reuter following closely with a .348 average. Matthew "Horse" Weber's stick work earned for him a contract from the American Association's Minneapolis Millers, which he did not accept but went into business at Cold Spring Granite Co. immediately after graduation.

August Kapsner, later to be known as Fr. Roland Kapsner, O.S.B., belongs among the topmost stellar pitchers in St. John's athletic history. He was a solid competitor who played the corners of the plate with all the craft of a veteran professional.  To back up his pitching he was particularly effective at the plate, on occasions driving out sharply hit doubles to score a runner or advance him along the base paths. Perhaps his single greatest feat of the season was to pitch twelve innings in a 3-2 victory over St. Thomas.

From all the evidence furnished by the Record, it is apparent that the 1919 baseball team was a well-balanced aggregation with an abundance of poise and the ability to meet any situation that arose on the field. To try to choose stars among the ten or so that made up the team would be doing an injustice to those not chosen, for if ever a group of ball players worked in harmony and as a unit, this was true of the 1919 Johnnies. There were such players as "Little Kap," now Fr. Oliver Kapsner, O.S.B., brother of "Big Kap," the pitcher; Matt "Horse" Weber at first base; William "Bart" Rooney, leftfield; John "Dutch" Daleiden, catcher; Leo Wilzbacher; George Reuter, outfield; and "Bill" Barry, shortstop; each of whom furnished the special contribution required of his position. The most obvious of the stars were those who handled the ball the most: the pitcher, catcher and shortstop. Leonard "Little Kap" Kapsner played a stellar game in the outfield and had the knack of coming up with timely hits that got the team out of difficulties.


John Daleiden ’21 c
Wm. “Bart” Rooney ’20 lf
Matt Weber ’20,1b
August A. Kapsner ’20 p
Matt “Bill” Barry ’20 ss
John Cullen ’20 2b
George Reuter ’19, cf
Leonard Kapsner, ’20 rf
Leo Wilzbacher ’19 3b
Fran. “Hans” Wagner ’19 3b

Coach -Flynn
Captain -Barry
Stars -Barry, Reuter, A. Kapsner


SJU               Opponents

2.....St. Cloud H.S. ...1

4......St. Olaf...........2

3......St. Thomas......2

5.....St. Cloud H.S. ..2

5....River Falls Nor. ..0


4....St. Thomas.......6

0....River Falls.........7

6....St. Olaf............1



The year 1920 issued in a new era in athletics at St. John's. It was this year that St. John's became a charter member of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, popularly known as the MIAC. By doing so it dropped its membership in the Minnesota-Dakota Intercollegiate Conference, often referred to as the Tri-State Conference because of its membership in three states-Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

The older conference had served its purpose well from 1911 to 1920, always, however, with some dissatisfaction because of the large num ber of member colleges. It had become unwieldy because of scheduling difficulties, and in addition there was disagreement regarding eligibility requirements.

The entrance into the MIAC worked definite hardships on the athletic program to which St. John's had become acquainted over the years. Heretofore St. John's had been able to use on its teams young Prep School seniors and students of the Commercial Department, many of whom supplied the maturity lacking among the younger Liberal Arts members, regardless of their athletic talent. The academic regulations, however, were enforced with a stern severity that at times seemed almost too severe.

The MIAC ruling regarding the use of Prep School stars and members of the Commercial Department led to the breakdown in the camaraderie that had characterized the championship team of 1919. The addition of new players failed to compensate for quality that had been lost from the preceding year. The result was that the 1920 team was merely ordinary in comparison with that of 1919.

The 1920 team won only two contests of a seven-game schedule. Of the five conference games, St. John's defeated Hamline by a score of 13-5, one of the few games in which August Kapsner, the star pitcher of 1919, was at his best. Kapsner was unwell most of the season, the result of rheumatic fever suffered during the preceding winter months and which led eventually to his early death in 1944.


John Daleiden ’21, c
Matt. Barry ’20, ss
Matt. Weber ’20 1b
August Kapsner ’20 p
Lawrence Glenn ’21 2b
Joseph Kaliber (?) cf
Carlton Ryan ’20 rf
Leonard Kapsner ’22 3b
Leo Galvin ’20 lf

Coach -Flynn
Captain -Weber
Stars -Weber, Barry

SJU                 Opponents
4.....St. Cloud H.S. ...1
0.....St. Thomas.......8
7.....St. Cloud Tech..8
4.....St. Olaf...........6
0.....St. Thomas......8 


The 1921 baseball team was St. John's first venture into the MIAC baseball wars. The hopes of the new coach Edward Cahill for a good season were high. Returning from the 1919-1920 high-geared squads were veterans John Daleiden, catcher, and Leonard Kapsner, third base. Among the ex-Prep candidates were Andrew Parnell, Andrew Wahl, and Charles Treanor. New to the campus were James Keaveny, Melvin McDonald, Joseph Tucker (later Fr. Dunstan), pitchers Bernard Wiesler and Peter Meyer.

The season turned out to be a disappointment mainly because of inconsistent hitting and fielding errors. Pitchers Wiesler and Peter Meyer performed well and gave promise of brighter years in the future.


Leonard Kapsner ’22 3b
ohn Daleiden ’21 c
Andrew Parnell ’25 lf
Joseph Tucker ’22 cf
Andrew Wahl ’22 ss
Charles Treanor ’21 2b
Melvin McDonald ’22 2b
James Keaveny ’22 rf
Bernard Wiesler ’32 p
Peter Meyer ’21 p

Coach -Cahill
Captain -Daleiden


SJU                           Opponents

6.....St. Cloud Tech H.S. ...0

7.....Town Toggery...........3

1.....St. Olaf ...................3


4....St. Thomas................7

4....River Falls Nor. ..........5


0....St. Thomas...............9


- 1922 -

The 1922 baseball team was by no means a great success, though it had a potential that exceeded its achievement by far. The schedule called for six games, of which St. John's won two and lost four. Coach Cahill's problem throughout the season was to develop a pitching staff, and this, combined with the lack of timely hitting and occasional loose fielding, led to a conference finish in fifth place, despite the fact that the team defeated both St. Thomas and St. Olaf, the teams that finished in first and second places respectively in the conference. Stars for the year were Ben Wiesler, pitcher, and hitters Leonard Kapsner, third base, and Joe McGovern, first base, both of whom finished the year with a batting average of .318.


Leonard Kapsner ’22 3b
Andrew Wahl ’22 ss
Melvin McDoanld ’22 2b
Joseph McGovern ’22 1b
Joseph Tucker ’22 cf
John Pape ’23 lf
Ben Siebenand ’22 rf
Andrew Parnel, ’25 c
Bernard Wiesler ’23 p
Walter Fox ’23 p
Nicholas Schmitt ’25 rf

Coach -Cahill
Captain -Kapsner
Stars -Kapsner, McGovern


SJU             Opponents




4....St. Thomas...3

3...St. Thomas....4

2....St. Olaf.......1

- 1923 -

Fred Sanborn succeeded Edward Cahill as baseball coach. With only Andrew Parnell and Bernard Wiesler as supporting lettermen from the 1922 team, the new coach was faced with the formidable task of developing almost an entirely new squad. On the other hand, among the candidates were two ex-Prep School stars and the versatile John McNally on whom to build his team-August Carroll and Frank Marrin, as also sophomore Ernest Koepp, a football and basketball star. Stars of the season were August Carroll, a catcher, and pitcher Wiesler. The team proved to be a slight improvement over what was expected of it until its star catcher, Andrew Parnell, was incapacitated for the entire season by a finger fracture.

1923 was the last year of John McNally at St. John's. This volatile legendary figure who became famous nationwide in football under the name of Johnny Blood was among the charter members of the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1963. He finished his career in athletics at St. John's by pitching-and winning-a three-hit baseball game against Macalester, his very first attempt to pitch a game of baseball. It was likewise the year that he won the silver cup for proficiency in track. In the college track meet held in 1923 he demonstrated his energy and varied talents by winning first place in the 440-yard run, the half mile, the mile, the low and the high hurdles, the high jump, broad jump, discus and pole vault. He took second place in the 100- yard dash, the 220, and the javelin throw-a total of nine first place awards and three second places. In addition he was awarded a silver cup as St. John's first four-letter man in all the major sports then played at St. John's-football, basketball, baseball and track. (Sporting News, September, 1963, contains an impressionistic story of John McNally's athletic career.)


Francis Marrin ’24 ss
Lawrence Murphy ’25 2b
Harvey Pajeau ’23 3b
August Carroll ’24 c
Ernest Koepp ’23 1b
John McNally ’23 cf, p
Donald Norton ’23 lf
Gilbert Collins ’23 rf
Bernard Wiesler ’23 p
Joseph Weckwerth ’23 p
Andrew Parnell ’25 c
Maurice Noack ’23 lf

Coach -Sanborn
Captain -Parnell
Stars  -Carroll, Wiesler


SJU           Opponents

14....Little Falls....3

1.....St. Olaf........3



2....St. Thomas...14


- 1924 -

Although St. John's scheduled six games for 1924, only four were played, two of these being a double-header with St. Olaf, May 21. Both games were losses by scores of 1-6 and 0-7 respectively. It happened

 to be one of the St. Olaf glory years, with the Cleve-Swanson passing combination in football operating with equal efficiency at second and third bases in baseball. A third conference baseball game was played against Macalester on May 22, one day following the double-header with St. Olaf. In the last game, with Macalester, St. John's lost by a score of 1-7.

Two non-conference games with St. Cloud Teachers ended in a victory and a loss for St. John's. Pitching was thin for the year with Harold Lien carrying the main burden, winning one game and losing two, mainly through poor support in the field.

In the general debacle of the season, four stars emerged: catcher Leo Schumacher, pitcher Harold Lien, third baseman Carl Schumacher, and the brilliant outfielder Ray Humphrey, a line drive hitter of first quality (brother of Professor Stephen Humphrey). He was a star in basketball as well as in football. At the end of the baseball season, though only a freshman, he was unanimously elected captain for the next year. Unfortunately he was unable to return to St. John's the following year-a time when the Johnnies were in dire need of leadership in all three sports-basketball, football and baseball.


John Gleason ’26 2b
Andy Parnell ’25 1b
Ray Humphrey ’24 cf
Edward Powers ’24,lf
Gus Carroll ’24 ss
Nicholas Schmitt ’24 rf
Joe Conway ’26 3b
Leo Schumacher’25 c
Harold Lien ’26 p
William Firner ‘25
Hubert Small ’24 of
John Fox ‘24
Alois Hansen (?)

Coach -Sanborn
Captain -Gus Carroll
Stars -Humphrey, Lien, Carroll


SJU                     Opponents

3.....St. Cloud T.C. ....9

12....St. Cloud T.C. ....8

1-0...St. Olaf ...........6-7


-1925 -

Coach Sanborn was succeeded in 1925 by Gene Aldrich for a oneyear term at the helm of St. John's athletic fortunes. The 1925 baseball team was made up of a potentially strong group of baseball players individually but who could not be molded into a unit in the short baseball season. The team was handicapped also by an undeveloped pitching staff that allowed a high percentage of unearned runs.

In the conference St. John's lost four games. The lack of victories in the conference was offset in part by twin defeats of St. Cloud Teachers' College by substantial scores: 14-8 and 11-5. Leo Kapsner, brother of the earlier August and Leonard, won both of the St. Cloud games.

Stars of the season were John Gleason at second base and Leo Schumacher, catcher. Carl Schumacher, now Fr. Blase, O.S.B., starred at the plate, batting five-for-five in one game, one of the few times this was accomplished in St. John's baseball history.


John Gleason ’26 2b
Walter Miller ’27 ss
Carl Schumacher ’26 1b
Vince Goodman ’25 3b
John Sweetman ’27 cf
Leo Schumacher ’26 c
Leo Kapsner ’27, rf p
Henry Kirwin ’26 lf
Harold Lien ’26 p
John Fox ’25 p
Joe Conway ’26 3b

Coach -Aldrich
Captain -Leo Schumacher
Stars -Gleason, Kapsner, C. Shumacher


SJU                   Opponents

2.....St. Thomas.......14

2.....St. Olaf............18


14...St. Cloud T.C. ....8

11...St. Cloud T.C. ....5

1....St. Thomas........11

-1926 -

The appointment of Wilfred "Bill" Houle to head the coaching staff at St. John's in 1926 was the best thing to happen to St. John's during the entire 1920's. A versatile athlete and a star in each of his four years at St. Thomas in football, hockey and baseball, Bill was accustomed to win as a player and could not be satisfied in any position except first place in the conference as a coach.

Almost an entire veteran team greeted Coach Houle in the spring of 1926, and within two months he led St. John's, the possessors of the MIAC cellar spot, to become the leading contender for the 1926 baseball championship.

Highlight of a remarkably interesting season, with batters driving out base hits and pitchers hurling almost airtight ball, was a fourteeninning loss to Gustavus Adolphus which decided the championship. Ray Heisler, who had pitched tight baseball for 13 entire innings, weakened in the 14th inning and allowed five straight hits to the winning Gusties. Contributing to the loss was a second-inning injury to first baseman John Sweetman who was lost for the remainder of the season.

Stars for the 1926 season were pitchers Harold Lien and Ray Heisler, John Haffiey, centerfielder, and the two Schumacher twins whose defensive play and ready bats several times turned possible defeat into victory.


John Gleason ’26 2b
Herman Linnemann ’31 ss
Carl Schumacher ’26 3b
John Sweetman ’27 1b
John Haffley,’27 cf
George Clifford ’27 lf
Daniel Buscher ’29 rf
Leo Schumacher ’26 c
Harold Lien ’26 p
Ray Heisler ’26 p
Stephen Tell ’26 c
Walter Moynihan ’28 lf

Coach -Houle
Captain -L. Schumacher
Stars -C. Schumacher, Lien, Haffley, L. Schumacher, Heisler


SJU                   Opponents


20...St. Cloud T.C. ...1

1....St. Thomas........3


1....St. Thomas.........9



4....Gustavus............9 (14 inns)

3....St. Cloud T.C. ....4

-1927 -

The 1927 baseball team did not quite come up to the standard set in 1926. Lost were several mainstays, especially the Schumacher twins, Carl and Leo, Harold Lien, and John "Pinkey" Gleason. The loss of Lien was particularly damaging because it left the pitching burden entirely on the shoulders of Ray Heisler. Heisler, while pitching outstandingly well throughout the season, was sometimes the victim of poor fielding, possibly aggravated by the lack of an experienced catcher. Fortunately, Coach Houle was able to find a relief pitcher, Leonard Bussen, on whom he could rely for 1927 and the coming season in 1928.

St. John's was tied with Gustavus at one point for the conference leadership with only two games to go, but lost the following game and fell out of competition for top honors. The overall record for the season was four wins and two losses. The conference record was two wins over against two losses for a conference percentage of .500.


Walter Moynihan ’28 rf
Herman Linnemann,’31 ss
Nick Goblirsch ’27 c
George Clifford ’27 cf
Walter Miller ’27 2b
John Sweetman ’27 1b
Tony Lawrence ’29 1f
Alois Siebenand,’30 3b
Ray Heisler ’28 p
Len Bussen ’28 p
Louis Hanzel ’27 of
Leo Manion ’28 of
Fred Baker ’28 of

Coach -Houle
Captain -Sweetman
Stars  -Siebenand, Heisler, Linnemann, Clifford


SJU                  Opponents

7.....St. Cloud Tech.....3


13...St. Cloud Tech.....3

4.....St. Olaf..............3



-1928 -

In 1928 Coach Bill Houle had his baseball problems-a hard-hitting club that could hand out runs to the opposition with amazing prodigality. The second game of the season St. John's lost to Augsburg by a score of 3-10. The next game they clobbered the same Auggies with 18 base hits and 16 runs, to win 16-2. In the last game of the season they allowed Gustavus Adolphus 20 hits and 17 runs, while scoring only two runs.

Coach Houle's problem apparently was that in developing a strong hitting attack he was forced to sacrifice defense, especially at the catcher's position.

It would be impossible to select stars for the 1928 season other than mentioning the steady work of Al Siebenand, Herman Linnemann, and pitcher Ray Heisler. It was an interesting experience to watch them play; nevertheless, like all Houle's teams, it was colorful and could hit the ball. The conference record was three wins, five losses.


Ralph Koll ’30 ss
Adon Zimmer ’29 cf
Jim Phillips ’31 rf, c
Ray Heisler ’28 lf  p
Al Siebenand ’30 2b
Syl Wonderheide ’29 1b
Herman Linnemann ’31 3b
George McKasy ’28 c
Wilfrid Boone ’28 of
Walter Moynihan ’28 of
Len Bussen ’28 p
Adolph Spiering ’28 2b

Coach -Houle
Captain -Heisler
Stars -Seibenand, Heisler


SJU        Opponents



8....St. Mary's.....5

4....St. Olaf.......14


8....St. Mary's.....3

3....St. Olaf........4


-1929 -

Coach Houle commenced the 1929 baseball season with the problem of creating a strong pitcher-catcher combination capable of competing successfully in the MIAC. In genial James Caveney he had a competent catcher, not particularly strong at the plate but endowed with an uncanny ability to get hit by a pitched ball without being injured- or killed. His battery mate, Vincent Hensler, was backed up by freshman Lewis Klingsporn, a Prep star in his senior year (permitted to play by a special concession obtained in 1925 from the conference representatives).

Klingsporn was a sensation with a dazzling fast ball. In his first conference game he allowed St. Thomas only one hit for a 1-2 loss. The game, tied 1-1 from the fourth inning until the ninth, was lost by a dropped fly ball that advanced a runner to third, after which he scored on a wild pitch. In another game with Concordia Klingsporn whiffed fourteen batters to win by a score of 12-5. Had Klingsporn returned to St. John's after his freshman year he would have been one of the all-time star pitchers in St. John's athletic history.

The season record was four victories and five defeats. Two games scheduled with St. Mary's and Gustavus were not reported in the Record or possibly may not have been played.


Al Siebenand ’31 3b
Joe Hennen ’33 2b
John Baumgartner, ’29 rf
Adon Zimmer ’29 cf
Frank Schneider,’29 lf
Syl Vonderheide ’29 1b
Adolph Spiering ‘29 ss
James Caveney ’30 c
Lewis Klingsporn ’29 p
Vince Hensler ’30 p
Bill Carr ’29 cf

Coach -Houle
Stars -Baumgarter, Klinsporn, Siebenand, Zimmer


SJU               Opponents

4.....St. Cloud T.C. ....2

2.....St. Cloud T.C. ....7

1....St. Thomas.........2

6....Augsburg ...........7




8....St. Thomas.........3

12..St. Mary's...........4

- 1930 -

1930 was Coach Bill Houle's last year at the St. John's baseball helm. It was a disappointing year for a talented coach who in his own words said: "I resigned because I could not stand defeats. When I first accepted the position at St. John's, I hoped to attract top athletes to St. John's, but I failed."

Actually, it was through no fault of Coach Houle that his 1930 season was a failure. It was the second year of the "Great Depression of 1929" and the enrollment at St. John's had declined appreciably. With the exception of Captain Al Siebenand, Herman Linnemann, and Vince Hensler, the team was made up of untried players. Especially lacking was an experienced pitching staff. The team failed to win a conference game, with the result that it ended the season in the conference cellar. The overall season record was three victories and eight losses, five of these being to conference opponents.

Al Siebenand '30 3b
Herman Linnemann '31 ss
GeorgeSchoener '31 If
James Caveney '30 c
Anton Volk '30 p rf
John Murphy '31 cf
Al Krumweide '30 1b
Vincent Hensler '30 p
Matthew Loch '31 rf
Gus Luckemeyer '34 ss

Coach -Houle
Captain -Siebenand,
Stars -Siebenand, Schoener, Linnemann

SJU                 Opponents


0.....St. Cloud T.C. ..10

6.....St. Joseph.........2


1....St. Cloud T.C. ....2

5....St. Olaf..............9


10...St. Cloud Cath. ..9

1....St. Thomas........6



- 1931 -

The departure of Coach Houle left St. John's without a baseball coach since Joe Benda, the new basketball-football coach, was occupied with the football spring-training program. In the emergency, the newly appointed director of athletics, Fr. Roland Kapsner, O.S.B., took over the baseball team and deputized Herman Linnemann of St. Joseph, a veteran shortstop, to act as coach.

It was a low year for baseball among all the conference colleges, and St. John's decided to drop out of competition, restricting games to the St. Cloud Teachers' College and five of the nearby small town teams: St. Joseph, Avon, Rockville, and Holdingford. It was not an attractive schedule, but it served as a training period for several players who were to figure later in the 1932 and 1933 teams. Unfortunately, the star catcher, Edwin Hackert, '31, did not return the next year.

Hackert ranks among the sharpest line-drive hitters that ever performed on the St. John's campus.

Joe Hennen '33 3b
John Eisenzimmer '34 2b
Gus Luckemeyer '34 ss
Martin Mieke '31 1b
Edwin Hackert '31 c
Louh Kelsch, '31 rf, p
Leo Steiner '32 lf
Herman Linnemann '31 cf p
Ed Thelen '32 p
Reuben Fairbanks '31 p
Matthew Hoch '31 rf
Edwin Welte '33
Si Ryan '34 2b rf
Werner Wocken (?)

Coach -Linnemann
Manager Si Ryan
Stars -Hackert, Thelen, Luckemeyer, Fairbanks


SJU                Opponents


15....St. Joseph.....8


7.....St. Joseph.....16

7.....St. Cloud T.C. ..9



2....St. Cloud T.C. ...4

- 1932 -

St. John's dropped out of conference baseball for only one year. In the spring of 1932 Fr. Mark Braun, O.S.B., dean of the college, assigned Fr. Dunstan Tucker, O.S.B., to coach the baseball team, as he said, "to revive interest in baseball and keep some of these guys on campus." There were five lettermen on hand from the 1931 contests with some small towns in the vicinity: August Luckemeyer, Joseph Hennen, John Eisenzimmer, Ed Welte, and Edward Thelen-the last named the only experienced pitcher on the squad. The problem of organizing a team capable of competing successfully with the powerhouses of the MIAC looked formidable indeed.

After an inauspicious 2-10 first game loss to Gustavus on April 10, the second day out of doors on the baseball diamond, the team advanced steadily and finished the season with a heart-warming victory of 12-1 against St. Olaf, one of the top teams in the conference. Big George Klasen, a freshman with little experience in baseball who pitched the game, gave promise of becoming an especially fine pitcher. One of the characteristics of the 1932 team was its enthusiasm and willingness to work. The shortstop-second base combination of Michael Drexler and John Eisenzimmer became one of the best in St. John's baseball history, both defensively and offensively. Drexler led the team with a batting average of .357; Robert Burkhard had an average of .354. Drexler had all the potential of a first-class professional ball player but entered the seminary after his sophomore year.


LeoSteiner '32 cf
August Luckemeyer '33 cf, p
Edward Thelen '32 p
Joseph Hennen '33 3b
eorge Klasen '33 p
Michael Drexler '34 ss
Joseph Keller '37 of
Si Ryan '34 c, of
Eugene Roeder '36 of
Robert Burkhard, '35, rf
Leroy Ebnet, '32, of
Edwin Welte, ’33, 1b
John Eisenzimmer, ’34, 2b
Lawrence Iten, '34, of

Coach -Fr. Dunstan Tucker
Captain -Hennen


SJU                 Opponents


5....St. Cloud T.C. ..6 (10 innings)



6....St. Cloud T.C. ..8 (10 innings)



12...St. Olaf............1

-1933 -

George Durenberger, Director of Athletics, took over the baseball team in 1933. The 1933 team was aggressive and reacted with enthusiasm to the challenge of the conference, dominated that year by George Myrum's Gusties, who repeated their 1932 championship. The Gusties lost only one game, and that one to George Klasen and the Johnnies by a score of 8-7. Later in the season the team was handicapped by an injury to Klasen's wrist, thereby leaving the pitching jobs to rookies Kenneth Bloms and Hugh Gilmore in competition against the more mature conference pitchers.

Kenneth Bloms, a senior Prep School star, pitched a no-hit, no-run game against Phalen Luther College. George Klasen, on his return to pitching duties, won the last game on the schedule by a one-hit defeat of St. Joseph, the winner of the Great Soo championship. Gus Luckemeyer lost a St. Thomas contest when pitted against the great John Rigney, 3-10.


Gus Luckemeyer '33 cf, p
Joseph Hennen '33 3b
Si Ryan '33 rf
Joseph Keller '37 c
Robert Burkhard '35 lf
Simon Super '34 ss
Edwin Welte '33 Ib
John Eisenzimmer '33 2b
George Klasen '33 p
Kenneth Bloms '34 p
William Arth '35 1b
Hugh Gilmore '35 p
Elmer Madsen, '35 c
Louis Kohler '34 c

Coach -George Durenberger
Captain -Luckemeyer
Stars -Klassen, Keller, Hennen


SJU                Opponents


7.....St. Joseph........6

10...St. Cloud T.C. ..9

4....St. Olaf............5

6....St. Thomas......13

7....Phalen Luther....0

9....St. Thomas......10

3....St. Thomas......10

9....St. Cloud T.C. .13

6....St. Joseph........1


Overall: 5 wins  4 losses

Conference: 1 win  3 losses

- 1934-

In 1934 Fr. Dunstan returned to coaching after a year's absence. It was a good year on the whole. The spring freshman crop was especially strong at the plate-in fact, an unusually gifted group of baseball players. There was everything needed on the team for a great year except a consistently strong top-flight pitcher. Loren Henkemeyer pitched well on occasion, but tended to be erratic on occasion. As will be noted in the scoring statistics, a majority of the games were more slug-fests than air-tight pitching duels.

The batting average of the team for the season was .304: Bill Arth .500 in five games; John Callahan .464; Joseph "Unser Joe" Keller .375; Bob Burkhard .341; Lee Wagner and Ralph Eisenzimmer .333; Eugene McCarthy .222; Simon Super .214; Norbert Lang .187; and Merle Rouillard .111.

If excuses for a good team are ever appropriate (which is doubtful), they were for the 1934 Johnnies. The first of five losses was to the University of Minnesota, Big Ten champions for this year, by a score of 8-3. Two games were lost to the College of St. Thomas, which that year swept unbeaten to the MIAC championship behind its great pitcher John Rigney. Rigney was practically unbeatable in college ball. Re went directly from the campus of St. Thomas to the ball park of the Chicago White Sox and immediately began his brilliant pitching career in the major leagues.


Ralph Eisenzimmer '34 ss
John Callahan '37 c
Robert Burkhard '3, cf
Bill Arth '34, 1b
Joseph Keller '37 rf
Quiren Klasen '36 lf
Norbert Lang '37 3b
John Doherty '35 2b
Loren Henkemeyer '34 p
Si Ryan '34 of
John Marrinan '35 p
Kenneth Bloms '34 p
Simon Super '34 of
Eugene McCarthy '35 1b
Marvin Frejlak '34 p
Hugh Gilmore '34 p
Merle Rouillard '36 of

Coach -Fr. Dunstan Tucker
Captain -Robert Burkhard
Stars -Bill Arth, John Callahan, Joe Keller


SJU               Opponents

18.....St. Joseph.......6

3....U. of Minnesota...8

12...St. Cl. Eagles....11

12...St. Cl. Eagles....11

6....St. Cloud T.C. ...5

2....St. Thomas........6

5....St. Olaf.............6


11...St. Cloud T.C. ..8


7....St. Thomas.......15

-1935 -

The one single element lacking in the 1934 team was a strong pitching staff made up of at least three first string pitchers. That unusual commodity in college baseball in the 1930's appeared miraculously on the St. John's campus with the arrival of Avitus "Vedie" Rimsl and Austin McCarthy, brother of Eugene McCarthy. There were several infield changes that were necessitated by the departure of 1934 lettermen, but they were quickly filled by new men with equal abilities. Eugene McCarthy went to first base, Ralph Eisenzimmer was replaced by John Doherty at shortstop, and Timothy Donohue replaced Norbert Lang at third base. Philip Gravelle, another freshman, went to second base.

In a thirteen-game schedule, St. John's won ten games and lost three for second place in the conference. One of the losses was to the University of Minnesota by a score of 7-4. This game was Vedie Rimsl's first college experience on the mound and was in every sense of the word a remarkable achievement.

On Memorial Day, the last outing for the year, St. John's split a double-header with Gustavus Adolphus on the Gustie field. Rimsl won the first game 4-2, but St. John's lost the second by a score of 8-1. Prior to this defeat St. John's had won four straight games and, except for this loss, would have won the MIAC championship.


John Doherty '35 ss
John Callahan '37 c
Robert Burkhard '3, cf
William Blenker '36 lf
Timothy Donohue '38 3b
Joseph Keller, '37 rf
Philip Gravelle '37 2b
Eugene McCarthy '35 1b
Vedie Himsl '37 P
Austin McCarthy, '38 p
John Marrinan '35 P
Hugh Gilmore '35 p
Lee Wagner '36 c
Quiren Klasen '35 of
Leo Klasen'36 ss
Eugene Roeder '36 of

Coach -Fr. Dunstan Tucker
Captain -Callahan
Stars -Himsl, Blenker, Doherty,Burkhard, Callahan

SJU            Opponents

4....U. of Minn. .......7


6....St. Cl. Eagles. ...1

1....St. Olaf............3

8....St. Thomas ......7

12...St. Cloud T.C. ..9

10...St. Thomas......9


11...St. Cloud T.C. .5

10...Little Falls.......0

5....St. Cl. Eagles...0




Overall: 10 wins 3 losses
Conference: 4 wins 2 losses
Conference-2nd place


The sudden popularity of baseball that had followed the 1934 and 1935 seasons was manifested again in 1936 when several highly talented candidates tried out for the 1936 team. Prominent among them were Ernie Sowada, a left-handed speed and curve ball artist who complemented the right handers, Rimsl and McCarthy, to give St. John's the perfect pitching staff. It was and is still considered the strongest pitching trio in St. John's baseball history. After graduation, Himsl was signed by the Cleveland Indians and is now an executive in the Chicago Cubs' organization. Ernie Sowada, following his graduation, pitched several years with the Minneapolis Millers until the outbreak of World War II, during which he served as a Navy officer in the military service. Austin McCarthy, even as a freshman, was considered by the Detroit scouting staff the best pitching prospect in the state. Ironically, both Ernie and Austin are now exercising their talents in the medical profession.

The 1936 team won the first St. John's baseball championship since 1919 with a record of eight victories and one loss in the conference. The only other loss was to the University of Minnesota by a score of 4-2 in a game pitched by Himsl.

The season was not without its theatrics, especially in the final game at Gustavus Adolphus which decided the championship. With the score tied at 2-2 in the 10th inning, team captain Lee Wagner drove a Gustavus pitch over the left field wall to break the tie. This was followed by a single by Bill Blenker and a steal of second. A double by Linus "Skeets" Ebnet scored Blenker with the winning run.


Timothy Donohue '38 ss
Joseph Keller '36 rf
Lee Wagner '36 rf
Bill Blenker '38 cf
Linus Ebnet '38 2b
Bernard Meinz '38 1b
QuirenKlasen '36 lf
Philip Gravelle '36 3b
John Callahan '37 c
VedieRimsl '38 p, lf
Ernest Sowada '39 p, rf
Austin McCarthy '38 p, of
Leo Klasen '36 ss
EugeneRoeder '36 lf
Joseph Achatz '39 1b
John Rughes '36 c

Coach -Fr. Dunstan Tucker
Captain -Wagner
Stars -Blenker, Keller, Wagner, Ebnet, Rimsl, Callahan, McCarth


SJU                Opponents

12....St. Joseph.........1


10....St. Olaf.............1

7......St. Cloud T.C.  ..2

13....St. Thomas........1


1......U. of Minn........2




10....St. Thomas......2





Overall: 14 wins 3 losses
Conference: 8 wins 1 loss
Conference -1st place, championship


The story of the 1937 baseball season to repeat the 1936 championship is one of those that stir the memories of alumni when they recall the three great pitchers, Himsl, Sawada, and McCarthy, who by some happy chance happened to be on the same team during their college years. When candidates for the 1937 team appeared in the batting cage for tryouts, it soon became evident that the three stellar pitchers were the best hitters on the squad, and that the available outfielders, with the exception of ever reliable "Unser" Joe Keller, were unable  to fill the shoes of the graduated sluggers Bill Blenker and Lee Wagner. It was apparent that if St. John's was to repeat as MIAC champions it would have to be by making use of the triumvirate bats.

In order to generate power at the plate, it was a matter of using one of the pitchers in the outfield for every game, at the same time not risking the danger of hurting their pitching arms. A fairly elaborate system of relays by the infielders was devised to enable the pitchers to play without loss of team defensive power. The improvisation worked. Himsl over the season hit at a .500 average with three homeruns and two doubles; Ernie Sowada batted .500 with three triples; McCarthy batted .400 with one homerun.

Highlight of the season was Sowada's pitching feat in defeating the University of Minnesota by a score of 5-3. In this game Philip "Gabby" Gravelle glowed with triumph when on a relay Himsl to Gravelle from left field, the latter threw out a runner at the plate trying to score from second on a single. Himsl set a strikeout record for St. John's of 20 strikeouts in one game (over Augsburg), one short of the MIAC record of 21 set by John Rigney when pitching for St. Thomas in 1934. Sowada's strikeout record was 19.

In a schedule of 16 games St. John's won 14 and lost two, one of these to Gustavus with whom St. John's shared the championship.

Philip Gravelle '37 3b
John Callahan '37 c
Austin McCarthy '38 p
Linus Ebnet '38 ss
Bernard Meinz '39 Ib
Edward Callahan '39 rf
Leo Winkler '38 cf
Conrad Winter '40 2b
Vedie Rimsl '37 p, of
Ernest Sowada '39 p, of
Joseph Keller '37 rf, cf
QuirenKlasen '36 of
Leo Klasen '37 ss
Gerald Sheehy '40 cf
John Kehoe '40 p
Leo Koch (?) p
Joseph Achatz '39 Ib

Coach -Fr. Dunstan Tucker
Captain -Rimsl
Stars -J. Callahan,McCarthy, Rimsl, Sowada


SJU                   Opponent

2.....St. Cloud T.C. .....0

10....St. CI. Semipros...2



1.....St. Cloud T.C. .....2

5.....U. of Minn. .........3

12....St. Olaf............11


4.....St. Olaf.............1

16....St. Thomas.......2


11....St. CloudT.C. ...1



4......St. Thomas.......1



Overall: 14wins 2 losses
Conference -1st place
Conference: 9 wins 1 loss
Co-championship with Gustavus
Pitchers' records -Rimsl 6-1, Sowada 5-0, McCarthy 3-1

- 1938 -

Linus "Skeets" Ebnet, a professional baseball player who was working for a college degree and played shortstop or second base (Northern League players were eligible at that time), took over baseball coaching duties in 1938, replacing Fr. Dunstan who said he wanted to know again what spring was like, listen to the birds and see the flowers grow. Weather conditions were bad and the team was forced to practice in the gym longer than usual to get into shape. Shortly after the season commenced, star pitcher Sowada suffered an appendicitis attack and later a severely cut finger that limited his number of pitching appearances as well as sometimes his effectiveness. Even though handicapped, however, he had three wins over against two losses. Jack O'Reilly, a relief pitcher, had one win. Austin McCarthy, who had his best year, fast-balled the team into four wins and one loss. He batted for an average of .462.

The season overall record was eight victories and three defeats; the conference record stood at six wins and two losses for third place. The final game victory over Gustavus Adolphus by a score of 2-1 was a classic of team leadership on the part of player-coach Ebnet. Although the Jays were out-hit, Sowada scattered the five Gustie hits so that Gustavus did not score. In the meantime, St. John's had only one hit, but Skeets took advantage of walks and Gustie misplays to win the game 2-0. The loss dropped the Gusties into a tie with St. Thomas for the championship.

Four of the 1938 Johnnies were awarded places on the mythical MIAC all-conference team, as follows: Sowada, pitcher; Austin Mc- Carthy, pitcher; Ebnet, second base and captain of the mythical team; Edward Callanan, outfield. James Boyd and Wayne Kuesel received honorable mention.

Linus "Skeets" Ebnet lost his life tragically during the summer of 1938 when struck on the head by a pitched ball while playing with Winnipeg in the Northern League. Fr. Dunstan resumed coaching duties the next spring.

James Boyd, '41, 1b
Timothy Donohue, '38, ss
Linus Ebnet, '38, 2b
Norbert Vos, '41, 3b
Austin McCarthy, '38, p, of
Edward Callanan, '39, rf
Gerald Sheehy, '40, cf
Wayne Kuesel, '39, c
Ernest Sowada, '38, p, of
Leo Winkler, '38, of
Bernard Meinz, '38, of, ss
Albert Sauerer, '42, c
John O'Reilly, '38, p
James Roche, '40, of
George Grace, '41, c
Andrew Glatzmaier, ’39, ss

Coach -Ebnet
Co-captains - McCarthy, Sowada
Stars -McCarthy, Sowada, Callanan, Ebnet
Pitchers' records -McCarthy 4-1, Sowada 3-2, O'Reilly 1-0


SJU               Opponents

4......U. of Minn. ......8

7......St. Cloud T.C. ..6



8.....St. Olaf............1



1.....St. Thomas........6

6.....St. Mary's..........3

0.....St. Olaf.............2



Overall: 8 wins 3 losses
Conference: 6 wins 2 losses
Conference-2nd place

Chapter IV Continued...