Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame inductees celebrated Saturday

Fred Roufs — Mankato

Fred grew up in Le Sueur where he played youth and VFW baseball. He attended St. Anne’s Catholic School and graduated from Le Sueur High School in 1965. There he played baseball and was an accomplished wrestler. Fred attended Minnesota State University at Mankato where he studied business and wrestled for the Mavericks.

Fred was a huge ambassador for amateur baseball. After moving to Marshall in 1976 with his family, he immediately became involved with the Marshall Baseball Association, which oversaw the city’s two amateur teams; the A’s and Giants. Improvements made to American Legion Field during his tenure included a new grandstand, dugout reconstruction, new scoreboard, concession stand and a press box. The press box is where Fred could be found on many summer evenings lending his voice as a public address announcer during VFW, American Legion, and amateur baseball games. Fred was instrumental in bringing to Marshall the 1987 American Legion baseball state tournament and the 1989 amateur baseball state tournament. He served as chairperson on the Marshall Parks, Recreation, and Community Education Advisory Board and coached Marshall’s American Legion baseball team in the mid- and late-1980s. He was a booster for Southwest Minnesota State athletics and was a pitcher for the Wooden Nickel Softball Team.

Fred and his family moved again in 1990 to Mankato where he aligned his professional life and his passion for community. He was a strong booster of Minnesota State athletics. Fred enjoyed spending time playing golf, being a member of the Mankato Golf Club and attending as many Maverick sporting events as possible.

Accolades Fred received along the way were: being inducted into the Minnesota State University Hall of Fame in 2012, the Le Sueur Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2010 (1965 team), 2012 (1963 team) and 2018 (1965 individual), and the Marshall Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019. He served on the Minnesota Baseball Association Board for 26 years, becoming president in 2020. Fred received the Mike Downes Award for Outstanding Service to Minnesota Amateur Baseball in 2020. The press box at American Legion Field in Marshall was named after him in June 2021.

Fred was married to Susan for 53 years and was a father to Jayson and Jennifer and a grandfather to Jack, Max, Maddie and Frederick. 

Fred passed away on January 12, 2021 at the age of 73.

Alvin Funk — Buckman

Alvin’s baseball career began at a young age playing with his dad and younger brothers. He played high school baseball at Memorial High School in Pierz, graduating in 1962. He began his amateur career with Center Valley where he played second base and outfield and eventually helped the team move to Buckman.

He managed and played for Buckman for over 35 years until his death in 2001 and was instrumental in many park improvements and fundraising activities. Alvin’s special ability to connect with each of his players led to three Class C state tournament appearances, finishing as champions in 1999 and runners-up in 2001.

Alvin served in the Army National Guard for six years, was on the parish council of St. Michael’s Church in Buckman, served as vice president of the Victory League East for many years and served on Little Rock and Sunrise Ag Coop’s board of directors from 1978-2001. He coached Little Six baseball and started and coached an elementary basketball team.

Perhaps the greatest contribution to amateur baseball Alvin was most proud of was mentoring and inspiring many young people over the years to love and play the game.

Throughout it all, Alvin was supported by his wife, Barbara, and his children Robert, Brenda, Brian, Jeannie and Tommy. Alvin was beloved by his 12 grandchildren along with many friends and neighbors from the entire Buckman community. Alvin passed away on Oct. 18, 2001 at the age of 57.

Louie Graupmann — Plato

Louie’s baseball career began at a young age watching his father play amateur baseball and playing pickup games with his friends. He graduated from Glencoe High School in 1964, participating in baseball, football and basketball serving as team captain in both baseball and football..

Louie had an 18-year career with the Plato Blue Jays. He was a Crow River Valley League All-Star while playing catcher, first base and outfield. In 1966, Plato won the league championship and Louie was named league MVP with a batting average of .429. He was also a member of Plato’s first state tournament teams in 1977 and 1979.  At the end of his career he was the team’s co-manager and is currently Plato’s baseball board president.

Over the years, Louie has been a team host at state amateur tournaments and has umpired numerous local amateur events in the area. He was instrumental in constructing the new baseball field in Plato, along with revamping the bleachers, dugouts, concession stand, storage shed and new little league fields. He continues to help with field maintenance and field scheduling of all levels of baseball and softball. He is well-known for keeping the refreshments going in Louie’s Snack Shack.

Louie was a volunteer fireman for 46 years for the City of Plato, including time as the fire chief. He is a member of St. Paul’s UCC Church where he has been president, board member, Sunday School teacher, and confirmation mentor. He was president of Glencoe High School Lettermen’s Club, a member of their Booster Club, and is a fixture on the chain gang for Glencoe-Silver Lake football games. He is also a volunteer for the McLeod County Food Shelf and a Red Cross blood donor.

Louie and his wife, Ardeen, have two children and five grandchildren: daughter Joan Hansel and husband Brent and their children Jacob and Noelle; and son Chris and wife Cory and their children Nolan, Nick and Hannah.

Joe Grose — Waterville

Joe’s amateur baseball career began at age 13 and extended over 33 seasons. He played high school baseball for Waterville-Elysian as its shortstop while also excelling in football and basketball earning him Male Athlete of the Year honors in 1986. He played collegiate baseball for two years at Bethany Lutheran College and two years at St. Cloud State University.

A versatile player, Joe could play any position but was primarily an infielder, pitcher and catcher.  Well known as a powerful hitter, he hit .350 for his career with 165 home runs. He played in 10 state amateur tournaments — three times as a draftee. Later in his career, he became the team’s manager and served in that capacity for 12 years before retiring in 2016.

Joe has held every office on Waterville Baseball Club’s (WBC) Board of Directors and is currently its president. He has also served the 13-60 League for over 25 years where he is a past president and is currently vice president. He handles player contracts and team registrations for Waterville along with scheduling games and umpires.

Joe coached junior high, junior varsity and varsity baseball at Waterville-Elysian-Morristown High School for over 10 years. His varsity teams won the Gopher Conference three times. He also coached Jr. Legion baseball. Waterville has hosted many Legion and high school tournaments where Joe has volunteered countless hours to ensure their success.

Perhaps one of Joe’s largest contributions to the game of baseball is his maintenance of Waterville’s William J. Grose Park, named after his father, who is also a member of the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame. Joe can normally be found at the ballpark after his daily postal route and on weekends. He takes care of mowing, trimming, edging and everything else that keeps the park in pristine condition. He is the first one there several hours before game time and the last to leave after everything is cleaned up. For over 25 years, Joe has been the “go-to-guy” for the WBC and does so with humble pride and integrity.

Baseball is a family affair for Joe, his wife, Michele, and sons, Nolan and Dalton.

Steve Rader — Rollingstone

Steve was born and raised in Rollingstone, Minnesota and has spent his entire life there. Rollingstone had a rich tradition of success with their amateur baseball teams and as a kid, Steve couldn’t wait to be part of it. 

When Steve turned 16 in 1946, he joined the amateur team. Over his 27 year career, he had one-year stints with Winona and St. Charles and played the other 25 years with Rollingstone. Steve was a prolific hitter and hit .300 or better in each season he played. His best year was in 1953 when he hit .480 while leading Rollingstone to its only Class B state title. In all, Steve played in seven state tournaments, six with Rollingstone and the other with St. Charles. Steve was also an outstanding defensive player, primarily as an infielder. His baseball knowledge and humility were well known, making him a great teammate. When he was 20, he even had a short stint in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system.

Near the end of Steve’s playing career, he started the first Little League program in Rollingstone and coached for 15 years. He even purchased his team’s first uniforms with his coaching salary. Fundamentals were always stressed with Steve’s Little League teams. The program became successful and proved to be a great feeder system for Winona High School baseball. He also umpired Little League and high school games for a number of years.

In addition to coaching and mentoring many young baseball players, Steve played a major role in the maintenance of the baseball field in his playing days and later when he was a coach. With his background as an electrician, Steve also volunteered countless hours repairing motors along with other general maintenance work at Holy Trinity Church, including servicing Holy Trinity’s famous bells and serving as an usher. He also serves as the historian for the Luxembourg Society.

Steve’s wife, Connie, has been at his side throughout his career along with his children Paul, Dawn and Cheryl, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

John Seifert — Chaska

John’s interest in baseball began at an early age while playing catch with his brother, Jerry, between farm chores. At the age of 12, he played for the St. Benedict B team. From 1958-1961, he was Jordan High School’s catcher. After high school, Minnesota State University, Mankato recruited John to play basketball, but he spent his summers catching for the Jordan Brewers.

In 1967, John was drafted into the Army and assigned to a base in Germany. He was invited to try out for a battalion team and earned a spot as a pitcher. With a 10-1 record, John’s sergeant contacted a scout he knew from the Dodgers. After watching John throw a bullpen session, the scout offered him a contract on the spot. John signed and was eventually sent to the Florida State League as a reliever. He pitched two years in the Dodgers organization at the A and AA levels and retired with a 7-3 record.

He returned to amateur baseball as a player/manager for the Jordan Brewers for two years and was drafted by St. Peter and Chaska in consecutive years to play in the state tournament.

John and his wife, Susan, then moved to Chaska with John becoming involved with their baseball program. This began a 40-plus year run of coaching Chaska’s youth, legion and amateur baseball programs. He managed the Chaska Cubs from 1995-2013, guiding them to the state tournament in 15 of those years. They were Class B state runners-up in 1998 and 2002. In 2007, John was selected to be one of the coaches in the first CCL-DRS All-Star game. He eventually slid over to coaching first base after retiring as manager and continues to work with young players. Over the years, many of these players have gone on to play college and professional baseball, including his son Ryan.

John has spent countless hours mowing the field at Chaska and making sure all is ready for the next game. His commitment to the community and the support of his family is what helps keep him dedicated to the game he loves.

Dwight Walvatne — Ashby

Dwight’s love for baseball began on the playgrounds in his hometown of Dalton. In 1969, he started playing pee wees and midgets in Ashby, seven miles down the road. He went on to play shortstop at Ashby High School and later joined the Ashby A’s amateur team. Dwight played in over 500 games in his 29 years with the A’s, primarily as a first baseman and their cleanup hitter. He hit .325 for his career with over 90 home runs and could always be counted on in the clutch. He played in many league all-star games and managed for four years. He helped Ashby qualify for the state amateur tournament in 1987 and 1998.

After Dwight retired from baseball in 2004 at the age of 47, he turned his attention to Ashby Ballpark. He prepared the field before each game and ran the concession stand for 10 years. He has mowed the infield and edged the base paths for many years. In 2015, he ran a skid steer as part of a group of volunteers who helped lay a grass infield in the Ashby Ballpark, with irrigation throughout. Dwight continues to maintain the infield and irrigation system. He has been a youth baseball coach at the junior high and Babe Ruth levels and has had the pleasure of coaching his twin nephews in recent years. Dwight currently volunteers as the head coach of the Ashby Legion team and is an assistant coach for Ashby High School.

Dwight was an EMT and fireman in Ashby for 13 years and has been a Minnesota firearms instructor for the past 20 years.  Dwight is on the Ashby Legacy Board Community Team, working on various projects for senior citizens and youth. He helped enhance the Ashby Senior Citizen Center with building improvements while also maintaining the Ashby skating rink for area youth and helped build a new basketball court with a skid steer. Dwight was Grant County sheriff for 22 years and has also helped the City of Ashby as a volunteer snowplow operator for 25 years.

Dwight has been supported throughout his amateur baseball career by his wife, Wendy, and his two children, Jennifer and Brandon along with five grandchildren.

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