State tournament stories: Joe Schleper and his boys

By Bob Greeley

2018 Shakopee Tri-Chair

In Shakopee, across Scott County, and points beyond … when someone hears or reads the Schleper name … the name is synonymous with the great game of baseball. The local area Schlepers that I know (Joe Jr., Bill, Gary, and Tom) do not just have a casual interest in and with the game. There’s a deep passion. So, where does this passion and love of and for the game come from?

Perhaps the best place to start is in rural Stearns County, Minnesota. That is where their dad Joe Schleper, Sr. was born and raised with his siblings in Farming.  Being a Stearns County native myself (Kimball), I played high school baseball against Joe’s nephew who pitched for Albany in the spring of 1975. I was and am very aware of the superb Albany Huskies baseball players’ last names that played on the diamond (Hasbrouck, Glatzmaier, Neutzling, Schleper, Kohorst and Ebnet).  

Farming’s ballpark was named Schleper Brothers Field in 2017 and has been the home of the Stearns County League Farming Flames since 1946. In recent years, major field improvements have happened there, including new field lighting. The entire Schleper family in Stearns and Scott counties participated in the fundraising efforts with these improvements. Farming played host to the Region 15C tournament in 2018 (first two weekends in August).  

Joe, Sr was born on April 11, 1928 and died on May 8, 1998.  He attended Albany High School from 1943-46. He played baseball in college at St. John’s University (two years); and at St. Cloud State University (two years and was team MVP). Besides playing town ball for the Farming Flames, he also played for the Cold Spring Springers.

Depending on your research, in the summer of 1950 or 51 while playing for the Springers in Cold Spring, they faced the Brainerd Braves, another Minnesota semi-pro team. Brainerd for that one summer had pitcher Herb Score hurl for them. The New York native and Florida raised Score was 18 years of age at the time. Herb ended up being a MLB pitcher in the American League for the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox from 1955-1962. He was a lefty and was considered the “left-handed Bob Feller.” In other words, he threw smoke. In the game that Joe faced Score, he had three hits, including a home run to center field and also pushed a Brainerd outfielder to the fence on a long out. Score always asked about Joe when talking to his friends back in Minnesota. For many who played with Joe, against Joe, and those who saw him play back in the day, he was considered by many as the “Ted Williams” in Minnesota amateur baseball circles with his bat. He was that good.

At the age of 36, he led the River Valley League in hitting with a .542 batting average. Score went 12-4 that summer for Brainerd. The lefty with a high leg kick and over-powering fastball signed with the Indians in 1952 and was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1955. He was a two-time All-Star.

Besides being a dominant hitter; Joe wasn’t too bad on the mound either. He threw a perfect game for the Springers against Little Falls in 1949.   

He was drafted by the Detroit Tigers as a pitcher and played minor league baseball for one season before returning to Minnesota and St. Cloud State University to receive his BS degree in 1951. He was drafted into the U.S. Marines and served his country during the Korean War from Jan. 18, 1952-Jan. 17, 1954.

He married Rose Marie Weidner on August 16, 1954 in Regal. Together, they had eight children.

Straight out of the service, he taught, coached and was the activities director at Belgrade for eight years (1954-62).  

While in Belgrade, he led them to their first state tournament appearance in 1959 held in St. Cloud. They finished the tournament with a 1-1 record; a tournament that the Shakopee Indians would go on to win.

While in Belgrade, he led the efforts there to erect field lighting on the baseball field.  

He was hired in Shakopee to teach 10th grade history and be the varsity baseball coach going into the fall of 1962. Joe was also the Shakopee activities director from 1966-1990.

He served as the president of the MSBCA from 1972-73 and received the Dick Siebert Award in appreciation for his many contributions toward high school baseball in 1980. He retired from teaching in 1989 and from being the varsity baseball coach following the 1976 season. He was inducted into the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990. (His brother Elmer was inducted in 1982). Also in 1990, he was hired to become the Missota Conference Executive Secretary, a position he held until the time of his death in 1998. Joe was a charter member of the Albany High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996; and received the Jim Dimmick Baseball Award in 1997.   

He was inducted into the Shakopee High School Athletic Hall of Fame on May 31, 1998, just a few weeks after his death.  Also after his death, the baseball stadium at Tahpah Park was named Joe Schleper Stadium. Joe Schleper Stadium received the 2008 Groundskeeper/Field of the Year Award by the MSHSBCA (Minnesota State High School Baseball Coaches Association).  Joe was inducted into the MSHSBCA Hall of Fame in 2013.

I did a Q and A with four of his local area sons Joe Jr., Bill, Gary and Tom:

Any broken windows playing ball in your backyard or in the neighborhood near Hiawatha Park on 7th and Main?

Joe Jr.: Gary and Tom were the window breakers! I remember Whiffle ball games being very competitive with a fair amount of trash-talking. The pitcher threw from the top of a fill with the back of the garage being the backstop. You could make the ball move any which way so you had to really concentrate just to make contact. I clearly remember the worn out base paths in our yard and obstacles like bushes and shrubs. I recall a diving head-first slide over a bush into third base and landing in broken glass. I ended up with stitches in my hand, but more importantly at the time, was safe!

Bill: Ask my brothers about that. I am totally innocent.

Gary: Well … Tom broke a sliding door with a bat.  Our poor neighbor, Bill Nevin’s house took many line drives off the siding, and his dog BB might have caught a ball or two in the mouth. Bill never complained as far as we knew.  

Tom: Gary and I were playing Whiffle ball in our back yard one Saturday night with an old wood bat. We got called into bed early and left the bat on the lawn.  We wanted to finish the game before church the next morning, so we got up early the next day to play. The bat had dew on it when I grabbed it to hit. It slipped right out of my hand on the first swing and flew right into the bottom of our glass sliding door. The entire door spider-web shattered all the way to the top.  Of course, we took off running around the house and by the time we peeked back round the opposite corner, Dad was standing there with the door half open looking at the door and then at us…he just shook his head…never said a word.  I guess because we were playing ball!

We also played all the time in the vacant lot across from our house.  I think that’s why Gary and I hit well to the opposite field because if lefties pulled the ball, it went into Sheriff Nevin’s garage/house. We broke his side garage door window so many times, he just stopped fixing it. He was a great guy —just smoked his pipe, shook his head, and smiled at us.  He was a baseball guy too, thank goodness!  

Share with us about your dad. Obviously, he instilled in you guys a passion for the game. How did he pass that onto each of you?

Joe Jr.: Many of my earliest memories including being at the ballpark. A favorite photo that is hanging in our porch is of my dad in his Belgrade baseball uniform holding me, his 1-year old son, also in uniform, on our way to a ballgame. He built a backstop in our backyard in Belgrade and I remember playing baseball there until we moved to Shakopee after my first grade year.  After moving to Shakopee, I was the batboy for a number of years for the Shakopee Indians during several state tourney runs. We have a 1964 state tourney team photo also in our porch and I can still name every player and tell you something about each one (even though I can’t always remember what I had for lunch on any given day!). Every Sunday in the summer was church in the morning and baseball in the afternoon or evening. Dad was my high school baseball coach and influenced me to become a coach. I started coaching baseball at age 16 and even coached my brothers Gary and Tom for several years. That was the start of coaching various levels of baseball, basketball, or football for another 47 years!

Bill: Dad instilled the passion by just letting us being around the game. He didn’t really push us into baseball, or any other sport or interest for that matter. As long as we stayed active and interested in something, and stayed off the streets and out of trouble, he supported us. He just gave us the opportunity to be around the game, and let our love for the game grow by itself. I recall him taking us along to many ballgames to be batboys for the High School baseball team. A highlight was getting a treat for chasing down foul balls, or when a wood bat would crack, we got to take it home with us. We would tape it up with athletic tape and use it for our neighborhood sandlot ballgames! My favorite was a “Nellie Fox” bat with the thick handle. I always figured that the bigger the bat, the better the chance the ball might hit it when I swung.  

Gary: I don’t recall dad ever pushing any of us into baseball.  I remember walking across the bridge over the river to watch the SHS team he coached every time they played.  I also don’t remember ever being discouraged to ruin the yard in exchange for a game of wiffle ball.  We played all summer long at the park or at the house and got the neighbors together every day of the summer.  Break time for lunch and dinner. It was a different world back then.  

Tom: Often, I hear myself repeating things he used to say, “Good two-strike hitter,” “Shake it off,” “Bow your neck.”  It makes me stop and smile when I hear myself say these things to my own kids or players … . I can still hear my dad’s voice saying this to them. As my wife often tells me, “Baseball is my happy place.” I guess partly because it transcends generations and still gives us a strong connection to my dad and my family.   

Did your dad ever share with you guys any of his past baseball prowess at the plate and on the mound?

Joe Jr.: Rarely … most of what I heard came from players he played against years later. He was very humble about his accomplishments. As his oldest son, I also got to witness some of his baseball prowess first hand. I have memories of his long, towering blasts over the right field fence at Riverside Park.  But, it didn’t dawn on me until years later that I witnessed his age 36 to 42 playing days and really not in his prime years. For years and years, I would run into people who told stories about his pitching exploits and even more about him being one of the best hitters they’d ever seen.

Bill: Not much. Dad was modest. I recall seeing a plaque tucked up on a shelf in the basement signifying his perfect game that he threw when he played for the Cold Spring Springers, but he never talked about it or said anything about his game unless we would ask him – and even then his answers were short and generalized. He wanted us to have our own careers, and not think we had to live up to his accomplishments. I suppose I learned more about his prowess from his former teammates at his wake and funeral than I ever heard directly from him!  

I recall the day he taught me how to throw a curveball in our back yard after he saw me get shelled in a game and down about pitching. He showed me how and why you throw it a certain way to make it more difficult for batters to pick up on it.

It seemed to work, because the first game I ever used it (later that summer) when I came in for relief duties in a Legion ball game, I struck out the first two batters and got the third batter to hit a chopper back to me for the third out. I think nine of my 10 pitches I threw that inning were the big looping curveball that my dad showed me! The team was all jumping on me and laughing as we went into the dugout. Definitely one of my more memorable days at the ballpark — all thanks to Dad! I plan to hopefully show my son how to throw that curveball in a few years.  

We also played a lot of Whiffle ball in our back yard with my brothers and neighborhood kids. When Mom would tell us to move across the street to the park with our baseball, Dad would chime in by saying, “We’re not raising grass. We’re raising boys” – which I later found out was a line Harmon Killebrew’s dad also used as well. Harmon was dad’s favorite Minnesota Twin.

Gary: Very rarely. I heard more about his talent as a baseball player when I first started playing town ball. Many who used to play against him would ask, “are you Joe’s boy?” when the stories of his prowess as a player would come out. Dad never told us most of these stories.  When he got older he shared a little more with our prompting. I used to love to go up to Cold Spring to play. Lots of his former teammates and opponents with endless stories — always good to hear those things.

Tom: Rarely. I asked him later in life about playing for the Detroit Tigers organization.  You could tell he didn’t like the manager because my dad wanted to hit and the manager never let the pitchers hit. He said finally they got to take BP one day and he hit the first pitch well over the right field fence. He said he dropped the bat and walked out of the cage.   Most of what I heard was from people who knew him back in the day. There are not very many left of them anymore.  I was in Alexandria earlier this summer and the announcer saw my name. He asked if I was related to Joe (that happened a lot when I was playing).  It was neat to hear it/meet someone again.  The announcer had played against dad when he was 21 years old and is 79 now. Fifty-eight years later he remembered playing against my dad in the state tourney when dad played for Belgrade and then a few years later with Shakopee. It was a night game and my son Jack hit his first home run that night with that guy announcing his name — talk about getting the chills — pretty cool moment.

There was an old granite plaque in our basement at home when we were growing up commemorating his perfect game for Cold Spring against Little Falls.  It hangs in my brother Joe’s porch now. Last summer, I found a baseball signed by Herb Score commenting on the homerun dad hit off of him. I am not sure how I ended up with that, but the ball is a pretty cool keepsake.

He led the effort to move to Tahpah Park from Riverside Park because Riverside proved to be a pain every spring with the Minnesota River flooding, correct?

Joe Jr.: Riverside Park was a historic ballpark located down in a bowl-like setting, but it often suffered from flooding and always from mosquitoes! Over the years, it hosted state tournaments with overflow crowds and great teams. I recall my dad bringing me down to the ballpark in the spring of 1965. From the bridge above, we observed that the entire field, including the grandstand and scoreboard, was submerged in water. There were pieces of the outfield fence floating and several boats skimming the water where our ballpark lay underneath. We continued to play at Riverside Park even after the grandstand was eventually condemned, the outfield fence was replaced by temporary snow fencing, and the surrounding land including the ballpark was bought by the State of Minnesota. As players, we felt an attachment to Riverside Park and really didn’t want to leave, but it ended up being the right decision.

Bill: Correct. I served with my dad on that committee (Shakopee Stadium and Lights Committee) when it was first formed in 1984. We ended up moving the Riverside Park light towers to Tahpah. Those towers served us well at the new stadium until recent years when they were replaced due to liability concerns.

Gary: Yes. He along with a number of others (Jim O’Neill & Kieren O’Brien for sure).  

Tom: Yep, my senior year of high school baseball is when we could no longer play at Riverside — talk about depressing. We moved picnic tables over from the softball concession stand just to have “dugouts” to sit.  It was dry and windy at Tahpah Park.  It had nothing around it; just a field enclosed by a chain link fence. Kids today have no idea how bad Tahpah Park was to begin with — just a fenced in field with no water, no dugouts, no batters eye, no cages — nothing. Eventually, we moved a fish house/shed up there that my dad announced in for years. The stadium seats, dugouts, lights, and batting cage were some of the first agenda items.   

What would your dad have to say about the current ballpark today that is named after him? Would he like it?

Joe Jr.: Dad wouldn’t be overly thrilled that it was named after him, but he would absolutely be so proud of what the ballpark has become! He would be thrilled that his family, friends, and the Shakopee community has carried on what he started. He would also pass on credit to many others including Keiran and Kevin O’Brien, who did a lot of the heavy lifting in getting major projects completed like hauling the grandstand sections from old Metropolitan Stadium from Bloomington, bringing the light towers from Riverside Park, and doing the major construction during the renovation of the ballpark.   

Bill: It is guaranteed Dad is smiling down on it today. Dad was old school, but he envisioned Shakopee having a ballpark that ranked among the best in the state! He loved baseball and wanted something better for not only his grandkids to play on, but for kids of all ages to create lasting memories for themselves. Mission accomplished, Dad! His legacy lives on in all who set foot in Joe Schleper Baseball Stadium.

Gary: Dad would love the park and all of the optional seating available. He would love the press box, since he announced many games from an equipment shed. He would be uncomfortable having the place named after him. Lots of people helped make this happen.

Tom: I think he would be in awe. Adding the concession/bathrooms building, roof over the grandstand, and press box were way out of reach before he died. My dad’s favorite color was blue … . I think we have plenty of blue around the stadium in honor of him … he’d think all the blue was beautiful. I love walking into the stadium and being reminded of him each time I do. It is quite an honor. Dad always wanted the press box slightly sunken and directly behind home plate just underneath the grandstand (the walkway and backstop were added and moved forward before the 2008 state tourney). That would have been a really cool spot for that, however, we were told that the drainage from the field goes directly below the grandstand; so setting the press box a little below the ground there for a field’s eye view unfortunately was not possible. The engineers did do an awesome job with the current roof and press box, though. Dad used to sit in a little shack between home and the third base dugout to announce. He even cut out some of the chain link fencing to return baseballs to the umpire, so yeah, this is a pretty nice upgrade today!

Many improvements have been made to the stadium since the last time Shakopee co-hosted the tournament in 2008. Can you guys share with us what those improvement have been and how they were accomplished?

Joe Jr.: One of the main improvements is the addition of more unique seating options, such as decks and drink rails. Also for players, the dugouts have been expanded by adding depth that includes room for players to sit on stools at a four foot fence. Adding enclosed bullpens is another improvement. Also, having Duane Slaughter step up to take care of the field has made a huge impact as the field is in the best shape I’ve seen it for years!  My brothers and I share ideas all the time about how we can improve our ballparks, which has led to Shakopee and Delano having some of the same features.

Bill: We added additional speakers and installed a new sound system.  We are constantly adding seating options around the stadium. Some in the shade, some in the sun. I think we now have well over 800 seats throughout the stadium, and I don’t think there is a bad seat in the house! We’ve also added a new scoreboard, extended the dugouts in front, added enclosed bullpens, and repainted the entire facility. This year extra effort was put into the playing surface that includes daily mowing, rolling, and trimming. You can just see the difference. Makes me want to come out of retirement and play again. Or maybe not.

Gary: Since 2008; the stadium has added a new scoreboard, added new field light standards and lights, added Metrodome grandstand seating, added new batting cages, added new fence top railing, added new fence screening, updated our centerfield batters eye, our bullpens were fenced in, last fall the stadium was re-painted, we made plate and mound improvements, the playing field surface is getting a lot of TLC this summer, and we made perimeter fencing improvements and dugout fencing updates.

Tom: Every year we have had a project or two worked on at the stadium.  Either making additions, renovations or something new. We want to keep up; as the bar is set very high across Minnesota with its ballparks. We also added stool seating to the dugouts. Gary worked hard on getting a new entertainment deck placed between the grandstand and the first base dugout last fall.  

Tom, I know you were heavily involved with the planning and building of Warren Stemmer Field located at the high school and the just newly built field in Tahpah Park. How did those facilities come to be?

Tom: Former School Superintendent Jon McBroom was great with Stemmer Field. He asked me what we wanted as far as dimensions, fencing, duo bullpens and batter’s boxes—the original layout was fantastic. George Miks at FABCON helped design and get us the materials for the dugouts and press box. It’s a great setting for our teams — probably a better facility than many varsity fields. Greg Ries later donated and planted several trees to make it an even better setting.

West Tahpah is coming along in similar fashion. Adding the dugouts and scoreboards…as well as trees … will be huge for that future field. I guess growing up with the stadium being developed the entire time just showed me it never hurts to ask for help … people are amazing in lending a hand or making our facilities better for our kids.

Do you guys have any special memories going to Twins games with your dad at old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington?

Joe Jr.: I remember dad getting a last minute ticket to the 1965 All-Star game at Metropolitan Stadium and coming home excited after catching a Tony Oliva foul ball.

After the Twin’s Metropolitan Stadium closed, I saw a newspaper article about the sale of stadium seats. I made a phone call and then fellow town team player Bob Britz and I made a trip to Bloomington. The price was pretty high and I was inexperienced in the art of deal making, so I consulted dad. He liked the idea and started the Stadium and Lights Committee. His experience negotiating, raising money, and calling in favors enabled us to get a great deal on the stadium seats, as well as whole sections of concrete. Keiran O’Brien’s construction company made middle of the night trips hauling the seats and concrete sections from Bloomington to Shakopee. Most of our family, as well has numerous town team players, helped install each of the 540-plus Metropolitan Stadium seats at Shakopee’s Tahpah Park.

Bill: See Tom’s answer below. That was by far our favorite memory! I still laugh at that story to this day!

Gary: I remember going to Met Stadium with him a number of times. One for bat day against the White Sox with lots of run and lots of bats. The Twins don’t give away bats anymore for safety reasons. We usually sat in the left field bleachers and then walked over to the right field bleachers later in the game. I also remember getting “good seats” against the Yankees down the left field line and catching a foul ball off the bat of Chris Chambliss … barehanded.     

Tom: Dad used to take us maybe once a year.  I remember my older sister having a crush on Cesar Tovar. We used to sit in the left field bleachers and then move to the right field bleachers around the fifth inning. When we were moving from left field to right field one game, my sister had made a “We love you Cesar” poster and held it up to the center field fence (you could do that as you walked around behind it).  The announcer said, “Would the fans in center field please remove the poster”  — my sister dropped that sign and we all took off running for the right field bleachers as fast as we could!

Do you guys keep in touch with your Stearns County cousins?

Joe Jr.: Back in the 1980s, our Shakopee town team would head to Cold Spring and play on a Friday night, then camp out, before playing a game in Farming on Saturday afternoon. There were four Schleper’s in Shakopee’s lineup, all of us left-handed hitters, and six Schlepers in Farming’s lineup. Plus, my dad was in one dugout and my uncle Elmer in the other, plus numerous relatives in the bleachers. We still debate about who won those games! Last year, more than 200-plus relatives attended the naming ceremony for Schleper Brothers Field in Farming. This year, the Delano Athletics played in the Farming Invitational tourney. So, my son Adam had the opportunity to play on the same field as his grandfather.

Bill: Yes. It is not often that a get-together or reunion doesn’t turn into the conversation of baseball. We have an annual family golf tournament (reunion) that was started by my dad 29 years ago. We not only give a prize for the longest putt and drive, we also have everyone putt with a baseball bat on the last hole.

Gary: Yes. Whenever we get together the conversation ends up on town team baseball or the Twins most of the time. I love what Farming has done to their field.  We all traveled up to Farming last summer when they dedicated the Farming Field as the Schleper Brothers Field. Dad played there back in the day with his brothers. So, it was neat to be able to do this and be a part of it.  

Tom: Yes. We had a great time at the Schleper Brother’s Field Dedication. We have a golf outing the first Monday in August with all the relatives; an event dad spearheaded years ago. We couldn’t go to a Johnnie baseball game to watch my oldest son Dominick play this past spring without a cousin or two at the game.

I’ve noticed for a long time that after every home team practice or game at ”The Joe” that each team takes the responsibility in taking care of the field. When did this practice begin?

Joe Jr.: Right from the beginning, taking care of the new field at Tahpah Park just needed to get done. If the town team players didn’t make improvements and care for the field, it didn’t get done and you were playing on a subpar field. It did create ownership and pride … today Shakopee teams/players are well organized and do a great job of taking care of the field.

Bill: It’s been done as long as I can remember, but it definitely has been stepped up with my two brothers (Tom and Gary) coaching/managing the high school and town teams. It’s demanded of every team that uses the facility now. In the early years, we just raked the mound and plate, and maybe around the bases, and let the city do the dragging, etc. the next day. But, we got tired of having a “lip” around the infield and the mound would be sub-standard. It was embarrassing to have weeds around the fencing. I guess we just started taken more pride in the field the more we played, and soon it just became a cardinal rule around here that if you’re going to use it, you’re going to have to take some pride in the facility, too. 

Gary: This has been going on for years and has ramped up more recently with the addition of water and clay available at the field. We how have machines to mow & drag as well so all users are pretty much in charge of leaving the field better than they arrived. Used to be just a rake and a broom when I first started playing.

Tom: Ha. Well, you know how it goes: “We need to clean up the field, guys.”  And, the same guys are always the ones doing the work.  As a high school coach, I made an assignment spreadsheet for each position to make sure all was covered. I just passed it onto the other teams in town, in case they wanted to use it!    

Anything else that you would like to add?

Joe Jr.: I’ll always treasure being teammates with my brothers Bill, Gary, and Tom for seven of the 16 seasons I played town ball, with my dad managing a number of those seasons. Baseball has largely been responsible for making lifelong friends like Steve O’Neill, the Heller brothers, Steve Hullander, and too many other teammates to name. Rival players became friends too as we shared a baseball brotherhood. The comradery and banter in the dugout was always special! Being involved in baseball after our playing days seems to be one legacy of our family. It may have started with my grandpa Herman Schleper convincing the church in Farming to build a baseball field … my cousin Mike was recently given some documents that include Herman’s signature for bringing in loads of dirt for the original field in Farming. Ballparks in Shakopee, Farming, Delano, Avon, and St. John’s University have our extended family’s imprints on them. We appreciate the many beautiful baseball parks Minnesota has to offer! Being at the ballpark has always evoked a feeling of serenity for me. It is like a second home.  Dad absolutely loved baseball, but he loved his family more. He was truly a kind, selfless person and was happiest when his family was around. And, often the family gathering place was at a ballpark!

Bill: I love this place. If I ever get cremated, please spread my ashes in right field!

Gary: Concessions are another area that has created work. Used to not have concessions available at most parks. Now, it’s a must. We have been lucky with many dedicated volunteers to help make this a success. Baseball has formed many friendships for myself. I consider myself lucky to have gotten involved in amateur baseball and for being around it as long as I have.  

Tom: Growing up with my dad as a teacher, baseball coach, and AD in a smaller town (at the time) could be tough at times. My dad was a no-nonsense guy (lightened up a ton after he retired). He was very strict — very tough. I know he ruffled a few feathers along the way and there were some people who didn’t’ agree with everything he did, but I respect the fact that he stuck to his morals, values, and principles — he never swayed. He knew right from wrong. And in leading through this example, he taught us to understand and appreciate the difference.

His Boys

Joe Schleper Jr.

1973 SHS graduate. Active in SHS sports.  1973 Senior Athlete of the Year. Former Marystown/Shakopee Cubs/Shakopee Indians player for 16 years. Played college baseball at St. John’s University.  Shakopee High School Hall of Fame inductee in 2000.  Teacher and Coach at Lonsdale/New Market/Veseli Area Catholic Schools (4 years); New Richland/Hartland/Ellendale/Geneva Public Schools (4 years); and Delano Public Schools (29 years). Delano Teacher of the Year in 2000.  One of 9 finalists for Minnesota Teacher of the Year in 2001. On 2013 State Tournament Board in Delano and is a 2019 Tri-Chairperson when Delano hosts again. Worked every day of the 2008 tourney in Shakopee and plans to do the same in 2018.

Bill Schleper

1979 SHS graduate.  Was active in SHS sports and drama. Former Indians player.  Sound and technical expert. Videographer for many SHS athletic teams. Expert drone operator. Volunteer youth sports coach. Indians PA Announcer since 2004. 2008 state tournament tri-chair. 1984 Shakopee Stadium and Lights Committee member.  2017 SHS Distinguished Alumni Award. Founder/Owner/President of MinnesotaNICE Water, LLC. (the official water of the 2018 Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament). Also owner of North-Central Vending Sales & Service, with their facility located in Burnsville.

Gary Schleper

1982 SHS graduate. Was active in SHS sports. Former Indians player. Current Indians manager.

Shakopee High School Hall of Fame inductee in 2004. Southwest State Hall of Fame inductee in 2015. 2018 state tournament tri-chair. Two-sport standout at Southwest State/Marshall in football and baseball. 3x All-NIC and 3x NAIA All-District in baseball.  148 career games. In 1984 had .447 BA with 9 homeruns, 9 doubles and 45 RBI. Team MVP. Third highest BA in a single season in school history. In career at SW State, had 27 homeruns, 130 RBI, 36 doubles, OBP .507, slugging percentage .636.  Also had 12 career pitching victories and 15 complete games. Team co-pitcher of the year in 1987. Sales representative for Innovative Graphics located in St. Louis Park.

Tom Schleper      

1984 SHS graduate. Was active in SHS sports. Former Indians player. Has been SHS Saber Baseball

Varsity Head Coach since 1994. 1987 MBA State Tournament MVP. .434 BA. two home runs, two doubles, 9 RBI. Played in every MBA state tournament from 1986-2001 and 2003. Played in four MBA state championship games, with two championships. Played college football (2) and baseball (4) at Southwest State in Marshall. He was 3x All-NIC in baseball. Was ninth-grade English teacher at Shakopee West Junior High School since 1990 (fall 2018 teacher at Shakopee High School). Also a head coach in the Shakopee Youth Baseball program at a variety of levels. Coached grades 9-12 high school football from 1989-2014.

Most coaching victories in the history of Shakopee High School baseball. You will find Tom at “The Joe” quite often working on something solo or many times with his brothers.

Photo 1: Gary Schleper, Joe Schleper, Elmer Schleper, Bill Schleper and Tom Schleper taken during the 2008 state tournament in Shakopee.

Photo 2:  Joe Schleper and company building a batters’ eye.

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