The Minneapolis Park National League will never have another player like Jim Botten. Jim was known to all as “Botts” during the 41 years he played in the league. A .340 lifetime hitter Jim was renowned for his prodigious homeruns that struck houses and broke windows considered safely out of reach of the baseball diamond. Opponents respected Botts competitive fire and love for the game. Year after year Jim would schedule upwards of 70 games and take his team throughout the state to play all comers. Teammates, opponents, and umpires remember Jim for pulling up to games on his motorcycle and his commanding presence on the field. When Jim batted there was always that anticipation that you might see him hit a ball 500 feet.
Jim played in 12 state tournaments winning the championship in 1988 with the J. Botten team that he sponsored for 25 years. His love for the game was so strong that he played until he was 60 and his knees were bone on bone. Upon retirement Jim moved to Arizona.
A man for all seasons Larry has excelled as a player and an umpire. In the late 60s and 70s Larry managed and played for several amateur teams scoring his most notable achievements with Dick’s Place in the Minneapolis Park National League. A wiry catcher with keen instincts and a strong bat Larry led Dick’s Place to preeminence in the league with several state tournament appearances.
Upon his retirement as a player/manager Larry turned his interest to umpiring and established a reputation as a skilled, hard working arbiter with a comprehensive understanding of the rule book. His performance and reputation earned him an opportunity to umpire in the Major Leagues for 7 glorious games in 1979 and the 2008 NCAA Division III Regional Tournament in Oskosh, Wisconsin.
For 44 years Tim Kimmel was the embodiment of St. Paul amateur baseball and remains a baseball legend throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. After 3 years with the Union Printers Tim took over 3B for the East Side Merchants and became the face of the enduring franchise for 41 years. With an unmatched passion for baseball Tim soon took over the managerial reigns and the team would play any place at any time consistently playing more than 70 games per year. He would pile his players into vans and station wagons creating memories and stories for a lifetime.
Upon graduating high school Tim played in the Chicago Cubs minor league system and had a brief tenure in the major leagues. Upon returning to Minnesota Tim embarked in a career that included 2,241 hits, a .328 batting average, 169 homeruns, and 1,165 RBIs. He also belted 16 grand slams including 2 in a game against Pepin in 1975. Tim led the Merchants to 8 state tournaments and had the opportunity to play 20 years along side his son Tim Jr. He continues to play today in the over 35 league.
Since 1968 Jim and his Highland Park team have been St. Paul Amateur baseball institutions. Leading the way with a .384 lifetime average Jim managed his team to 24 state tournament appearances culminating in championships in 1993 and 1996. A crafty left handed hitter Jim conjured up visions of Tony Gwynn slapping and blooping base hits into left field tormenting pitchers with his ability to make contact.
Jim established a standard of excellence throughout the end of the 20th century leading to his selection to the all Decade team as a player for the 1970s and 1980s and a manager for the 1990s. In 2011 Jim participated in his 30th all-star game as either a player or manager.
A fierce competitor on the field and a lawyer by trade, Jim was always generous in helping his players and opponents with various problems off the field asking nothing in return. He continues to manage the Highland team teaching a new generation of players how to play the game the right way.
A University Minnesota graduate, Jeff was known for his hard work and dedication to the game of baseball. He burst into the amateur scene in 1987 batting clean-up and leading the Bloomington Bulldogs of the Riverview League to the State Championship. His contributions to that title team earned him the honor of being named the Most Valuable Player for the tournament.
Jeff was an All-Big Ten selection in 1991 and went on to manage and play for the Edina Buckshots in the Riverview League from 1996-2003. He returned to lead the Bulldogs in 2004 taking the team to two more state tournaments.
After playing on the University of Minnesota to a national championship in 1964 Jerry Sevlie established himself as the preeminent big game pitcher in Minnesota amateur baseball in the 1970s. With a blazing fastball and knee buckling curve Jerry was the ace of the dominant team of the decade, the West St. Paul Americans in the St. Paul league. Jerry led the team to 10 state tournaments winning the title in 1979 and finishing runner-up in 1974, 1980, and 1982. In 1974 Jerry was named to the All-State team.
Jerry managed the team for 8 years recruiting and leading a roster that included fellow Hall of Famers Steve Winfield, Mark Johnson, and Mike Walseth. After hanging up his spikes Jerry umpired in the St. Paul league for 12 years capping a four decade involvement in St. Paul baseball.
A fleet footed outfielder in the St. Paul league for 35 years Steve combined speed, power, and plate discipline with charm and grace and left an everlasting impression on all who played with and against him. With tremendous range and uncanny instincts Steve patrolled CF like his hero, Willie Mays, robbing opponents of sure base hits. On offense, as the lead-off hitter, he intimidated opposing pitchers who were knew that once he reached base Steve would use his speed to turn a walk into a double or triple.
Steve was a integral member of the 1979 State Champion West St. Paul Americans. Blessed with superior genes Steve performed like a youngster even after turning 50. At the age of 51 in the Osceola Tournament he soared above the fence to make a running, leaping grab to rob a homerun away from a stunned hitter. Steve culminated his career in the 2005 state tournament where at age 55 he got a base hit in his last at bat and stole his last base. One of the most recognized players across the state Steve was gracious to all and a friend to many and remains actively involved in the Minnesota Twins RBI program to revive baseball in the inner cities.
An incredible athlete Mark led the Minnetonka Millers to the teams first 4 State Championships and was a key component in building the Millers into an amateur baseball powerhouse. Renowned for his intensity on the field and his drive to excel Mark was admired for his humility and respect for the game. His .373 lifetime average ranks third in Miller history but was only one facet of an excellent overall game that was recognized with his selection to the All State Tournament team five times.
Mark’s 17 year career was highlighted in 1999 when he was voted the “Miller Player of the Quarter Century” commemorating the teams first 25 years of existence. The honors continued after Mark hung up his spikes with retirement of his number by the team, one of only two numbers retired by the Millers. His standing in Minnetonka Miller baseball history was further immortalized when he was named a charter member of the Minnetonka Millers Hall of Fame.
Hap was a catcher for the Al Mergen’s team in the St. Paul Amateur Baseball League in the 1940s and early 1950s before becoming Jerry Flathman’s assistant in the City of St. Paul’s Municipal Athletics Program. He later took over the program and among his many responsibilities ran the Men’s Amateur Baseball league for over 30 years. His leadership guided the league through some challenging times and produced many State Amateur Baseball champions and several State American Legion Champions. It also was a program under his leadership that produced two Major League Baseball Hall of Fame players, Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor, along with three MLB umpires, Tim Tschida, Jeff Nelson and Mark Wegner. Because of his leadership in both baseball and softball he was inducted into the Minnesota ASA Softball Hall of Fame as an “Exceptional” Administrator in 1986. Hap has passed away and is survived by his wife
Phyllis, six daughters and many grandchildren.
Mark played for the West St. Paul Americans from 1967-1979 He was an integral component on on a perinial state tournament team during the one class era. Mark batted 3rd, played centerfield and was considered the powerhouse team’s best all around player. 2011 Class A Baseball inductee, Jerry Sevlie said, “Mark was as good a centerfielder as there was during the 1970’s.” Mark recorded the highest batting average on the team, hit for power, ran well and had a canon for an arm throwing out baserunners with ease. Mark played college baseball at Mankato State and was a teammate of fellow 2012 inductee, Mike Vogel, Sr. Mark retired prematurely after being diagnosed with cancer in 1979. His cancer in remission, Mark is semi-retired after 25 years as a teacher and now coaches T-Ball.
A right hander, Randy combined a crackling fast ball with a sharp curve and great location to be the dominant pitcher of his era. Randy played his college baseball at the University of Minnesota with MLB Hall of Famer Paul Molitor. He started his Class A Amateur Baseball career with Columbia Heights of the Park National League. While pitching for Columbia Heights, Randy was an instrumental part of Class A State Tournament championship teams in 1978, 1986, and 1989. In the 1986 and 1989 tournaments Randy recorded 4 wins, 1 save, allowed only 2 runs, and struck out 36 batters to earn Most Valuable Player honors. Randy has appeared in an incredible 28 State Tournaments, placing him 2nd all-time in the history of Minnesota Amateur Baseball. Randy vividly remembers one summer day in which he became a dad, and then pitched in a game that propelled his Columbia Heights team to a state tournament berth. “A new son, a wife that would let me go play and a championship. That was a great day.”
Matt spent 19 years roaming the outfield or anchoring first base for the Minnetonka
Millers. A leader both on and off the field Matt helped lead the Millers to six MBA
Class A State Championships. Matt was selected to the Class A All-State Tournament
team four times and was Tournament MVP in 2001 going 16 for 32 with 15 runs and 12
RBI. Matt played the game with passion and he played until his body would let him play
no more. Matt was the first Minnetonka Miller to have his number retired in 2006 and is a
member of the Minnetonka Millers Hall of Fame.
Mike was a competitive, intense ballplayer who always took pride in running on and off
the field. No matter how tired and hurt he was he always played the game the right way throughout his career.. Mike played for Fitzgeralds Sporting Goods, Grain Belt, Hamm’s and the Eastside Merchants where he played with fellow 2012 Class A Hall of Fame inductee, Mike Walseth. He was a natural 3rd baseman but with the Merchants moved over to shortstop to make room for 2011 Class A Hall of Fame inductee, Tim Kiemel, Sr. a baseball marriage that lasted for 40 years. Mike was one of the smartest hitters of his generation and could play any position on the diamond.
Mike played in four state tournaments and is proud he had the opportunity to play along side his two sons, Mike and Luke, with the Eastside Merchants. He fondly remembers the Merchant’s infamous bus trips accompanied by a variety of characters and is amazed that he played 40 years with Tim Kiemel, Sr. and never got into an argument with him.
Upon retirement Mike switched over to “The Dark Side” as an umpire for VFW, Legion, Men’s Amateur and 35 and over baseball. Mike is the first to tell people that he could not have played all those years without the continued love and support from his wife Sandy.
A power hitting first baseman Mike was a no nonsense, solid and dependable ballplayer that played the game with unmatched intensity. Mike played college baseball at the University of Minnesota and was a two-time All-Big Ten selection and in 1969 was voted 1st Team All-American by college baseball coaches, finishing ahead of future major leaguer Dave Kingman. After his college baseball career he spent 10 years in the minor leagues, five in the Braves organization and five years playing in Mexico. After professional baseball, he played 15 years of Town Ball starting with the West St. Paul Americans where he was the clean up hitter on the state championship team in 1979 combining with fellow 2012 Class A Hall of Fame inductee Mark Johnson and 2011 inductees Steve Winfield and Jerry Sevley to form the core of the dominant team of that era. A left handed hitter, Mike punished pitchers with long homeruns and was the last hitter they wanted to see at the plate with the game on the line. Mike also played briefly with Cottage Grove before finishing his amateur career with the Eastside Merchants, where he was a teammate of fellow 2012 Class A Hall of Fame inductee Mike Vogel, Sr. and 2011 Class A Hall of Fame inductee Tim Kiemel, Sr.