WSL adds five to Hall of Fame

November 13, 2011

The Wisconsin State Baseball League will add five players to its Hall of Fame on Saturday night, Jan. 28, 2012 at the league's Awards and Hall of Fame Dinner.

Wisconsin State League

The Wisconsin State Baseball League will add five players to its Hall of Fame on Saturday night, Jan. 28, 2012 at the league’s Awards and Hall of Fame Dinner.

Joining the hall of the state’s prestigious semi-pro league are Michael Casper, who played with the Sheboygan A’s; Dave Christman, who played with the Racine Redbirds, Green Bay Blue Ribbons and Oshkosh Giants; Tom Imhoff of the Janesville Aces; Paul O’Callaghan of the Lombard Orioles; and Tom Zoch of the Oshkosh Giants, Green Bay Blue Ribbons and Marshfield Chaparrals.

Casper (1994-2003) was the ace of the Sheboygan A’s staff for 10 seasons and as such took on the oppositions top pitchers in every start. He finished with a 41-22 record with 11 saves and six shutouts. He was the league’s Most Valuable Pitcher in 1999, 2000 and 2001. In those three seasons, he was 24-7 with eight saves. Further, he completed 29 of 31 starts in that span; led the league in innings pitched and strikeouts in each of those years and led in wins in 1999 and 2001 and his 11 career saves rank him second all-time. His 10 wins in 1999 rank second on the one-season record list to the 11 by Tom Klawitter in 1987. He was a 4-time first team all-league selection and paced the A’s to championships in 1997 (6-0, 2.91) and 2000 (8-2, 1.86). His 3.23 career earned run average ranks fifth all-time among pitchers with 500 or more innings pitched.

“Michael clearly has earned this distinction, and the numbers speak for themselves. He was incredibly consistent and possessed a lethal combination of great stuff and unbelievable control. His blend of competitiveness and composure on the mound made him almost unbeatable. He was a winner, plain and simple,” said Dave Moyer, who managed Casper from 1994-1999.

Casper resides in Green Bay with his wife, Irene, and children, Cal and Liv. He is employed as a project manager for La Force Inc.

Christman (1970-79) played a key role on six championship Green Bay teams in the 1970s before leaving with a 34-15 record and a career 2.06 ERA, which ranks him second all time among pitchers with more than 300 innings pitched. Christman’s best season was in 1973 when he went 6-0 with a 0.49 ERA, the fifth best single season earned run average ever compiled. Against Appleton on June 1, 1973, he posted a 14-inning 3-1 complete game victory over Appleton. Despite being out of the league for more than 40 years and teams now playing more games than they did in the 1970, he still ranks ninth all-time in strikeouts and wins.

“In our early years with the Blue Ribbons, Dave Christman was one of the main reasons we had outstanding records. He was always ready to pitch, was dependable, and was a great competitor, Christman’s manager Denny Ruh said.

Christman, a retired math teacher at Oshkosh West High School resides in Oshkosh with his wife, Gail. They have two adult children, Brian and Katie.

Imhoff (1988-95, 1997-98, 2003, 2006) was a leader on the great run of Janesville teams in the 1990s. He played 12 seasons and had a .331 career batting average. That average ranks fourth among all players with 1,100 or more plate appearances. His best season was his 1988 rookie year when he was named Rookie of the Year after hitting .430 with a league-leading 14 doubles among his 52 hits that drove in 37 runs. He hit .337 in 1989 and came back to hit .396 and earn co-Most Valuable Player honors in 1990. He was a 4-time first team all-league player and helped Janesville to championships in 1989, 1990, 1994 and 1998.

Dan Davis, a current Hall of Famer and longtime teammate of Imhoff, said, “Tom is a unique personality. He was a determined competitor who would fight you tooth and nail, but realized in the end it was just a game. When things didn’t turn out the way he would have preferred, he would shrug his shoulders and smile on the outside, but internally, he would commit to doing better and typically would.”

Imhoff is a teacher in the Janesville School District. He and his wife, Debbie, have two children, Matthew and Malorie.

O’Callaghan (1992-2001), helped Lombard to six championships in his 10 years as an active player. A catcher, he was named to the first all-league team in 1999 and 2001. “OC” was a career .304 hitter, whose best years were 1992 (.375) and 2003 (.364). He posted four errorless seasons and finished with a .989 career fielding percentage. In addition to playing for 10 years, he helped coach the Orioles for seven years. Between playing and coaching, he was a part of 13 Lombard championships. He served as Hall of Famer Rich Capparelli’s “personal catcher.”

“He’s a throw back guy who played the old fashioned way – he played hard, he played sick and he played hurt. He loves the game. He was the team leader in the ‘90’s and now that he is coaching, he is a great communicator with the young kids,” Lombard manager Jeff Vukovich said.

O’Callaghan, self-employed, lives in Arlington Heights with his wife, Beth. They have one son, Jack.

Zoch (1978-80, 1984-90, 1993) is remembered as one of the top 2-3 long ball hitters in the history of the league. He hit 54 home runs in his career (fourth on the all-time list), some of them monumental. But he hit for average, too. Zoch won two batting titles and hit over .400 five times, including a .500 season in 1986. He hit .436 for Oshkosh in 1978 when he was named rookie of the year, .413 for Green Bay in 1989 and for Marshfield he hit .407 in 1985, .500 in 1986 and .495 in 1988. He hit 13 home runs and nine doubles that year for a 1.022 slugging percentage, which still stands as a one-season record. He never hit under .300 and has a .401 career average, which ranks him second among players with 700 or more plate appearances. His career slugging percentage is .757. He played on two championship teams, Green Bay in 1980 and Marshfield in 1986.

“In my years in baseball I’ve never played with or against anybody who hit the ball with such power and consistency. I feel that if he hadn’t gone to medical school, he would have been knocking on big league doors,” said Tom Kraus, Zoch’s manager at Marshfield.

A physician, certified to practice in several different specialties, Zoch is currently the Associate Medical Director for the Network Health Plan. A Neenah resident, Tom and his wife, Suzanne, have three children, Ryan, Nicole and Bethany.

This year’s five inductees bring to 30 the number enshrined by the League. Previously enshrined were charter members elected in 2007: Jim Coulter, Janesville; Dan Davis, Beloit, Green Bay, Janesville, Rockford; Greg Howell, Green Bay; Greg Iavarone, Lombard; Tom Klawitter, Appleton, Janesville; Gene Mand, Sheboygan; Denny Moyer, Sheboygan; Dennis Ruh, Green Bay, Lee Wetenkamp, Sheboygan, and Randy Wilke, Sheboygan.

Elected in 2008 were Rich Capparelli, Lombard; Mark Miller, Green Bay; Steve Rothenbach, Oshkosh; Jeff Vukovich, Lombard; Terry Young, Green Bay.

Elected in 2009 were Troy Cota, Green Bay, Oshkosh; Dan Miller, Green Bay, Oshkosh, Sheboygan; Phil Plamann, Appleton, Green Bay, Tim Richardson, Lombard; Chuck Zeichert, Sheboygan.

Elected in 2010 were Pat Campbell, Janesville; Dave Gehr, Sheboygan, Mark Hinske, Menasha, Green Bay; Mark Rohde, Horicon; and Dick Zeratsky, Green Bay.

The Wisconsin State League’s Awards and Hall of Fame Dinner will be held at The Heritage House at the Bull at Pinehurst Farms in Sheboygan Falls. It is open to the public. Cost is $30. Persons wishing to attend can make reservations by sending the names of attendees with their check payable to Wisconsin State League and sending it to the league at P. O. Box 32, Sheboygan, WI 53082-0032 so that it is received no later than Jan. 21. See for details.

The Wisconsin State League is one of the premier semi-professional/amateur baseball leagues in the mid-west. In operation since 1970, the Wisconsin State League is a highly competitive league that features many of the midwest's top current and former collegiate athletes, as well as many former professional baseball players. Keep up to date on everything happening in the Wisconsin State League by following the league online on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. | #WSL