Wisconsin State League Adds Five to Hall of Fame

November 21, 2014

The Wisconsin State Baseball League will add five players to its Hall of Fame on Saturday night, Jan. 24, 2015 at the league's Annual Awards and Hall of Fame Dinner in Sheboygan.

Wisconsin State League

The Wisconsin State Baseball League will add five players to its Hall of Fame on Saturday night, Jan. 24, 2015 at the league’s Annual Awards and Hall of Fame Dinner in Sheboygan.

Elected to the hall of the state’s prestigious semi-pro league are Jason Bartelt, Sheboygan, 1997-2001; Rich Graham, Addison, 1992-95, 1997-2000, Lombard, 1996; Dave Halford, Madison, 1973, 1975-80; Josh Krowiorz, Sheboygan, 1997-98, Manitowoc, 1999-2011, and Joe Shere, Janesville, 1998-2007, 2009.

The 2014 class of five brings the number inducted to 38 since the charter class of 2007.

The league’s Rookie of the Year in 1997 and MVP in 2000, Bartelt led the Sheboygan A’s to championships in both those years. Bartelt, voted all-league shortstop in all five of his seasons, was a .379 career hitter, an average that ranks him sixth among all players with 700 or more plate appearances.

Bartelt hit .434 in his rookie season and led the league in runs scored and hits. He hit .397 in 1998 and followed a sub-par (.316) season in 1999, with a robust league-leading .421 2000 season. He led the league and set one-season records in games played, plate appearances and at bats in 1999. He also led the league in stolen bases in 1999 and 2000 and doubles in 2000. And he ranks in the top 10 in several one season and career offensive and defensive lists.

Currently the Director of Athletics and Head Baseball Coach a Marian University, Bartelt resides in Fond du Lac with his wife Ann and sons Casey and Carter.

“It is a tremendous honor,” Bartelt said. “It is unbelievable to now be a part of the family of talented players that is represented in this group. The best memories I have of playing with the Sheboygan A’s are all tied to the WSL and the players that were in it.”

Perhaps the league’s most feared power hitter in the decade of the 1990s, Addison’s Rich Graham slammed 44 home runs and had a career .679 slugging percentage to go with his career .352 batting average. His .352 average ranks ninth among players with 600 or more plate appearances.

In his 9-year career, Graham hit over .400 three times (.432, .408 and .420 in 1996-98) and had slugging percentages of .848, .961 and .866 in his big home runs years (8 in 1992, 12 in 1997 and 13 in 1998).

Graham, who played with Lombard for one season, and helped the Orioles to a league title that season, is a 3-time all-league player, who has led the league in runs batted in and home runs in addition to slugging percentage.

“I cherish the memories of the wonderful teammates I had on the Addison Braves and of the great players from all the other teams. The Wisconsin State League was always very special – great players, great teams and great towns to travel to. It was an honor to play in this league,” Graham said.

Graham resides in Lombard with his wife Jennifer, and daughters Charlotte, Lindsay and Nina.

Madison had some great ball clubs in the 1970 and one of many outstanding players was Dave Halford. He led Madison to Divisional titles in 1973 and 1975 and to a league title in 1978 when he hit .375. Halford led the league with .492 average in 1980 and also posted a .403 mark in 1979. He finished with a career .352 average, which ranks 10th among all players with 600 or more plate appearances.

He led the league in doubles in 1973 and in total bases in 1980.

“I am honored that representatives of the Wisconsin State Baseball League have elected me to their Hall of Fame. For years the league presented me and my teammates an opportunity to play a game that we loved at a competitive level that was, and likely still is the highest of summer baseball in Wisconsin,” Halford said upon hearing of his induction.

A retired investment manager, Halford resides in Fitchburg with his wife Nancy and son, Steve.

It is fitting that Josh Krowiorz is the first representative of the Manitowoc Bandits to be elected to the Hall of Fame for Krowiorz is the glue that held that franchise together for 13 years.

A Manitowoc native, Krowiorz played his first two seasons with Sheboygan, but when James Maurer started a team in Manitowoc in 1999 the A’s released Krowiorz to play in his home town where he continued what would be a 15-year career in the league.

He ranks fourth all-time in games played, plate appearances and at bats and only 13 players have competed for more than his 15 seasons. His patience and keen eye got him 191 base on balls, fifth on the all-time chart.

Krowiorz served as a player-manager for many of those years, despite a 90-minute commute from Milwaukee. Playing where he was needed, mostly third base, frequently in the outfield and occasionally at first base, he was the ultimate team player.

He hit .342 for Sheboygan in his rookie season and then put three .300 seasons together in Manitowoc. His best year was in 2003 when he hit .354.

“Some of my favorite memories are from my days playing for Manitowoc and Sheboygan in the State League with and against some of the best players in the region. I’m tremendously humbled and honored to be recognized by the WSL, and proud to represent my home town as the first Manitowoc Bandit to be voted in,” Krowiorz said upon hearing of his election.

Krowiorz works for the Milwaukee Brewers as Manager of Baseball Systems Development. He and his wife Jessica reside in Menomonee Falls with children Kayte and Kendall.

In the nine years he played regularly for the Janesville Aces, Joe Shere’s worst season saw him hit .298. In every other year he hit between .318 and .398 for a career .347 average that has him in a lofty third place among all State League players who had 900 or more plate appearances.

His best year was 2005 when he hit .398 and was named the league MVP after leading the league in hits, runs batted in and total bases. He was a 4-time all-league selection.

A Branch Manager at JP Morgan Bank, Shere resides in Janesville with his wife Carrie and twin son and daughter Easton and Averie.

The dinner where the six will be inducted will be held Saturday, Jan. 24, at Breaking Bread, 6451 S. Business Drive in Sheboygan. Dinner is at 6 p.m., following a 4:30 p.m. social hour. The program will begin at 7 p.m. Cost is $30 per person. Reservations and payment must be received by Jan 17. Make checks payable to Wisconsin State League and send to the WSL, PO Box 32, Sheboygan, WI 53082-0032

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.

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