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Sauger Joins Wisconsin State League Elite

Sauger Joins Wisconsin State League Elite

Posted: November 26, 2017

The Ironman of the Hill for the Sheboygan A’s from 1973 to 1983, Bob Sauger, received long overdue recognition when he was elected to the Wisconsin State Baseball League Hall of Fame.

He will be inducted on Jan. 27 at league’s 12th Annual Awards and Hall of Fame Dinner at Blue Harbor Resort and Conference Center.

Joining Sauger in this year’s Hall of Fame Class are Matt Fredricks of Janesville, Steve Ploetz of Madison, and Boyd (posthumously) and Matt Rohde of Horicon.

A lanky left-hander in 1973, Sauger joined the A’s from the Legion team and was immediately thrust into State League play. When he left 11 seasons later he had put up numbers that had him ranked in multiple categories and now, 35 years after he left, despite the appearance of outstanding pitchers, he is still listed in seven one-season and 10 career categories and still holds single-season records for complete games, 11, and innings pitched, 113.2. Those records were set in 1974 when he also led the league in wins with seven.

“I am surprised, shocked actually, but grateful that they thought of me,” Sauger said.

Pitching in a tough league and against aluminum bats for frequently a second division club, Sauger compiled a 29-40 record. He struck out 264.

Truly a gamer, Sauger pitched in both games of a doubleheader on several occasions and on back to back days frequently. When he left the mound for the last time he stuck with the club and managed the team from 1985-1990. His teams won 83 State League games and finished with a 188-135 record as a manager.

Sauger still holds seven Sheboygan A’s one season records.

Sauger and his wife Mary reside in Sheboygan.

The induction of Boyd and Matt Rohde marks the second entry of a father and two sons into the Hall of Fame. Mark Rohde, Matt’s older brother, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010. Father Dick and sons Mark and Dan Zeratsky who all played for the Green Bay Blue Ribbons are already in the Hall of Fame.

Boyd Rohde managed the Horicon Hurricanes, one of the league’s charter members, during Horicon’s 10-year stay in the league, and served as the league’s commissioner from 1971 to 1979. Horicon’s best year in the league was 1979 when Rohde’s club shared the league championship with Green Bay.

Matt Rohde, who started in the league as a teenager, was Horicon’s ace pitcher. Running up 553 innings and maintaining a career 3.68 earned run average, he had a 32-41 record for a Horicon team that was 74-127 in those 10 years.

His best years were 1975, 1978 and 1979. He won five games in each year and posted earned run averages of 2.13, 1.78, and 1.30.

One of the top pitchers in the league’s history, Rohde left the league nearly 40 years ago and still ranks among the league’s leaders in nearly every career pitching category, He is in the top 10 in starts with 70 ranking 8th; complete games, 77 (4th); innings pitched, 553 (7th) and strikeouts 503. He joins Tom Klawitter and Bill McQueen (both Janesville) and Rich Capparelli (Lombard) as the only pitchers in league history with more than 500 strikeouts.

Matt Fredricks, the most versatile player of Janesville’s heyday years of the late 1980s through the ‘90s, hit .277 in an even 1,000 plate appearances. Comfortable at every position, he is the only player to rank the career top 10 in putouts, assists, errors, total chances, and double plays converted. He finished with a career .960 fielding percentage despite playing virtually every position on the field. 

Janesville was the league’s small ball champion in those years and Fredricks contributed mightily with 30 sacrifice bunts to rank behind only teammate Jim Coulter and Dave Gehr of Sheboygan. Fredricks helped Janesville to three championships.

No stranger to championships, Steve Ploetz, who had an eight-year career, helped Madison to three divisional championships and a league championship. He finished with a .318 career average including big years of .457 in 1975 and .387 in 1978. He was the league’s MVP 1975 and his .457 average and 42 hits led the league.

Persons interested in attending the dinner can make reservations by sending $35 per person to the Wisconsin State Baseball League PO Box 32, Sheboygan, WI 53082-0032. Reservations must be postmarked by Jan. 15.

The Sheboygan A's are members of the Wisconsin State League and Northeastern Wisconsin Baseball League. The A's have helped develop more than 41 players that have reached professional baseball, including 2002 World Series Champion Jarrod Washburn (Anaheim Angels). All Sheboygan A's home games are played at Wildwood Baseball Park in Sheboygan. Connect with the A's on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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