Saturday evening past was a big night for the Sheboygan A’s. It carries nowhere near the significance of any “game night” in the summer, but for A’s players and fans it is by far the biggest night of awful winter. History and numbers buffs are the only ones who care about these things, but Saturday’s dinner may have been the 40th Annual such event. My memory is going along with everything else, but I think the first one was held in 1978.
As I recall, the most significant event of that first dinner was Dave Gehr’s animated telling and my first hearing of “The Goose Joke.” Fractured me. I digress.
Following updates by club president Scott Stangel, manager Derek Loomans and GM Your Strooley (Former Sheboygan Press City Editor Carl Fiedler used to sign off that way. I thought it was clever. He was a great newsman. I digress again.), awards were presented to A’s players and club members.
The players vote on the “most valuable” awards. Winning were:
Most Valuable Player: Harry Steldt (his fourth MVP; only Lee Wetenkamp (8) and Gene Mand (7) have won more).
Most Valuable Pitcher: Eric Schmitz (his second). He was 6-2 this year with a 2.31 earned run average.
Most Valuable Defensive Player: Ryan Fields.
Leading Hitter: Steldt took this one home after posting a .356 average. It was the third batting title for the 8-year veteran, who has a .333 career batting average.
Special Achievement Awards went to Brady Nehring and Taylor Schwarz for pitching back-to-back nohitters.
Manager Derek Loomans selected Ben Folger to win his Manager’s Award. The manager selects a player who he feels “Demonstrates the Dedication, Spirit, Perseverance and Team Concept that Embodies the Sheboygan A’s.” That was a good choice. Ben bleeds A’s blood.
After that Your Strooly presented his award. He could have called it “The General Manager’s Award,” but that wasn’t good enough for Your Strooly. He had to be different. To him, this was an important award. There are people, you see, who are critical to the success of a team, but don’t necessarily get the acclaim of “Most Valuable.” The GM wanted to see that they were recognized, so in the year 2000 he gave his first award. He called it the Sine Qua Non Award.
It’s perfect. It is Latin for . . . ah, . . . er, . . . (Where is Miss Dalla Valle when I need her. She was my high school Latin teacher and she was a good one. I came out of that class thinking Latin was the greatest language ever invented. The declensions, conjugations, tenses were all spelled out for you unlike the guessing game of this goofy English Language. I suffer from digressionitis today.)
It has been a long time since high school Latin so stay with me here, but I think the literal translation of Sine Qua Non is “without which not.” More simply put, the essential ingredient. You can’t have oatmeal without oats, cherry pie without cherries. It is the engine in the car. It is the guy who makes the difference on the baseball diamond. Maybe he is the guy who hits behind your leading hitter, who bails out your starting pitcher, who knocks down the curve ball in the dirt and keeps it in front of him.
The GM couldn’t make a decision this year. He pared down the decision to a final four, then got it to two but couldn’t go any farther. There are two “Sines” this year: pitcher-manager Derek Loomans and Jake Arens shared the honor.
If the only thing Loomans did this year was win that 10-inning game in Kenosha he would have been a candidate. It was an unparalleled gutty performance. Despite working with an arm sacrificed to throwing batting practice, he won three games, saved two, “took the ball” and finished with a 3.15 earned run average, he held the ball club together, kept everybody involved. . . and most impressively, he went the distance in Kenosha.
Steldt is definitely the A’s bell cow, but he got off to a horrendous start this year and this chap, Jake Arens, carried the club for the first 3-4 weeks. He played first base, except when we needed him to play second base. He hit for average and power in the middle of the order. He was dedicated to the ball club and ultimately reliable. He hit .345, second to Steldt, and led the team in doubles and runs scored. He was the essential ingredient. Still, that was not an easy choice. Ross Krist and Kyle Peterson were in the finals of the Your Strooley’s thinking until the end.
The Golden A is given to the Sheboygan Athletic Club member who goes above and beyond the call. That went to Sheila Syrjala. In addition to game hostess duties (the lady behind the portable mike during games who gives away prizes and coordinates activities) she chairs the marketing committee, heads up the 5K run and serves on the Board of Directors.
Sponsor of the year awards went to Jamie and Terry Martin of Martin Automotive, who sponsor this space allowing the A’s to keep the public informed of their activities, and LeRoy “Fuzzy the Baker” Jackett of West Side Bakery whose special considerations were extremely generous in recent years. Both have been longtime sponsors.
The Fan of the Year Award went Section I, Row 2 regular Tom Fritsch who for years has been attending games and supporting the club. His father, Ed Fritsch, was the first A’s Fan of the Year in 2008.
The banquet is over. Next is opening day, just 135 days away.
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.comments powered by Disqus