League: Chippewa River Baseball League

Primary League

Fred Zech

Class of 2024

OutfielderLafayette Lakers 1968-69, 72-78, 83-94; Lafayette Indians 1970              

Player/Manager – Lafyette Lakers 1983-93                        

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The CRBL, like every amateur baseball organization, relies heavily on individuals who are willing to devout their time and efforts to keep its history and traditions alive and well.  Player and manager Fred Zech of the Lafayette Lakers was one of those dedicated people. 

During a CRBL career that spanned 25 years, Fred was synonymous with the Lakers of Lafayette, first as a player, then as a player/manager. When he began his CRBL playing days with the Lakers in 1968, Zech primarily was in the outfield.  Enjoying his best season in 1972, Fred hit .367 (22 for 60), tied for the league lead in home runs with 3, and led outright in RBIs with 17, while participating in that year’s CRBL All-Star game.  Over his career, the right-handed hitter notched three different seasons hitting over .300, with his personal high occurring in his standout 1972 campaign.

In total, as a player, Zech was a part of five WBA qualifiers (1975, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982), and three WBA Finals teams (1980, 1981, 1982).  Yet, it was as a player/manager that Fred had his biggest impact.  Often coaching third base while wearing a colorful wig, the Lafayette Skipper led the free-spirited and aggressively running Lakers for 11 seasons (1983 to 1993).  Under his leadership, the Lafayette Crew qualified for the WBA in 1992, losing in the regional final game, 14-8 at Augusta to the host Augusta Athletics.  In that contest, the skipper rapped a solo homerun to help the Lakers stay in the game against the heavy-hitting Athletics.

Upon induction, Zech’s all-time player rankings can be found in seasons played (tied for 23rd) and games played (47th).  Managerially, he is ranked all-time in seasons managed (tied for 11th) and games managed (12th).

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Managerial Record:              G         W          L           Pct.       Div Titles       League CS           CSGApp

      184       48        136         .261              0                       0                          0       

 

(WBA)             App     G   W L Pct. Final 8’s        WBA CS

                                            1              2         1         1          .500             0                    0

Dennis Zech

Class of 2024

Utility

Lafayette Lakers 1981-93

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Spending the entirety of his CRBL career with the Lafayette Lakers, Dennis Zech put up impressive offensive numbers as one of the best power-hitting infielders of the 1980s and early-1990s.

During his 13 seasons of play for the Lakers, Dennis hit .400 or better in three campaigns – 1986, 26 for 45 (.400) and 1987, 18 for 44 (.409) – with a career high of .439 (18 for 41) in 1990.  In four other seasons, Zech hit better than .300.  His best year came in 1987, when he tied for the CRBL lead in homeruns with 8, while driving in 21 runs and hitting the aforementioned.409 (18 for 44) in 18 games for Lafayette.  A middle of the order run producer, Dennis drove in 19 runs in just 12 games for the Lakers in his 1990 season, in addition to another big year in 1991 during which he bombed 6 home runs and claimed 19 RBIs in just 15 games.

A member of three WBA qualifiers (1981, 1982, 1992), the right-handed swinging Zech shined in Lafayette’s 9 to 4, 1992 WBA regional semi-final victory over the Sparta Millers at Augusta, going 4 for 5 with 3 RBIs and a crucial 2-run homer in the 8th inning.  

  A participant in three CRBL All-Star games (1986, 1988, 1992), Dennis was named Honorable Mention All-CRBL four times: 1986 at utility, 1987 at utility, 1988 as a designated hitter, and 1989, again at utility. 

Upon induction, the Mashing Lakers’ all-time rankings can be found in slugging pct. (20th), OPS (25th), home runs (tied for 31st), and batting avg. (50th).     

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Hitting Statistics:         GP         AVG.        AB         H         1B         2B        3B        HR

            178         .326          595        194      133         30          3          28

 

  RBI       R     SB     BB         TB         SLG.        OBP.         OPS.

  137       111       32        103          314         .528          .433           .961

Keith Pitsch

Class of 2024

OutfielderJim Falls Sturgeons 1967-2016
Player/Manager – Jim Falls Sturgeons 1980-84, 99-2001
League Officer – 1997 through Induction                         

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As a player, manager, and league officer, Keith Pitsch’s impact and legacy in the CRBL will forever be felt and appreciated.  Through his lasting dedication to the league, his ever-present sharp wit, as well as his fierce loyalty to the Jim Falls Sturgeons, Keith is truly one of the most recognizable, likable, and memorable people the CRBL will ever have.

  During a playing career that lasted an astounding 50 (!!!) seasons, Pitsch established himself as an incredibly consistent and reliable player for the Big Fish of Jim Falls.  Keith’s remarkable longevity shaped an unparallel playing existence, one in which he hit over .300 in 12 seasons, with a high of .370 in 1985.  His one CRBL home run was memorable, as it came in the form of a grand slam against the Chippewa Falls Lumberjacks on June 19th, 1988, in a Sturgeons’14-8 victory vs. the Lumberjacks at Cardinal Field. 

His commitment to the Sturgeons was further evident in that he had two separate stints as Jim Falls’ manager: 1980 to 1984 and again from 1999 to 2001.  In total, Pitsch managed 144 games for the Sturgeons over those eight seasons, leading his Jim Falls brethren to a WBA appearance in 1983.  

To the great benefit of the CRBL, Keith has fulfilled the role of Vice-President of the league from 2002 through his induction, handling the difficult and thankless task of creating the yearly game schedule, doing so with patience, care, and empathy.

Pitsch’s universally famous sense of humor was aptly illustrated in an interview regarding his lengthy playing career, published in the Chippewa-Herald on August 10th, 1996.  When asked about his current playing abilities, Keith stated, “I’d say I lost a step, but I’d be underestimating myself.  I think I’ve lost at least eight or nine.”  

A participant in six CRBL All-Star games (1972, 1984, 1985, 1989, 1992, 1998), Pitsch was named Honorable Mention CRBL in 1992 as an outfielder and in 2008 as a player/coach.  In 2014, he became the first person in CRBL history to cross the 500 games played milestone, and in 2016 he secured his spot as the first player to ever play 50 seasons in the CRBL.

Upon induction, the Legendary Sturgeon’s all time rankings can be found in seasons played (1st), games played (2nd), at-bats (tied for 5th), singles (8th), walks (9th), hits (13th), runs scored (14th), triples (tied for 16th), total bases (26th), doubles (tied for 27th), RBIs (27th), and stolen bases (tied for 47th).   

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Managerial Record:              G         W          L           Pct.       Div Titles       League CS           CSGApp

      144       40        104         .278              0                       0                          0       

 

(WBA)             App     G   W L Pct. Final 8’s        WBA CS

                                            1              1          0        1          .000             0                    0

Roger Nosal

Class of 2024

Pitcher

Jim Falls Dairymen 1960; Jim Falls Cadets 1961-64; Jim Falls Sturgeons 1965-69, 70

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One of the best pitchers of the Chippewa Valley League era, lefty Roger “Scooter” Nosal was a big strikeout, high innings workhorse for Jim Falls teams throughout the 1960s.

After playing in a part-time role his first three seasons, Nosal emerged as an ace in 1963 for the Jim Falls Cadets.  In 90 innings of work that year, Roger struck out 86 batters, claiming a record of 6 and 5 while leading the CVL with both a 2.70 ERA and 3 shutouts.  The following season of 1964, Nosal tied for the league lead with 8 wins (against 2 losses) as well as a winning pct. of .800 across 89 innings of work.  

When the Jim Falls Sturgeons began to play in 1965, Roger put together a monumental season, pacing the CVL with 101.2 innings pitched while striking out 125 hitters and staking a record of 6 and 6 for the embryonic franchise.  

His other CVL leading total came in 1966 when he led the league with 95 innings, within which he whiffed 91 batters, posted a 2.18 ERA, and had a 5 and 4 record in yet another awesome season.

Scooter was also an athletic outfielder and solid bat, evident in that he paced the CVL with 3 triples in 1964.  That same season, he hit two home runs and drove in 16 RBIs in just 11 games for the Jim Fall Cadets. Over his 11-season career, he wrapped a total of 7 triples within his 114 hits.  

Nosal’s talents helped the Sturgeons qualify for the WBA tournament in 1967, 1968, and 1975, while also getting a share of the North Division title in 1967.  

Competing in a period before CRBL awards, Roger played in five All-Star games – 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, and 1968.  In the 1964 CVL All-Star classic, Nosal shined as he was named the game’s MVP.  In leading the East Division to a 9-8 victory over the West Division, Roger was the winning pitcher in relief (3.1 IP, 2 ER, 1 K) and went 1-for-2 with a huge, go-ahead grand slam in the top of the ninth inning for the East.

Upon induction, Nosal is ranked all-time in triples (tied for 22nd).  As a pitcher, the Lefty’s rankings can be found in ERA (19th), innings per season (16th), innings pitched (20th), strikeouts (23rd), decisions (tied for 27th), shutouts (tied for 31st), wins (tied for 33rd), and K/9 IP (39th).     

Steve Nelson

Class of 2024

Utility, Pitcher

Jim Falls Saints 1980-86; Chippewa Falls Lumberjacks 1987-90; Jim Falls Sturgeons 1991-93, 95-98, 

2013-14, 16-18; Tilden Tigers 2006-11

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One of the best all-around performers in CRBL history, Steve Nelson was a right-handed, two-way player who possessed a smooth and powerful swing, as well as a fluid and effortless delivery from the mound.

During a 29-season career in the CRBL that spanned over 40 years, “Pickle” was a dynamic hitting and pitching difference maker.  Moreover, when he wasn’t on the mound, he was often behind the plate, earning a reputation as a strong-armed, defensively talented catcher.  

Playing his first seven seasons for the Jim Falls Saints, Steve was a career .340 hitter across 1,000+ at-bats, hitting over .300 in 12 campaigns, including 11 seasons in a row from 1981 through 1991.  In four of those years, he hit .400 or better, with a personal best of .481 in 1984 (26 for 54).  Admirably, Steve also acted as player/manager for the Saints from 1981 to 1985.  

A consistent power threat, Nelson belted a league-leading 9 homeruns in 1986 to headline his other CRBL-leading totals of 32 RBIs and 29 runs scored in that year.  He also paced the CRBL in at-bats (70) and hits (29) in 1987, as well as doubles (10) and runs scored (26) in 1989.

On the mound, Pickle was known for his alchemy-like abilities to make the ball sink and run with command.  It wasn’t, however, until 1988 – his ninth season in the CRBL – that Nelson had extended time as a pitcher.  Chucking for the Chippewa Falls Lumberjacks, Steve went 6 and 2 over 48.1 innings with an ERA of 2.42 while leading the league in saves (1) and shutouts (2).  Nelson’s best season from the hill came for the Jim Falls Sturgeons in 1995 when he paced the CRBL with 85 innings, 9 wins, and 74 punch-outs.

After taking a break from CRBL play from 1999 to 2005, the Smooth Righty came back to roam with the Tilden Tigers from 2006 to 2011.  Steve then swam back to the Jim Falls Sturgeons in 2013, concluding his outstanding career after the 2018 season.  

Of course, Nelson’s talents resulted in a great deal of team success.  In total, he was a major contributor to five CRBL champions, five division winners, 13 WBA qualifiers, as well as three WBA Finals qualifiers.  In another testament to his longevity, Steve was named game MVP in two CRBL title contests, 19 years apart – 1988 with the Chippewa Falls Lumberjacks and again in 2007 with the Tilden Tigers. 

A 12-time CRBL All-Star, Nelson was also named Honorable Mention All-CRBL three times (2007 – P, 2011 – P, 2018 – C), as well as All-CRBL six times (1984 – C, 1986 – C, 1988 – P, 1989 – UT, 1991 – P, 1995 – P).  Upon induction, his diverse talents are evident in his all-time rankings.  As a hitter, he is ranked 8th in games played, (tied) 12th in doubles, 15th in runs scored, 16th in total bases, 17th in total bases, 18th in RBIs, 18th in home runs, 22nd in hits, 22nd in singles, 22nd in triples, 24th in OPS, 24th in at-bats, 24th in games played, 25th in walks, 27th in slugging pct., 37th in OBP., and 38th in batting avg.

As a pitcher, his all-time marks can be found in decisions (tied for 16th), wins (19th), innings pitched (tied for 22nd), strikeouts (30th), and winning percentage (41st).                     

Randy Gustafson

Class of 2024

Utility, Pitcher – Lafayette Lakers 1997-98; Stanley Loggers 1999-2002; Stanley Slammers 2012-17

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A left-handed batter who possessed superior bat control and a disciplined eye at the plate. Randy Gustafson was an extremely respected player throughout his 12 seasons of competition in the Chippewa River Baseball League.

Beginning with the Lafayette Lakers in 1997, Gustafson hit .327 (18 for 55) in his CRBL rookie year.  That mark was the first of 11 seasons in which Randy would hit .300 or better.  In two of those seasons, he hit over .400, doing so for the Stanley Loggers in 2001 (.458 – 22 for 48) and 2002 (.400 – 16 for 40).  

Commendably, Randy also served as a player/manager for five seasons, doing so for the Lakers from 1997 to 1998 and the Slammers from 1999 to 2002, during which he led the 1999 Slammers to their lone WBA appearance with a 13 and 5 record.     

After a 10-year absence from CRBL competition, Gustafson returned with the fledgling Stanley Slammers in 2012.  With his bat-to-ball skills as sharp as ever, Randy hit .330 or better in each of his six seasons on the club, including a personal best of .556 (20 for 36) in 2016.

Combined with his batsmen skills, Gustafson’s eagle-eye at the plate enabled him to have a career on base percentage of .502.  In seven different seasons, Randy had 10 or more walks, with a high on 19 in 2012.

A reliable left-handed pitcher, Randy logged 446 innings while winning 22 games over his CRBL career.  In three seasons, Gustafson pitched over 50 innings, with a high of 56 for the Slammers in 2013.  

A participant in one CRBL All-Star game (1998), the high regard shown towards Gustafson was evident in his array of accolades — three Honorable Mention CRBL awards as a pitcher/1st baseman (2002, 2012, 2016) and four All-CRBL selections: 1997 at utility, 1999 at utility, 2014 at utility, and 2016 at designated hitter.

Upon induction, the Great Slammer is ranked 5th all-time in on base percentage, 9th in batting average, 11th in OPS., 34th in slugging pct., (tied) 38th in pitching decisions, 41st in innings pitched, and (tied) 41st in walks as a hitter.

Mark Gannon

Class of 2024

Pitcher- Lafayette Lakers 1990-95; Hallie Eagles 1996-2002

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A left-handed thrower, Mark Gannon was one of the most durable and consistent pitchers of his era, providing his teams with a resilient arm and an ever-present competitiveness each time he took the mound.

Renowned for working the corners of the plate and making hitters get themselves out, Gannon began his CRBL career with the Lafayette Lakers in 1990.  After throwing a combined 121.1 innings in his first three seasons, Mark led the league with 93 innings in 1993.  He eclipsed that total with an incredible 100.1 innings pitched in 1994, leading the CRBL once again in that category for the Lakers while also tying for the circuit lead in wins with 9.  By eclipsing the 100-inning barrier in 1994, Lefty became the first CRBL pitcher since 1979 to accomplish the feat.  More impressively, as of 2023, no CRBL pitcher since Gannon in 1994 has been able to crack the elusive century number for innings pitched in one season – a span of 29 seasons and counting. Over his career, Gannon pitched 13 seasons in the CRBL, exceeding the 50-inning barrier nine times.

In 1996, Mark became a Hallie Eagle, and again led the CRBL in innings pitched with 52.2, while also going 5 and 2 with a 3.25 ERA and twirling one of the four shutouts in league play that year.  His big debut season for Hallie helped the Eagles win the South Division, on their way to defeating the Tilden Tigers 11-7 in the CRBL title bout.    

A participant in nine CRBL All-Star games, (1991 to 1997, 2000 to 2001), Gannon was named Honorable Mention All-CRBL as a pitcher in 1992.  Accordingly, for his Iron Man efforts in 1993 and 1994, he was also named All-CRBL as a pitcher in each of those campaigns.  

Upon induction, the Lefty’s all-time pitching rankings can be found in decisions (11th), innings pitched (11th), innings per season (13th), wins (tied for 27th), and strikeouts (34th).  

Justin Boiteau

Class of 2024

1st Baseman, OutfielderJim Falls Sturgeons 1997-2014, 18
Player/Manager – Jim Falls Sturgeons 2007-12

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A left-handed batter with a strong and fluid swing, Justin Boiteau played his entire 19-season career in Jim Falls, using his hitting prowess to become one of the best Sturgeon players in CRBL history.

A stout defender, the left-handed throwing Boiteau was a difference maker when either roaming the outfield or securing 1st base for the Big Fish.  At the plate, Justin was incredibly consistent, posting eight seasons in which he had 20 or more hits, with a high of 27 in 2007.  Moreover, he had 13 seasons in which he had a batting average of .300 or better.  Within those campaigns, from 2001 through 2011, he had an 11-season run of hitting .300 or higher, with his career high of .424 (25 for 59) occurring in 2011.

Beyond his shining play on the diamond, Boiteau admirably guided the Sturgeons for six seasons (2007 to 2012) as a player/manager, providing dedicated leadership and stability to the Jim Falls’ franchise.

A participant in 10 CRBL All-Star games (1999, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), the smooth-swinging lefty was named Honorable Mention All-CRBL as an outfielder in 2007, in addition to being named All-CRBL at 1st base in four seasons (2003, 2008, 2009, 2011).  

Upon induction, Boiteau is ranked 18th all-time in doubles, 31st in hits, 33rd in batting average, 34th in singles, 34th in games played, 39th in at-bats, and 39th in total bases.