Class of 2013
Lake Hallie Lakers 1952-55, 57; Eau Claire Leif’s Conoco Oilers 1953; Hamilton Chevrolets 1956; Seymour 1958-59;
Chippewa Falls Triangle Sports 1958
One of only seven hitters in league history to win a triple crown, Don Ash was a remarkably productive shortstop who tore up Chippewa Valley League pitching during his eight seasons of competition for five circuit teams.
In his rookie campaign of 1952, Don hit .381 (16 for 42) for the up and coming Lake Hallie Lakers of the Northern Division. In 1954, Lake Hallie began one of the most dominant stretches of team play in CRBL lore. Riding a high octane offense, the Lakers rolled to a perfect 10 and 0 record, an American Division championship, and a spot in the WBA tournament. Priming the offense was Don’s .413 average ( 19 for 46) and his league leading totals of 19 hits, 16 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases.
Riding the high tide into 1955, Don and the Lakers surged to another 10 and 0 record, a Southern Division title, and a second straight trip to the WBA. Ash again contributed mightily, hitting .377 (20 for 53) and tying for the CVL lead in triples with 2 and runs scored with 23 while leading outright in stolen bases with 11.
After losing in the CVL championship to the Hamilton Chevrolets of Chippewa Falls in 1954 and 1955, Ash joined the Chevs in 1956. Playing in 10 games that season, Don posted gaudy numbers in spearing the Chippewa Valley League’s triple crown. With a league tops .431 batting average (22 for 51), Ash tied the Lafayette Braves’ Bob Wolfe for the lead in homers with 3 and led outright with 21 RBI’s. He also was the best in 1956 within the categories of hits (22), triples (2), runs scored (23), and stolen bases (9).
After returning to Lake Hallie for one season in 1957, Don moved to the fledgling Seymour squad in 1958 where he had another stellar effort, hitting .351 (20 for 57) while also serving spot duty with the Chippewa Falls Triangle Sports.
Don concluded his run through CVL/CRBL history in 1959 as player/manager for the 10 and 2, South Division champion and WBA qualifying Seymour club. Smoking the ball at a career best .458 average (24 for 54), the agile shortstop led the Chippewa Valley League in at-bats with 54, hits with 24, runs scored with 18, and walks with 12.
In playing nearly 30 years before the institution of All-CRBL awards, Don’s stature in the Chippewa Valley League was illuminated through his participation in six all-star games during his eight season career. The most noteworthy of Ash’s all-star game performances came on June 27th, 1954. Playing shortstop for the American Division, Don was described in the next day’s edition of the Chippewa-Herald as the “brightest star”. In recounting his defensive play, the Herald articulated that Ash “played ball as though he were paid for it.” At the plate that day, Don was 4 for 7 with a home run, a double, 3 runs scored, and 4 RBI’s as the American Division prevailed 18 to 17 verse the National Division in a contest that still stands as containing the most runs scored in a CRBL all-star game exhibition. Although no game MVP was officially named on that Sunday afternoon, Ash’s shining day would have made him the clear choice.
With his league at-bats unavoidably limited by the short regular seasons of that era (the 18 games he played in 1957 was the only time he was part of a CVL schedule consisting of more than 12 games), Don’s best all-time rankings can be found in triples where he is tied for 27th and stolen bases where he shares a spot at 28th.