Class of 2015
Outfielder & Media
CRBL: Leif’s Conoco Oilers 1952-53; Chippewa Falls Triangle Sports 1959-60
ECCBL: Eau Claire Tommy Millers 1960-63; Strum Merchants 1964
Media: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram 1956 through induction
Ron Buckli’s long and illustrious career as both an all-around athlete and acclaimed sports journalist indisputably define him as one of the most respected and accomplished individuals in the storied existence of the Chippewa River Baseball League.
Buckli’s first full season in the Chippewa Valley League came in 1953 with the Leif’s Conoco Oilers out of Eau Claire. In 13 league games, Ron hit .339 (19 for 56) and tied for the league lead in doubles with 6.
The left-handed hitting outfielder’s athleticism and hitting prowess landed him a pro contract with the St. Louis Browns in 1954. Assigned to the Class D (Single A) affiliate in Wytheville, VA, Ron played in 31 games for the Statesmen, hitting .252 (29 for 115) with 8 doubles, 2 triples, and 2 home runs in what would prove to be his lone season of professional baseball.
After playing for area baseball teams from 1955 to 1958, “Buck” returned to the CVL in 1959 with the Chippewa Falls Triangle Sports. In only 9 league games, Buckli efficiently slammed a league leading 3 triples to go along with 4 doubles and 2 home runs while hitting .385 (15 for 31).
In 1960, Ron excelled in both the CVL for the Sports and for the Eau Claire Tommy Millers in the first year Eau Claire Classic Baseball League. In the CVL, Buckli led the way in at-bats with 59 while rapping 20 hits for a .339 average. For the Millers of the ECCBL, the Eau Claire native paced the four-team circuit with 25 hits and 3 home runs while tying for the lead in RBI’s with 18 all while hitting a robust .379 in 66 at-bats. Rightfully, Buckli was a unanimous All-ECCBL pick as an outfielder for the ECCBL champion Millers.
In 1961, Ron was simply outstanding for the Tommy Millers. Playing exclusively in the ECCBL, the slugging lefty hit .414 (30 for 68) in 18 games while leading the league in hits with 30, doubles with 10, home runs with 5, RBI’s with 27, and runs scored with 23 all on his way to a second unanimous All-ECCBL award. Accordingly, Buckli and the Millers pounded their way to a second ECCBL title in a row as well as another spot in the WBA tourney. Going 5 and 1 in the double elimination tournament format, the Eau Claire squad decisively captured the WBA title, beating Pepin 9 to 3 in the championship game at New Richmond. In the 6 tournament games, Ron went 8 for 25 (.320 average) with 5 home runs, 12 RBI’s, and 6 runs scored. In the title tilt, Ron slammed 2 home runs and drove in 3 runs to clinch his selection as the MVP of the 1961 WBA Finals.
Winning their third straight ECCBL title in 1962, Buckli and the Millers made it to the WBA championship game again before losing 6-5 in a rematch with Pepin at Cushing.
After hitting 2 homeruns in 1962, Ron hit 2 more for the Millers in 1963 as they won their fourth straight ECCBL title and qualified once again for the WBA tourney in what was their last season of existence.
Buckli’s final year of amateur baseball in the Chippewa Valley came in 1964 for the Strum Merchants of the ECCBL. In a part-time role, the outfielder hit .385 (5 for 13) with 6 runs scored in 4 games.
At the completion of the ECCBL’s six-season existence (1960-65), Ron finished second in doubles (16), homeruns (9), RBI’s (63), runs scored (61), total bases (131), slugging percentage (.541), and third in hits (82).
Of course, Ron Bucki’s contributions to the local sports scene go well beyond any field of competition. Since July of 1956, he has reported on area sports with sincerity, fairness, enthusiasm, respect, and humility for the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram. Renowned and revered as a top notch sports journalist, Ron also has had a major impact on Special Olympics in the Chippewa Valley through his immensely popular Buckshot Run event. Additionally, he has played a pivotal role in the regional promotion, development, and success of the international sport of ski jumping.
With his induction, the Chippewa River Baseball League Hall of Fame is able to permanently welcome a selfless sportsman, dynamite baseball player, and true gentlemen in Mr. Ron Buckli.