Position: Catcher

Gene Vavra

Class of 2023


Lafayette Braves 1956-60; Lafayette Generals 1961-64; Lafayette Indians 1965-70

  • A respected catcher during his 15 seasons of play in the Chippewa Valley League.
  • A 9-time all-star selection.
  • Led the CVL in hitting in 1966 with a .469 average (23 for 49).
  • Led the league in doubles and RBIs in 1968.
  • One of the best and most durable receivers in league history.

PJ Johnson

Class of 2022


Eau Claire Pioneers 1990-91; Augusta Athletics 1992-95; Hallie Eagles 1996-98

A prototypical catcher in both stature and skill, PJ Johnson played on a winning team in every one of his nine CRBL seasons. It is without question that the rifle-armed catcher with the big bat was a pivotal factor in the extreme success each of his team’s enjoyed. A right-handed batter, PJ hit .300 or better in seven of his nine CRBL campaigns. Moreover, he exceeded .400 in three seasons — .462 in 1992, .443 in 1994, .441 in 1995 — with his career high of .462 (30 for 65) coming in 1992 when he tied for the CRBL lead in hits with 30 during just 17 league games. While knocking in 126 runs in 134 CRBL games, Johnson had three seasons of 20 or more RBI’s (1992, 1993, 1994) with a career high of 25 RBI’s in 1994 during a 16-game ledger. Perhaps no player in CRBL history contributed to more team success within a career than PJ did. In total, across three teams, Johnson remarkably played in the WBA in each of his nine CRBL campaigns. Moreover, he played on a South Division winning squad seven times, a CRBL champion four times (1992, 1993, 1994, 1996), as well as playing in seven CRBL championship contests. A competitive and well-liked player, PJ is most synonymous with the fearsome Augusta Athletics teams of the early to mid-1990’s. Enjoying some of his best years for the A’s, Johnson was a vital cog to Augusta’s WBA runner-up finish in 1993 as well as their WBA championship in 1994. A six-time CRBL All-Star, PJ was selected All-CRBL at catcher for his standout play in 1994. He was also bestowed Honorable Mention All-CRBL status as a catcher in both 1992 and 1995. His annually strong output at the plate resulted in a robust lifetime average of .367 as well as a healthy OPS. of .988 as he retired just shy of qualifying for the all-time leaders in “slash line” categories. With his Hall of Fame induction, PJ Johnson rightfully takes his place as one of the best defensive and offensive catchers in the history of the Chippewa River Baseball League.

Brian Jacobson

Class of 2022


Lafayette Indians 1987-88; Eau Claire Pioneers 1989; Lafayette Lakers 1990-95

A seven-time all-star during his nine seasons of CRBL play, Brian Jacobson made his mark on league history as a competitive, strong-armed catcher who was able to help his teams win ballgames with both his glove and dangerous bat. Beginning his career with the Lafayette Indians, Jacobson hit .333 (17 for 51) with 1 home run and 10 RBI’s in his rookie year of 1987. In the Indians last year of play in 1988, Brian hit .326 (14 for 43) with a home run and 13 RBI’s in helping the Lafayette Tribe go 8 and 7 and reach the CRBL championship game as a wild card before losing to the Chippewa Falls Lumberjacks 13 to 10 at Lawler’s Field in Lafayette. Playing for the Eau Claire Pioneers in 1989, Jacobson hit .309 (17 for 55) with a home run and 13 RBI’s for an excellent Eau Claire squad that finished 15 and 1, won the South Division, and beat the Jim Falls Sturgeons 14 to 8 in the CRBL championship game. Brian returned to Lafayette in 1990 to play for the Lakers, for whom he would enjoy the finest years of his CRBL career. In 1992 he hit .433 (26 for 60) with 4 doubles, 3 home runs, and 16 RBI’s, pushing the Lakers to their first WBA birth since 1982. Jacobson was even better in 1993 when he hit .466 (27 for 58), with 4 doubles and 3 home runs while tying for the league lead in RBI’s with 26. Accordingly, Brian was named All-CRBL catcher in both of those terrific seasons. In addition to his seven All-Star games and two All-CRBL awards, Brian was also chosen Honorable Mention All-CRBL at catcher in 1987. An observable difference maker, Jacobson payed on three teams within his nine seasons, helping each franchise qualify for the WBA. In total, Brian played in five WBA tournaments – two with the Indians (1987, 1988), one with the Pioneers (1989) and two with the Lakers (1992 and 1995). Falling just short of the 500 at-bat qualifier for “rate” stats, Jacobson finished his CRBL career with a stout slash line of a .349 AVG./.463 OBP/.470 SLG. With his induction, Brian Jacobson forever takes his place as one of the greatest catchers in the history of the Chippewa River Baseball League.

Ray Mcllquham

Class of 2020

Lafayette 1946; Lafayette Badgers 1948; Lafayette Giants 1949-50; Hamilton Chevrolets 1955-56; Lake Hallie Lakers 1957; Chippewa Falls Triangle Sports 1958; Seymour 1959; Cadott Red Sox 1961

Umpire 1962-1984

During a league career that spanned nearly forty years and touched five different decades, Ray McIlquham carved out his place in CRBL lore, first as a solid catcher for 10 seasons and then during a commendable 23 season run as a league umpire.

Breaking in to the Chippewa County League in 1946 with the Lafayette team, Ray played 10 seasons as a backstop for eight different teams, with his last year of competition coming with the Cadott Red Sox in 1961.

As a member of the successful Hamilton Chevrolets of Chippewa Falls during the 1950’s, Ray was a part-time player for the 1955 Chevrolet crew that went 11 and 1, securing the North Division before beating the Lake Hallie Lakers 12 to 9 in the C.V.L. championship game. The 1955 “Chevs” would go on to win their opening WBA contest before being eliminated. McIlquham’s other title experience came in 1959 when as a full-time player, he hit .318 (14 for 44) for the 10 and 2 Seymour club, as they claimed the South Division (there was no C.V.L championship in 1959) and qualified for the WBA tournament.

Playing well before the advent of All-CRBL recognition, Ray appeared in two All-Star games (1957 and 1959) and hit over .300 in three seasons (1948, 1958, 1959) with a high of .333 in 1958 (14 for 42).

Hanging up his spikes after 1961, McIlquham became a Chippewa Valley League umpire in 1962. Respected and well-liked by players, he admirably served in that capacity for 23 seasons, bridging an era that saw the 1968 evolution of the Chippewa Valley League in to the current day moniker of the Chippewa River Baseball League.

When Ray’s last year calling balls and strikes came in 1984, it concluded one of the longest tenures of involvement by any individual throughout the league’s storied existence. With his induction, McIlquham officially takes his place as one of the immortal legends in Chippewa River Baseball League history.

Rick Baier

Class of 2020


Cadott Red Sox 1986, Tilden Tigers 1988-2014

A strong-armed, ultra-competitive catcher, Rick Baier was a defensive and offensive game changer, synonymous with the highly successful Tilden Tiger teams of the 1990s and 2000s.

After playing briefly with the Cadott Red Sox in 1986, Rick became a full-time CRBL player with Tilden in 1988, immediately giving the Tigers a visible stalwart at the pivotal backstop position. Renowned for his defensive skills behind the plate, Rick had a memorably strong arm and quick release. A catcher’s catcher, he was also adept at working with pitchers, calling a game, blocking balls in the dirt, securing twisting pop-ups, and fearlessly protecting home plate.

Offensively, the right-handed swinging Baier possessed a short, wrist powered swing that enabled him to be a tough, highly productive hitter from the heart of the Tigers’ relentless line-up. On the road to piling up 366 career hits, Rick led the CRBL in at-bats once (79 in 2000) and tied for the league lead in doubles twice (7 in 1998 and 11 in 2000). He eclipsed the .300 mark in nine seasons, twice going over .400 at .414 (29 for 70) in 1992 and .454 (30 for 66) in 1999. In knocking out 20 or more hits in seven campaigns, he had a high of 30 hits in 1999. On the path to 240 career RBI’s, Baier drove in 20 or more runs in three seasons, with a personal high of 24 RBI’s in 1996.

Rick’s defensive and offensive prowess contributed mightily to the roaring heights that he and the Tigers reached over his 27 seasons donning the maroon and yellow. Accumulatively, Rick helped propel 17 North Division winners, six CRBL champions, 23 WBA tournament teams, 10 Final 8 squads, and two WBA champs (1995 and 2004).

A participant in five CRBL All-Star games (1992, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2004), Baier was named All-CRBL at catcher twice (1997 and 1998) and Honorable Mention All-CRBL at receiver three times (1992, 1996, 1999).

Upon induction, the durable catcher’s highest offensive rankings can be found in total bases (12th), RBI’s (13th), home runs (tied for 13th), at-bats (tied for 14th), doubles (tied for 14th), games played (15th), hits (tied for 17th), singles (18th), runs scored (18th), walks (31st) and slugging percentage (49th).

Randy Baier

Class of 2020

1st Basemen, Pitcher

Cadott Red Sox 1986; Tilden Tigers 1988-2006, 2008-12

The most prolific homerun hitter in the CRBL’s long and storied history, Randy Baier was a middle of the order, run-producing force throughout two decades of play on the Tilden Tigers incredibly successful teams of the 1990s and 2000s.

A right-handed hitter, the slugging first baseman deployed a powerful swing from an upright, slightly closed stance during his 25-year career to amass an incredible cache of offensive accomplishments. In 21 separate seasons, Baier hit over. 300, exceeding .400 in six of those campaigns. Twice the righty eclipsed the .500 mark, leading the CRBL with a .509 (29 for 57) tally in 1992 and a .527 (29 for 55) ledger in 1997.

The heavy hitting Tiger also led the CRBL three times in home runs (9 in 1991, 9 in 1995, 7 [tied] in 1999), twice in RBI’s (29 in 1991 and 19 [tied] in 2008) twice in walks (23 in 1992 and 18 in 1993), and once in hits (29 in 1991).

The CRBL’s all-time home run king, Baier was incredibly consistent with the long ball, averaging over 5 bombs a season from 1990 to 2003. Throughout that 14-season tear, there were countless standout performances. Perhaps Randy’s most memorable day came in game one of a doubleheader vs. Augusta on July 16, 2000. In Tilden’s 15-14 loss, Baier mashed four homeruns while driving in 7 runs. As of 2020, the Tilden legend is still one of only four CRBL players to hit four homeruns in one contest.

Yet another historically noteworthy day came on May 10th, 1992 when Randy became one of only seven CRBL players on record to hit for the cycle, doing so against the Hallie Eagles in Tilden’s 31-8 victory.

One of the key components in Tilden’s long lasting core of veteran and outstanding players – a core that included brother and fellow CRBL Hall of Fame catcher Rick – Randy and the Tigers enjoyed an extensive amount of hardball success. In total, the home run leader played on 16 North Division winners, six CRBL champions, 22 WBA qualifiers, 10 Final 8 teams, and two WBA championship squads (1995 and 2004). True to form, Randy was named the WBA tournaments co-Most Valuable Offensive player in 1995 and then stood alone as such after the 2004 WBA tourney.

The ace pitcher for Tilden early in his career, Randy led the CRBL in innings pitched (83.2), wins (7), and K’s (77) in 1989. The right-handed thrower also led the CRBL in innings pitched (77.1 in 1990) as well as tying for the lead in saves (1) and shutouts (2) in 1995.

A participant in eight All-Star games (1989, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002), Baier was named MVP of the CRBL classic in 1992 and co-MVP of the mid-season exhibition in 1995.

During his quarter century of standout play, Randy was a two-time Honorable Mention All-CRBL pick (1995 and 2002). Moreover, he was deservedly chosen All-CRBL seven times, first as a pitcher in 1989, and the last six selections as a 1st baseman (1991, 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2004).

Upon induction, the Tilden Slugger’s highest rankings can be found in homeruns (1st), RBI’s (2nd), total bases (2nd), hits (tied for 4th), runs scored (5th), OPS (5th), slugging percentage (6th), at-bats (8th), doubles (8th), walks (10th), singles (10th), games played (11th), seasons played (tied for 13th), batting average (15th), on base percentage (16th) and triples (35th).

Don Amundson

Class of 2015


CRBL: Chippewa Falls Triangle Sports 1959; Eau Claire Tommy Millers 1960; Howard Braves 1966-68

ECCBL: Eau Claire Tommy Millers 1960-63; Eau Claire Twin City Sports 1965

The best hitter in the six-season run of the Eau Claire Classic Baseball League (1960-65), Don Amundson should eternally be viewed as one of the best offensive and defensive catchers to ever be associated with the Chippewa River Baseball League.

In his first season of amateur baseball in 1959, Amundson won a Chippewa Valley League batting title with a .469 average (15 for 32) for the Chippewa Falls Triangle Sports.  In 1960, Don played for the Eau Claire Tommy Millers.  For that season only, the Millers competed in both the CVL and ECCBL, enjoying considerable success across both circuits.  In CVL play, Amundson clouted a league leading total of 3 home runs while scoring a league high total of 17 runs.  In the ECCBL, Don won the league’s inaugural batting crown with a .403 mark (25 for 62), tied for the lead in RBI’s with 18, and notched the unusual feat of leading the league in stolen bases with 8 while excelling at the demanding position of catcher.  His composite totals from both leagues in 1960 are impressive in both quality and quantity: 26 games played, 120 at-bats, 41 hits, 6 doubles, 5 home runs, 31 RBI’s 36 runs scored, 12 stolen bases, 11 walks, and a .342 average.

Competing exclusively in the ECCBL in 1961, Amundson captured his third consecutive batting title, pacing the Eau Claire centered league with a .482 ledger (27 for 56) to go along with 8 doubles, 3 long balls, 17 RBI’s, and 20 runs scored all in just 14 games.

Don’s performance in 1962 permanently etched his spot as one of the best offensive catchers to ever strap on the gear for a Chippewa Falls/Eau Claire area baseball team.  In 11 games for the Tommy Millers, the prolific hitting catcher remarkably won his fourth batting title in a row with a scathing .500 average (19 for 38) to go along with ECCBL high marks in hits (19), home runs (4), RBI’s (12), stolen bases (6), and walks (12).

Amundson’s last full season of play in the ECCBL came in 1963.  Continuing with his heavy hitting ways, Don tied for the league lead in doubles with 4 and homeruns with 5 while leading outright in runs batted in with 19, all during a 15 game league season.

The right-handed slugger returned to the CRBL landscape in 1966 as a Howard Brave, where he hit .324 (22 for 68) with a home run and 16 RBI’s in 16 league games.  Playing two more seasons on a part-time basis, Amundson concluded his run in CRBL history in 1968 with Howard, hitting .333 (8 for 24).

The exemplarily outstanding level of Amundson’s play coincided directly with the great success his teams experienced.  During Don’s five seasons in the Chippewa Valley League, he was part of four division winners, three WBA qualifiers, and one CVL champion.  In five Eau Claire Classic Baseball League campaigns, Amundson notably played on the ECCBL champ each year in addition to five WBA tournament teams, and one WBA champion in the 1961 Eau Claire Tommy Millers.

Individually, the accolades were plentiful for the slugging catcher.  In total, Amundson was a participant in four ECCBL All-Star games, three CVL All-Star contests, was a unanimous selection twice as an All-ECCBL catcher  in the only two years the award was given (1960 and 1961), and was also one of 22 players selected to the 1963 WBA All-Tournament Team as a member of the Millers.  Additionally, Don was named as a catcher to the 1962 Wisconsin Semi-Pro Baseball All-Tournament Team.

Upon induction, Don will forever be the Eau Claire Classic Baseball League’s leader in batting average (.414, 87 for 210), hits (87), doubles (18), home runs (14), RBI’s (68), runs scored (65), stolen bases (19), total bases (151), and slugging percentage (.719).

Joe Prince

Class of 2012
Catcher, Outfielder
Bloomer Pines 1964-65; Tilden Tigers 1966-67, 70; Cooks Valley Hayshakers 1971-80

A powerful right-handed hitter for three teams during his 15 seasons of competition, Joe Prince’s induction to the CRBL Hall of Fame solidifies his place as one of the most potent offensive players to ever dig in to a Chippewa River Baseball League batter’s box.
Joe’s 1964 rookie season was as a part-time player for the Bloomer Pines. Prince became a perennial standout in 1965 when he hit .383 (18 for 47) with a Chippewa Valley League best 6 doubles for the Pines.
Moving south to Tilden in 1966, Joe hit .333 (14 for 42) and appeared in his second consecutive all-star game. It became apparent in 1967 that Prince was a figure to be reckoned with in league play. In year number two as a Tiger, Joe hit .397 (23 for 59) with 5 home runs and a C.V.L. leading 24 RBI’s in 14 league games. On Sunday, May 21st of that year, the wood bat swinging Joe had one of the best single games in league history when he went 5 for 5 with a grand slam, 8 RBI’s, and 6 runs scored in Tilden’s 23 to 11 thrashing of the Cadott Red Sox at Cadott.
After taking two years off from league play, Joe returned to Tilden and the rigors of the CRBL in 1970 by leading the nine-team circuit in base on balls with 14 and tying for the league lead in triples with 3.
With the Prince family forming the Hayshakers, Joe took his talents to Cooks Valley in 1971, gathering his 5th consecutive .300+ effort (.304, 17 for 56). Joe snagged his first home run belt in 1972 with the co-leading total of 3. In 1973, the Hayshaker Masher impressively led the CRBL with a .432 average (19 for 44) while simultaneously banging 4 home runs to lead the league again in that area as well.
Prince would cross the .400 barrier in two other seasons, doing it again in 1975 (.425, 20 for 47) and in his final season of 1980 (.405, 17 for 42).
Including the three seasons over .400, Joe was a .300 or better hitter in 13 of his 14 seasons as a regular. Additionally, Prince had 20 or more hits in five seasons, with a career high of 24 in 1977. In cracking 31 long balls, Joe hit 3 or more homers in six different seasons, reaching a peak of 5 in 1967 and 1977.
A participant in six all-star games, Joe was named MVP of the 1966 classic, when his 3-run bomb gave the West Division a 4-2 lead on their way to beating the East Division 5-3 at Jim Falls.
In joining brothers Pat and Stan as CRBL Hall of Famers, Productive Joe’s highest spots on the all-time ladder can be found in slugging percentage (12th), batting average (15th), and home runs (17th).

Barney Meinen

Class of 2012
Tilden Tigers 1967-77
Tilden Tigers 1950-59, 65-68; Tilden Terrors 1960-64

Roland “Barney” Meinen had a long and durable stay as a catcher, enjoying a 19-season career competing for Tilden. Meinen’s place in CRBL history was cemented, however, during his 11-year reign as the Tilden Tigers’ hard-driving and competitive manager.
With his playing career beginning in 1950, Meinen is on record as a full-time player and catcher until 1965 before finishing his career in spot duty through 1968. Along the way, he accumulated 185 hits in 784 at-bats while driving in 93 runs and scoring 119 tallies.
Acting as player/manager in 1967 and 1968, Meinen led the Big Cats from Tilden to a 15 and 3 record, a CRBL championship, and a spot in the WBA tourney during his second year at the helm. From 1968 to 1972, Meinen’s Tigers won a league record five consecutive league championships, winning the title outright in 1968 and 1970, while prevailing in championship games vs. the Cornell Hawks in 1969, the Bloomer Merchants in 1971, and the Lafayette Indians in 1972.
With divisional play returning to the CRBL in 1973 from a five year hiatus, Barney guided the Tigers to Northern Division crowns from 1974 to 1977, his last four seasons as the head man. During this time frame, two more championships were copped when Tilden beat the Lafayette Indians in 1974 and the Cadott Red Sox in 1977.
Meinen’s WBA resume concluded with nine appearances in his 11 years and four Final 8’s (1972, 1973, 1974, 1976). The one jewel missing from Barney’s crown was a WBA championship, although he did make it to a title bout in 1976, where Tilden lost to Merrill, 3-0.
Barney’s summative ranks among league managers are 1st for league championships, 1st in winning percentage, 4th in WBA appearances, 4th in WBA wins, tied for 4th in Finals 8’s, 5th in league wins, tied for 5th in division titles, and 10th in league games managed.

Arnie Bowe

Class of 2012
Tilden Tigers 1972-86

One of the best hitting catchers in CRBL history, Arnie Bowe’s offensive production and strong defensive presence were game changing attributes during his 15 seasons of baseball for the Tigers of Tilden.
A hard-swinging left-handed batter, Bowe was a model of consistency at the plate. In crafting a .338 lifetime average, Arnie batted over .300 in 11 seasons, including the last 10 of his CRBL career. Within that streak, Bowe eclipsed .400 twice, hitting a career high .481 (25 for 52) in 1980, and .448 (26 for 58) in 1982.
The portside catcher was also a regular with the long ball, popping 2 or more homeruns in seven different seasons, with his career high of 5 attained in three different years (1979, 1982, 1984)). Accordingly, Arnie was a consistent run producer in the middle of Tilden’s line-up, driving in 10 or more runs in nine seasons, with his personal high of 23 coming in 1982. From the base paths, Arnie was able to top 10 or more runs scored in 11 seasons, crossing the plate a career best 20 times in 1977. Within his superlative 1982 campaign during which he hit .448 with 5 home runs, 5 doubles, 23 RBI’s, and 15 runs scored, the slugging catcher struck out a grand total of one time.
Bowe’s relentless production helped the Tigers bolster its place as the most successful franchise in CRBL history. During Arnie’s time on the squad, Tilden won 11 North Division titles, including nine in a row from 1974 to 1982, claimed six CRBL crowns (1972, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1986), played in the WBA each season except 1983, appeared in seven Final 8’s (1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1979, 1984, 1986), and lost to Schofield 7-6 at Abbotsford in the 1984 WBA championship. In total, Bowe had the pleasure of playing in 12 CRBL championship games within his 15 years of competition.
A respected defensive receiver who was known for his adept handling of pitchers as well his stonewall approach to blocking home plate, Bowe played in three all-star games (1980, 1981, 1985) and was named All-CRBL catcher in three seasons (1979, 1980, 1982).
Upon induction, the catcher’s highest offensive rankings can be found in slugging percentage (25th), batting average (28th), and homeruns (31st).