"Hall of Fame" Capsules
Stan "Stretch" Martin - Mitchell, NE (Player)
Stan began his storied baseball career as a Legion player in Alliance with the Alliance Elks, then played a year at Chadron State. In the summer of 1955, after one game of semi-pro ball, a Yankee scout followed him home and signed him to a contract.
Stan played for Bristol, made the All-Star team, was promoted to St. Petersburg in 1956 and was "on his way" in Greenville in 1957 when he hit 21 homers and 71 RBI's in only 116 games (that projects to 31 "dingers" and 103 "ribbies" in 162 games).
His two-year US Army career began at Ft. Carson, CO and Ft. Gordon, GA, when a cleaver general noticed his ball playing skills and made sure he wasn't shipped out to his command in South Korea but played ball in Fort Gordon, Georgia. Stan hit an HR in the 3rd Army Championship game.
When Stan returned to civilian life in 1960 he was assigned to the Yankee's Modesto club. The Yankees were "money stingy" figuring the two years lost reduced Stan's value. With a wife and a baby and no negotiating leverage, he left mid-season and headed for Chadron State to finish his college degree in Phys Ed. He played a year in the Panhandle League for the Scottsbluff Merchants where he was crowned league MVP and began coaching. Ten of those years included a successful basketball gig at Tecumseh.
In 1978 he moved to Mitchell where he coached the Legion baseball team to success and taught life skills along with baseball skills to the players. He served as assistant girls' basketball coach with the same results. Today he commands a position of the highest esteem and respect in the Mitchell community and throughout the region. Your time has come, "Stretch." Your photo is about to be deservedly displayed on the wall of the Nebraska Baseball Hall of Fame.
Jim Thompson - Lincoln, NE (Manager)
The recommendations that poured in for Jim to be inducted into the Nebraska Baseball Hall of Fame described him in many ways, the extended way beyond what his photo on the wall of the "Manager" category would represent. He was noted as a competent pitcher, a quality first stacker, and a clutch hitter. He was the team groundskeepers, the batting practice pitcher, and the equipment manager. At times he was also the team's financier, paying for needed supplies, lights, and other expenses out of his own pocket.
Behind many of us old ballplayers, you will find a damn good woman. Jim's wife, Patty, was the team's bookkeeper, statistician, and general secretary. Jim loved to play but when he determined someone might be better, he would insert them in the lineup for himself. His Runza teams outlasted all semi-pro teams in Lincoln for 11 seasons until his departure in 1984. His top proponent, Jeff Obrecht, labeled him an excellent base coach, and an exceptionally good technical hitting and pitching instructor in all phases. Hall of Famer, Tree Dreamer, called him a great game manager.
He attracted many good players including John Svehla, HOF, Tree Dreamer, HOF, Bruce Reed, Mike Gordon, Mike Harlander, and Obrecht to name a few. Welcome and congratulations to your well-deserved honor, Jim!
Larry and Shirley Bornschlegl - Lincoln (Distinguished Service)
The saying "behind every good man is a good woman" certainly is fitting with this dual award. For over 53 years, Shirley has been working with Larry in many ways, especially when it comes to baseball. For years the banquet table seating for families and guests of the inductees were handled with her special touch, as were the decorations, signage, and other pertinent placements. She also found time to assist the other board members' wives with greetings, registration, nametags, and helping catalog, list sales information and collect for auction items.
Shirley assisted Larry with the banquet pre-registrations and did other miscellaneous duties to help her husband with his big-time job as Secretary-Treasurer. She has even proofread the newsletter along with Jan Douglass, Ron's wife. Larry essentially was the Business Manager of our organization, handling all the daily operational tasks, including donations, registering the corporation, paying bills, taxes, communications with members, reports to the Board including minutes, organizing nominations for Board consideration, and successfully preparing materials, for grants.
Maybe just a valuable as all things mentioned was his gregarious smile, handshake, and welcoming greetings in person, if that doesn't lift your spirits, then you need a shrink or a stronger whisky. Larry finally reached a point where the stress was wearing on him and his grandkids wanted more of their really-neat Grandpa. Good reason, Rook!
We are extremely fortunate to have Mark Mancuso available to fill his position. It's not too early to tell that he will do just fine.
Richard Mueller - Geneva, NE (Distinguished Service)
The board of Directors for today's Nebraska Baseball Hall of Fame was formed in 2010 and consisted of Richard Mueller, Bob Lohrberg, Larry Bornschlegl, Jerry Bender, Bob Steinkamp, and Ron Douglas. Bob Prokop had just written a letter turning the organization over to us stating, "I'm sure you will do a good job."
The Inductions had been hit or miss for several years and Lohrberg had been doing a lot of the heavy lifting to keep it going. Bob agreed to stay with us until we got organized, which certainly was valuable, but he was ready to step down. Ready to step up was Richard Mueller, the first duly elected President of the Nebraska Baseball Hall of Fame. The first thing he said was, "if we're gonna do this, we're gonna do it right!" "Amen," said Larry.
Richie was instrumental in helping outline a plan to find a permanent location, determine how to fund it, and how to distribute responsibilities among the Board based on individual experiences and skills. Things took off. Grants were obtained, two successful banquets occurred, and the people reacted with generous donations. Within two years we had a wonderful museum at the cost of nearly $60k.
A 2014 debilitating accident left Richie housebound for the rest of his life, but we conducted meetings in Geneva from time to time until his death in 2018, taking advantage of his sage advice
Donald Thomas - Tekamah (Player)
Don was nicknamed "droop" for whatever reason, but had it been me, I would have called him the "Tekamah Tornado" because he twirled up a storm for the Tekamah Midgets, High School, Legion, and Town Teams from 1949-1943.
His Legion career began in 1950 after his freshman year, and he started and finished fast. In the second game of the season, he beat Scribner 5-1 and shut out Hooper in the season's finale. His sophomore year was dotted with amazing success for his High School, the Legion, and even the Town Team.
He fanned 18 Schuyler Warriors in the season opener and pitched three no-hitters. He "dough-popped" 19 Decatur hitters in his second no-hitter, nearly missing a perfect game by plucking the only hitter to reach base. During the season, he found time to win a 3-2, 16-strikeout victory over the Council Bluffs Town Team. His junior and senior seasons were rife with even more successes and involved more Town Team performances.
The St. Louis Cardinals were quick to sign him for a $3,000 bonus and assigned him to their Omaha Cardinal Club where he played with Earl Weaver. To provide more playing opportunities, he was sent to lower level form clubs for seasoning.
Unfortunately, all the years of throwing so many pitches finally took their toll, and arm trouble ended a promising career. He retired from the game in 1954, married his beloved Mary, raised their family, and coached kids. We lost Don this spring but we are glad we can help preserve his contributions to baseball forever on our wall.
Bob Hughes - battle Creek, NE (Umpire)
One of the best ways to be seriously considered for the Hall of Fame is to be recommended by a peer already in the Hall of Fame, and then backed up by strong documentation. In Bob's case, his selection was made easy because the above criteria was met by three current Hall of Famers, Rich McGill, Steve Farlee, and Jeff Graver. Bob mentored two of them.
Bob was serious about umpiring. At the age of 17 he began his umpiring career in the NE Nebraska Tri-County League and attended the Harry Wendelstedt School of Umpiring in Daytona after high school graduation. Steve Farlee said, "Bob was an active umpire for 38 years, umpiring over a dozen state semi-pro tournaments and 12 State Legion tournament; 28 years umpiring in the Dodge County League, NAIA and NCAA division II baseball and umpired over 2000 games.
Rich McGill and Jeff Graver agreed on many points. "He helped us become a better umpire by going over and over the rules, discussed dress codes and how to act properly as an umpire, expected excellence and effort from his partners and himself and was all about professionalism. He assisted many umpires, would loan equipment if necessary, was a good friend, partner, and person, conducted clinics, took time to answer any questions and reminded us all to enjoy the game and have fun." Welcome to the hall, Bob!
Larry Carlson - Beatrice (Player)
Larry is another of the great all-around athletes to come out of Beatrice. For example, he challenged Gayle Sayer's long jump record with a leap of 22 feet, broke Bob Hohn's Beatrice HS rushing record, was first team All-State halfback, and was a three year starter on the HS basketball team.
But, baseball was his best sport. In Midget Legion baseball, he was dominant on year going 15-0, fanning 153 batters in 96 innings; 1.63 K's per inning and had an ERA of .082 (the decimal is in the right place). His team was 27-0 at the time. Following the equally dominant Legion career, he moved on to UNO playing for the legendary Virgil Yelkin (a starter in football, basketball, and baseball for the Huskers in the mid-1930's). They called Larry "The Fireman," and he was their number one reliever.
Those were the days before radar guns but several people, ex-UNO players now in the Nebraska Baseball Hall of Fame, testified to his live arm and nasty breaking pitch. One of them was elegantly quoted a saying, "he could just throw the s*** out of a great fastball." In 1969, he had the lowest ERA in the Rocky Mountain League at 1.38. He played Semi-Pro ball for Filley in the State Tournaments held in Welber and for Lexington in the NIL being flown to and fro, put up overnight in a hotel, and was paid $50 for a win and $25 for a loss. He got a lot of pictures of US Grant.
Larry Klein - Omaha, NE (Player)
Larry, an All-State player from Omaha Roncalli high school, began his college career at UNO. Hall of Famer and current Board Member, Mike Metz, proclaims Larry to be the best pure shortstop in the history of UNO's program. Moreover, fellow Hall of Famer and current Board Member, Mark Mancuso, agrees. During Larry's senior year, he transferred to Emporia State and played for Dave Bingham, the future Husker pitching coach under Mike Anderson. During that season, Larry guided the Hornets to the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, ID, where they eventually finished fourth.
He left pro ball after the 1988 season but picked up a game in 1990 playing for the River City Knights until 1995 and continued with the Black Sox from 1996 until 2018. His outstanding career easily qualifies this gifted 'baller' his rightful place on the wall. Congratulations, Larry!