October 23, 2014

Ten players to be inducted into Northeast Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame

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Alex Fedak looks at the plaque denoting him as an NEM hall-of-famer during last year's reunion.
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OMER — Former local baseball players will be honored and 10 will be inducted into the hall of fame during the Northeast Michigan Baseball reunion July 20 in Omer.

The reunion is held at 1 p.m. at the Ye Olde Courthouse in Omer, which houses the Cletus Vallad NEM Museum.

According to Bob Pelton, the reunion coordinator, each year six former players, umpires or officials from the NEM are honored as hall of fame inductees, as well as posthumous inductees.

This year’s inductees from the northern division are Bill Marx, Mick Bootz and Joe Malcolm. In­ductees from the southern division are Jeff Reed, Jack Dora Jr. and Stanley Buczek, according to Pelton.

Posthumous honorees are Leo Foco, Harold and Chet Schwerin and Ben Good.

In a press release, Pelton said nearly everyone living in Northeast Michigan is connected to someone who played in the NEM.

“There is probably not a person raised in Northern Michigan that doesn’t have a connection to the NEM in one way or another,” he said. “It could have been a former player, umpire, family member, friend or perhaps a spectator who loved the game of baseball. For many years, it was the most popular form of entertainment in Northeast Michigan and touched many lives from all walks of life.”

According to Pelton, the NEM was formed in 1916 and active until 1986. There were 52 teams and thousands of players from the Tri-Cities to Alpena who participated.

In a history of the league, Pelton said hundreds of people would attend games, often traveling many miles to watch NEM players.

“During the league’s early years, the fans and players would travel by train each weekend, and according to accounts, a championship game drew over 800 spectators, and the Detroit-to-Mackinaw railway had to add two special railroad passenger cars to handle the loads of fans,” he said.

People who played in the league still remember those days, Pelton said in the league history.

“Over the years, small towns, communities and the game of baseball have changed dramatically, but the memories are not forgotten. If you should happen to run into any ‘old-timer’ who played in the NEM, take notice of the gleam in his eye as he tells you about a particular game or how important the NEM was to him and his family,” he said.

Tickets to the reunion include dinner, which will consist of honey-fried chicken, meatballs and noodles, sausage and sauerkraut, potato salad, beans, desserts and beverages. Reunion tickets are $15 for adults, $7.50 for children 8-12, and free for children younger than 8 years old.

To purchase tickets to the reunion, or to donate an item to the NEM museum, contact Pelton at 989-846-9644.

Pelton said the Detroit Tigers donate tickets to the reunion annually, and 112 tickets were donated this year for a Sept. 24 game against the Chicago White Sox scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

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