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Brute's Bleat February 15, 2017
Sad to say I haven’t been out fishing for about three weeks, something I’m changing this week. The fishing grapevine tells me small sunfish are biting on Maple Lake, but check the shoreline for a safe place to get on the ice. Steve Loch says there’s an open hole out from the access that’s about 3 feet deep. Anglers were still driving on the lake over the weekend and there’s about 18 inches of ice, but with sunshine and warm temps the shore ice is the first to go. . . There were several anglers on Pelican Lake Sunday and two motorcyclists were out for a spin Saturday east of Buffalo. Another lake, Moose, in the Lake Sylvia area has been producing suspended crappies (23-24 feet) in about 40 feet of water.
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Dale Welter, former Maple Lake High School baseball coach and a member of the faculty, as well as one of the backbones of the Chaska Cubs baseball team, forwarded a story from the 70th anniversary of the Cubs who won an amateur state baseball tournament in 1947. Maple Lake’s late school superintendent, Roger Riesgraf, was on the Cubs team and the story was printed in the Feb. 2, 2017, issue of the Chaska Herald and referenced the Maple Lake baseball team. The tribute to the 1947 Cubs contained quotes from Welter as well as some of the “old timers” about Maple Lake’s game with the Cubs winning a 1-0 shut-out and a no-hitter. Welter was quoted as saying, “One gentleman in Maple Lake still refers to Chaska as the one-to nothing son-of-a-bitches”. Welter didn’t know who the gentleman was (maybe Russ Baker, deceased) but my associate are guessing that could have been either the late Laker Eddie Raiche, or the manager, Andy Hamm. Don Anderson, an Excelsior ace, was protested because of eligibility by the Lakers, but was declared legit and pitched 8 1/3 innings. Chaska was held to a single hit in the ninth inning, but a throwing error and a passed ball gave them the win. Riesgraf was referred to as one of the good contact hitters. An all-tournament player, Riesgraf, who played right field, was quoted several times in the story about opposing players, especially Rochester’s Lefty McGinnis, who the story referred to as “the biggest, baddest dude in Class A amateur baseball in 1947”.
The final paragraph of the tribute was titled Only A Few Remain, which we’ll print in its entirety:
“Roger Riesgraf, writing to Welter through the years, played a round of golf ate least once a week into his 90s.
Riesgraf, who moved to Maple Lake, spending 50 years or so of his life there, serving as superintendent of the district, was reminded about the state tournament just about every time he went to his local barber, Ed Raiche (grandfather of present Laker Chad Raiche).
Even after 60 years, Raiche had still not gotten over the 1-0 loss.
Cancer in his pancreas led to Riesgraf’s death this past August at the age of 92.
All that remains from that 1947 state championship team are Lahl, Matt Riesgraf (Roger’s brother), and Clarence Soley. Hauser Lano summed up the experience well. “Do your best and have fun. It’s a great game and an honor to play it.”
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After reading the story I can imagine the tempers were flying over the pitcher eligibility issue and the protest hearing during the tournament. I was scrounging around for a lineup of the Lakers from 1947, but haven’t come up with one. The Messenger files from that era are not available. So if any of the Bleat readers can help me out, I’ll print the lineup in a subsequent issue. And my thanks to Welter who provided us with the story. Even though retired for a number of years, both as a teacher and from baseball, it is apparent to me he still lives and breathes Chaska Cubs baseball. I have some copies of the story available at the Messenger office.
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It’s getting closer to the 2017 Laker baseball season and it will be interesting to see who’ll be on the roster. It sounds like we’ll be having some of the Lakers retiring, so we can expect some new faces in the lineup. Also on the horizon and something else to think about is the 2019 State Tournament which will be hosted by Maple Lake and Delano.