Sports hall of fame announces class of 2013

November 23, 2012

LUDINGTON — The Mason County Sports Hall of Fame has announced its 2013 inductees. Joining the Hall are Dick Dennis, Fred Horstman, Spence Peterson, Bonnie Vasicek, Jay Hansen, Bob Wolff and the 1947 Abrahmson-Bannon state championship fastpitch softball team of Dan Allard, Frank Rockfall, Ward Abrahamson, Jack Yeck, Ken Hull, Milt Anderson, Ray Dittmer, Ralph Weinert, Bob VanDyke, Dick Dennis, John Czarnecki, Dave Horowski and Russ Houk.

“The MCSHF Class of 2013 is an exciting group of athletes. It has been eight years since the initial induction of athletes into the MCSHF in June of 2005,” hall of fame President Vic Burwell said. “This class could also have been inducted in the initial year of the existence of the Sports Hall of Fame. It never ceases to amaze me the quality and depth of the athletic achievement of the individuals that Mason County has produced.

“In addition, this year will be exciting in another way. We will be honoring and enshrining individuals from areas of athletic excellence that we have not been recognized in previous classes. Our selection this year will include a nationally acclaimed, and world record holder, archer; one of Ludington High School’s finest swimmers; an all-American track performer; two of the area’s most gifted softball players; the first Mason County state championship recreational softball team from 1947; and, a coach who started the LHS soccer program and lead it to a Michigan High School Athletic Association state championship.”

The inductees will be honored Saturday, June 22, 2013 with a plaque unveiling and luncheon at Historic White Pine Village, the site of the hall. The induction banquet is scheduled for the evening at Lincoln Hills Golf Club. Tickets for the event will be available in the spring from White Pine Village.

The hall if also planning a recreation softball reunion for this coming summer for all players, teams and leagues, but Burwell said the time, date and place is yet to be determined.

This is the ninth class inducted into the Mason County Sports Hall of Fame and one of the largest with the seven entries.

Each year, a veterans’ committee selects an individual or team that took place before 1950 and this year there were two selections from the committee — Dennis and the 1947 Abrahamson-Bannon title team.

Dennis began playing softball at the age of 11 in the mid-1930s and continued to play locally into the 1940s. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943 and his work was as a mechanic. Dennis continued to play softball baseball at bases in Lincoln, Neb., Key Field, Miss. and Guam. He played on a team that participated in a national semi-pro tournament with two Major League players, Grady Hatton of the Cincinnati Reds and Lou Stringer of the Chicago Cubs.

Dennis returned home to play in 1947 for the Abrahamson-Bannon team and pitched magnificently. His pitching was dominant in the late 1940s, but also had a great mind for the game and perhaps a greater bat. He often led the teams he played on in hitting, too.

He was in the inaugural class of the Mason County Softball Hall of Fame.

When it came to the ’47 Abrahamson-Bannon team, the locals stormed through a 35-4 season and held a 17-2 record in its league.

In the state tournament, Abrahamson-Bannon went 4-0 and allowed one run and eight hits by their opponents. The offense, though, came through with eight runs and compiled 20 hits. Bob VanDyke threw the first two games including 10 strikeouts of Alpena American Legion in the opener. Dennis threw the second two games, including a perfect game in the semifinals and a one-hitter in the title game with 21 strikeouts.

Horstman started the Ludington soccer program from scratch and it became a state powerhouse with a 2001 state championship and two state runner-up trophies in 1994 and 1997 to the team’s credit.

Horstman was 258-54-22 as head coach of the Orioles as his teams won 11 conference championships, 10 districts and six regional crowns. After launching Ludington, he moved on to Mason County Eastern and helped the Cardinals to success on the pitch as well.

Peterson set school records for Saginaw Valley State University in the early 1980s and earned all-American honors from the NAIA as well. The 1978 Ludington alumnus earned all-American honors in the 10,000-meter run outdoors in 1980 and two years later earned the honors in the indoor two-mile, the outdoor 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter runs.

Peterson’s 10,000-meter record was still the standard in 2011 for Saginaw Valley State University as well at 29 minutes, 10 seconds.

In high school, Peterson was a state runner-up in the two-mile run in 1978 in the Class B state finals with a time of 9 minutes, 26.1 seconds.

Hansen used an outstanding high school swimming career to move on to a good college career at Western Kentucky University.

The 1988 alumnus of Ludington was on three league championship teams in high school while winning 11 Coastal Conference titles himself and setting five league records.

Hansen set five Ludington school records and four of those still are standing on the record board at Donald C. Baldwin Community Pool.

At the state meet, he won three individual state titles and set one state record. His times were so good, he was within the top 50 for the country in the 100-yard butterfly and as a member of the 400-yard relay teams.

Hansen’s work swimming continues as he participates in open water events and is a volunteer coach at St. Petersburg Aquatics in St. Petersbur, Fla.

Wolff, a 1956 graduate of Ludington High School, was a world record holder in archery, producing state titles 13 times from 1969 to 1979 in the days before compound bows were prevalent.

He was not only a great shot with the bow, Wolff was an expert shot with a rifle and shotgun as well, including setting a range record while at basic training at Fort Knox, Ky.

Vasicek began her softball career at the age of nine and played on the diamonds from then. The 1988 inductee into the Mason County Softball Hall of Fame played on a handful of state tournament teams from Baldwin and even worked out with the Grand Rapids Chicks when she was 15. Vasicek couldn’t play with the Chicks because she had to be 18.

Vasicek had a 40-year career and included four years for softball at Custer High School and reached into her 50s. She graduated in 1956 from Custer.

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