Trautmann named to Legion HOFKelly Trautmann had the reaction most people would when he found out he was being inducted into the North Dakota American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame.
Kelly Trautmann had the reaction most people would when he found out he was being inducted into the North Dakota American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame.
“I was thrilled to death,” said Trautmann, who led Wing-Tuttle-Robinson to back-to-back berths in the state Legion tournament in 1977 and ’78. “It’s a very humbling thing. Your name goes up there with Travis Hafner, Darin Erstad, Rick Helling, Roger Maris. It was a big shocker. A lot of emotions go running through you.”
Trautmann, who is retired and lives in Larimore, N.D., is a familiar name around here.
He played amateur baseball with the Jamestown Elks in 1981, which followed an amazing season at Moorhead State University when he won the Northern Intercollegiate Conference’s Triple Crown, becoming the first player to lead the league in batting average, home runs and RBIs in the same season.
“That was a year where everything fell into place,” Trautmann said. “A lot of things went my way that season.”
He carried that over into the summer with the Elks, where he hit .404, but he remembered that season for more than just the baseball.
“My friend Darwin Subart and I both played for the Elks that summer and had just a great time,” Trautmann recalled. “That team had so much talent, and our coach Dick Brown made things so fun. We just had a blast, but everybody on that team also hated to lose. When we took the field, we were out there to win.”
He spoke fondly of that team, which included:
r Bob Piatz, “The best athlete I ever played with or against,” he said.
r Scott Monson, “He was a good left-handed hitter. If he got one in his wheel house it was gone.”
r Doug Hogan, “He was our big-game pitcher.”
r Jeff Schutt, “Good, left-handed pitcher. Very capable.”
r Coach Dick Brown, “He made sure we had fun but was all business when we crossed the white lines. Dick knows his baseball.”
He also pointed out Jay Frydenlund, Wayne Hogan, Tom and Jim Harty, “All those guys welcomed Darwin and I with open arms.
“Darwin and I wanted to play so bad we’d sit on the tractor all day, and when we were done we’d hop in the car and drive to Jamestown. We just had the best time playing on those Elks teams.”
But for as complimentary as Trautmann was of his teammates, he was an equally big part. He hit third many times for the Elks, and his accomplishments in high school, Legion ball and success in college speak for themselves.
“We just loved to play baseball whenever and wherever we could,” he said. “I certainly have to put a plug in there for my dad (Bill), too. He was needed on the farm and wasn’t able to play when he was a young boy, but he was always there to pitch to us, hit ground balls, hit fly balls. He was just always very supportive and helped us in any way he could.”
These days, golf is his game of choice. Larimore has a 9-hole course and he often plays in Grand Forks. He’s retired now after working at UPS, but still has a couple part-time jobs, he said.
He and his wife have no children, but three horses and their cats keep them plenty busy.
The induction ceremony was held July 31 in Grand Forks at the Class A State Legion Tournament and it brought back a lot of great memories.
“More so than anything you just think back to how much fun you had playing the game, and really, that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” he said. “I’m very thankful for all the experiences I had playing baseball. They’re some of the big highlights of my life.”
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at email@example.com