4 inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame

By Tim Engstrom
From left are Jason Fink, Wes Thompson, Luther Dorr and Tim Engstrom. Thompson and Dorr were inducted into the Minnesota American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame in July in Rochester. Fink was the emcee. Engstrom performed the inductions.

ROCHESTER — When Luther Dorr was a boy in rural Princeton back in 1959, the local American Legion Baseball coach wanted him on the team on one condition: that he could make it to town.

3 men stand side by side. The center one holds a plaque.
Past Department Commander Tom Fernlund, right, announced that Osseo-Maple Grove Post 172 was Post of the Year.

So he would always be trying to find a ride to town. When he couldn’t, he rode his bicycle 14 miles, mainly on a gravel road.

As a man, he became the editor of the Princeton newspaper, and during his 33 years in that role he expanded coverage of Legion Baseball, even hitting the road to cover tournaments in places like Grand Rapids and Alexandria.

He gave back to baseball by becoming an official scorer, doing public announcing and sometimes doing analysis for radio broadcasts.

2 men stand side by side. One holds a plaque.
State Baseball Director Randy Schaub, right, announced Doug Ruter of Willmar as 2023 Coach of the Year.

Dorr was inducted last year into the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame and played town ball for 47 years. He also played baseball in high school, college and the Army. He died Sept. 15 before this issue came out. He is in “Taps” in this issue. He had been a member of Princeton Post 216 for 58 years. He had been the 10th District baseball director since 2018.

Wes  Thompson is a 49-year member of The American Legion. He is a member of Waite Park Post 428. He also is a member of the Sons of The American Legion. He is a past 6th District commander and serves on the National Security Council for The American Legion at the national level. He is an Army veteran.

He started in Legion Baseball as manager for the Upsala team. Later, he managed the Foley team, then the Waite Park crew. He has been the 6th District baseball director for 15 years.

He has bartended at the Legion posts in Foley and Waite Park. He took first place in Minnesota and 10th in the nation for the U.G.L.Y. Bartender Contest in the 1980s. The name stands for Understanding, Generous, Loving, You, and it raises funds for multiple sclerosis.

Two men stand side by side. One holds a plaque.
Emcee Jason Fink, left, stands with 2023 Coach of the Year Lon Berberich of Le Sueur-Henderson.

Both men were inducted into the Minnesota American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame on July 26 in Rochester.

Also inducted into the Hall of Fame was Donald “Bucky” Burgau, the all-time winningest coach in the history of Concordia-Moorhead athletics. The coach served 36 years as baseball coach and won 711 games. He also coached the Moorhead Post 21 Blues American Legion baseball team from 1973 to 1999, to the benefit of many of the players.

Moorhead Post 21 made it all the way to the American Legion World Series in 1988 in Middletown, Conn.

His induction ceremony will come during the next Moorhead Blues baseball season.

The Minnesota American Legion Baseball Div. I Sportsmanship Trophy is named for Father David Moran of Farmington. He was the first baseball director for the 3rd District and a Catholic priest for the Church of St. Michael. He lived from 1881 to 1944 and was instrumental in the early history of the baseball program. He, too, was inducted this year. An official ceremony is to be scheduled.

Two men stand side by side, shaking hands. One holds a plaque.
District 2 Director Vern Kitzberger, left, announced Jamie Mulvihill of Mankato National as 2023 Coach of the Year.

The state champions were featured in the September issue of The Minnesota Legionnaire.

Other honorees of the past season were:

• Post of the Year: Osseo-Maple Grove Post 172, for its past financial support of the state committee (which primarily uses donations to fund postseason expenses) and for fielding excellent baseball teams.

• Coaches of the Year: Lon Berberich of Le Sueur-Henderson, Doug Ruter of Willmar and Jamie Mulvihill of Mankato.

• Graduate of the Year was Brad Hand, a relief pitcher for the Atlanta Braves (and formerly with several other teams over 12 seasons) who once played for the Chaska Post 57 team.