NOKOMIS — The road to making the major leagues is difficult: only 10 percent of those working the minor league system get that long-awaited call-up.
Seven inductees to the Bottomley-Ruffing-Schalk Baseball Museum (BRS Museum) in Nokomis were evidence of that, with years of service to Major League Baseball ranging from as little as three years up to 16 years. Each of the inductees described their journey during the BRS Museum Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 13 at the St. Louis Parish Center in Nokomis.
Eight individuals to be inducted by BRS Museum
The ceremony saw the induction of Kevin Koslofski, Ken Oberkfell, Stan Royer, Kevin Seitzer, Eric Weaver, Jayson Werth, and Dennis Werth to the list of honorees. These inductees are within 60 miles of Nokomis who have represented the sport of baseball well throughout their careers.
The ceremony also marks the second time a media personality was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Longtime State Journal-Register sportswriter Dave Kane, a regular fixture at Redskins basketball games, received the honor next to the late Terry Todt.
Banquet emcee Brian Barnhart, the play-by-play commentator for the University of Illinois, often gave stories related to some of the inductees where he’s had interactions with them.
Kane second inductee to the BRS Museum media wing
Kane, as the media inductee, was the first to speak following the meal catered by Milano’s Catering of Hillsboro. He spoke about his time covering Nokomis for the Springfield-based State Journal-Register.
“I love baseball. I love small towns and Nokomis is one of my favorite sports towns,” Kane said. “Whether it’s basketball or baseball or football, they supported the Redskins.”
Kane worked for newspapers in Tennessee and Indiana before returning to central Illinois in 1983.
Kane would further elaborate on covering two honorees of the museum, particularly Eric Weaver and Kris Detmers. He also described the honor of covering their children, Tristan Weaver, Nicole Weaver, and Reid Detmers.
Koslofski describes major league experience
Koslofski played parts of four seasons for the Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers. He described five moments that helped define his professional career: his call-up, his first major league game, his greatest moment, his send-down, and his final game.
He would further elaborate about his call-up coming after a streak of consecutive strikeouts of eight, resulting in the destruction of a bat rack in the Omaha Royals dugout. Later that night, he received the call to the big leagues, debuting two days later for the Royals, nailing three hits in a 9-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Koslofski describes his greatest moment of hitting his first home run against the Houston Astros against pitching legend Nolan Ryan and breaking down in the outfield at Yankee Stadium in 1996 when he was being sent back to the minor leagues. His career lasted one more season with the Louisville Bats, where he was a teammate of Detmers.
While no longer in the professional ranks, Koslofski continues to be active in the sport as part of the Decatur Commodores baseball club, the traveling team of former Nokomis players Reid Detmers and Ryan Janssen.
Royer stated that baseball and sports shaped him as a person
Stan Royer, who has ties to Olney, spoke about his journey, describing how the coaches and friends he met along the way helped propel him forward and helped shape his journey.
Royer played partial seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox.
“Other than my faith, sports are what shaped me as a person,” Royer said. “I encourage kids to play all sports. It makes you a better player, but it also makes you a better person.”
After leaving baseball, Royer moved on to working in the financial industry in the St. Louis metro region.
Weaver still active in baseball, giving lessons
Weaver went into detail about his journey from Illiopolis and the Buffalo Tri-City co-op baseball team to his call-up to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He would later have stints with the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
He was ready to attend Bradley University after going undrafted when he received an opportunity to play in a qualifier game for the Junior Olympics in Los Angeles. This opportunity was presented per recommendation from his high school coach Bill Lamkey.
After what he called the week of his life, Weaver was selected to the Junior Olympics team, meeting with numerous scouts, including those from the Dodgers. The Dodgers flew his girlfriend (now wife) and mother to South Dakota for the Junior Olympics.
Weaver worked his way through the Dodgers minor league system after signing with the team in 1992. That hard work would result in his call-up in 1998.
“I joke with the kids that I finally figured out how to pitch at 21 or 22 years old,” said Weaver.
Weaver now lives in Auburn and gives lessons to area players.
Weaver also spoke about his call-up and the lessons he’s passed on to his son Tristan. Tristan Weaver is playing for the University of Cincinnati baseball team as a graduate student after stints at Lincoln Land Community College and Indiana State University.
“I was lucky enough to play 13 years of professional ball,” Weaver said. “I told him you never want to burn a bridge. You never know who will be able to help in the future.”
Jayson Werth shares stories relating to family ties to BRS Museum
Jayson Werth, a former All-Star and World Series champion, describes the honor of joining grandfather Dick Schofield and uncle Dick Schofield Jr. He joins stepfather Dennis Werth among this year’s inductees.
Werth spoke about visiting the museum before the ceremony. The former Chatham Glenwood standout struck one name in particular during the visit: Springfield’s Robin Roberts.
During Werth’s time with the Philadelphia Phillies, Werth was able to meet with Roberts several times. Roberts detailed to Jayson stories about playing with his great-grandfather Ducky Schofield on the same semi-professional team. At the time. he was 17 while Schofield was 43.
When hearing of Roberts’ passing in May 2010, Werth was on the road with the Phillies against the St. Louis Cardinals. As the Roberts’ family watched the game, his son predicted that Werth would hit a home run for Robin. That prediction came to fruition via a three-run shot to help defeat the Cardinals.
“We had a real bond. It’s pretty cool to be a part of the same club as him,” Werth said of their connection with the BRS Museum. “For such a small town to have such a great museum, it’s amazing. I’m proud of all I achieved and proud to be here tonight.”
Dennis Werth is not short on moments despite a short career
While stepfather Dennis Werth’s career was significantly shorter, Dennis was definitely not short on special moments. Werth came into a New York Yankees clubhouse featuring players like Reggie Jackson, Graig Nettles, Willie Randolph, and Bucky Dent.
“My first dealing with baseball was three tennis balls and a bat,” Werth said of his humble beginnings. “I collected Crane potato chip caps to get my first baseball glove.”
Werth resided in Cornland, his hometown in Logan County before moving to Mt. Pulaski.
He spoke of some of his greatest memories, which included coaching Jayson.
“I was a better teacher and mentor than a player,” the elder Werth said. “It was more fun watching his success than my own.”
Barnhart spoke of Oberkfell and Seitzer, who were unable to attend. Seitzer, a hitting coach for the Atlanta Braves, helped in the Braves attaining their second World Series title in franchise history against the Houston Astros. Macon native Brian Snitker, his colleague, is the Braves manager.
BRS Museum now honors over 120 individuals
With the new inductees, the BRS Museum now honors in excess of 120 individuals making significant contributions to the game of baseball.
The crowd of more than 100 mingled freely after the ceremony, speaking with the inductees, and getting pictures and autographs.
As the BRS Museum has marked its 40th anniversary, the museum continues to keep the history of Central Illinois baseball alive.
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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.
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