By Kaity Coisman
GREEN BAY – Past Blue Ribbons stars were honored at Blue Ribbons Alumni Night, Wednesday, June 28. The family filled event featured retiring former manager, Denny Ruh’s #26 jersey and three former players and two former board members that will be inducted into the Green Bay Baseball Hall of Fame.
The evening started with a memorial to Denny Ruh, the first Manager in Green Bay Blue Ribbons history, who passed away in April. Blue Ribbons President Phil Ducat did so by retiring his number. The heartfelt tribute to Ruh led to friend and Co-Founder of Wisconsin State League Denny Moyer giving a speech in Ruh’s honor. “I am compelled to tell you about my friend, we have a lot in common. We are roughly the same age, we share the same name and we have a lot in common, unfortunately, the tense is wrong. We had a lot in common… Denny Ruh was a baseball man… captivated by the power of the game, the magnitude of the odds against running a successful program, the challenge of every pitch, the ground ball that eats you up, the change-up that crazes you, the umpire with the floating strike zone, the loud obnoxious fan that doesn’t know his cheek from second base; baseball is the game that never loses you. Denny Ruh managed the game; he was a baseball man. As every day passes into years, it hits me more and more that its truly not about the game at all, it’s about the people… because one time or another they’ve been humbled by the game, humbled by an opponent, humbled by the little white ball, it has made them better men. And they appreciate that in other men of the game, Denny Ruh was a baseball man. Rest in peace, my friend,” reminisced Moyer. Ruh was known as a leader on and off the field and led the team to 12 Wisconsin State League titles over the course of their first 26 seasons. Along with his accomplishments on the field, he was also “a seven-time Wisconsin State League Manager of the Year. Ruh was a driving force in keeping baseball in the Greater Green Bay area, working with the Blue Ribbons, Sultans and De Pere Dodgers,” stated Blue Ribbons President Phil Ducat. The Blue Ribbons organization was also sure to send their thoughts and prayers to his family and friends during this difficult time. All the Green Bay Baseball Hall of Fame inductees were at the recommendation of Denny Ruh.
The first inductee was Dick White, long time board member of the Blue Ribbons. White was known as “a key contributor to bringing baseball back to the Green Bay area, White was a part of a group that launched an initiative to return America’s Pastime to Joannes Park in 1970. As a member of Bay Baseball, Ltd. he served as the first President in team history, helping to launch the Green Bay Blue Ribbons,” stated Ducat.
J.D. McKay, the metritis Hall of Fame and 1970 board member of the Blue Ribbons followed White. “A pillar of the Green Bay community as a lawyer and a judge, McKay helped to get the Blue Ribbons off the ground in 1970. An inaugural member to the team’s board of directors, McKay served as the organization’s first secretary and was instrumental in organizing road trips, as well as helping to bring the ABC National Tournament to Green Bay in 1974,” stated Ducat. McKay described the Blue Ribbons as a “labor of love” and reminisced about his time with the organization, “… the memories that we had, and that we created, and that we shared; were unbelievable memories that will last forever. I am honored to be a part of this celebration and what they’ve done.”
Terry Young competed for the Blue Ribbons as an infielder from 1974-1980 as “a key member of five Wisconsin State League Championship teams during his time in Green Bay. A steadying force in the lineup, Young consistently hit for a high average during his Ribbons’ career and was inducted into the Wisconsin State League Hall of Fame in 2008,” Ducat said.
Greg Howell was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 1965 and sequentially played six seasons for the Sox organization. After Howell’s time with the White Sox, he joined the Blue Ribbons from 1971-1979. Howell was an amazing player, and this is highlighted in his statistics. In 1972 his batting average was .378 with 14 home runs, in 1973 his batting average was .469 and earned the title of Wisconsin State League MVP. In 1974 he hit .411 and returned for his Wisconsin State League MVP title. Howell also was a big part of five Blue Ribbon championship teams. Ducat described Howell as the personification of what it takes to be a leader and a championship-caliber team. Greg Howell was inducted into the WSL Hall of Fame in 2008.
Mark Miller played the longest out of any other honored alumni, playing 17 seasons for the Blue Ribbons from 1970-1986. “Miller was a fixture in Denny Ruh’s lineups for two decades, and even stepped in to lead the team in Ruh’s absence in 1984. An on-base machine who hit over .400 on multiple occasions, and a skilled defender in center field, Miller won nine Wisconsin State League championships and was inducted into the WSL Hall of Fame in 2008,” stated Ducat. Miller gave a heartfelt speech after his introduction telling all the athletes on the Sheboygan A’s and Blue Ribbons to play as long as they can and make it last as long as they can because the time goes by faster than they think.
The first pitch was also thrown by a local baseball star, Andy Basten and his grandchildren. Basten began his baseball career at Ashwaubenon High School, followed by a career pitching at the University of Wisconsin and was then able to take his career to the MLB where he was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1979.
In front of the new inductees and their families, the Sheboygan A’s lead off batting on the hazy evening was Jack Counsell (a Michigan commit and the son of Brewers manager Craig Counsell), but both teams left the inning scoreless. The Blue Ribbons found their groove in the third inning. Griffin Summers, Landen Lozier, Jake Petasek and James Bornick all found their way home to put the Blue Ribbons up 4-0 over the A’s. Petasek, Bornick and Matt Perry all added an RBI to their resume. Both the A’s and the Ribbons went scoreless for the next two innings until Perry found his way home in the sixth inning. Trent Van Ess added the first run of the seventh inning after team leader in RBIs, Bornick, hit a ball deep to centerfield. Bornick also trotted to home plate after a hit from teammate, Ethan Habetler, bringing the score to 7-0. Reece Piontek was the lead pitcher for the Blue Ribbons in the first six innings, but Owen Deprez came in to finish off the Sheboygan A’s in the final two. The Ribbons won in a two-hit shut out over the Sheboygan A’s, 7-0.