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5 posts categorized "Baseball"

August 04, 2015

Former JM great Jim Scheid dies at 57

Posted by: Feldman

"It's a sad day, but it goes to show life is not fair. It's tough. Rochester has lost a great person." — Former JM hockey star Bruce Aikens, on his teammate Jim Scheid


Six-hundred thirty-six words seems so insufficient to sum up someone's life. Anyone's life, but espeically the life of someone like Jim Scheid, who clearly touched more lives than he knew.

That's how many words are in this story about Scheid, the former Rochester John Marshall athletic standout, who died Monday just three days before his 58th birthday, after a long battle with cancer.

I talked to three of his friends/high school teammates about Jim, and I knew about 5 minutes into my first conversation that I was going to have way more material than I could fit into a print story.

I could have written 6,000 words, probably more.

I never had the chance to meet Jim in person. I interviewed him one time, a little more than five years ago, for a story on all of the Rochester hockey players who moved on to play at the University of Wisconsin in the 1970s and early 80s. The Badgers were playing in an NCAA Regional at The X that spring (2010) and it seemed like a good time to do the story.

I don't know why I remember this, but when I called Jim, he was traveling to a youth hockey tournament -- I'm assuming with his youngest son, Ian, who coincidentally I would come to know a little bit over this past year as he played for the Austin Bruins -- somewhere in the northern part of the state. I want to say Thief River Falls, but I could be wrong.

The point is, from all of his friends and family with whom I spoke today, that was Jim. He was always coaching, teaching, helping others -- his kids, friends' kids -- excel at the sports they love, whether it was hockey, baseball, football (Jim starred in all three at JM) or hunting or fishing (which friends say he loved just as much).

Back in late May, Scott Lecy -- Jim's linemate and teammate at JM and Wisconsin -- worked with the Rochester Park and Rec to get the warming house at Allendale Park named after Scheid. When Lecy went to visit Scheid in his home last weekend, Scheid told him with a laugh, "You know, Scott, that's nice, but I never spent much time in the warming house."

Indeed, as Lecy and Bruce Aikens and Randy Wilcox would explain to me, Scheid was the one who called everyone's house -- who remembers a childhood without cell phones?! -- to tell them to gather at the outdoor rink, no matter the temperature. And once there, when everyone else would take a break, Scheid would be the one shoveling off the rink.

Scheid was also an outstanding QB on the football team (he played on JM's 1974 state title team) and an All-State baseball player as a senior. He was inducted into the Rochester Quarterbacks Club Hall of Fame in 2013.

"He was the quarterback in football, first-line center in hockey and shortstop in baseball," Wilcox said with a chuckle. "How much better can you be?"

Scheid, Lecy, Aikens and Wilcox all played on some powerhouse JM hockey teams. The Rockets went 21-3 in Scheid's senior season but lost in the section tournament. The next year, Lecy and Aikens led JM to a state championship. Three weeks later, Lecy was in Madison on his recruiting visit, where he had the chance to catch up with Scheid.

"He knew we'd have a great team that year," Lecy said of the '77 Rockets. "He was just so happy that we all got to experience that. Not just getting to state, but winning it, too."

When I've talked to players from those mid-to-late 1970s JM teams, they all echo the same sentiment: Those teams were great because of the work the players put in away from organized practice. Wilcox talked at length about Scheid using a tennis ball instead of a puck on the uneven outdoor ice at Allendale.

"If you could handle a tennis ball hopping around out there, you could definitely handle a puck," he said.

That makes it fitting that one of the lasting impressions Scheid will leave on Rochester is his name on the warming house of an outdoor rink, where everyone skating on the ice can see it.


Jim and his wife, Sandy, have three sons: Tony, Eric and Ian.

I've followed Eric's hockey career from afar; he'll be a senior playing at Penn State this fall.

Ian will play for the USHL's Fargo Force; they made him a 2nd round draft pick a couple months ago after he had an outstanding season with the NAHL's Austin Bruins. I got to know Ian a little bit while covering the team -- it was obvious he didn't care to have the spotlight placed on him, but he always answered questions with thought and never turned me down if I asked for an interview. To know what he was going through off the ice, it's pretty amazing to have watched the season he put together on it.

After meeting Ian and watching him play, I wasn't shocked that Aikens had this to say about Jim Scheid as a high school player:

"I know his parents were big influences in his life. He wasn't a really vocal guy, but was always very down to Earth. He let his actions and play speak for him."

His former teammates describe Jim as a do-it-all type of guy, one who would much rather set up his teammates for a goal than score it himself.

As Lecy and Wilcox pointed out, Scheid earned the nickname "Slip" at Wisconsin, because he was always too slippery for anyone to catch.

"He was so unselfish," Lecy said. "He was always looking to pass and not shoot. ... He was a great athlete and a great guy, and he was easy to like and look up to."

Aikens added: "Jim was a class act. He came to play every night. Fundamentally he did everything well and was a great team leader. He could really pass the puck, very unselfish. He got more joy out of winning than his own statistics. It was a joy to play with him.
"He was the QB on the football team, a great baseball player, and he did it all with class and made it look easy."

June 08, 2010

Lakeville's Kvasnicka hurt Rochester hockey teams more than baseball

FELDY: Lakeville North grad and current Gophers baseball standout Mike Kvasnicka was drafted in Round 2 of the Major League Baseball draft today by the Houston Astros. Kvasnicka, a 2007 North grad, was also a standout on the Panthers' hockey teams.

While his team lost in the Section 1AA hockey final to Rochester Century in Kvasnicka's senior season, he played a key role in denying Century a trip to state in '06, in another in a long line of nail-biting, heartbreaking overtime games between those two teams in the hockey section finals.

Kvasnicka was the player who, on March 4, 2006, scored at 7:44 of the third overtime to send Lakeville to state. In that game, Lakeville scored twice in the third period -- including once with just 52 seconds remaining -- to force OT. After two scoreless OTs, Kvasnicka beat Century goalie Kraig Ewing on Lakeville's 62nd shot of the game.

Kvasnicka, a catcher/outfielder at Minnesota, was hitting .350 with eight homers and 48 RBIs before the Gophers NCAA tourney game on Monday. The Astros reportedly plan to move him to third base.

May 26, 2010

Wow ... where have we been?

FELDY: I have no idea where Phersy and I have been. I have no idea where Phersy is. I'm not sure if he knows this blog still exists. Shhhhhhhh .... don't tell him. OK, please tell him.

It's been fairly quiet around here in terms of sports news that gets us stirred up. A few things to catch up on, though:

* NAHL Entry Draft going on today. We (I'll) keep an eye out for local kids. Draft begins in 31 minutes (1 p.m. Central). We (I'll) keep a close eye on the Austin Bruins to see how that new franchise drafts.

* The Pat and Kevin Williams issue with the NFL has officially bored me. I wish the judge would just take the two Vikings and the NFL bigwigs in a backroom, make them all say they're sorry to each other, give them balloons and lollipops and send them on their way with two-game suspensions for the Williamses and two-week suspensions for the NFL bigwigs involved in this case.

* Brett Favre apparently received the ankle I cut off, packed in dry ice and sent to Hattiesburg. His surgery last Friday was a success and he'll back on the field in time for training camp at Mank ... OK, in time for training camp at Witner Pa ... OK, in time for preseason game No. 3. Does this surprise anyone? It does make Mrs. Feldy happy because she now feels like she didn't waste money on that Favre jersey she bought me for Christmas. The only real question now: After Favre leads the Vikes to the Super Bowl, does he go into the Hall of Fame as a Packer or a Viking?

* The Twins still can't hit with runners in scoring position. Their pitchers still give up way too many home runs. They're still in first place. Not much has changed with the move to Target Field. Which we all still love.

* Your 5-time Northwoods League champion Rochester Honkers open their home season on June 3. That's all I got on them, because they're all you'll read about in our print edition this summer. Oh, and it's Slider bobblehead night on June 14. Love bobbleheads, especially a bobblehead of a guy whose head is as big as Slider's.

* Blackhawks over the Flyers in five games. T-O-E-W-S!!

* Maybe this will get Phersy's attention and he'll come back to the blog once in a while: ONLY 51 DAYS TIL ICE HAWKS OPEN TRYOUT CAMP AT THE REC CENTER!!! (July 17-18)

May 04, 2010

Today's Topic | Can we calm down on Wilson Ramos now?

FELDY: At the risk of offending Phersy and his man-crush on Twins catcher Wilson Ramos, can we all take a deep breath after tonight's 4-3 win against Detroit and gain some perspective.

I'm making my second trip to Target Field on Wednesday. And judging by the way some Twins fans were talking after Monday's game, I pretty much expected to see Ramos' jersey No. 44 hanging next to Carew, Hrbek, Killebrew, Oliva and Puckett (Plus the Twins would have to add a new entrance to Target Field -- Gate 44).

We know Ramos, 22, is a nice player. He hits the ball hard when he makes contact. He has good power. He has the look of a great power hitter. Yes, he was 7-for-9 in his first two MLB games before an 0-for-3 night Tuesday DROPPED HIS AVERAGE TO .583. But he's not going to go 3-for-4 every night. Let's give him a couple of weeks at the big league level before we start talking about how to keep him in the Twins lineup every day.

And stop the panic. Please. The Twins don't need to rush out and trade Ramos. They 100 percent don't need to trade Joe Mauer to make room for Ramos. That suggestion is ludicrous at this stage.

Take a step back and look at the big picture.

When Mauer is able to return to the lineup on a daily basis, the prudent move is to send Ramos back to Class AAA Rochester. It might not be the popular move, particularly if he's batting, say, .350. By sending him to Rochester, it's a guarantee that he'll play every day, getting about 20 -- likely more -- plate appearances every week. (And let's keep in mind that Ramos was hitting all of .179 with the Red Wings when he was called up). And guess what? If the Twins run into more injury trouble, Ramos is a heck of an option to call up.

If the Twins were to keep Ramos up with the big-league club when Mauer returns, he'd get maybe 8-10 plate appearances a week. Maybe not even that many. He'd fill Drew Butera's role as the backup catcher (and Butera would go to Rochester), meaning he'd play basically in day games and give the Twins a great right-handed pinch-hitting option off the bench. There's no place for him to DH, with Jason Kubel and Jim Thome in line ahead of him.

That leads us to the next point. Ramos is still young, 22 (though, who knows, he may be older than that). The Twins don't have to be in a rush to make this guy a big-leaguer. He will get his shot in a matter of a couple years, or maybe in a matter of a couple months. Thome isn't going to be with this team forever. Maybe not at all after this season. Maybe Michael Cuddyer moves on after this season, moving Kubel into a more regular outfield spot and opening the DH role for Ramos.

Could the Twins make him into a third baseman? Possibly, but that's likely a two-year project and it doesn't appear imminent. Could the Twins move Mauer? Possibly, but why would you want to move arguably the best catcher in Major League Baseball?

At some point Ramos is going to be a full-time major leaguer. But how about we give him more than 20 at bats before declaring him the next Joe Mauer?

April 13, 2010

Today's discussion topic: Initial impressions of Target Field

(A quick note, first. We're going to try to pick a discussion topic each day and actually offer some opinion on here, instead of just little news tidbits all the time. We'll also try to tell you what our next-day's topic will be, and hopefully we'll get this noted daily in our print edition.)

FELDY: Mrs. Feldy and I took in the Twins home opener yesterday and, not surprisingly, Target Field gets a massive thumbs-up. 

Here's my quick review if you don't want to read my wordiness. I'll do it in Andrew Bernard form: This ballpark is good.

If you want to read more, here you go ...

Before I get too deep into the greatness that is Target Field, I have a question for those of you who have also been to a game there: Is the enthusiasm over the new park due to just how great it is, or due to just how crappy the Metrodome was? Or is it a combination? I tend to think that, not only is Target Field a first-class park on its own, but its greatness is enhanced by the fact that we had to watch ball at the Dome for three decades.

I've been to a handful of new parks in the past five years or so and Target Field ranks among the best.

I'd better be careful how I state this, because I don't want my Minnesota citizenship revoked by the You-can't-ever-say-anything-bad-about-Minnesota police: Target Field is awesome. I love it. I can't wait to watch the Twins play home games there for most of the rest of my life. But .... Target Field is #2 on my list of new parks that I've been to. I put it behind Camden Yards/Oriole Park in Baltimore (which isn't all that new anymore, built in 1992) because the complete experience at Camden is tough to top, with the warehouse out in right field, the intimacy of the park, and the one-block walk to the Inner Harbor's entertainment district.

Now, back to the Target Field lovefest.

Honestly, I was worried after hearing so much hype about the place that I might get there and go 'this is it, really? It's just OK.'

My feelings changed from the time the new park came into view as we walked up on 5th Street, the north side of the park. Twins history is everywhere you go, both outside and inside, starting with the numbering of the gates. There are five gates to enter, numbered for the five Twins players whose numbers are retired — 3 (Killebrew), 6 (Oliva), 14 (Hrbek), 29 (Carew) and 34 (Puckett).

The next thing we noticed — it's hard to miss, basically screaming 'look at me!' — is the limestone exterior, which gives the park a unique touch that you don't see at other new parks such as Seattle and Philadelphia.

Still on the outside of the park, on the west side, are big division, AL and World Series championship banners. Near those banners are a series of bike racks — the Twins say there are about 400 bike parking spots for people who want to ride to the game. Across the concourse from the banners and bike racks is a chain-link fence covered in a brown material that includes giant blown-up baseball cards from Twins greats of the past and present.

Walking around to the south side, you find Gate 14, where, of course, the entrance to Hrbek's restaurant is. We didn't go in to try the Rex Burger, but the place was packed. Knowing Herbie's eating habits, the food in there can't possibly be bad.

From there, walking along the north side of the ballpark, you pass the back side of the massive Twins pro shop, which contains pretty much every piece of overpriced Twins merchandise you could possibly want. Just around the corner, on the east side, is Gate 34. That's at the center of a great plaza area, which was jam-packed with picture-takers, lunch-eaters and beer drinkers.

Inside the park, the concourses are indeed wider than the Metrodome's (how could they not be?) and the sightlines from every seat are terrific. We sat in Section 302, row 6, a little less than halfway up. Check out the Target Field seating chart, and you'll see we were about as far away from home plate as you can get, yet even with my 20-8000 vision I was able to follow the play. Sitting in the second-to-last section of the upper deck down the right field line at Target Field is vastly different than a similar section at Metrodome. You're seats in those section are also angled toward the field, so that when you sit straight, you're not staring into center field.

There are plenty of restrooms, novelty stands and concessions nearby (my first meal: a beer and a hot dog; what else could it be at a baseball game?). The food options are plentiful. I'm not sure how I failed to try a burrito from Senor Smoke's, but it's on the to-do list for the next trip to Target Field.

Oh yeah, the best part of the new park: The team on the field. Twins fans have waited a long time for a fitting place to play; now they have it and a winning team. Corny as it may sound, that combination was the best part of the day on Monday. A new park makes fans giddy, a good team makes them even happier. Not having to play in the Dome is the best.

To top it off, the post-game atmosphere was so far and away better than leaving a Twins game at the Dome. People hung around the park for a good hour afterward, as well as collecting on the plaza. A few blocks away, on the east side of Target Center, the street near Block E was blocked off, allowing fans to gather at places such as Smalley's 87 Club (formerly Champp's) and the new Hubert's bar.

What do you think, Twins fans? Am I overselling Target Field or do you feel the same way? Let us know.

TOMORROW'S TOPIC: A postmortem on the Wild's season and a look ahead at the NHL playoffs.


PHERSY: Feldy, how dare you!!! How dare you not rank the Twins' new park as No. 1 on your list. Spoken like a true North Dakota rube. You're probably still just worked up about the Sioux nickname, and the fact that UND will now be known as the FIghting Ground Squirrels.


OK Feldy, I had to chide you at least a little bit on this one. I haven't been to the new field yet, though I'm hoping to go early next week. So it would be tough for me to give any kind of true review of the park.

But, through the love-fest, I think most people realize that they didn't exactly go crazy on this new park. There aren't a whole lot of bells and whistles or expensive features. But what they did do is make it a tribute to the past, present and future, and I love that.

And I think you're exactly right ... part of this state's obsession with the new park is definitely owing to the Dome and its inadequacies. Years of indoor ball in the worst MLB park will make you get a little excited to head outdoors, even if we just built a stadium with no roof in the frozen tundra that is Minnesota.

But, let's enjoy it while it lasts. The critics will come out soon enough. Let's roll with the positivity!

Speaking of positivity, how about that team currently playing at Target Field? The Twins are hot, and that makes this whole thing that much more enjoyable.

Feldy and I are talking about this for tomorrow's print-edition version of Faceoff ... but let's just say, I really love what I'm seeing from this team early in the season, against some of the best teams in the American League.