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My what-ifs for baseball in New Ulm

Have you ever had one or two of those moments in your life when you have the thought “What if?”

For me it came on Saturday when the late Carl “Red” Wyczawski was honored with a plaque at Johnson Park, mainly for his dedication to baseball.

And when I thought about Red, I had my first “What-if” moment.

What if Red had not moved to New Ulm in 1955 from Milwaukee, Wisconsin?

Wyczawski was a sports writer in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, when he decided he wanted a change.

“My dad applied for a job with the (then) Milwaukee Braves and got it, as an Assistant Public Relations Director,” son Tom Wyczawski said. “He worked for the Braves in 1954 and 1955. And then he had gotten an offer from the Green Bay Packers because they (Green Bay) had played a couple of games in Milwaukee and Red would do the Public Address announcing because Green Bay did not want to have to bring all of their people down.”

Tom said that led to Red being offered a job with the Packers.

“But my mom Mary did not want to live there. She wanted to come to New Ulm and take a job that had opened at her father’s store at Green Clothiers.”

So the tough decision was made by Red and Mary to move to New Ulm instead of Green Bay or stay with the Braves.

My second “What-if” moment almost came immediately after that.

When Jim Senske graduated from Hamline University in 1960, he looked over several teaching offers.

“I was interviewed on campus and I was offered teaching jobs in New Ulm and also Brookfield, Wisconsin, and also Racine and Kenosha,” he said. “But I took the job in New Ulm because I could coach right away.”

I think that most of you know where I am going with this.

What if Red Wyczawski and Senske had both made different decisions?

How different would the sports landscape be here in New Ulm?

When Red came here, he immediately immersed himself into New Ulm baseball and also high school sports history. He was the Chairman of the 1958 Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament here.

He also began an extensive research into collecting high school statistics for all three New Ulm High Schools, spending endless hours doing research.

He has countless books and notes on the high school history and records. He also became New Ulm’s ‘Baseball Ambassador’ at Johnson Park. To Red you were a strange only once. After that he knew your name.

And what if Jim Senske had taken another offer other than New Ulm’s?

How different would the high school baseball program at New Ulm High School be here?

Where would those 707 career baseball coaching wins be?

Many, many players who played for him say he was the best motivator and coach they ever had.

And then you have 1978 when the New Ulm Legion baseball team advanced to the American Legion World Series with Senske as coach and Wyczawski as team manager.

Both now have plaques at Johnson Park in honor of their accomplishments and dedication to New Ulm baseball.

I know there will be times in the future when I will walk into Johnson Park, see those two plaques and still have the that thought.

What if?

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