Whitey Herzog to speak at Belleville Hilgards banquet

News-DemocratJanuary 20, 2014 

— Honoring the past, present and the future will be among the highlights Saturday when the Belleville Hilgards American Legion baseball organization holds its annual banquet at the Scottish Rite Bodies facility in Belleville.

Hall of Fame former St. Louis Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog will be featured in a question-and-answer session with St. Louis media personality Greg Marecek.

In addition, Mike Dunnigan, Al "Mubba" Alberter and Mike Harres will be inducted into the Hilgards Hall of Fame.

Happy hour begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:15 p.m. Tickets are $36 for adults and $16 for children under 15 and can be obtained by calling 233-1416 during normal business hours.

"It's been a consistently strong turnout for us," Belleville manager Zach Rakowski said. "Obviously when you have Whitey come, a lot of people come for that because it's always a great experience to hear him speak.

"He tells stories and you get some insights that you don't get from him when he does interviews on TV or radio. He's relaxed and a little more open."

The Senior Legion team will be honored along with the state champion Junior Legion I team managed by Corey Muendlein. The Junior Legion II team also will be honored.

Harres managed the Hilgards from 2002 through 2010, guiding Belleville to the state championship in 2008 and a berth in the Great Lakes Regional

Belleville also finished second in the state in 2009 and third in 2003. Harres' career record was 272 wins and 94 losses.

"For anybody with a passion for Hilgards baseball, it's the ultimate honor," Harres said of the Hall of Fame recognition. "It's a very special feeling. When you look at the individuals that are already in this Hall of Fame, it makes you so proud to be part of it."

Rakowski said this is another strong Hall of Fame class.

"Any chance to you get to honor the people who played before and to honor the Hilgards history, which is probably as strong as any program in the state, I think that's a good thing," he said. "Mike (Harres) had overwhelming support from the people who voted and I think it's well deserved."

Alberter, 56, played for the Hilgards from 1973-75, including the 1975 state championship team. The 1975 Althoff High School graduate played football at Southeast Missouri State and later was a standout catcher in baseball at North Central College.

He is in his 20th year as a special education teacher at Belleville West.

Dunnigan played for the Hilgards from 1976-79, one of only three players to play four years of Legion baseball under legendary Hall of Fame manager Barney Elser. The others are Hall of Famers Clyde Kuehn (1964-67) and John Duncan (1977-80).

A 1978 West graduate, Dunnigan, was a four-year starter as a right-handed pitcher at McKendree University. He made the NAIA Academic All-American team in 1982 for McKendree and also is a member of the McKendree Hall of Fame,

Dunnigan, 53, is a senior vice president with the Trinity Financial Group in Belleville.

The Belleville Senior Legion team was 31-14 and won the District 22 South Division regular-season and playoff championship. The Hilgards finished third at the Fifth Division tourney, eliminated by eventual state champion Edwardsville.

The Hilgards' Junior Legion I team knocked off Moline 10-0 to win the program's first Junior Legion state title, winning its final 13 games. Belleville finished 37-6-1.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or on Twitter @NormSanders

Belleville News-Democrat is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service