Baseball legends inducted into Hornet Hall of Fame
Frazee is known as a wrestling hotbed in the state of Minnesota, but before the Hornets started laying the foundation of a grappling dynasty, there was a run of strong success on the diamond.
Back in the early 1980’s, the Jaycee’s Minor League baseball program became a feeder system to what would become one of the best baseball teams in the area in Frazee.
By 1985, the Hornet baseball squad broke through to what would become one of their baseball seasons in the history of the school, as they qualified for their first state playoff tournament and produced a number of top diamond players.
That success was recognized by FHS this past fall, with the 1985 Frazee baseball team, along with Shane Kangas (Class of 1985) and Scott Bergman (Class of 1981), being inducted into the first-ever Frazee Hall of Fame.
“I am just very proud of what those players accomplished and being inducted into the first Hall of Fame class, is special,” said former and longtime Frazee head baseball coach Jim Nelson. “It was a strong period of athletics, a lot of kids learned how to be successful on many levels and many moved onto very productive lives.”
Both Bergman and Kangas were top multiple sport athletes, but baseball is where both made their marks.
Kangas left FHS as one of the most prolific pitchers to take to the mound in school history.
His awards he earned during his high school baseball tenure are numerous, which includes three-year Park Region All-Conference, conference MVP in 1984 and 1985, All-State selection in 1985, All-District and was named to the Minnesota Lions All-Star team and was the winning pitcher for the Out-State team against the Metro squad.
“Shane had the most velocity than any other pitcher in the area,” Nelson said. “He also had a good curve and averaged two strikeouts an inning.
“He could blow his pitches past batters, but he also had good control.”
During Kangas’ junior and senior seasons, the Hornet hurler went 8-0 in the Park Region Conference, with 83 strikeouts in 41 innings, while batting .395.
Overall for his varsity career, Kangas was 27-4, with 286 strikeouts and averaged 1.9 strikeouts an inning.
He also batted .335 for his career.
“Yes, he was the best ever to suit up for Frazee,” Nelson said.
Kangas brought his talents to the University of Minnesota, where he earned the Gopher’s Player of the Year honors his senior season in 1989.
He went 21-7 during his collegiate career, which saw the Gophers win the Big 10 West in each of 1986 and 1987, as well as won the Big 10 Tournament in 1988.
In 1989, he was fifth all time in wins for the Gophers.
Kangas was also a vital component of the 1985 state playoff team, which went 20-2.
The 1985 Hornets had five very productive seniors on the team to help pave the way to the state playoffs, where they eventually lost to Eden Valley-Watkins in the first round 3-2.
Jim Roedel was a .314 hitter, but made his mark with five RBIs in the Regional championship game, while third baseman/designated hitter Brad Johnson his .298, with 13 RBs and 18 runs scored.
Roger Smith, a captain, helped keep the middle strong on defense in centerfield, while making All-District, who added power with three homers and 18 RBIs.
Hans Hanson, another captain, was Frazee’s catcher who was All-District, All-Conference, while hitting .305, scoring 22 runs and blasting 16 RBIs.
Juniors also were big contributors in third baseman Ron Williams, pitcher/shortstop Lee Dahlgren (2-0, 2.04 ERA, 25 strikeouts in 24 innings), first baseman Paul Kasowski (.379, 23 RBIs) and infielder/pitcher Kent Ketter (team-high .431, 23 runs scored, 14 stolen bases and 6-1 with 0.85 ERA and 41 strikeouts).
Sophomore Steve Grierson also was named to the All-District team as a rightfielder, while leading the team with 24 RBIs and was a Lions All-Star selection.
Other sophomores who saw action included Paul Anderson, Keith Johnson Cim Drewicke and freshmen Ryan Wouters and Jac McTaggart.
“With our pitching, you still need excellent catching and we had Hans Hanson, who was very exceptional,” Nelson said. “The one thing which started our success was that we had a very good summer baseball program.”
Of the 15 players on that 1985 team, 13 made it to the Hall of Fame ceremony, which was held during one of the Hornets’ football games at halftime, with a small banquet after.
Bergman was one of the pioneers who started building the baseball success at Frazee, who was the Park Region MVP and a Lion’s All-Star selection in 1981.
He was named All-Conference in 1979 through 1981 and had a 15-1 record his junior and senior seasons.
Bergman also had two no-hitters and two one-hitters, while accumulating an excellent 1.40 ERA with 135 strikeouts in 95 innings of work during his varsity career.
“I wasn’t super overpowering, but I had good control,” Bergman said. “In high school, you need a good fastball with good control. I really credit Jim Nelson for showing me how to throw a good change-up, as well.”
Bergman was clocked in the low 80’s, but his accuracy around the plate put him over the top against most batters.
“Scott was a tall and lanky kid, who had a nice release,” Nelson said. “He had an excellent change up as a Babe Ruth player and added a nice curveball.”
Bergman is humbled by his induction into the first Hall of Fame class, who also excelled at football (quarterback) and basketball.
He was selected as the 2006 Minnesota High School Baseball Assistant Coach of the Year and has been a two-time state girls’ basketball coach of the year at Sauk Centre, where he has a 201-102 career record in that capacity.
“It’s special being a part of the first Frazee Hall of Fame group, it’s quite an honor,” Bergman said. “I was just blessed with a lot of coaches at Frazee and whatever sport I was playing at the time, was my favorite.”
The Frazee Hall of Fame will continue to add great Hornet players of the past, but the baseball legends dominated the first class, by far.