Cologne Baseball Club History
Updated by Jason Kuerschner
The first mention of a baseball team in Cologne was in 1898, when a team known as the Cologne Chronicles, so named after the Cologne Chronicle newspaper, made the newsprint.
Ballgames were held at Mill Park, but the first official ball park was situated on the north end of town where Inn Town Wine & Spirits Liquor store is today. The current baseball field is located on Playhouse and Lake Streets. Cologne’s field is known for its excellent location, where spectators can sit high on the hill and have a wonderful view of the entire field, while shaded by many mature trees and grandstand.
In 1914, Cologne’s baseball team was known as the Cologne Silver Leafs, sponsored by the Cologne Milling Co. Another baseball club in Cologne, found through the newspapers, was the Cologne Pillrollers.
The Cologne baseball team of the early forties played mostly pick-up games with the surrounding area teams such as Waconia, Norwood, Hydes Lake, Laketown, etc.
Later, after World War II, the Scott-Carver-Sibley League was formed with eight area teams. Managers for the Cologne teams of the forties were Fred Meuwissen, Joe Weibel, William Jaecke, Marcus Larson, Rich Neirengarten, Johnny Much and Rich Aretz.
Three players of those early teams died in action in World War II. They were Charles VanHale, Gerald VanHale, and Orrin Arnst.
It was interesting to note that in these days, many of the small towns had paid pitchers. One such man was a small dark complexioned Jewish boy by the name of Benny Fleetman. He pulled into Cologne each Sunday about noon in his yellow convertible, strolled out to the mound, had himself many 20-plus strikeout ball games, collected his money and headed back to Minneapolis.
In the fifties, Cologne had managers from Central High School, in Norwood Young America, Bill Lorenz and Ed Braun. In the 1960’s up until 1967, Dale Schneider was the manager.
The highlight of the Cologne Baseball team came in 1972, when the Hollanders earned a berth in the State Tournament, played in Wadena. Unfortunately, the team lost its first game to St. Joseph’s. Some of the players names from that team were Jerry Wilson, Denny Gronberg (pitcher), Brad Plant (Pitcher), Greg Gestach, Dale & Dallas Schneider, Kenny Schmitz, Bobby & Don Fritz, Gary Vos, Larry Wirtz, Steve Knight (pitcher), Jim Meuwissen and Roger Eder. The team was managed by Robert Fritz whom the field is currently named after.
Since Robert’s retirement, managers have been:
Kyle Evenski /Andy Lein
Currently Craig Pexa has resumed the managing duties.
In 1990, Cologne switched leagues, going from the Carver Central League to the Crow River Valley League. We are now proud members of the Crow River Valley South League.
The 2015 season was one for the books. 2015 marks the first time the Hollanders made it to regions since 1993. While at regions, Cologne played Winsted and Watertown. Their season ended on August 9, 2015 after the Watertown Devils defeated the Hollanders, stopping them from getting any closer to state.
Pictured above are the Cologne Hollanders on August 2, 2015 after defeating the Brownton Bruins, prior to their trip to regions. Top row from left to right: Erik Braund, Kraig Peterson, Coach Craig Pexa, Kyle Twait, Alex Eichner, Casey Clemensen, Kyle Evenski and Brandon Fritz. Bottom row from left to right: Carter Clemensen, TJ Koehler, Cameron Dressen, David Verduzco, Alex Meeker, Tyler Swanson, Tim Swanson and Bat Boy Kyson Evenski.
A new chapter has emerged from the past few years with regards to Hollander baseball. The team qualified for the State Tournament for the first time since 1972, and did so in 2019. The team was a little more successful this time around as they won games against the Hadley Buttermakers (5-1) and Nisswa Lightening (2-0) before falling to the Bemidji Blue Ox (4-2). This run at the state tourney ended in the round of 16, some players from this team include: Tanner Luebke, Casey & Carter Clemensen, Cole Penguilly, Kyle Brazil, Anthony Brenner, Tim Swanson, Joey Lilya, Zach Nelson, Brandon Fritz, Kyle Twait, Christian Johnson, Torbin Urdahl, Jon Kummer, Rob Mobeck, Austin Pysick, Luke Lamberton, Cam Conlin & Alex Eichner.