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Long-time amateur baseball player, supporter Ray Scherschligt remembered during state tournament opening ceremonies

Whether playing, managing or spectating, Ray Scherschligt couldn’t get enough of the South Dakota amateur baseball tournament.

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Karen Harrington and Tim Scherschligt get ready to sing the National Anthem before the start of the Class B State Amateur tournament on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021 at Cadwell Park. Harrington and Scherschligt's father, Ray, was honored prior to the first game. (Matt Gade / Mitchell Republic)
Matt Gade

Whether playing, managing or spectating, Ray Scherschligt couldn’t get enough of the South Dakota amateur baseball tournament.

Scherschligt was honored during Wednesday’s opening ceremony of the state tournament at Cadwell Park. Scherschligt, who was a South Dakota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame inductee in 1988, died on Oct. 1, 2020. He was 94.

Scherschligt’s daughter, Karen Harrington, and son, Mark Scherschligt, were in attendance for their father’s remembrance. The brother and sister also sang the National Anthem prior to the opening session.

After years of playing, managing and serving as a commissioner, Scherschligt became a state tournament regular every year. Scherschligt and his wife, Mary Jane, were usually seated in their lawn chairs behind home plate.

“The state amateur baseball tournament was dad’s absolute favorite (12) days of the year and they came almost every year,” Karen Harrington said. “Only if something urgent happened, they at least got to some of the games.”

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Ray Scherschligt graduated from Lesterville High School in 1943. After serving in the U.S. Army, helping occupy Japan at the end of World War II, he attended the University of South Dakota and signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers farm system in Ponca City, Oklahoma in 1948.

An injury derailed his professional career, as he compiled a career batting average of .192 with one home run in his 96-game career with the Ponca City Dodgers.

However, Scherschligt was still fond of the experience. During a family trip to San Antonio 10 years ago, Mark encouraged them to stop in Ponca City on the way home.

“We pulled in and it kind of brought back memories and he started talking a little bit about the times,” said Mark, who lives in Minneapolis. “I am glad we stopped because he reminisced quite a bit.”

After his short stint with the Ponca City Dodgers, Scherschligt returned to Lesterville to manage and play on the Broncs amateur baseball team. The Broncs won the 1950 state amateur baseball tournament, which Karen proudly pointed out was before two classes.

“So here’s this little, iddy, biddy town that beat all the Sioux Falls (teams) and the Mitchells to win the state tournament,” said Karen, who still lives in Mitchell.

Ray settled in Alpena in 1951 and continued playing amateur baseball. In 1955, he set the state record for most hits (six) in a game, which stood for 44 years.

He was also a regular in the state tournament, while sometimes serving as a popular pick-up player because of his bat.

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“Dad could hit the ball a country mile,” Karen said. “He was such a good hitter that he got picked up. If their team didn’t make it to the state tournament, he always got picked up.”

Ray and Mark were fortunate enough to even play together during his last season of amateur baseball. Ray was elected District 3 Commissioner in 1991 and was named South Dakota Amateur Baseball Man of the Year in 1998.

Ray wasn’t the only notable baseball player in the family. His brothers John, Fred and Lester, were also amateur baseball players. Lester Scherschligt set the record for most home runs (25) in a season in 1957. Mark’s son, Brian, was a standout player for South Dakota State University and the Brookings amateur team.

“Baseball was a big part of our family,” Mark said. “Dad’s brothers played ball, too. So it was a big part of the family.”

Related Topics: BASEBALL
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