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Les Knutson: Hady was always about team

It was a most interesting story in the July 9 issue of the Daily Globe, written by sports editor Doug Wolter, about 43-year-old Tom Hady and his highly-successful career as an area amateur baseball pitcher.

Hady, who grew up two blocks from me in Heron Lake, has been the ace of a strong pitching staff for the Jackson Bulls for more than a decade, after having pitched for 12 seasons (1990-2001) with the Heron Lake Lakers and two with the Lakefield Giants (1988 and 1989).

Doug’s story highlights Tom’s remarkable longevity and reliability over a career that has now spanned 26 seasons.

No wonder I “lost him” when he was a senior at Heron Lake-Okabena-Lakefield High School in the spring of 1988 —- the first year of the 10-year existence of the Silver Bullets.

Tom, you see, loved baseball.

But he was good at track and field, too. Very versatile and very courageous, Tom Hady was willing to do anything he could to help the Scarlet Knights a year earlier as a junior in the spring of ‘87 —- the last campaign of Heron Lake-Okabena (HL-O) High School.

HL-O, which enjoyed nine fine years as a consolidated school from 1978-1987, had dropped baseball after the 1983 season and some of the guys who loved to play baseball —- like Tom Hady —- came out for track.

Hady became a pole vaulter, hurdler and distance runner for the Knights. He could also sprint. Tom was willing to try any event and give it his “best shot.” He was a great guy to have on the squad.

What I remember most about Tom was his extraordinary effort in the 1987 Red Rock Conference Meet in Windom.

After pole vaulting, running the mile and competing in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles —- already a grueling day —- Tom tried to score some more points for us by running the two mile (3,200-meter run). Hady placed high in the first three events, but try as he may “he had no gas left in the tank” and was unable to place in the challenging fourth event.

But that effort that day exemplified the kind of quality athlete that Tom Hady was then and still is today. The kind of guy that “sticks with it” and gets it done.

So, I would like to pass on my congratulations to Tom Hady —- who I had as a first-grade physical education student during my second year as a teacher in Heron Lake (‘76-77 school year) and 10 years later was a gutsy, versatile all-around performer on the boys’ track and field team I coached at HL-O.

I tried to keep him interested in competing in track during his senior season at HLOL, but the Bullets had baseball —- and it’s obvious why Tom only competed in a couple of meets and concentrated most of his efforts on pitching.

His baseball career —- as chronicled in Wolter’s feature —- is still going strong today.

First cousins shine

for Post 5

Former Worthington Trojan baseball stars Lucas Henning and Blake Rogers are both enjoying stellar seasons for Worthington American Legion Post 5 this summer.

After leading Post 5 to a trio of victories and the championship of the Alexandria Tournament July 5-6, Rogers and Henning were selected as the tourney’s co-MVPs.

Henning and Rogers are first cousins.

Henning’s mother Lori and Rogers’ mother Jackie are sisters —- Kuehl’s from Westbrook and were both athletes for the Wildcats back in the 1980s. Grandfather Mike Kuehl was a Westbrook athlete in the 1950s and was a member —- catcher —- for the Des Moines River Rats fast-pitch softball team, which I wrote a “Blast-From-the-Past” about two years ago (published on July 2, 2011).

The Kuehl family has been strong supporters of both Lucas and Blake during their summers as VFW and Legion baseball players in Worthington.

Henning, who has a year of college baseball at Minnesota State-Mankato under his belt, also excelled in both football and basketball for the Trojans.

Both Lucas and Blake are top-notch pitchers and hitters for Post 5, while Rogers —- who recently played in the prestigious Lions’ All-Star high school baseball for 2013 seniors —- is also an outstanding catcher.

Henning and Rogers both play amateur baseball for the Wilmont Cardinals, who like Post 5, are coached by Todd Rogers —— Blake’s dad and Lucas’ uncle.

It’s a family affair for the Kuehl sisters on most summer weekends.