Sheboygan A's Baseball

Eckhardt joins Wisconsin State League Hall of Fame

Posted: December 13, 2012

SHEBOYGAN – Tom Eckhardt, the Sheboygan A’s go-to pitcher for 14 Wisconsin State Baseball League seasons, has been elected to the league’s Hall of Fame.

Eckhardt will join six others who will be inducted into the Hall on Saturday night Jan. 26, 2013 at the league’s Awards and Hall of Fame Dinner.

Eckhardt was the ace of the staff for most of those 14 seasons, always pitted against the toughest pitchers on the opposing teams. He ranks in the top ten in 13 career pitching categories, including fourth in appearances, 111, and innings pitched, 575. He led the league in innings pitched, strikeouts and wins in 1990 and was named to the all-league team that year, and again in 1991. He went 8-4 in 1990 and 7-1 in 1991. In all he posted 42 victories, sixth high all-time, against 39 losses. His 3.93 earned run average ranks him seventh all-time among pitchers with 500 or more innings pitched.

“Eckhardt threw all the tough games for us and he was widely respected by the competition,” said Dave Moyer, who managed Eckhardt for most of his A’s seasons. “He was a little unpolished coming out of high school, due to Sheboygan being behind the curve with its high school programs at the time, but once he came into his own, he was about as tough to hit as anybody I’ve seen.

“It’s unfortunate he couldn’t have stayed healthy. The numbers he put up in back-to-back years in ’90 and ’91 before he got hurt stand up with the best of the best.” Moyer said.

Indeed they do. In 1990, the year he returned from his 1-year stint with the Atlanta Braves in Class A, Eckhardt went 8-4 with a pair of shutouts and a save, striking out 93 and yielding only 59 hits in 92 innings and while posting an earned run average of 2.05. In 1991 he went 7-1 striking out 68 and giving up only 46 hits in 68 innings. His ERA that year was 1.71.

He played on two of the three A’s championships.

Eckhardt, who works for the Pepsi Cola Co., resides in Sheboygan. He has two daughters, Nora and Gwen.

Joining Eckhardt in the 2012 Hall of Fame class are Marty Bell, who played with and managed the Madison Avenue Bar teams, Tony Gerharz, who played for the Menasha Macs, and has served the Oshkosh Giants and the League since 1993; Larry Kurkowski, longtime player and manager of the Addison Braves; Bryan Purchatzke, who has served the league since 1983; Cory Schaefer, who played for the Oshkosh Giants and Green Bay Blue Ribbons, and Mark Zeratsky, also of the Green Bay Blue Ribbons.

Bell posted a 23-12 record in eight seasons with the Madison franchise. He posted a 2.42 earned run average in 253 innings. That ERA ranks him sixth all-time among pitchers who have posted 250 or more innings. Bell managed Avenue Bar for three seasons, leading the club to championships in 1982 and 1983 and was named Manager of the Year in both those seasons. He was the league’s Most Valuable Pitcher in 1978, his best year when he helped Madison to a championship with a 6-0 record and a 1.31 earned run average. Bell is employed at American Family Insurance. He resides in Sun Prairie with his wife, Ann. They have five children: Brian, Jeff, Adam, Aubrie and Alex.

After playing four seasons in Menasha, Gerharz settled in Oshkosh and worked with the Giants club, as a coach in 1987-88. He has been a board member of the Giants since 1986 and currently serves as the club’s general manager. He became the commissioner of the Wisconsin State League in 1993 and last fall was re-elected to the post for the 20th consecutive year. He has been the Oshkosh West baseball coach for 25 years and the jayvee football coach for 32 years. Tony resides in Oshkosh with his wife Gail. They have three daughters, Elizabeth, Christina and Meredith.

Kurkowski has been the face of the Addison franchise since it joined the league in 1992. He has been the general manager for all 21 of those seasons and has managed the club in all but four of them. His clubs have won 225 games in that time. Playing as needed, Kurkowski has logged 21 years as a player. Only four others have been active players for more years than Kurkowski. Employed at ASG Staffing, Kurkowski resides in Itasca, IL.

In addition to being one of the people who is dedicated to Oshkosh baseball, Purchatzke served the Wisconsin State League for nearly 30 years. He was the League commissioner from 1983-1990, and a league director from 1998 through 2011. He helped initiate the Hall of Fame and chaired the committee from 2007 through 2011. A retired elementary principal and teacher from the Oshkosh Area School District, Purchatzke and his wife Arlyss have two children, Kay and Lee, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

A member of four championship teams, one at Oshkosh and three at Green Bay, and named to the all-league team six times, Schaefer was an outstanding defensive outfielder and a .386 lifetime hitter. His best season was 1994 when he hit .510 which still stands as a one-season record. He was named the league’s Most Valuable Player that year. He also shares the one season record for triples (6), and holds career records for stolen bases (99) and triples (27). In one season or another through his career, he led the league in batting average, plate appearances, runs scored, hits, runs batted in, stolen bases, triples, total bases and slugging percentage. Schaefer is employed by UPS in Oshkosh.

Highly regarded for his defensive prowess from his spot behind the plate Zeratsky was also a .287 lifetime hitter who helped Green Bay to five championships. His .287 average ranks him 11th all-time among players with 1,100 or more plate appearances. His best seasons came back-to-back in 1993 and 1994 when he hit .346 and .351. He led the league in fielding in 1990 when he handled 164 chances without an error and again in 1992 when he had 220 errorless chances. He is ranked among career leaders in a number of categories including fourth in putouts and fifth in total chances. He was a 6-time all-league selection. Zeratsky resides in Green Bay with his wife Wendy. They have two daughters, Lauren and Hannah. He works for the Brown County Sheriff’s Department.

The Wisconsin State League’s Awards and Hall of Fame Dinner will be held at The Heritage House at The Bull at Pinehurst Farms in Sheboygan Falls. It is open to the public. Cost is $30. Persons wishing to attend can make reservations by sending the names of attendees with their check payable to Wisconsin State League and sending it to the league at P. O. Box 32, Sheboygan, WI 53082-0032 so that it is received no later than Jan. 18. Details will be posted on

This year’s seven inductees bring to 37 the number enshrined by the League.

Previously enshrined were charter members elected in 2007: Jim Coulter, Janesville; Dan Davis, Beloit, Green Bay, Janesville, Rockford; Greg Howell, Green Bay; Greg Iavarone, Lombard; Tom Klawitter, Appleton, Janesville; Gene Mand, Sheboygan; Denny Moyer, Sheboygan; Dennis Ruh, Green Bay, Lee Wetenkamp, Sheboygan, and Randy Wilke, Sheboygan.

Elected in 2008 were Rich Capparelli, Lombard; Mark Miller, Green Bay; Steve Rothenbach, Oshkosh; Jeff Vukovich, Lombard; Terry Young, Green Bay.

Elected in 2009 were Troy Cota, Green Bay, Oshkosh; Dan Miller, Green Bay, Oshkosh, Sheboygan; Phil Plamann, Appleton, Green Bay, Tim Richardson, Lombard; Chuck Zeichert, Sheboygan.

Elected in 2010 were Pat Campbell, Janesville; Dave Gehr, Sheboygan, Mark Hinske, Menasha, Green Bay; Mark Rohde, Horicon; and Dick Zeratsky, Green Bay.

Elected in 2011 were Michael Casper, Sheboygan; Dave Christman, Racine, Green Bay and Oshkosh; Tom Imhoff, Janesville; Paul O’Callaghan, Lombard; and Tom Zoch, Oshkosh, Green Bay and Marshfield.

The Sheboygan A's are members of the Wisconsin State League and Northeastern Wisconsin Baseball League. The A's have helped develop more than 43 players that have reached professional baseball, including 2002 World Series Champion Jarrod Washburn (Anaheim Angels). All Sheboygan A's home games are played at Wildwood Baseball Park in Sheboygan. Connect with the A's on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.