A’s ‘Legend’ Gene Mand Headed for Hall of Fame
Posted: November 15, 2021
Although born in Milwaukee, Joe Hauser is probably the most famous baseball personality associated with Sheboygan. After all, he hit 69 home runs for Minneapolis in the American Association, 63 for Baltimore in the International League, and in 1924 only Babe Ruth hit more home runs than Hauser in the American League. Then he came to Sheboygan where the slugging first baseman won the hearts of city fans when he played for the Chairmakers, then managed the Indians to four championships in the old Class C Wisconsin State League. And after that, entertained anybody who would listen in his 8th St. sporting goods shop.
Nonetheless, when Sheboygan baseball fans gather these days to talk about “The Legend” it is not Joe Hauser they’re talking about, they’re talking about Gene Mand. Dubbed “The Legend” by Sheboygan A’s fans, Mand was the most productive and most popular player in A’s history.
On Sunday, Dec. 5, The Legend will be honored. Gene Mand will be inducted into the Old Time Baseball Players’ Association of Wisconsin Hall of Fame. The Induction Banquet will be held at Root River Center, 7220 W. Rawson Ave., in Franklin. The dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. with the social hour at 5 p.m. and the program to follow dinner. The Sheboygan A’s are organizing a group to attend in a show of support and an expression of gratitude for Mand’s dedication to the Sheboygan A’s baseball program. Cost for the dinner is $30. If there is enough interest, the ball club will charter a bus for the event. Those interested in making reservations should contact Denny Moyer at 920-458-6377 by Nov. 24.
A 5-sport standout at New Holstein High School (baseball, basketball, football, golf, and track), he was a leader on the Huskies baseball team that won 44 straight games and won the WIAA’s first summer state tournament in 1965. He went on to UW-Stevens Point where he played baseball (another championship, 1967) and football. He was the most valuable player and captain of the 1970 Pointers baseball team.
That summer he was playing for Marytown in the East Shore League and led Marytown to a berth in the NBC District Tournament, held that year in Sheboygan. In the tournament final, pitting Marytown against the A’s, Mand hit a home run to account for the game’s only run and a 1-0 Marytown win. It was a bitter loss for the A’s players, several vowing that was enough of that and this Mand guy is going to play for us. Over the winter A’s players (led by Dave Gehr) convinced Mand to play for the A’s and in the spring of 1971 Gene Mand, who had taken a teaching position in the Manitowoc School District, became a Sheboygan A.
The A’s played in the Land ‘o Lakes League at the time, and because Mand resided in Manitowoc he was ineligible to play in Lakes League games. Frustrated, the A’s manager Chuck Zeichert and GM Denny Moyer petitioned the league to change that rule. When the league refused, Zeichert and Moyer walked out of the meeting. Gene Mand was their third baseman and they weren’t about to tell him he couldn’t play. Fortunately, the experimental Wisconsin State League expanded its schedule and things turned out well for Mand and the A’s. He stayed with the A’s for the next 25 years. In that time, he hit over .300 in 17 of those seasons including 12 straight from 1977 through 1988. His biggest years were:
1974 – In 37 games, hit .397
1984 – In 47 games, hit .410
1985 – In 54 games, hit .355 with 18 home runs and 73 runs batted in. Both the 18 home runs and 73 RBI remain as one-season records (although Randy Wilke equaled the RBI mark in 1997)
1991 – Helped the A’s to their first Wisconsin State League championship.
In his career, Mand played in 1,087 games, went to the plate 4,487 times, and collected 1,218 hits.
The Legend holds 16 career Sheboygan A’s records and 12 career Wisconsin State League records. His teammates elected him their most valuable player seven times. He is a member of the Sheboygan A’s, Wisconsin State League, Lakeshore Athletic, and Sheboygan County Baseball Hall’s of Fame. He was presented with the Key to the City by Sheboygan Mayor Richard Schneider when the A’s honored their Legend on Gene Mand Night.
In addition to playing, Mand was a successful coach at Manitowoc Lincoln High School, posting a 223-199 record, five conference titles, 11 sectional berths, and one state berth. He was twice named Fox River Valley Conference Coach of the Year.
Gene and his wife Kathy reside in Mishicot in the summer and in Florida in the winter. Still swinging, Mand is now an avid golfer.
Others going into the Hall of Fame that night are Chris Charnich, Curt Weiskirch. Marcus Hanel and Don August. Joining them will be Gary Kalkopf, who will receive the Paul Schramka Lifetime Achievement Award and Noah Miller of Ozaukee High School, who will receive the Dick Falk High School Player of the Year Award. (Kalkopf heads up the Wisconsin State Baseball League Umpires Association while Miller signed with Minnesota and Twins in the Florida Complex Rookie League this past year.)
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 Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.