Tom Grams, Ken Neese Selected for A’s Hall of Fame
Posted: December 16, 2021
Tom Grams and Ken Neese are the latest members of the Sheboygan A’s Hall of Fame.
The two were voted in by a committee consisting of current Hall of Fame members. They will be formally inducted at an A’s game still to be determined next summer.
Grams joined the A’s in 1969 and managed to hit .233 in 21 games. Like others in his age group, he was denied the opportunity to play high school baseball, so upon joining the A’s, his only experience other than Sheboygan Recreation Department Youth Leagues was the fastpitch softball he played while serving in the Air Force.
But he worked at the game and despite his slow start finished a 9-year career with a career .278 batting average after three .300+ seasons and turned into one of the A’s better first basemen after starting out as an outfielder. A 9-year veteran, Grams wound up in the top 25 in 17 career offensive and defensive categories.
“I am honored and humbled,” Grams said. “I’m sure Chuck Zeichert and Carl Beringer wondered what they were going to do with me when I first started. They put me in the outfield because I could run a little bit, but my arm was so bad I could hardly hit the cut-off man and they eventually put me at first base.”
“I had to learn on the job and guys like Ron Herr, Dave Gehr, Chuck Zeichert, and Dick Larsen gave me great guidance.
“I cherish the memories and the camaraderie of playing with some great guys, especially those who are no longer with us: Ron Herr, Chuck Zeichert, Charlie Kometer, Randy Merza, and Dick Larsen. And those who are still with us; we certainly enjoy getting together and retelling the same stories over and over again,” he said.
Grams and his wife, Pat, reside in Sheboygan. Now retired, he was a teacher, coach, and administrator, ending his public education career as principal at Sheboygan Falls High School.
Unlike Grams, Neese had the opportunity to play in high school and helped South High School and the Legion team to championships in his senior season. He, Jeff Feudner, Gary Fritsch, Tom Gardner, Rob Johnson, Jeff Koellmer, Steve Leonhard, Jeff Splittgerber, and Ron Wilke comprised the vaunted class of ’86 which would make an impact on the A’s for nearly a decade.
The third baseman, who played at UW-Parkside, ranks in the top 25 in 20 career categories and finished with a .301 career average. He also took the mound in emergencies, in fact, the now assistant coach of the A’s took the ball last summer when the club was out of pitching and at age 53 threw a scoreless inning.
“Being elected to the Hall of Fame is beyond my wildest dreams.,” Neese said. “Easily number one on my list of accomplishments. Especially this Hall of Fame. This is such a first-class organization. We always talked about it in college – playing college baseball and then having something better to come home to in the summer.
“I tell today’s players to soak it up because they will never have a better baseball experience. I can’t thank all the workers of the club enough for the opportunities they give. For college players to have this kind of summer opportunity is really special.
“It was great – the games, the guys, the memories . . .. Now, this. It’s unbelievable,” he said.
Neese and his wife Joan reside in the Kiel-Elkhart Lake area where he operates Westview Kennels. Their son, Jacob, currently is an infielder with the A’s, mostly playing third base just as his father did.
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.