- Published on 24 July 2012
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Crete Legion Juniors last made an appearance at the state tournament in 1989, making the short journey to the site in Hickman.
(Editor’s Note: Information contained here first came from Crete sports archives and files. Additional facts obtained from Nebraska Americal Legion Baseball history files at www.nelegionbaseball.net)
The team’s 16-11 record after a first-round loss to Aurora almost mirrors the 18-12 record carried across the state by this summer’s Juniors team representing Crete in the state tournament, which ends today (Wednesday) in Chadron.
Crete’s state game in 1989 was tied at two runs apiece in the fourth inning after a Mike Lomax base hit scored Kevin Filip and Jason Murphy knocked Lomax in with an infield single.
Aurora came back with one run each in the fifth and sixth innings to oust the boys from Crete.
Coach at the time was Larry Stallard who was encouraged during the team’s season by supportive fans.
“We got a lot of good support from the parents and families of the players,” he was quoted in a 1989 story. “The players discovered they can achieve a lot more as a team than as a groups of individuals. We had a real team atmosphere and learned a lot about ourselves.”
Stallard’s son, Thom was on the team and continued a successful Legion career. He played at the college level after graduating from Crete High in 1991.
The Legion field at Tuxedo Park is dedicated to Thom Stallard, and his jersey number 3, retired after he was killed in car accident in 1993.
The 1989 Crete Juniors defeated Nebraska City in the Area B1 championship game that counted four lead changes and a crucial stop in the bottom of the seventh.Thom Stallard was the MVP of the tournament, pitching 17 innings in four days for 14 hits, 19 strikeouts, 2 walks and only 5 earned runs in three Crete wins. He batted .429 for the tournament, fourth on the team, behind Filip, King and Murphy.
Delving back into Nebraska American Legion state tournament title game history, shows three more appearances for Crete teams in both Junior and Senior divisions.
A Crete Juniors team was runner-up to Imperial in 1955 and Crete hosted the 2006 state tourney. A Crete Seniors team was runner-up to St. Paul in 1964.
At the 1957 Class B state tournament in Auburn, Crete Seniors defeated Hooper 11-9 for the title after ousting Grant 11-2 in the first round.
Henry “Fuzz” Bals was team manager. Leading hitters were Jerry Bespalec, Joe Pomajzl, Dave Vitek, Babe Drevo and Byron Malone. Pitchers for Crete were Doug Hokenstad and Pomajzl.