The Dubuque County Baseball Hall of Fame welcomed six players and one contributor during a banquet Friday evening at Happy’s Place in Key West, Iowa.
They will also be honored tonight at the Telegraph Herald Semi-pro All-Star Game in Peosta, Iowa.
The players include Rufus Bennett (Sherrill), Bill Petsche (Epworth), Ken Rapp (Sherrill), Tim Schmitt (Rickardsville), Dean Steffen (Farley) and Pete Weber (Holy Cross), while Telegraph Herald sports editor Jim Leitner will be inducted as a contributor.
Here is a capsule look at the inductees:
Rufus Bennett — Bennett played 20 years of semi-pro ball, including six years each with Sherrill and Peosta, three years each with East Dubuque and Farley and one year each with Petersburg and New Vienna. A native of Gary, Ind., he starred in baseball and basketball at the University of Dubuque, where he held a career .325 batting average and set school records for hits in a season, hits in a career, triples in a season and triples in a career and most stolen bases. In semi-pro, he owned a career average above .350 and more than 400 home runs. He played in 12 all-star games and won three Sherrill Tournament MVPs and one Rickardsville Tournament MVP.
Bill Petsche — Petsche played 15 seasons of semi-pro ball with the Epworth Orioles after starring in the Holy Cross Little League, the Farley Babe Ruth team and for Western Dubuque High School and Wartburg College. The stellar middle infielder hit better than .340 with more than 300 doubles, 30 triples, six home runs and 300-plus stolen bases with Epworth. He played in five all-star games, pitched a complete-game shutout in the 1994 Dyersville Tournament final and helped the Orioles win 15 tournament championships over a 6-to-8 year period. He frequently won sportsmanship and hustle awards in those tournaments.
Ken Rapp — Rapp started playing semi-pro ball in 1975 with LaMotte, where he starred for two seasons before spending the next 11 years with Sherrill and the Dubuque Merchants. He still plays 25 to 30 games per year at the age of 62 in a Senior League in Arizona in the winter and Cedar Rapids during the summer months. Rapp starred at Dubuque Senior before graduating in 1974. In semi-pro ball, Rapp had a lifetime batting average of .350 with 86 home runs. He played every position, but mostly was a relief pitcher and shortstop. He was MVP in the 1983 Sherrill Tournament and played in the first semi-pro all-star game in 1986.
Tim Schmitt — An all-MVC and all-state selection at Dubuque Wahlert in 1990, he went on to star at Kirkwood Community College and signed with Iowa State before injuring his arm. He was a pre-season all-American selection during his time at Kirkwood. Schmitt played 22 seasons with Rickardsville as a first baseman who hit .340 in the heart of the A’s lineup. He played five all-star games and won MVP honors at Holy Cross on two occasions. He joins his father, Paul “Spoons” Schmitt, as a member of the Dubuque County Hall of Fame.
Dean Steffen — Steffen, an honorable mention all-state pick at Western Dubuque High School, played more than 42 seasons of semi-pro ball, the first two with the Farley Fire, the next 30 with the Farley Hawks and the rest in Over-40 ball with the Dyersville Bulls and Quad City. He batted better than .330 in his career as a leadoff batter with the Hawks and averaged eight homers per year. He won MVP awards at Worthington in 1987 and 1993. He played in three all-star games. Steffen also graduated from Western Dubuque with school records in the mile run and long jump.
Pete Weber — Weber played 27 seasons of semi-pro ball, beginning in 1987 with two seasons for the Dubuque Greyhounds, 15 with Holy Cross, seven with Peosta and three with East Dubuque. An all-MVC selection at Dubuque Senior, he started three seasons at Loras College. Weber had a career .350 batting average that included over 700 hits and 175 home runs. A centerfielder/first baseman with a reputation as a team-first player, Weber played in 10 all-star games and won tournament MVP honors at Peosta and Dyersville.
Jim Leitner — Leitner has been a sports writer at the Telegraph Herald since 1988 and the sports editor since 1998. In that time, he has covered all levels of baseball in Dubuque County. He received the Media Appreciation Award from the Iowa High School Athletic Association in 2015 and is a three-time recipient of the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association’s Media Award. His father, Harry, is also a Dubuque County Hall of Famer.