Ball playing in Mayer has a history that goes back nearly 100 years, and has always been strongly supported by the community.
On April 10, 1906, the village council passed a motion to rent four lots owned by the village, called Thomas Slough, to be used for ball purposes.
Council support of the game continued in 1914, when it furnished the ball players with a canvas. At this time, the village received 10 percent of the gate receipts.
The Mayer Baseball Club was organized in the Depression years of the early 1930s.
There had been talk of having baseball in Mayer for years before. There were problems to overcome, however, such as there was no park to play on, and only three players from the Mayer area, who played with the Young America team. Those players were Raymond and John Bleedorn, and Omar Hill.
In 1934, the city council, with the encouragement of the community, purchased three-plus acres of land from the Haueters. This land was located between Zion Lutheran School, and the Mayer Public School buildings.
Much work had to be done to make this area playable. The land needed a lot of fill, and much leveling.
All of this material and leveling was done by volunteers. Businessmen and farmers all pitched in to do their share.
Late in the fall of 1934, the field had been leveled and grass seeded. That fall the first baseball game was played.
A team of all-stars from neighboring towns banded together and challenged the Minneapolis Millers Barn Storming team of the American Association.
Some members of the area all-stars were: Harry Zellmann, Lenny Brawnworth, Ray Bleedorn, John Bleedorn, Walter Wagner, and Barny Wagner, just to name a few.
The Mayer baseball team started league play in 1935. The competition was tough, and the talent was somewhat lacking, as some of the players had never played a game of baseball; and yes, some had never owned a baseball glove or baseball shoes.
By the late 1930s, the team got to be very competitive. Pitchers like Fifty Dela Hunt, Charlie Johnson, Einar Erickson, and Jessie Schwartz were some of the hired players, who were paid about $25 per game.
In 1939, the team quit hiring pitchers, and Omar Hill was the regular from then through the early 1940s.
The Blazers finished 4-14 in the CRVL in 2016.
Mayer ended its season in the CRVL playoffs, getting swept by the Winsted Wildcats in the first round. Winsted defeated Mayer 1-0 in 12 innings, and 4-3 in 10 innings in the best-of-three series.
Top hitters for the Blazers included Brady Malberg (.314 batting average, 14 RBI) and Jordan Berrios (.316 BA, 18 hits).
Top pitcher for the Blazers was Cole Buttenhoff, who led the team in ERA (2.85). Buttenhoff also led the team in strikeouts (39).
A strong tradition
The Mayer Blazers has already established itself with a long and storied tradition of strong baseball in the Crow River Valley League.
Going back to 1943, the Mayer Blazers have made seven state tournament appearances.
Their strongest state tournament showing came in 1973, when they finished third.
Members of the 1973 state tournament Mayer team were: John Hoese and Randy Hoese, bat boys; Martin Rolf, Brad Wroge, Jim Henning, Harlan Baumann, Kevin Florek, Dale Hoeft, Bob Vinkemeier, Bill Stein, Ron Lehrke, Dave Lenz, Lowell Heldt, Dave Hoese, Darryl Gieselmann, Mark Meschke, Courtney Meyer, Mark Wabbe; Bob Schafer, statistician; and Ed Hoese, manager.
In 1945, Mayer took home second place honors in the Class A state tournament.
The members of that Mayer Blazers team were: Douglas Lenz, bat boy; Dave Gongoll, Harold Boehner, Ed Hoese, Charles Sell, Virgil Belter, Orville Koehler, Earl Gongoll, Martin Hoeft, Stanford Lenz, Harold Kuntz, Martin Rolf, Oscar Rolf, Ray Bleedorn, Gordon Hoese, Wilford Hasse, Douglas Dibb, Bob Karels, Raymond Kuntz, and Harold Kusske, manager.
The Blazers had a little bit of a drought throughout the 1980s, but were back and stronger than ever in the early 1990s, making three state tournament appearances – 1991, 1992, and 1995.
Hall of Famers
In 1976, Clarence Guetzkow was elected to the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame in recognition of his tireless allegiance to Mayer baseball, the Crow River Valley League, and Minnesota Amateur Baseball as a whole.
Guetzkow is the lone member of the Hall of Fame from Mayer.
Odds and ends
• In 1974, Mayer, who in the off-season donned the nickname Blazers, earned their second trip to the state classic in as many years, but they bowed out in the opening round to the Winona Merchants 5-2 in St. Cloud.
• On Sept. 13, 1950, Mayer draftee Ed Hoese pitched Lester Prairie to a 5-0 win over Bloomington in the second round of the state tourney, in which they won the Class B title.
• In 1967, Bill Stein pitched the only no-hitter in Mayer history. It was a seven-inning gem in the first game of a twin bill against Norwood.