Dengler Domain: Baseball
Dysart has a history of good baseball teams. They won the American Legion Junior State Championship in 1956. This is an impressive feat, but only a few years before this monumental win, they almost won the high school state championship. They did this by defeating teams from communities bigger and smaller and by defeating, I mean dominating. Courtesy of Dysart Reporter articles from this time, here is the Dysart Trojans’ path to the state championship game.
Unfortunately, my schedule did not allow me to skim the whole season for the Trojans, but I will pick up after what I assume was a successful year in their first game of the playoffs. They received a bye during the first round and crushed Hudson 12-0 on eight hits. The pitcher, Roger Santman, a left hander and get used to his name, and Don Leo, the catcher, led the way.
Their next game was against Geneseo, and it was not much of one. The Trojans scored 12 runs on eight hits including seven in the first inning and shut out Geneseo for another 12-0 win. Santman started again but was relieved in the third by Don Thompson. It also helped that Geneseo committed nine errors.
The next round was against Van Horne. Despite only scoring seven runs, they shut out Van Horne. Santman only gave up three hits while Richard Winterroth, Santman, Thompson, and Robert Zobel stuffed the state sheet with two hits. Thompson also had four RBIs.
Next up was the big school of Cedar Falls. Santman’s arm had not fallen off at this point as he struck out 13 batters in this game while only allowing four hits. This was the closest game in their playoff run as they went into extra innings tied at 0-0, when Winterroth drove home Leo for the winning run. This win took them to the state tournament which I am assuming the Trojans were euphoric after this win.
In the first round of the Iowa high school baseball tournament, the underdog Trojans took on Fort Madison. To no surprise, Santman took to the mound, this boy must have needed so much ice for his arm, after giving up only four hits in the 5-3 victory. Thompson and Dean Hoff each drove in two RBIs while each team played sloppily with Fort Madison committing four errors to Dysart’s six.
In the state semi-finals, Dysart took on the 1952 state championship team of Colesburg. Santman gave up one run in the first inning and held them scoreless the rest of the way. Each team committed errors with Dysart’s five to Colesburg’s one. Dysart took advantage of Colesburg’s backup catcher, Garlow, who replaced the starting catcher who was sidelined with a back injury. In one instance, Zobel stole third and Garlow overthrew third base which led to Zobel scoring. The same situation happened in the seventh when Richard Lindeman was the base runner.
In the state championship game, the Trojans took on another big school, Council Bluffs, in Rippey. It was another error-filled game where each team committed four errors. The second inning was tough for the Trojans as seven Council Bluffs players crossed the plate. Dysart got four back in the second inning with Zobel, Santman, Leo, and Lindeman each crossing the plate. Thompson scored the final run in the sixth inning. While Santman struck out nine batters, they could not overcome Council Bluffs losing 9-5. This was the same score the Trojans had when they lost to Rock Valley in the 1951 state championship game.
For the Dysart team of Dean Hoff, Robert Knoop, Richard Winterroth, Robert Zobel, Don Thompson, Roger Santman, Richard Lindeman, Don Leo, Ray Seegmiller, Norman Knoop, assistant coach Forrest Hanifan, and head coach Art E. Borwich, it was a crowning achievement. If you are curious about the starting lineup for the articles with box scores it was Hoff – 3B, R. Knoop – CF, Winterroth – SS, Zobel – LF, Thompson – 1B, Santman – P, Leo – C, Lindeman – 2B, Seegmiller – RF.
It was an impressive team led by the arm of Roger Santman, and both the Trojans and their opponents committed numerous errors. While other historic area teams also deserve celebrating, it is worth noting this year marked 70 years since their original game. If it were not for a friend and finding out the schools had a rematch this season, I would not have been able to write this article. I also would have been timelier with it, but time got away from me. In case you were curious, Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson won the rematch 12-5 this past season over the Union Knights according to KMA Land. Two players from the 1953 teams, David Witke of Council Bluffs and Robert Zobel of Dysart, were able to throw out the first pitch for their respective teams.
Hopefully, it was a special experience for those involved to celebrate a crowning achievement for both communities. A special thank you goes out to Catharine Wieck for allowing me to explore the Dysart Historical Center and the Dysart Reporter’s archives. None of these statistics and gamers would be here without a newspaper. While I had never heard of this team, I am happy to know about them now. Eventually, memories fade and people forget, but hopefully, the memory of the 1953 state runner-ups, Dysart Trojans, lives on for years to come.
Sean Dengler is a writer, comedian, farmer, and host of the Pandaring Talk podcast who grew up on a farm between Traer and Dysart. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.