A summer to remember

THE 1972 TRACY AMERICAN LEGION baseball team — Front, from left: Robert Lauthen, Charlie “Chuck” Hayes, Alan Johnston, Brian Reinert, Jim “Spud” Hayes, Whitey Engesser, Dennis Ruppert. Back, from left: coach John Coulter, Jerry Ziemke, Steve Jappe, Dave Sanow, Greg Bergs, Todd Pack, Ron Sanow, Bob Gardner, Doug Bosacker, assistant coach Dave Saelens. Not pictured: Dave Sebastian. Submitted photo

Todd Pack played plenty of baseball in his youth, and some of his fondest memories on the diamond were made in Tracy — especially 50 years ago, during the summer of 1972.

Pack was one of the premier ballplayers in the region in the 1970s; at the time, he lived in Walnut Grove, and in 1972 had to make the decision to play Legion ball either in Tracy or Lamberton.

Although he and his brother, Bryce, had been playing in Lamberton since the ninth grade, Todd ultimately chose to spend his summer mowing down over-matched hitters and belting home runs in Tracy, joining an already-loaded group of players under the watch of a fresh-faced John Coulter.

“I knew John Coulter because his mother taught me in fifth grade, and he also graduated with my sister,” Todd said. “I had that connection with him. Dave Saelens was his assistant coach, and I knew Dave from Walnut Grove as well — my sister played in their band.”

Pack’s connection with Tracy went beyond that, as he also knew most of the players on that year’s Legion team from competing against them during the high school season. After receiving a call from Coulter and some of the players, Todd made the decision to play summer ball in Tracy.

“He talked about the personnel there, and since I competed against them, I knew they had a lot of talent,” Todd said. “He asked if I would consider it … then Brian Reinert gave me a call and said, ‘You need to come over here.’” Bergsie (Greg Bergs) gave me a call and said I need to come to Tracy. It was kind of interesting that they wanted me to play with them.”

See the rest of this story in this week’s paper!