Seltz let his bat lead the way

Published 4:08 pm Saturday, December 17, 2011

As I continue exploring the names of Austin landmarks, I came across a story of a baseball player who followed his bat to the baseball minor leagues before settling in Austin to coach.

Richard “Dick” Seltz was the son of a Lutheran pastor, born in Bemidji in 1925. He was an accomplished high school baseball player at Humboldt High School in St. Paul. After graduating in 1943, he played for the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system including the Johnston City, Tenn., Cardinals, the Duluth Dukes, and the Jamestown, N.Y. Falcons.

Seltz then served in the U.S. Army in the South Pacific in 1944 and 1945. After returning from the service, Seltz played in the New York Giants minor league system for the St. Joseph, Mo. Cardinals and the St. Cloud Rox while attending college at Hamline University.

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He came to Austin in 1948 to play for the Packers’ amateur baseball team. In 1951, he was hired to teach social studies and coach baseball for Austin High School.

When he ended his coaching career in 1987, he had completed 36 seasons, each with a winning record. Seltz’s teams recorded 509 wins, 23 Big Nine titles, 16 state tourney appearances and two state titles. He was named National Baseball Coach of the Year in 1987.

To honor Seltz’s contributions to Austin baseball, the field at Riverland Community College was named in his honor in 2006. The complex was created by the City of Austin, Austin High School and Riverland Community College and is home to the AHS baseball team.

Reader Mike Ruzek and the AHS Alumni and Friends contributed source material to this article.

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