Baseball: Two Austin residents honored

Published 8:38 pm Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Austin resident’s Steve Serratore, left, and Dick Seltz, recently won awards for their baseball accomplishments. Seltz received the Lifetime Achievement Baseball Coach’s Award from the Minnesota Minutemen and Serratore won the Dick Seltz Award, which is awarded to the Big Nine baseball player of the year. Serratore met Seltz for the first time in his home Tuesday. -- Rocky Hulne/

One of the men who helped make Marcusen Park famous and a player who grew up around Marcusen Park both received high honors recently.

Dick Seltz, who coached the Austin High School baseball team from 1951-1987, received the Lifetime Achievement Baseball Coach’s Award from the Minnesota Minutemen and Steve Serratore, who lives in Austin but played for Rochester Mayo’s baseball team, received the co-Big Nine Player of the Year Award, which is named after Seltz.

Serratore shared the award with Rochester Century pitcher Mitch Brown, who has signed with the Cleveland Indians. While Serratore played for the Spartans for the past four years, he still has a lot of respect for Seltz.

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“It was a complete honor,” said Serratore, who hit .460 with 7 homers and 35 RBIs this spring. “One of my goals was to win this award and winning it made my high school career complete. It’s one of the most underrated awards and it’s named after Mr. Seltz, who’s a great Minnesota icon.”

Serratore learned all about Seltz and the old Austin teams as he grew up around the Austin Greyhounds amateur baseball team in Marcusen Park. Serratore, who is playing with the Hounds this summer, recalls playing soft toss and working with the Hounds’ players as much as he could as a youngster.

“I was a little fart running around when I was four and I did whatever I could for the Hounds,” Serratore said. “Those guys had all of the information and I was a little kid in a candy shop being at the ball park every day.”

Seltz had a winning record in all 36 of his seasons with the Packers. He compiled 509 wins —?the most in state history, 23 Big Nine titles, 16 state tournament appearances and two state titles. He was named National Baseball coach of the year in 1987.

Seltz took his latest award with a sense of humor.

Former Austin High School baseball coach Dick Seltz celebrates with his team after he led the Packers to one of their two state titles. Seltz received the Lifetime Achievement Baseball Coach’s Award from the Minnesota Minutemen. Austin resident Steve Serratore also won the Dick Seltz Award, which goes to the best basbeball player in the Big Nine, this season. -- Photo Provided

“That means I’ll live a little longer,” Seltz joked about winning the award. “At my age, you’ll take anything.”

Howie Strey, who was an assistant coach under Seltz from 1958-1986 and accepted the award for him, recalled Seltz as a fundamentalist who was a great motivator for his team.

Strey recently watched his son Tom Strey coach Eastview to a Class ‘AAA’ state baseball title by beating Bemidji 1-0. Howie Strey thought of Seltz as he watched that game.

“It reminded me of one of Dick’s teams,” Strey said. “It was good pitching, good defense, and you get a run here or there. We didn’t always score a lot of runs, but you’re always in the game.”

Serratore will play in the Lion’s All Star Game in Chaska this Saturday and he will play at Des Moines Area Community College under an athletic scholarship next season. DMACC has played in the last five NJCAA Division II World Series and it took fourth this past season.

DMACC had seven players sign with Division I schools after this season and Serratore is hoping he can do the same thing.

“They have a very good program there and hopefully I’ll move on to a Division I school when I’m done there,” said Serratore, who will catch at the college level.

Serratore met Seltz for the first time in his home in Austin Tuesday.