by Logan Gruber
A St. Joseph baseball legend received a well-deserved honor this past month.
Pat Schneider, at a solid 48 years into his baseball career, was inducted into the Minnesota Baseball Hall of Fame Sept. 19 at the St. Cloud Civic Center. Not bad for a boy from Kraemer Lake.
Schneider is the first person from St. Joseph to be in the Minnesota Baseball Hall of Fame.
Schneider had a great playing career, reaching a high point in 1982 with a .417 batting average, a trip to the state tournament and being on the All-Tournament Team. But another reason he was nominated for the Hall of Fame and won was because of his commitment to youth.
Schneider helped pioneer the Saints Youth Baseball Camp in 1991. The organization has since had more than 1,000 kids, ages 6-14, go through the camp. In his acceptance speech, Schneider said campers typically called him “Pat” for the past 25 years, but since his grandson Brody is now a camper, everyone just calls him “grandpa.”
Schneider wasn’t the lone baseball player in his family.
“I had uncles – Chuck, Ron, Lloyd and Bubba – who played baseball and I idolized them,” Schneider said in a Newsleader interview. “They taught me how to grip a baseball and swing a bat . . . but really, it was baseball that had a grip on me.”
Schneider would play with his siblings, cousins and other area kids in the sandlots of St. Joseph, playing east versus west in tournaments from morning until dark, when they had to be home.
He played high school baseball at St. Cloud Cathedral and amateur baseball in St. Joseph from the 1960s-90s.
Schneider married his wife, Cindi, and they have three daughters: Laura, now in Denver; and Kim and Carrie, both in St. Cloud. All three girls played softball but were also on the baseball field with their dad. Carrie actually played baseball for a time, up to about age 15.
From the 1980s to the present, Schneider has coached and managed the St. Joseph Saints. He was also one of the founders of American Legion baseball in St. Joseph, and has been instrumental in field improvements such as the following: the new grandstand, underground sprinkler system, renovation of the infield, a new concession stand, new bathrooms and dugouts. He has also been a board member of the Great Sioux League and the Sauk Valley League and is a high school baseball umpire.
Schneider’s parents, Don and Gladys, didn’t really play baseball, but they supported their son the whole way. Gladys passed away after a fight with cancer, about a week before Schneider was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“She wanted to be there in the worst way,” Schneider said.
The ball field in St. Joseph, Schneider Field, is named after the family.
“Most people wait five to 10 years to get in after being nominated,” Schneider said. “This was my first nomination.”
Schneider was nominated by his brother, Bud Schneider, from Grand Rapids, and Bud’s son, Andy, from Brooklyn Park. They nominated Schneider without his knowledge, putting together all of the material and gathering testimonials from former teammates and players. It was about a six-month process.
“I think what separates me from the other Hall-of-Famers is my focus on youth,” Schneider said.
The other Hall of Fame inductees for 2015 are: Paul Froncak of Lastrup, Terry Fredrickson of Elko, Robert “Birdie” Geislinger of Watkins and Lambert “Butch” Hennes of Sobieski.
He might be in the Hall of Fame, but Schneider isn’t done yet.
“I plan on sticking with it until I can’t anymore,” Schneider said.
Anytime you do something for a long period of time, you build relationships, Schneider noted. Some of those relationships he values are with the city, the park board, the Lions and many area businesses. He says they are all there and ready to support baseball, if anybody asks them.
“It’s just a matter of stepping up and asking, getting turned down, and then asking again,” Schneider said.
The Minnesota Baseball Museum is located on the second floor of the St. Cloud Convention Center at 10 Fourth Ave. S. and is open to the public free of charge weekdays, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Contact the convention center at 320-255-7272 to check on the hours of operation for a particular weekend.