AMATEUR BASEBALL: Justin Schlemmer becomes newest member in Yankees Hall of Fame
MILROY — The Milroy Yankees added a new member to its Hall of Fame on Saturday evening, as Justin Schlemmer became the 21st inductee in front of family, friends and former teammates and coaches.
Schlemmer said it’s an honor to be inducted into their Hall of Fame and join a select group.
“It feels good. I played a lot of years for this team and it’s humbling to be in that group of people; a lot of good baseball players and good people more importantly,” Schlemmer said. “I’m kind of at a loss for words, but it goes so fast, you play 20 years and it just flies by and then you’re done and once you’re done, you’re done. It’s a tough thing to take but it’s part of life and hopefully they can keep it going.”
Schlemmer played 20 seasons with the Yankees from 1994-2013, where he primarily played third base after playing the position in college at Southwest Minnesota State University. He also pitched and played first base for Milroy. Schlemmer was also a popular selection for amateur teams in state tournament drafts and after Granite Falls selected him to be behind the plate as a catcher, he eventually transitioned to catching full-time for the remainder of his career.
When Schlemmer retired in 2013, he led the Yankees in several career categories, including at-bats (1,777), runs (419), hits (656), doubles (142), home runs (80), RBI (424) and hit-by-pitches (78). He also had 20 consecutive years of hitting over .300, including a career-best .534 in 1999.
Milroy manager Ryan Rohlik said Schlemmer was a natural leader and was extremely knowledgeable about the game of baseball and is happy to see him earn this honor.
“Justin’s one of those awesome dudes. There’s so many things you can say about him, he’s a natural leader, guys gravitated towards him and when he talked people listened whether it was about hitting or behind the dish. He just gave the pitcher so much confidence and he knew the weakness of every hitter; it didn’t matter if he had never seen him, it just takes one swing and he knew that there was a hole in the swing no matter how good they were,” Rohlik said. “We’ve missed him ever since he retired and he’s taught so many of these guys that are still playing with us and it was great to see him here with his family. He’s more than earned it and he will always be a special member of the Yankees not just because of the Hall of Fame but just playing with a guy that you root for in life not just playing on the field.”
Schlemmer said while he has a lot of memories from his playing career, one particular story where both the Yankees and the Milroy Legion team won important games on the same day came to mind.
“In 1998, we played the mighty New Ulm Kaiserhoff, who were a strong team at the time. We were in Class B at the time and had 10 guys at the game. It was game 3 in the series and all of our other players were playing in the Legion state championship so we had 10 guys out there playing this loaded college team basically from Minnesota State University, Mankato,” Schlemmer said. “We ended up pulling off the upset and that night the Milroy Legion team won the state tournament, we clinched to go to the state tournament and it was a fun night in Milroy that I’ll never forget.”
Schlemmer added it was special to receive a lot of support from the Milroy community as well as from former teammates and coaches and it was fun to get to see them again.
“That’s Milroy. It’s a ride together, die together kind of thing,” Schlemmer said. “A lot of these people we don’t see as much anymore because life takes you in different directions but it was nice to see a lot of my former teammates and friends come out. They’re a supporting bunch and I hope nothing but the best for them in the region and hopefully at state.”