Trempealeau is proudly celebrating a half century since 16 young men battled their way to a state baseball championship title in summer 1968. To mark the occasion, this year’s Catfish Days will include a special tribute to the team, with all members expected to come home for the festivities.
It was coach Ed Hanson’s first year on the job, just months after he graduated from Winona State and before he had even stepped into the classroom to teach. The Bears had finished their regular season 6-7 and long odds were against them in the 1968 summer classic. But the team took out Alma Center, Onalaska, and Lancaster before toppling Plymouth 9-6 and facing Menomonee Falls for the title, 4-2. Bob “Buck” Salsman pitched the first six innings, followed by Paul Becker and Jim Nehring. Sophomore Dave Lakey hit a two-run double to seal the championship.
Commemorative T-shirts have been printed to mark the 50-year anniversary. On Friday night, July 13, players and fans will gather at the Trempealeau Hotel, where the team will be recognized during the king and queen pageant and other fanfare. On Sunday, the team will ride in the parade, riding in the same 1919 Oldsmobile that ferried them when the paraded through the city’s streets after their victory in 1968. All are invited to this special Catfish Days celebration to salute the boys who brought home the number-one baseball title.