Jerry Raddatz believes that his life took a turn for the better 50 years ago when he was hired as a baseball coach and teacher at Winona Senior High School.
To help repay all that WSHS has done for him, Raddatz made a $50,000 donation to Winhawks’ athletics and activities at a ceremony on Thursday morning at the high school.
“I have been the luckiest person in the world,” Raddatz said. “I have had 50 grand years. It was all because of Winona High School.
“They gave me 50 years of a grand life, so I am giving them $50,000 — 50 grand — to show my appreciation for what they have given me.”
Raddatz presented the check to Winona Area Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Annette K. Freiheit, Activities Director Casey Indra and WSHS Principal Mark Anderson.
Raddatz joked that the last time he was in the same room as the athletic director, principal and superintendent, he thought he was going to be fired. It was after his first year as baseball coach, when a loaded Winhawks team that was ranked top in the state lost in the first round of the playoffs.
But the administration gave him one more year, and two years later, Winona was in the state championship for the first time in school history. It began a successful career that saw the Winhawks win 278 games and four Big 9 Conference Championships with Raddatz in the dugout. In 2015, the baseball field behind the high school was named Jerry Raddatz Field.
Raddatz left Winona to become a Major League Baseball scout with the Cincinnati Reds. He now works for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has remained a proud Winonan, however, and is often a fixture at Winhawks’ athletic events and never hesitates to make a donation to local groups and organizations, such as the Special Athletic Competition hosted by Winona Area Public Schools, or the Winona Daily News “Above and Beyond” Scholarship program.
“I am very thankful for all that Winona High School has given me,” Raddatz said.
Indra said that some of the money will be distributed directly to the athletic teams and activities offered by WSHS, but part of it will be set aside to offer scholarships to allow students to be able to participate.
“Not only will this money be used today and tomorrow, but hopefully it will continue to be used years from now so kids can participate in activities here,” Indra said.